Building a computer is a great opportunity to learn about hardware and software. Among the many reasons to create a server you get control and customization, and no surprises. One of the main reasons to build a server yourself is that it’s cheaper than buying a new pre-built computer.

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Although the server is similar to a computer, some characteristics are better suited to work with the backend. Learn all about the best parts for building a server, from motherboard to chassis.

What is a server?

You have probably heard the term server often. But what exactly is a server? Techtarget defines a server as «…a computer program that provides services to other computer programs (and their users)». A dedicated computer running such programs is also called a server. Just like in a restaurant, the server provides services to the clients (customers).

server farm

Any computer can act as a server. I have run servers on laptops and netbooks. But most dedicated servers come in one of two form factors: desktop or rackmount. In addition, hardware is usually designed to be reliable and maximize processing power and efficiency. Since we’re concentrating on the best parts for building a server, we’ll look at desktop-style parts, not rack-mount cases. Rackmount servers are more common in corporate environments, while desktop servers are suitable for both corporate and home use.

Best Parts for Building a Server: Motherboard

Processor MSI H110M LGA 1151


Although technically this is not a server motherboard, MSI H110M microATX motherboard makes a decent server. Since MSI is an LGA 1151 motherboard, it is compatible with i3, i5 and i7 processors. Therefore, H110M provides maximum compatibility with processors.

In addition, MSI equipped the H110M with two DDR4 RAM slots, with a maximum of 32GB RAM. You will also find four SATA3 ports. But its suitability as a server motherboard depends on your needs. Using non-ECC RAM will shorten the build. However, ECC RAM provides increased reliability, which is a major concern when building servers. Also, 32GB of RAM should be enough for most homelabber uses, but not enough for more advanced tasks like machine learning.

MSI motherboard rear ports

If you’re looking for a stellar home server, especially for multimedia, the MSI H110M is a great choice. Lifehacker called it a motherboard in their $600 compilation. Inclusions such as built-in 7.1-channel audio and an HDMI port make up for the lack of ECC compatibility. Alternatively, htpcBeginner lists the headless home server exclusive build [Broken URL Removed] based on GIGABYTE GA-H110N. It’s slightly cheaper and pairs well with the i3. Like MSI, this is not a real server board, but it offers high performance in a small size.


  • Really Affordable
  • Broad processor compatibility
  • Up to 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • Versatile, can work as a HTPC/gaming PC/server hybrid
  • HDMI port


  • Not compatible with ECC RAM
  • Missing «real server motherboard»

Supermicro MBD-X10SLL-FO

Supermicro Greenc new logo

Supermicro MBD-X10SLL-FO is a microATX server board. Supermicro has equipped this server board with an LGA 1150 connector. In terms of processor, Supermicro supports Intel Xeon E3-1200 v3 and v4 processors as well as Celeron, Pentium and i3 processors. You can add up to 32GB of DDR3 ECC RAM, and there are two six SATA connectors. Two have 6 Gb/s transfer rates, while four are limited to 3 Gb/s.


If you need video, there is a VGA port, but no DVI or HDMI. While this is suitable for a standalone build or those planning to save on screen usage, you’ll want to add a dedicated GPU if you want to have a hybrid HTPC server or gaming PC. Reviewers praised the simplicity and noted the wide compatibility of the operating system. In particular, the FreeNAS server distribution performs very well, and the VMs perform well with Supermicro. However, reviewers noted that the documentation is rather modest. If you are familiar with computers, you will be fine. But poor documentation can be a problem for beginners. Alternatively, you can check out this build of 8-core gaming PCs. build an 8 core gaming pc build an 8 core gaming pc It is available and uses a server board. however, this is an older motherboard with an LGA 771 socket. Overall, the Supermicro MBD-X10SLL-FO offers phenomenal value.


  • Great value
  • Socket LGA 1150
  • Compatible with Xeon E3-1200 v3/v4, i3, Pentium, Celeron processors
  • RAM ECC DDR3 1600 up to 32 GB
  • Six SATA connectors
  • Excellent compatibility


  • VGA only (no HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort)
  • Bad Documentation

ASRock EP2C612D16C-4L


ASRock is known for its quality components such as motherboards. While ASRock dominates with gaming caliber motherboards, its server motherboards are also exceptional. The EP2C612D16C-4L is an excellent server motherboard. ASRock has 16 DDR4 memory modules, 12 SATA3 ports and an M.2 PCIe slot.

For motherboard, it is LGA 2011 socket. Therefore, ASRock is compatible with Xeon E5 processors. This is a motherboard with two connectors. As a dual-socket motherboard, the ASRock EP2C612D16C-4L will require a slightly more expensive build. This is because you will need not one, but two processors. The Intel Xeon E5-2603v3 is among the cheapest at $262. But you’ll have to multiply that by two. So while ASRock’s motherboard is a modest $320, expect to pay more than the processors.

xeon e5 processor

However, ASRock’s board offers a solid combination of reliability, expandability and price. Even though this is an enterprise-grade motherboard, it is also affordable for those who work from home. You can save in some areas like RAM, case and hard drive to make this build a little more affordable.


  • 16x DDR4 memory slots
  • Dual sockets LGA 2011 R3
  • 12 SATA3 ports
  • M.2 PCI slot
  • Three PCIe x16 slots


  • LGA processors are expensive
  • Requires two processors
  • Only includes VGA outputs

Best Parts for Building a Server: Processor

Processors depend on the motherboard. You will need to match the processor to the motherboard socket (for example, an LGA 2011 socket requires an LGA 2011 processor). You don’t have to have the latest processor as it’s usually easy to upgrade. But, if possible, try hooking up a motherboard and processor that are fairly new so that your socket doesn’t get outdated right away. This way you have a clear upgrade path.

Intel i3-4150

Intel Core i3-4150

The Intel i3-4150 is a processor with an LGA 1150 socket. It is compatible with Z87 and Z97 motherboards. Although the 4150 is an LGA 1150 and not a 1151 or 1155, it is a solid processor. I3 is suitable for entry-level servers. If you’re using an LGA 1151 socket like the H110M, the Kaby Lake i3-7100 is a great value at $120. The LGA 1155 Intel i5-3350P is a great current generation socket processor. It’s Sandy Bridge, but you can always upgrade to a Kaby Lake i5 or i7 in the future.


  • Accessible
  • 4902 PassMark
  • Excellent value for money and quality


  • Socket 1150 is a few generations ago
  • Only suitable for home servers, not corporate environments
  • Not a real server processor

Intel Xeon E3-1226 v3

xeon e3 processor

The Xeon E3-1226 v3 is a CPU beast. This is a Haswell chip compatible with LGA 1150 sockets. The Xeon server processor has an operating frequency of 3.3 GHz with a turbo boost of 3.7 GHz. 8 MB cache and Intel HD P4600 graphics.

The TDP is 84W, and PassMark is only 8,000W. However, for all the power of the Xeon, it only runs on the LGA 1150 socket. The newer SkyLake LGA 1151 Ex-1225 v5 is slightly more powerful and efficient. If you’re using an LGA Socket 2011 motherboard, the six-core E5-2603v3 is a great mid-range choice.


  • powerful
  • Nearly 8000 PassMarks
  • Dedicated server processor


  • LGA 1150 only
  • Requires ECC RAM

Intel Xeon E3-1270

If you can afford it, the Intel Xeon E3-1270 sports stellar specs. The Intel LGA 1155 Sandy Bridge processor has 4 x 256 KB L2 cache, 8 MB L3 cache, and an operating frequency of 3.4 GHz. This is one of the latest processors like Sandy Bridge. The E3-1270 has eight threads and supports low power consumption. Because this is a dedicated server CPU, many Xeon capable motherboards will require unbuffered ECC RAM. ECC RAM comes at a higher price than regular non-ECC RAM. But the additional cost provides additional data reliability.

Intel Xeon E3-1270

Still, the E3-1270 is quite expensive. It also requires ECC RAM, which costs more and can be a deterrent for those trying to keep the price low.


  • LGA 1155
  • Over 8000 PassMarks
  • Dedicated server processor


  • Probably needs ECC RAM
  • Expensive

The Best Parts for Building a Server: RAM

What kind of RAM you use depends on your motherboard. If you have a motherboard that supports ECC RAM, you will get ECC RAM. If not, your machine will not publish with ECC RAM in it. In addition, specifications such as DDR3 and DDR4 further narrow the pool of potential RAM modules. TechTarget lays out the basics of server memory selection in an excellent post. Since this depends on the specifics of the motherboard, I will give a few recommended sticks, both ECC and non-ECC. Generally, with RAM, it’s best to avoid extraneous memory. While you may be tempted to maximize your RAM, here’s how much RAM you really need.

Crucial 16GB DDR3 ECC Unbuffered RAM CT2KIT102472BD160B


Crucial CT2KIT102472BD160B offers ECC buffered RAM. These are DDR3 and 1600 PC3L-12800. Reviewers noted that the Crucial kit uses slightly less power than traditional DDR3. This is the main plus for servers. When you’re running an always-on system, reduced power consumption keeps the server energy efficient. Users have commented on the broad software and hardware compatibility. Crucial works great on servers like the Lenovo ThinkServer TS140 and with operating systems like FreeNAS.

However, note that CT2KIT102472BD160B is not buffered. It works on systems that do not support Registered ECC. Like all ECC RAM, this is more expensive than non-ECC. Also, as is often the case, you will be paying a small premium per brand at Crucial rather than per brand. But this 16GB Crucial ECC kit is among the most reliable available. This is a great part of building a server.


  • brand name
  • ECC
  • Unbuffered
  • DDR3
  • Consumes less power than equivalent RAM
  • Lots of hardware and software compatibility


  • More expensive than non-ECC RAM
  • More expensive than external brand RAM

Kingston 16GB DDR3 ECC RAM

Kingston is one of the most recognizable names in computer components. KVR1333D3E9SK2 16GB ECC RAM kit offers DDR3 support and PC3-10600 1333MHz speed. Reviewers found Kingston ECC RAM to be reliable and compatible with a variety of hardware and software. Users have reported that 16GB of Kingston ECC memory works well with Oracle Enterprise Linux 6.5 and runs on a variety of servers such as the HP Microserver N54L.
Again, you will pay extra for both the ECC and the brand name. However, the small price jump is worth the reliability premium.


  • reliable
  • DDR3
  • PC3-10600 1333 MHz
  • 16 gigabytes
  • ECC
  • Lots of hardware and software compatibility


  • More expensive than non-ECC RAM
  • More expensive than external brand RAM

Team Group Night Hawk 16GB DDR4


Team Group makes a great set of RAM in their 16GB DDR4 series. At just $115, the Team Group Clock Group has an excellent price-to-performance ratio. You can get the T-Force Nighthawk series at 2666, 2800, 3000 and 3200 MHz. Tom’s Hardware praised the value of the Night Hawk and the performance of the XMP. However, the Nighthawk faltered with acceleration. In addition, Team Night Hawk’s RAM is LED backlit. This can be a plus for more luxurious servers, a minus for those looking for a disabled server, or not a problem depending on your case.


  • DDR4
  • Variety of MHz data rates
  • 16 GB dual channel
  • LED backlight
  • Excellent value for money and quality
  • Excellent XMP performance


  • Bad overclocking
  • Non-ECC
  • The LED may not be suitable for some servers depending on the environment and occasion

In general, which RAM you choose for your server depends on motherboard compatibility. Factors such as DDR type and ECC or non-ECC will determine which options you have. While they are best suited for both ECC and non-ECC RAM servers, there are many options and the choice remains dependent on the hardware.

Best Parts for Building a Server: An Example

Choosing a case for your server requires a lot of thought. Many metrics narrow down which cases are the best parts to build a server. Specifications such as the number of hard drive bays, motherboard form factor, and optical drives form the chassis.

A lot of it comes down to usage. If you’re building a server for a corporate or small business, this is probably different from home use. Homelabbers can build a server that is essentially Network Attached Storage (NAS), while other homelabbers can opt for an HTPC combo server or even a gaming PC/server hybrid. Consider these characteristics when buying a server chassis:

  • Number of hard drive bays
  • Optical drive bays
  • GPUs
  • Motherboard form factor

Silverstone Grandia


Despite being marketed as a home theater (HTPC) case, the SilverStone Grandia is an impressive server case. The form factor is stackable so you can create your own temporary server rack. Whether you’re planning on building a media server or game build server, Grandia will look like it’s at home in an entertainment center. Grandia by SilverStone supports ATX motherboards and includes shortcut filters. Drive cages feature mounts that eliminate the need for adapters.

It provides superior cooling and dust protection and supports cards up to 12.2 inches long. If you need a GPU for graphics, processing, or both, Grandia is a good choice. In addition, you can pack in 10 hard drives.


  • ATX support
  • cheap
  • Excellent cooling
  • Dust prevention
  • Easy installation of hard drives
  • Composite
  • Supports cards up to 12.2 inches long
  • Optical drive bay


  • Power supply not included

Fractal Design Node 804


Fractal Design Node 804 is an excellent server case. Because it’s a microATX cube, the Node 804 offers a compact design. It is compatible with microATX and mini-ITX motherboards. On the front I/O panel, you’ll find two USB 3.0 ports, as well as audio inputs and outputs. Lifehacker praised the small but not too cramped dimensions of the Fractal Design Node 804. Additionally, Lifehacker found the Node 804 to be similar but much cheaper than comparable server cases. Plus, the cube-style chassis looks just as comfortable under a media center as a server/HTPC and as a dedicated server in an office environment.

AnandTech added that the thermal performance is impressive, especially for a case of this size. But the Fractal Design Node 804 lacks hot swapping features like «real» server cases. Hard drives are admittedly difficult to access compared to dedicated server cases. In addition, there is no optical drive bay. You can easily add an external USB DVD or Blu-ray drive, but if you regularly need an optical drive with your server, you might want to consider the Cooler Master HAF XB EVO option. It’s a similar size and shape but adds optical drive bays. In addition, the HAF XB features up to four HDD or HDD bays, ease of access, and stellar cable distribution.


  • MicroATX and Mini-ITX support
  • Ten hard drive bays
  • Case in cubic style
  • Great prices
  • Solid thermal performance


  • No hot-swappable hard drive bays
  • No optical drive bay
  • Power supply not included

Lian Li PC-V1000LB


Lian-Li offers some of the most beautiful PC cases around. The PC-V1000LB is an elegant mid-tower ATX. You’ll find nine huge hard drive bays, an optical drive, and four USB 3.0 ports on the front. At the bottom, the PC-V1000LB is equipped with wheels. It’s a great touch that’s especially useful when your server is on carpeted floors.

Tweaktown praised the aluminum, which gives the PC-V1000LB a premium quality feel. In addition, plentiful hard drive bays and plenty of room for components make Lian Li an excellent server chassis. I saw Lian Li in action with a dual Xeon rig, three GPUs and a liquid cooler. If you need a serious server for GPU-intensive tasks, the PC-V1000LB is a great choice. But it’s not cheap.


  • Premium aluminum chassis
  • ATX compatible
  • Nine hard drive bays
  • Plenty of room for expansion
  • wheeled


  • expensive

The Best Parts for Building a Server: Power Supply

Which power supply unit (PSU) is right for your server once again depends on your case and therefore on the motherboard. It is better to stick to well-known brands. When choosing a server power supply, purchase a low power supply if you are not using a powerful graphics card. If you’re running a headless server, the GPU is overkill. Also, you can upgrade the PSU in the future if you need a GPU for display, GPU processing, or both.

Seasonic SSR-360GP


The Seasonic SSR-360GP is a high quality 80 PLUS Gold certified PSU. With 360W of power, the SSR has an incredibly high efficiency and low power consumption. Tom’s hardware has rated efficiency and power. In his review, Tom’s Hardware compared Gigabyte’s Seasonic and PSU offerings. In addition, the included cable ties, screws and Velcro make the SSR a reliable choice.

However, there is no cable length. Also, it’s a bit more expensive for power. But in tests, the SSR-360GP earned decent latency and inrush current. With power supplies, performance is more important than cable length. The SSR-360GP received a star rating in tests and combines high performance and efficiency.


  • 80 PLUS Gold-certified
  • Good waiting time
  • Excellent starting current
  • effective
  • powerful


  • expensive
  • Short cable length

EVGA Supernova G2


The EVGA Supernova G2 comes in a variety of wattages. There everything is from 550 watts to 1600 watts. This is an 80 PLUS Gold Certified PSU with a 140mm fan. In addition, EVGA supports AMD Crossfire and NVIDIA SLI. TechPowerUp awarded the Supernova a 9.1 out of 10 in their review. Under full load, the Supernova stayed cool at 47 degrees Celsius. These are efficient, quiet and sporty Japanese capacitors.

However, the price is a little high. Also, the efficiency of 5VSB suffers a bit. Ultimately, the EVGA Supernova is reliable and efficient, if a bit overpriced.


  • Cool under load
  • effective
  • reliable
  • Semi-passive operation


  • Overpriced
  • 5VSB efficiency suffers



XFX makes stellar deliveries with its XFX ATX P1550GTS3X. Like Seasonic and EVGA, it is 80 PLUS Gold certified and delivers up to 90 percent efficiency under normal load. It is available in the range from 550 to 750 watts. This is an ATX style power supply. Despite excellent reliability, the 550W iteration only features two PCI-E slots. Step up to the 650W or 750W version and you’ll find four PCIe slots. Johnny Guru scored XFX nine out of 10 in his review. Similarly, Johnny Guru found the XFX to be a reliable, stable power supply with excellent voltage stability and ripple suppression. Yet the XFX was a bit loud and lacked modular cables.

However, the XFX supports Crossfire and SLI, and is easy to install with EasyRail Plus technology. This balance of efficiency, performance, reliability and ease of installation makes the XFX P1550GTS3X a phenomenal value.


  • 80 PLUS Gold-certified
  • SLI and Crossfire Ready
  • Easy to install
  • Up to 750 W


  • Only two PCI-E slots for 550W iterations

Best Parts for Building a Server: SSD

For hard drives, you’ll want to increase the amount of storage. Thus, skip the SSD other than as a boot drive. If you don’t need all the SSDs for incredible speed and reliability, a traditional stack of hard drives in a RAID array will do. But now is probably the best time to switch to SSD and these SSDs are your best bets.

Samsung 850 EVO

Samsung 850 Evo

The Samsung 850 EVO is one of the most popular SSDs around, and for good reason. It varies from 250 GB to 4 TB. There is a performance-enhancing RAPID mode. Unfortunately, this is not available for MacOS or Linux, however. The performance of the Samsung 850 EVO rivals that of the 850 Pro, which is much better. CNET noted that the 850 EVO provides an excellent combination of price and performance.


  • Storage options from 250 GB to 4 TB
  • Transfer rate 6 GB/s
  • Great combination of storage, speed and price
  • SATA


  • Samsung Magician software for Windows only compatible

Crucial MX300

Critical MX500 256GB SSD

The Crucial MX300 starts with a 275GB option and ranges up to 2TB. The MX300 features 3D NAND technology and dynamic write acceleration to improve file transfer speeds. CNET found that the Crucial was not as efficient as the 850 EVO. But the MX300 cuts the price and adds 3D flash. As such, this is a solid budget SSD with premium features.



MyDigitalSSD BPX


In the area of ​​SSDs, PCI-e offers the highest performance. MyDigitalSSD BPX is a PCI-e SSD that boosts performance and price. However, BPX manages to offer NVMe memory but keeps the price low. Tom’s Guide tests showed that BPX is not the fastest M.2 SSD. However, Tom’s Guide benchmarks also concluded that, well, it’s not the slowest.



Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001


S Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 combines speed and affordability. Since you will likely be storing a lot of data on your server, I would suggest a fairly large hard drive. Barracuda is only $74 for 3TB. In addition, it is a 7300 rpm spindle. You won’t witness SSD performance levels, but the speed increase is noticeable over the slower 5400RPM stack. 64MB cache and SATA 6GB/s connection. The We Got Served server gurus recommend the Seagate Barracuda as the hard drive of choice in their server storage guide.



Since the publication of this article, Seagate has released a new version of the Seagate 3TB BarraCuda (ST3000DM008) .


WD HDD server

Along with Seagate, Western Digital leads the way in storage. Its WD Blue WD10EZEX boasts speed (for a mechanical hard drive) at 7200rpm, 64MB cache, and a 6GB/s SATA connection. You have storage options from 1TB to 5TB. Especially if you have multiple hard drive bays, you can create a complex stack on your server. Multiple multi-TB hard drives in RAID provide an excellent base for lots of cheap storage.

If you really value a low power build or need ample storage, check out the WD Green line. Western Digital offers its Green hard drives in configurations ranging from 1TB to 10TB. This reduces power consumption by up to 40 percent. There’s also IntelliPower, which balances aspects like caching, transfer speed, and rotation speed. IntelliSeek optimizes search speed. However, the Green WD 1TB hard drive is $75, while the Blue is only $50. However, if you need maximum performance and want a truly energy efficient server, choose WD Green.



Best Parts for Building a Server: Final Thoughts

While this is the best choice for building a server, there is no formula. Much like building a desktop computer, many factors go into which server build is right for you. A great way to put together a fantastic server but save money by using standard desktop components rather than server parts. You will still have a high performance machine, but without paying for the server motherboard and processor. Of course, there are downsides, but especially for a home server, this is a viable solution and you most likely won’t notice a difference. Much of what the server build dictates is its purpose . If you are setting up a media server, your criteria is different from setting up a web server . You can even use an old computer if you have low system requirements.

I didn’t consider GPUs as many servers don’t even need a GPU. Whether you’re building an HTPC/home server combo or a gaming PC/server hybrid, the GTX 1050 Ti delivers mid-range performance at a budget price point. If you can afford it, 1060x graphics performance at a reasonable price. However, if you need a GPU for data processing, the Quadro line is impressive for applications like AutoCAD. It’s not cheap, but the K5000 packs 4GB of GDDR5. Or, if you have around 5K, you can grab a Tesla K80.

Finally, there is another option for building a server: building barebones. I went with a Lenovo TS140 and use it primarily as a Plex media server. I have also had great success with Shuttle XPC desktops as home servers. But many XPCs have proprietary motherboards that limit future expansions and upgrades.

Looking for a server in your pocket? Check out our guide to turning your Android device into a web server.

Now that you’ve built the machine, why not check out how to set up your own WAMP server. ?

What is your recommended server build and what do you use your server for?

Image credit: Denis Rozhnovsky via

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