Hardware

How to Build a Server at Home

There are lots of premade servers available to buy from well-known vendors such as HP, DELL etc. But most of the time these are really costly to buy. It may be a problem for you.  If that’s the case, you can actually buy the required components separately and build a server yourself. It will do what you want it to do, but the cost of building such a server would be low. The only disadvantage of doing this is that, you won’t get any hardware and software support. You’re on your own. If any component stops working, then you will have to buy a new one or send it on warranty if it does have.

If what you’re doing is not mission critical, like setting up a home lab or using it for different certification programs, then building a server on your own is the best low cost solution for you. In this article, I will talk about how you can build a server at home. I will explain what components to buy and what things you should be careful on when picking up parts for your home server. So, let’s get started.

Things You Need:

To build a server at home, you need the following components:

  • Processor.
  • Motherboard.
  • Memory (RAM).
  • Storage.
  • Graphics Card.
  • Casing.
  • Power Supply and UPS.
  • Monitor.

Buying a Processor:

When you’re buying a processor for your server, there are two choices, Intel and AMD. Both of these companies make great processors. But there are certain parameters to look at when you’re deciding which processors (also Intel or AMD) to buy.

  1. Number of cores and threads: If you’re building a server at home, then I recommend you go with at least a 4 core 8 thread processor. The higher the core on your processor, the better the multitasking performance will be. Cost will also increase.
  2. Clock Speed: Every core of a processor runs at a certain clock frequency. The higher the clock frequency, the faster the processor will be in general. For example, a processor with 3.6GHz clock frequency will always be better than one with 2.8 GHz.
  3. Application Support: Of course you’re planning to run certain operating system and applications on your server. Before you buy a processor, do a little bit of internet research and make sure it can run that operating system and applications that you need.

Buying a Motherboard:

Don’t pick a motherboard first, pick a processor. Then pick a motherboard. Because, Intel and AMD has different sockets for each of their processors. Your motherboard must have a matching socket. Otherwise, you won’t be able to put it on your motherboard.

For example, the new AMD Ryzen series processors needs an AM4 socket on the motherboard. The AMD Threadripper series processors needs a TR4 socket on the motherboard. Intel i9, i7, i5 series 8th, 9th generation processors need LGA1151 socket on the motherboard.

You should also take a look at the chipset of the motherboard before buying it. Not every processor is supported on every chipset. Also, make sure your processor supports the RAM type of your mother and it has enough slots in your motherboard to put in the amount of RAM that you need.

For example, if you have 4 DDR4 slots on your motherboard, then you can put 4x16GB RAM sticks and get a total of 64GB of RAM.

Buying Memory (RAM):

You can buy any brand of RAM you want. Some of the popular brands are G.Skill, Corsair, Team, Geil, Adata, Transcend, Patriot etc.

The most important property of a RAM is its capacity and type. Currently, you can buy DDR3 and DDR4 ram of different capacity. You can find 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB of capacity in a single DDR3 RAM stick. For DDR4, you can find 4GB, 8GB, 16GB sticks.

Most of the processors these days supports dual channel memory. So, you should use RAM sticks of the same capacity and brand in pairs for better performance.

Buying Storage:

Currently, you can buy SSD (Solid State Drive) and HDD (Hard Disk Drive) for storage.  HDD is the traditional storage technology. It’s slow but cheap. That’s why it’s mainly used for archival data or data that you don’t need very frequently. You can buy 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB and 10TB HDD of different brands such as Western Digital, Segate, and Toshiba.

The latest storage technology is SSD. It is fast but it’s not as cheap as HDDs. You can buy 240/256GB or 500/512GB of SSD and use it to store critical data that you access regularly. It will improve performance of your server.

There are SATA SSDs and NVMe SSDs. Make sure your motherboard has support for the type of SSD you’re buying.

Buying a Graphics Card:

There are many graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA in the market. You can pick any depending on your need. On normal servers, normally you don’t need any dedicated graphics card unless you plan to do graphics heavy tasks with it.

Buying Power Supply and UPS:

Buying a good power supply is essential for servers. Buy any good quality power supply from Corsair, Antec, Thermaltek and many other vendors.

Power supplies have watt ratings. The more the watt ratings, the more components you can connect on your server. I recommend you get a power supply of at least 450 or 500 watt.

UPS is used to protect your server from damage if the power goes out unexpectedly. An UPS will keep the server running for a while if the power goes out. You will have enough time to gracefully shutdown your server in that time. Buy a good quality UPS of about 1200VA for your server.

Buying a Casing:

There are many casing on the market. You can use any casing for your server. I suggest you buy a good quality ATX casing that has good airflow system.

Buying a Monitor:

For initial setup of your server, you will need a monitor. You can buy any monitor for that purpose. Buy a cheap one if you intend to use it only for setting up your server.

Setting Up Your Server at Home:

Once you buy all the components, read the manual of each component to learn how to properly use them.

Then,

  • Insert the processor and the processors fan on the motherboard first.
  • Insert and screw the power supply on the Casing.
  • Screw the motherboard tightly on the Casing.
  • Insert RAM on the RAM slot of the motherboard.
  • Connect the HDD/SSD on the motherboard and screw it somewhere safe on the Casing.
  • Connect the power to the HDD/SSD, connect all the required cables from the power supply to your motherboard. You should find how it should be connected on the manual that came with your motherboard/power supply.
  • Connect your UPS to the wall power socket and connect the power supply cable to your UPS.
  • Connect your HDMI cable to your monitor and motherboard. Also, connect the power cable of your monitor to the UPS.
  • Connect the Casing jumpers to the correct pins of your motherboard. Use the manual that came with your motherboard to find out what to connect where.

That’s it. Now you should be able to turn on your server and install your favorite operating system.  So, that’s how you build a server at home. Thanks for reading this article.

About the author

Shahriar Shovon

Shahriar Shovon

Freelancer & Linux System Administrator. Also loves Web API development with Node.js and JavaScript. I was born in Bangladesh. I am currently studying Electronics and Communication Engineering at Khulna University of Engineering & Technology (KUET), one of the demanding public engineering universities of Bangladesh.