Build Advice 10w Idle Server Build CPU & Motherboard Advice

Jan 15, 2020
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Hi Everyone

I’m currently exploring a home server build with a target idle power consumption of 10w (with basic hardware before adding additional storage drives, pci etc) and have been reading numerous blogs and posts in my attempt to obtain a balance between processing needs and efficiency.

I plan to run a number of virtual servers including PBX, Samba, DNLA, FTP, Homeseer as well as using the system for Kodi and if possible, a virtual machine to occasionally run Windows.

I've come across one system build that idled at 10w employing an Intel Core i3-6300t.

Other advice has recommended using MSI eco motherboards in combination with a low power cpu. The post recommended a board with a removable processor over a soldered processor due to flexibility and if one component fails the other is not unnecessarily scrapped.

My current thoughts are a MSI H110N Eco ($100) and Core i3-7300t ($200). I’ve been able to find both items but it appears they are becoming hard to find since both have been discontinued. I’ve also found a Core i7-7700t ($600 delivered).

However I have a few questions, I’ve found hard to find answers to:

1) Some information has suggested that assuming the use of Intel Core processors, to optimise power efficiency, don’t consider anything beyond Gen 7 or 8. Is this the case?

2) While there seems to be a lot of benchmark power tests for the more powerful processors, there seems to be a lack of information about idle power consumption for the T chips. I noticed with the regular and K chips, there can be variances of 25w+ between i3, i5 and i7 variants when idling (not details in these tests about other components but assume all things were kept equal). While the T chips all have a TDP of 35w, is there likely to be the same magnitude of variance between the i3, i5 and i7 T processors? My only thoughts on this were whether it was worth investing in the i7 instead of the i3 (if only talking about a few watts difference at idle) to firstly give me the flexibility to run more power hungry packages under windows and secondly to provide more flexibility if recycling the processor for use in future machines.

3) Given the age of the MSI Eco boards and the fact they appear to have been discontinued, is the Eco Board worth the investment or is it more of a gimmick since other modern boards seem to offer some level of power saving either through controlling TDP, undervolting or possibly disabling non-critical components. As far as I understand on the Eco boards the PCI, LEDs, Ethernet or Video / Audio can be disabled however for a Media NAS, this leaves only the LEDs as a viable power saving option assuming the PCI may be used for something else.

4) If there are modern boards which could match or perform better than the Eco board in terms of power saving, are there any recommendations for the either the 7th Gen T series processors (or beyond if 8th+ processors can offer similar levels of efficiency)

Happy to consider AMD options as I’ve historically used AMD CPUs in my old desktops but information to date seems to point to Intel providing better value for power efficiency & graphics performance for low power builds.

Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks.
 
Last edited:

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
You want six or so VMs. You will probably have to have 32GB RAM. You haven't taken your RAM power usage into account. Are you going to use "slow" RAM to save power?
You are investing hundreds of dollars to save power. What do you believe your payback time for having a 10W idle vs a 25W idle is?
 
Jan 15, 2020
2
0
10
0
You want six or so VMs. You will probably have to have 32GB RAM. You haven't taken your RAM power usage into account. Are you going to use "slow" RAM to save power?
You are investing hundreds of dollars to save power. What do you believe your payback time for having a 10W idle vs a 25W idle is?
Some of the builds I've seen that aparently idle at 10w use 2 x 8GB 2400MHz DDR4 so I was thinking along the same lines but acknowlege the power consumption will rise doubling it to a total of 32GB.

It's a good point about difference in power. I'm in Australia and based on my energy tariff an extra 15w running 24/7 would probably equate to about US $35 extra per year so it is a consideration when comparing hardware costs between low and higher power options.

I guess the goal is to get the base hardware as near to 10w as possible recognising any additional memory, 2.5" HDDs for storage and considering a tv tuner in future to integrate into Kodi will drive consumption up to 25w or beyond.
 

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