I really wanted to come up with a powerful workhorse rackmount server that would fit comfortably into my short-depth server cabinet (maximum 15" depth). I came up with a list of requirements for my 1U server:
- Short-depth (under 12" deep so I'd have plenty of room for cable management
- Power efficient (max 65 w)
- As many cores as I can get at 65W TDP
- At least 64GB RAM
- 10GbE networking
- Has to be quiet (that's a relative term - but virtually silent when idle and rack is closed is what I was aiming for)
It ended up being quite the journey. As many homelab enthusiasts know, it isn't easy to build a 1U server that is quiet and powerful. It's even more difficult to build one that is quiet, powerful, and 10" deep.
I went through 3 different CPU coolers, 3 different fan configurations, and 2 different chassis.
Here are the parts used in the build. I won't devote a section to it but in order to create that back panel for the DC power in connector I used this aluminum panel and these aviation snips to cut, and this metal hole punch to create the hole.
Items beginning with [x] are ones that I didn't end up using
- [x] iStarUSA D-118V2 1U Rackmount Chassis - I've used this case in a few builds and it can be bought for ~$40 occasionally, the price seems to fluctuate. I didn't end up using it for this build due to the lack of airflow
- Athena Power RM-1UC138 Black 1U Rackmount Chassis - this case is about $20 more, but it manages the space very, very well relative to the iStarUSA case.
- SIENOC 19 Pin USB3.0 Female to 9 Pin USB2.0 Male Motherboard Cable Adapter Co. - this was required with both cases as the front panel USB was USB 2.0 only
- Mini-Box picoPSU 160-XT kit - I opted for a picoPSU because of noise and space constraints. Mini-Box has quality power supplies AND AC/DC convertors and I am confident in their reliability as I use them within spec. Stress testing the CPU, I wasn't really reaching even 60% of the rated capacity.
- [x] StarTech.com Expansion Slot Rear Exhaust Cooling Fan with LP4 Connector (FANCASE), Black - I tried this extremely noisy fan, but it doesn't make too much sense for this form factor.
- 2x Supermicro FAN-0100L4 40X40X28MM 1U-4-Pin PWM Fan SC510 SC511 - these are great - they can be very loud at full blow but they move a lot of air - I run them at about 30% during idle and they sound as silent as 40mm Noctua fans
- Noctua NF-A4x20 PWM, Premium Quiet Fan, 4-Pin (40x20mm, Brown) - this is just as an additional case fan, runs at 100% all the time
- Noctua NF-A4x10 PWM, Premium Quiet Fan, 4-Pin (40x10mm, Brown) - used for the onboard LAN chip, which gets VERY hot (90+ degrees) without a fan attached
- [x] Thermaltake Engine 27 1U Cooler - This is the first cooler I tried - it looks very cool and is very quiet, but it just wasn't working so well - I couldn't get below 60-70 degrees at idle.
- [x] Dynatron 1U cooler with blower fan - This cooler can work very well, especially if you don't have any noise concerns. I wasn't able to get stable temps at a reasonable noise level though.
- K129 Copper Heatsink for Intel LGA 115x - I finally settled on this copper heatsink. Even without a fan on, it does a pretty great job dissipating heat. Combined with the 2x Supermicro fans blowing directly on it, I get some great performance with near silence at idle with ~50-55 degrees depending on Ambient temp.
- Motherboard: AsRock Rack X570D4I-2T - this is the only board I was able to find that really ticked all the boxes. Definitely has its issues, but overall I really like it. If your IPMI seems buggy, email support and they will send you an update you can flash (not sure why you need to email support to upgrade you board, but a couple months later it still doesn't seem to be updated on their product page).
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core, 16-Thread - I ended up having to disable CPU Performance Boost in BIOS in order to get stable temperatures and lower power draw - this represented about a 15-20% performance hit in benchmarks - a sacrifice I was willing to make for this build to work
- Memory: Crucial 64GB Kit (32GBx2) DDR4 2666 MT/S CL19 SODIMM 260-Pin Memory - CT2K32G4SFD8266
- SSDs: 2x Western Digital 1TB WD Blue 3D NAND
Please note that I only link products that I have bought and tested myself, and some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links, which I earn a commission from (at no additional cost to the buyer).