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September 9, 2014

Building a Cheap Server PC for $300

So you want to build a small home server to host your files, stream media or host a Minecraft Server but you want to keep the cost as low as possible. I recently decided to build myself a small home server limiting myself to the lowest budget possible. $300. Here is my guide on how to build a small home server for approximately $300.

CPU
AMD Sempron 3850
We start off first with AMD's low-cost AM1 platform that give us plenty of power for a cheap price. The lowest of the low of AMD's product line is the Sempron series. The AM1 platform offers us the Sempron 2650 and the 3850. The reason for choosing the 3850 over the 2650 is that the 3850 gives us 4 cores instead of 2. This is especially important for servers as they require more cores for better processing efficiency. $43~

Motherboard
AsRock AM1H-ITX
The AM1 platform is relatively new and so it may be difficult to find motherboards that support that new platform. Since I'm building a home server I wanted to keep the computer as small as possible. I opted for a Mini-ITX motherboard (and I'll explain why later) instead of the regular Micro-ATX size. The AsRock has a wide range of support for video output and up to 16GB of RAM. Note that the motherboard only supprots 25W CPUs, so make sure when you upgrade, you get the right one! $73~

RAM
Kingston KVR13N9S8/4 4GB(1X 4GB) DDR3-1333MHZ
Kingston are known for their cheap and reliable RAM. Other good alternatives are Corsair and G.Skill (although they might be a bit more expensive). I chose using a single 4GB stick because the CPU only supports single channel memory (with two lanes). It will be pointless to buy dual-channel RAM as it isn't supported. Hence, by using a single 4GB stick, you have the option to upgrade to 8GB in the future. $45~

HDD
Western Digital Blue 500G SATA3
In the world of hard drives, there's really only three companies you can choose from: Hitachi (Toshiba), Seagate or Western Digital. They are all priced really similar but it comes down to personal preference. I went with the Western Digital 500GB hard disk as WD are known for their quality and reliability. The Blue series are suited for everyday use and is sufficient for a home server. Of course, you do have the option to go with the higher-end stuff (Black and Red series). $54~ 

Case
CoolerMaster RC-110 Mini ITX
The reason why I went for a Mini-ITX motherboard before was because I was going for a small, compact home server. CoolerMaster provides the cheapest Mini-ITX cases on the market. This little thing is only 26cm wide and 20cm high. It can probably fit nicely underneath your workdesk easily. The CoolerMaster RC-110 is the smallest of the series but it allows up to 3 HDDs, or 4 SSDs! It also has a fron 12cm fan for cooling and optional sidefans. Perfect was a home server! $45~

PSU
Antec 350W Basiq ATX Power Supply
The CoolerMaster case doesn't come with a power supply and so you are forced to find one. The good thing is that the CoolerMaster case uses the standard ATX power supply so it's not hard to find one. The Antec 350W is the basics of the basics and reliable for the brand. You could get your server even cheaper by going for the generic power supplies but I wouldn't recommend it. $43~

Conclusion
Well there you have it. A cheap self-built home server. Of course, you can choose to use it as a HTPC (media PC) but it's up to you. The total cost of this build comes as exactly AU$303. Depending on where you are and where you get your parts from it may differ slightly. But for me, I think it's a great build and perfect as a server.