Hey everyone! Newbie here looking for advice

Hey everyone,

I’m looking for some help building my first server. I’ve been hopping around reddit and various other forums with varying degrees of engagement and quite a range in response. I’m hoping i’ll have more luck here :slight_smile:

I’ve been building my own gaming PCs for about 20 years now but I’ve never built a server so I lack knowledge in hardware requirements.

Fair warning, this could be a long post but I want to try and include as much detail as possible, don’t feel the need to respond to everything :smiley:

Here are my requirements:

  • NAS
    • Largely photo & music storage + “some” video
    • Music streaming is a primary focus, I have a large music collection and I’d like to explore options for streaming to other devices (maybe Jellyfin).
    • Potentially “some” media streaming though this is quite low on the list (I don’t mind if I add this later)
    • Space for 4 - 8 drives should be plenty
    • I currently have a small 2 bay Synology NAS that I want to replace with this setup. Partly because I want something more expandable, partly because I want more power and freedom to experiment outside of Synology’s ecosystem.
  • Game servers
    • Likely no more than 2 - 3 servers running at any one time (often times none at all)
    • Mostly looking at hosting games like Minecraft, Rust & DayZ etc using docker containers.
    • Probably max 5 - 10 players
  • Home automation
    • Something relatively new to me but something I want to explore
  • Virtual Environments
    • I’m a software engineer in training so I’d like somewhere to experiment with different OS, maybe host a couple of small websites though I think a lot of this can be done with docker containers these days.

After speaking to a few people from other communities, I was starting to lean towards an i5-10400 CPU but then whenever I asked for opinions, I kept getting told to buy enterprise grade components so that’s about as far as I got.

I’m quite keen to build my own from consumer parts and one of the absolute keys is that it needs to be power efficient (ideally quiet too). Apparently enterprise grade hardware can be quite power hungry and I’m also likely going to have depth limits so I feel that enterprise grade hardware just won’t be suitable.

I’m thinking rackmount as I’d like to get a Ubiquiti UDM at some point to handle my network.

I don’t have much of a budget, I guess I’m aiming around £500 (yes I’m from the UK, call it $500) but ultimately I’m just looking for something cost effective. I can spend more but I don’t want to spend thousands if I won’t see that benefit with my requirements.

Any tips to get me started and on the right track would be EXTREMELY appreciated. Will hopefully set up a build post when I have a bit more of a plan in place but ultimately just feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment and not sure where to start.

If you made it this far, thanks!! :smiley:


I dunno much about gaming servers, so there’s that.

Get a case that can handle a bunch of drives. A rosewill rackmount box, a fractal define, or an old used tower case that has a ton of drive bays.

For video streaming, an intel integrated igpu is really nice. This means 7th gen or newer CPU, and it means most Xeons are out (no igpu on those). Look at the plex QSV builds here.

Buncha RAM. The consumer platforms can generally get to 64GB max, for bigger, you may need xeon .

i’m literally running my home server on a 10500 right now and it’s totally fine. However, i don’t know if any of the game servers might be super CPU dependent. I know minecraft java edition depends on single thread performance, so you may want something higher clocked or even newer generation (if your budget can allow it).

For hard drives, look at the nas killers for ideas.

I like to buy used hard drives when they are cheap off ebay. a SAS HBA is useful for more than ~6 drives, I like the HP H240 because they are cheap and have good compatibility.

You’ll need to decide on OS. most popular are proxmox and vmware esxi. Esxi has worse hardware compatibility (especially network cards) and is restrictive on features in the free edition. But I’ve had more success with that than with proxmox. oh and unraid is popular here too. but if you’re a software engineer you’re more likely to find proxmox or esxi in a corporate environment.

If the needs diverge too much for a do it all server you may need to split them. Maybe have one low power for storage. Maybe one high power for gaming (or just a sepate quick serve box if you get into video streaming).

Hey @easyrhino thanks for the comment! That’s already a better response than I got anywhere else haha.

I think the case I’m looking at is the Logic Case SC-43400-8HS. Options are are bit limited in the UK but this has 8 hot swappable bays and it’s only 400mm deep which is important for me as depth is a limiting factor.

I’m not opposed going for a Xeon CPU and adding a GPU for transcoding later… I just don’t know anything about Xeon CPUs so I’m not sure where to start.

What do you run on your home server? I mean the game servers won’t be running 24/7 365 days a year. I’d like the capacity to run 2-3 10 player servers comfortably but the likelihood is it’ll be one at a time with less than 5 players and only for a few months a year. So I don’t want something that’s going to suck tons of power at idle.

As for OS, I haven’t put a ton of research into it was but I was learning towards Proxmox with maybe TrueNAS or Unraid on a VM but still need to dive a bit deeper into that.

Yeah maybe worth considering splitting. I guess my main concern would be power. If game servers alone suck tons of power and the load doesn’t drop when I’m not running them then maybe separating would work out better in the long run.

That case seems snazzy but it’s also a big chunk of your whole budget.

I have a fractal define case i bought used.

A 10500 and z490 motherboard there was a good sale on. I previously had a 7700 and that was fine for my needs though.

64gb of ram I scavenged from work but 32gb would be fine

3 used hard drives for data and two used SSD for vms and lancache

I run ESXi free license

Nas is via openmediavault in a vm

I run backup storage, emby (pass through iGPU for transcode), pihole, LANcache. Do some crypto farming with chia and storj. Run gridcoin during cheap electricity hours.

Have nextcliud set up but don’t really use it in the family

Tinkering with setting up immich for photos.

I used to have a xeon 2011-3 motherboard. Hard part was finding a cheap motherboard, saw a guy listing one local. It was fun but used more power and I still needed a GPU to transcode 4k movies.

Actually I sold my old system here


Yeah I might have underestimated on the budget a little. I hate giving a budget but whenever I don’t, it’s the first question people ask haha. I will say that I’m not including storage in that budget though, as I can start from what’s in my current NAS and build on it later.

For argument’s sake let’s just assume the budget is quite flexible haha.

I guess my first step is figuring out what CPU I should be aiming for? and that seems to be leaning on the demands of the game servers by the sounds of it? i5-10400/10500 sounds like it could be a good bet for most of what I want but I need to find out if i’d be pushing my limits with the game server.

Happy to look at Xeons too, I just don’t know where to start with those. I’ll see if I can find out a bit more about the requirements of some of these game servers…