Last night I finished up the Windows Home Server build. So far, I am really impressed with Windows Home Server. It is incredibly easy to use. I would be willing to bet that most non-computer users could easily pick up the HP MediaSmart Server, plug it in, and use it with ease.

I am very happy with my configuration. I took a little extra time configuring the insides of the case using the cable management holes and allowing the wiring to sit between the motherboard install plate and the side panel. This should make a huge difference in air-flow.

Inside 1Inside 2Inside 3

The single yellow/orange cable marks the Operating System drive. The remaining red cables will be used for miscellaneous drives to be added to the WHS drive pool. I may have gotten a little twisty-tie happy with the cables, but I like the free space. The cable management capabilities of the case in combination with a modular power supply is what really makes the biggest difference in the amount of open space.

Lesson learned: It is okay to spend a little bit extra to get quality parts.

I have decided that I will be picking up a second 5-in-3 drive bay that matches the current one to have it installed and ready to go for when I need the future expansion. It will be nice to have the system fully functinoal with the hot-swap capabilities and no need to open him again. For now, here are a couple of shots of the finished server:

Case 1Case 2Case 3
Update 1: For additional information on the specs of this WHS build, please see my previous post WHS: Final Hardware List.


21 Responses to “WHS Build: Complete”

  1. Sonja on August 30th, 2008 1:07 pm


  2. opello on August 30th, 2008 2:39 pm

    i am envious of your cable management

  3. M3 Sweatt on August 31st, 2008 12:30 pm

    Very nice and appreciate the detailed parts list and build history. I’m also envious of the cable management. ;)

    I moved from an earlier WHS built on an old Dell tower case to an HP MediaSmart Server, which I really like, but considering a larger all in one unit such as the tower you used. I’ve read that the 5-in-3 drive bay you selected can be a bit noisy – what is your experience?

  4. mike on August 31st, 2008 1:30 pm

    The 5-in-3 I have can be noisy if you put the fan on ‘high’ — on ‘low’ the sound blends in about with my other computer running.

    On low, my Seagate 1TB drive is hovering around 30 C, and my Samsung 500GB drive is around 27 C. So the cooling is definitely adequate on low.

    I will admit, I picked out the 5-in-3 based more on looks than anything. I liked the way it looks in the case I have.

    Replacing the fan looks very easy, there are four small screws on the back. Not that I need to, but I will be replacing the stock fan with a closer to silent one in the next few weeks, since it is the only piece in my system that makes any noise at all.

  5. mike on August 31st, 2008 1:45 pm

    Additionally, I have been having a lot of fun with my DIY WHS.

    The MediaSmart looks like a great solution for the average user. I just knew right away that I would be wanting more than 4 drives (and external USB was not an option after 4).

    My parts list is probably a bit overkill, but I am very happy with the energy efficiency, lack of noise, and the expandability options that I have with my build. Not to mention, I got it all for nearly the same price as an HP MediaSmart — I think I went about $200 over, but I can have 15 internal drives!

  6. Robert on September 12th, 2008 5:19 pm

    How much trouble was it to mount the drive cage so the drives are mounted vertically. From what I could see on the Newegg site the cage is designed to mount so the drives are horizontally aligned but I, like you, prefer vertical orientation for cooling purposes.

  7. mike on September 12th, 2008 8:36 pm

    Actually, the drive cage was designed to only mount one way, and that was vertically as shown in the pictures.

    If you try to mount the drive cage the other way, you’ll have about a one-inch gap and it will take up 4 bays instead of three. Basically, it just won’t work. :)

    In any case, I really like the 5-in-3 drive bay I have, and will be picking up a second one in the next week to have the box ready to hold 5 more hard drives for “someday.”

  8. Chris on May 1st, 2009 12:21 am

    Very nice work. I have chosen to go the same route you are doing and I already purchased the case and WHS and the backplanes are on order. I know you mentioned that you were planning on replacing the fan. Were you able to do so? If so was it hard, was there any soldering involved. Thanks.

  9. mike on May 1st, 2009 10:54 pm

    Unfortunately I never did get around to replacing the fan. Once the system was up and running I placed it in the basement and it ran beautifully.

    I have actually filled all 5 slots though and am looking to add a second drive cage. When I do, since I am not in a huge hurry, I may attempt to replace the fan then, and if it works well I will make the same modification to the old drive cage as well.

    If you have any good/bad experiences with this, feel free to drop a note – I’d love to hear how easy/hard it is!

  10. Chris on May 2nd, 2009 4:45 pm

    Is the stock fan too loud to be kept in the bedroom? Do you keep your WHS on 24/7? If so have you notice a big increase in your energy bill?

  11. Chris on May 2nd, 2009 4:54 pm

    I also forgot to ask. I have the same series motherboard as well. Are you able to boot into WHS headless or did you need a graphic card installed?? I’ve heard that on some motherboards it doesn’t require a grahpic board to boot as others do.

  12. mike on May 3rd, 2009 10:27 am

    I do keep my WHS on 24/7. Compared to my old server, I actually saw a decrease in my bill because this setup was much more efficient. If you’re going to go 24/7, definitely go with the higher efficiency power supply.

    The noise on the low setting is “tolerable” — but I would say it will be too loud for a bedroom without modifying the fan. Worst case, you could always try disabling the fan too. My drives run in the sub-30 C range, with the fan on low. I would imagine they could go fan-less in the cage itself also.

  13. mike on May 3rd, 2009 10:28 am

    I did have to use a graphics card to install, but I have not had a graphics card in the system since then. It boots just fine as a headless setup. In fact, it has no keyboard, mouse, or anything attached other than power cable & network chord.

    You will not need to do anything special to boot without a video card. You will, however, need to go into the BIOS and change the setting to not halt on keyboard not found if you do not want a keyboard plugged in.

  14. Chris on May 5th, 2009 1:41 pm

    So far the build is going good. I ran in to a couple of issues liket the file path is too long when I’m transferring my data from my previous system to the whs pool.

    For now due to noise issues and cost I have decided to use the 3 to 4 coolermaster bay w/ 120mm fan to hold my hard drives. I will be 3 hd short than originally planned but I only have 7 hd currently so it will take me awhile to get to 12. It also will take more time to add the new hard drives but I only add a new one every 6 months or so, so it wont be too bad for now.

    I like the drive coverter that came with the case but I’m unable to find the same exact version online. By any chance do you still have the one that came with your case? If so would you be willing to sell it?

    And just like you said it runs fine without the graphic card but I think I might put in an inexpensive one for troubleshooting purposes.

  15. mike on May 29th, 2009 4:48 pm

    I’m not sure I know what you mean by drive converter that came with my case?

    As for a video card, I run headless for less power consumption and less noise (no GPU fan), but if/when I run into a problem, I just “borrow” a graphics card from my actual desktop for a short time until I am done.

    It does add a small amount of troubleshooting overhead, but so far after installing the system I have yet to need to actually connect physically to the machine.

  16. LOST: Season 5 Party : dsu | Mike on May 30th, 2009 12:44 pm

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  17. drew on November 17th, 2009 9:28 pm

    nice built! do you mind sharing the spec on this build?

  18. mike on December 14th, 2009 1:16 pm

    Of course not. They are actually already available in a post from a few days before:

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