HW for a linux server


Mar 14, 2010
I'm about to build a linux server and could use some advice picking HW.

I'll be running either Xen or kvm on it and expect to have a few discrete VMs running:
* email using cyrus imap. Fairly large stores (00,000s of msgs) but only 2 users
* file / music server
* groupware server
* VOIP server
and then, from time to time:
* compile farm
* ad-hoc servers

I have 6 1Tb drives with some RAID/LVM setup and a small mirrored pair for the OS.

The system will be on 24/7 so I want to keep power down - I'll probably structure the drives to allow some to sleep when the VMs pause at night but things like VOIP/email will be 24/7.

Ideally I'll be looking at a quad-core for the compilation and ability to virt.
Probably 8Gb RAM

Case : Lian Li PCB71B from Novatech: £200
I like the hot-plug feature here - I've had enough HDD failures over the years to appreciate that :)
The case will be in a cupboard with a temp/controlled extractor fan - even so it gets warm (28C) in the summer - so cooling and alu are important.

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H AMD 890GX (Socket AM3)
All the SATA ports I need are onboard and it can run text mode on my 15" monitor from the onboard GPU :)

CPU: AMD Quad Core Phenom II X4 965 125 Watt!! Black Edition 3.4GHz
The main thing is - will it run at a really *low* power when idle?

RAM: when I pick a mobo I'll check what crucial offer :)

PSU: No idea... really need advice on this.

* Is there a better mobo? Maybe one with more memory slots?
* I need to check the linux support for the chipsets - Intel may be a better approach but AMD usually wins the price/perf war here
* Is the CPU capable of switching to a low-power mode?


Dec 18, 2005
Get the nicest psu you can afford like a corsair or PC power and cooling or silverstone.


The 850's probably overkill a 650 should work nicely.


Avoid onboard gfx, you could get a 790 chipset and a really inexpensive gfx card probably nvidia.

You probably won't find non-server motherboards with more than 4 dimm slots. If you opt for socket F you'll have the option of getting boards with 8 or 16 slots but that's overkill for most folks.

Some boards have trouble with ACPI so you'll want to check them carefully.

Good luck :)



Sounds like you're going to be doing some serious work with this machine. You may want more CPU than one quad-core unit, especially if you're running a compile farm GCC loves cores, the more the merrier. You will also certainly want ECC memory if you're going to have the machine on 24/7.

* Is there a better mobo? Maybe one with more memory slots?
There are better motherboards. You probably want a dual-socket server motherboard, like one of the Supermicro SR5690-based dual Socket F boards or a dual LGA1366 Xeon motherboard. Those boards support up to two six-core CPUs (although Intel six-core CPUs are $1000+ each), ECC memory, and also have 8-16 memory slots.

* I need to check the linux support for the chipsets - Intel may be a better approach but AMD usually wins the price/perf war here
Chipsets on both Intel and AMD-powered boards should run equally well in Linux, especially on server boards. Lots of servers run Linux, so Linux not working well on server motherboards is a major malfunction.

* Is the CPU capable of switching to a low-power mode?
All current desktop and server CPUs are capable of switching to low-power modes to save power.


Feb 15, 2006
I have an AMD powered Fedora 12 server and for what your doing you might a graphics card a low end card. The reason is it uses less power if it powers just off the pci-e but the on board. At least thats what I ran into when I was trying to bring down the power consumption on my machine. it was the difference between a constant 110watts down to 101 watts. Its only 9 watts but over a year its a good bit of money. As well to save money and keep power down get your psu as close as possible to what you need. http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp


Mar 14, 2010

Makes sense and I thought about it but I'll have cloud/community compile farms for the heavy lifting so I can't justify the fairly steep premium (£250 extra would buy a lot of RAM!).
Also the AMD 890 chipset will support the newer 6-core CPUs - so that might be a sanely priced upgrade path in 12-18 months. And at that point a 50% increase in #cores would be worthwhile.

@linux_0 : The Corsair sounds good - thanks. As for the 790/890, I hear you on the GPU side but here:
they talk about the fairly narrow bandwidth on the SATA on that chipset compared to the newer 890:

Heh - and now we have this review:

It might be worth hunting for an 890FX though :)
Since I'll be running SW raid then I'll want the SATA BW to be as high as possible.

@leadtrombone : Good idea - I have some old ones lying about.
Excellent calculator - thanks :)
I am favouring a Corsair HX 450W at the moment - it should be running at about 80% when the system is at full chat (which will be rare).
It also quotes 80%+ efficiency down at 20% which is what I hope to get down to at night.

Similar threads