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Custom mITX Server Build - Part 3

Martin continues building the mITX HyperV server with lots of images!

Okay in this blog it is time to get my hands dirty and get a handle on the hardware itself. I will be showing you the way I have built computers for years, I’m not saying that there is a right or wrong way but I know that this way works for me so it is the way that I’m going to build this server.

I firstly started by getting my older hard drives out of the old server to make sure that I had them to hand and that I didn’t have to fiddle around with two computers which is totally un-necessary and a waste of work space. I left them in their cages (from the old computer) for safe keeping and so that they were all together. I have a knack for misplacing parts around the house, I blame pixies!

After taking out the hard drives from the old caddies and putting them in the new ones I noticed just how small the standard fan is within the Prodigy and decided to nip out to get a bigger fan (you just can’t plan for everything!). I decided to upgrade to a much larger 200mm BitFenix Spectre Pro which would give me (quoted from BitFenix) air moving at around 148.72 CFM, if you want to compare this to original which gave about 56.22 CFM of airflow so a massive difference.

As you can see there is quite a big difference between the two fans but I made sure that it would fit in the case before I went and purchased it as I didn’t want to be doing two trips because the fan would not fit.

After fitting the fan to the case and checking (but then taking back out) that the hard drive caddies would still fit in the case with the new fan, which it did and is a really close fit, I then went on to leave the case and concentrate on the key components. I unboxed both the new CPU and motherboard and fitted them together outside of the case.

After securing the CPU in the socket it is then time to apply the TIM (thermal compound), there are many ways people apply the TIM, I personally do a line from corner to corner so it looks like a giant ‘X’ on the CPU then I add the heatsink to the motherboard (I personally cannot stand the stock Intel heat sink) which was larger due to the heat that the CPU produces and the size of the case. Again I measured the size of the heatsink to make sure that it fitted in okay before purchasing.

After fitting the RAM into the motherboard it is then time to fit it inside the case and the fact that I fitted everything outside the case makes this stage of the process very, very easy, there would have been no chance of me fitting all the components to the motherboard while it was inside the case, especially the back plate for the heat sink.

After fitting the motherboard I went on to put the hard drives, in the caddies and into the case. It was a close fit with the new fan in but I’m so glad that I did it because with all that heat in such a small case I don’t think that the 120mm fan would have coped cooling the case and I would have had over-heating issues and ultimately an unstable server which is never good.

After doing this I take a step back and work out how I’m going to route the SATA and power cables through the computer so that it makes less mess and also does not restrict airflow through the front of the case to the rear and so it ended up like the below picture. Nice, clean and tidy. On a side note I cannot recommend using cable ties enough where possible, as you can see from the below picture I have used cable ties for my SATA connectors.

After that it is time to fit the RAID card into the server. As you can see from the picture of the RAID card it doesn’t have the normal SATA connectors but 2x SAS connectors which using SAS to SATA connectors allows for the connection of up to 8 drives, which the PERC5i card will handle without an issue. The battery is there just in case of power failure which enables the card to flush the data from the on board RAM (seen in the picture) and ensure that there is no loss of data in the process. At this point I also fit the SSD into the other side of the case where the dedicated SSD mounts are on the side panel.

It is then in with the power supply (ensuring that it is screwed in correctly) and attach the cables for the motherboard and SATA power leads to the drives and then we are all good to go. You can see below the end result.

Also here is one of it up and running. The screen you can see is the RAID BIOS and it is rebuilding the RAID 5 array, this can happen from time to time when the RAID card has been out of the motherboard for a length of time, and yes it is scary!

In my next blog I will look into the software that I will be installing onto the server and also the configuration of the rest of the server, until next time! :)