Building a Home FreeNAS Server - Motherboard + CPU

Submitted by nigel on Sunday 5th August 2012

I have two motherboards I've used in previous projects, either of which is a likely candidate for my FreeNAS server. The reality is a brand new motherboard and CPU are totally unnecessary for a home use NAS; what I have available will more than be sufficient for my needs. So which motherboard do I use?

ASUS P5E-VM HMDI Socket LGA775 with Intel Core 2 CPU 6300 @ 1.86 GHz
ASUS P5E-VM HMDI Socket LGA775 with Intel Core 2 CPU 6300 @ 1.86 GHz

I bought this particular board to be used as a Microsoft Media Center Home Theatre PC (HTPC) back in 2007. I was never totally satisfied with the system, primarily because the touch screen built into the chassis proved troublesome and eventually failed altogether, when out of warranty. Since this motherboard was used in a HTPC build, quiet running was essential and thus as you can see it was fitted with a Zelman CPU heatsink. The board itself is an enthusiasts board and built for over-clocking, although I have to admit I've always been too cautious and concerned about frying the board to attempt it.

ATI 3D Rage II+ DVD

The board specialises in supreme audio output - such as DTS - but there is no video out capability. A high specification passive card would be used in a HTPC configuration. I used the GIGABYTE GV-NX76G512P-RH. But in a server environment I'll need nothing more than something that can send a VGA signal to my small 15" monitor. So, after ferreting around in my spare parts box I uncovered this ATI 3D Rage II+ DVD card dated 1997!! I seem to recall I actually got it in the mid 2000s in a PC shop in Brixton for a fiver. The card even has an entry in the VGA Museum website!

GIGABYTE GA-73PVM-S2H Socket LGA775 with Intel Dual Core CPU E2200 @ 2.2GHz
GIGABYTE GA-73PVM-S2H Socket LGA775 with Intel Dual Core CPU E2200 @ 2.2GHz

I bought this board probably around the same time as the ASUS board, c2007-2008 but I have to concede I can't remember the project I had in mind which precipitated its purchase. In more recent times I have used it as a Linux SAMBA share running openSUSE. The board has a tiny microATX footprint yet is remarkably well specified considering its heritage. There is HDMI output (but also the more appropriate VGA for my needs) and support for Core 2 multi-core processors. In my case I bought an Intel Dual Core CPU running 2.2GHz.
 

Motherboard Decision

The two boards are capable of doing a decent job to serve up my personal files so either could be used. But the GIGABYTE board with the dual core Intel CPU is an order of magnitude faster and better equipped. Furthermore, since the board has inbuilt video, I can put my 1997 PCI ATI card to one side and use it in another project!!

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