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Consider a Dell Optiplex FX160 Instead of a Raspberry Pi (thesizzle.com.au)
526 points by uptown on May 15, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 219 comments



The raspberry pi's selling points are: 1. It works nearly out-of-the-box. You only have to prepare an SD card.

2. It is tiny

3. It is quite power efficient

4. It has GPIO pins, which make it usable for experimenting with hardware.

5. It has a great community (you can easily find many projects for it, and there are some great OSes available, which run nice educational software)

6. It is cheap

All of this makes it fantastic for education and as a gadget. The whole point of the raspberry pi is to be unlike other computers. You can set it up as a server, but this is not its main purpose.

The Dell Optiflex FX160 probably outperforms the pi at all measures, but it is just stupid to compare it to a raspberry pi, because it has none of its unique points which make the pi a good choice in the first place.

Now, there are actually some better raspberry pi clones out there. For those products, a title like this might make sense.


The Dell is absolutely not outperforming the RPi on power consumption. I run multiple internal- and external- facing servers (eg multiple static and Java-based Web servers, SMTP, DNS, NTP, etc) and the total power usage is generally much less than 50Wh/day.

I can throw my Internet connection router and FTTC box on as discretionary load but that's another ~300Wh/day; it is quite staggering how relatively efficient the RPi is, compared to presumably similar or lower processing requirements in the other two boxes!

http://www.earth.org.uk/off-grid-stats.html

(You can only see the RPi's power consumption when the networking gear is pushed back onto mains.)


True. I was thinking of performance, but you're right: power efficiency is a measure as well, and the raspberry pi is very power efficient.


And idle power matters: a typical server in this kind of use is going to spend much of its time doing very little at all. (Except in my case fending off attempts to SPAM me or other malicious traffic!) It helps that I can set the RPi's clock to fall back a long way unless the CPU is busy.


> You can set it up as a server, but this is not its main purpose.

I thought the article was very clear about that as it's point. If you were thinking of using an RPi as a server, it's not meant for that, here is a better alternative.


Good point! Maybe the title of the article should reflect this as well.


Agree, but also, if price is a consideration the optiplex is clearly 5-10x the cost depending on what of the listed upgrades you get for it


I bought mine for $15


Exactly, all the same hardware makes it possible to exchange images, bit for bit SD-card copies, that run on any of the same model RPis, this is incredibly powerful and handy. For example, installing ROS (Robot Operating System) on Linux can be a PITA, but there is a ready made ROS on Ubuntu Mate for RPi3, so you have it fully functional in minutes.


Well, I was able to recover from damaging my RPi B+ by simply slotting its microSD card into a brand new RPi2 and everything ran, which is completely astonishing as they are not identical.


Most of the userspaces are just compiled for ARMv6. If you've got your firmware (bootloader, kernels, devicetree overlays) up-to-date, then you should be able to boot the OS on any Pi (the bootloader detects hardware version and inits the right stuff, including loading kernel7.img for the Pi2/3, instead of kernel.img for the 0/1/1+ models).

Ubuntu and some of the other 3rd-party OSes are compiled for ARMv7, and won't run on the 0/1/1+. A couple are compiled for ARMv8/AARCH64, and won't run on anything but a Pi3. There's a lot of work that went into making things like Raspbian as close to foolproof as possible.


I use Asus 1001PX subnotebooks that way. They're available for about $40 on eBay. You get a keyboard, screen, WiFi, Ethernet, 250GB hard drive, and USB ports. Usually a power adapter, too.

(Only use the real ASUS power adapters; the no-name 3rd party units overheat, don't provide enough power, or in at least one case, catch fire.)

When I get one in, I put in the Xubuntu USB stick and run the memory diagnostic for an hour. If that passes, I wipe the machine completely and install Xubuntu 16.04LTS. Works fine. All the peripherals are supported. (There was some trouble with 14.04 LTS; the infamous "disappearing cursor" bug affected these units, because they had a certain model of Intel graphics processor. But that's fixed.)

I use one with a $30 USB microscope to help with surface mount soldering. Others run antique Teletype machines. One is used as a normal laptop.


i have eeebox from asus, it has a dual core atom inside. i run docker on it. so it has my nexcloud, plex ,etc on it.


For Plex I suppose you optimize your files for Direct Play as much as you can?


yes, i avoid transcoding as much as i can.


You should try out a Thinkpad x100e for your normal laptop, the keyboard is miles ahead of the Asus. Looks like there are some for around $40 on ebay as well.


Where are the GPIO breakouts on the 1001PX?


This one I found using Google: [0], but there should be more out there.

[0] https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ryanteckltd/rtkgpio-a-u...


There are dozens of USB to misc. I/O pin devices. Pick one depending on how many analog, digital, PWM, etc. ports you need.


Is one hour really enough for the memory test?


I would think of it more as a smoke test than a burn-in test.


Common wisdom is to test for a minimum of 24h if you want to be reasonably certain of a negative result.

But an hour is certainly better than nothing.


A raspberry pi with external HDD running is about 5W. That's 130 kWh less than a FX160 over an always on year, or $27 at average Australian energy prices.

Sure these servers might be handy for some things, but the Pi still has a lot of advantages. For me it's small form factor, low power consumption and GPIO.


> ... but unless I need the GPIO ports or the ability to run off a battery ...

And I indeed do run mine (off-grid) from a battery where every W counts, and I do use GPIOs and ADCs!

http://www.earth.org.uk/note-on-Raspberry-Pi-2-setup.html

And (along with my pony) I want a system so widely used that most questions/issues can be solved with a cut-n-paste into Google!


I have used such pi setup to enable a distributed backup with pi and the disk placed at a remote office. Worked really nicely. The only inconvenience was Ethernet cable that I have to pull to a storage room. Now with WiFi it would be even simpler.


A somewhat controversial claim, but only until you discover that it's the low-profile home server use case under discussion here.

I'd go with a Qotom box for that, but something like this would be about as good and, at the cited prices, a fair bit cheaper - and wouldn't involve the same US Customs import encumbrance that I've found Qotom hardware to entail, besides. But I think it would depend on being able to find used FX160s cheaply, as the article describes, and since its description of a sudden glut in the used market seems written from an Australian perspective, I imagine that might be an issue elsewhere.


There are also the Intel NUC's and the Gigabyte Brix.

A video with some of them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6O_j0-UZb4


Both of those are in another league pricewise.


This is the first I've heard of Qotom, can you elaborate?


They make/sell "industrial" fanless Intel boxes. I got one of these[1] for a router, and it's worked well so far. No moving parts with an SSD.

[1] https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01KX9OU58


I have a similar one, but it gives up two NICs for an HDMI port - not ideal, but it was much cheaper at the time, and I have no need for a DMZ and no shortage of switches. It makes an excellent pfSense box!


https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B019Z8T9J0 this is not Atom but a proper Broadwell core -- obviously a bit on the slower side but still it'll wipe the floor with any Atoms especially in single core performance. Look at http://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare.php?cmp[]=2506&cmp[]=272... for example. It has HDMI and four Ethernet ports (not a switch, see my review down below), serving as router and media player both. My review https://www.amazon.com/review/R6U6MT4R6SQS4 here.


I have my pfsense firewall running on this, and it's been very reliable and great performance.


It seems they're popular for routers running pfSense. Just make sure you get a CPU that supports AES-NI, because pfSense 2.5 requires it.


I didn't know it was mandatory, thought it was just practically necessary for VPN tunnels etc.

http://www.pcengines.ch/apu2.htm

I've recently bought one of these and it's been great so far. Though its a NanoBSD currently you can squeeze an SSD in there.


Twice the price of FX160 :) I have one FX160 for over a year with bunch of home software inside docker containers and works like a charm :)


Yes true, I might pick one up. The Atom I wasn't too impressed with in an old Shuttle but that has changed I think.


They make fanless metal body mini computers and come in many variations on aliexpress. I purchased a unit a few months back to run pfsense (free routing software based on freebsd). They normally use intel based motherboard/ethernet ports in 2-4 port configurations, making them good stable platforms. They usually take a few weeks to arrive because they ship from China. They don't have the polish of an apple product or sell under a popular brand name, so they are not well known.


You can get them on Amazon, too, and my impression is that buyer support is better there than on Aliexpress.


Another option for industrial and fanless in europe is Logic Supply. I bought my "home server" from them. A very simple Xeon box with internal SSD that I use as hypervisor with a homemade iSCSI NAS for storage.


I've been dabbling with re-purposing second-hand thin clients for years (NSLU, various Wyse, Neoware and HP clients).

My current favourite is HP t520 (dual core AMD embedded apu, fanless, M2 SSD drive, a miniPCIe slot, gbit ethernet, USB 3.0 and low power consumption). I haven't measured it but HP states 7W for normal operation. More info at http://www.parkytowers.me.uk/thin/hp/t520/ & in the quick specs www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetPDF.aspx/c04303956.pdf

You can have one second-hand for about $60-70, and prices are bound to go down.

edit: the linked article mentions that mini-pcie can be used for an SSD. This is usually not true, as mSATA while sharing the same physical connector needs to be wired differently. You can see e.g. pcengines doing that on their apu2 boards. Even the aliexpress page mentions "NOTE:this is msata , can not use in mini pcie or wifi interface" in bold red letters


I got a T620 plus for $100 repurposed as a pfsense router (added an intel NIC card). It's neat.


These look great. Shame they're so expensive outside the US. There's an ebay listing for ~£40 there. Lowest I can get here is ~£120. It's almost worth importing.


One of the other good reasons to use off the lease enterprise hardware like Dell Optiplex FX160 is that it's a great way to recycle / reuse computer hardware instead of throwing them into landfills.


A giant difference between the two, which goes unmentioned here, is that the FX160 runs on AC power at 120 volts. If you have a deployment scenario where you already have 5 volts DC but not 120 volts AC, the pi obviously makes way more sense.


The inverse is also true - the FX160 runs off of 120/240V directly, which is rather convenient if you don't want to use a 5V DC power brick that's larger than the Pi itself. Makes for a rather clean installation if you're shoving it somewhere strange (which seems likely).


5V DC power adapters aren't usually larger than the Raspberry Pi.


Great point. Also, the Pi can be powered off USB batteries, so you could run it basically anywhere for a non-trivial amount of time, really easily. The Pi's lack of reliance on wall power is one of it's neatest features, I think.


Yep, I was running a beaglebone black doing basic network services from the USB port on my DSL router! Very handy.


This usecase is more about running it as a homeserver, where i guess that limitation is not that important. Of course there are a lot of usecases where the Pi is the better choice.


In my case I run my RPi2 as my home server, but off-grid from my non-grid-tie solar PV section, which is a nominal 12V, so a single part (switching 7805 2A, well plus cap) gets my power sorted nicely...


Any info online about your setup?

Here's mine:

thisisthebus.com


If you're in a bigger company, the IT department may have some smaller PCs like this to get rid of. Mine gave a bunch out, I have a Dell optiplex - but instead of the thin client it's a small i3, with a 320gb hdd and 6gb ram. It's dead silent and runs all the home server things like a champ, oh - and it was free.

But I'd still own a number of raspberry pis since they're great for hacking or just to support a cool mission (in my opinion).


Did the same thing, used an old Dell Optiplex Mini tower, put some WD Reds inside -> Now I have a nice NAS with Plex.


Do the Foundation make money when you purchase a Pi?


In 2015 they had a net income of £2.8m (it's a registered charity so they can't distribute profits) [0].

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06758215/filing-h...


Worth noting here I feel, as a general point, that profits can't be distributed but the same monies can be paid out as wages. You can - or could last I heard - pay people million dollar wages as a UK "Charity"; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11435754/32-charity... quotes some £750k+ wages.

Charities can make "investments" too.

AFAIK the RPi foundation is completely straight in this respect, just worth mentioning the general position for UK Charities IMO.


Yes, money they invest in their mission:

> we provide outreach and education to help more people access computing and digital making. We develop free resources to help people learn about computing and how to make things with computers, and train educators who can guide other people to learn


Yes. They make money on all the Raspberry Pi sold.


I'm using a Cubieboard as a web server and I'm very happy. It's a 50$ Raspberry clone from 2013 with better specs (for the time). Consider that: - it runs mainline kernel and a regular debian distro - 5W max (but it's idle most of the time) - has good enough specs for a webserver (proper ethernet, 1GB ram, SATA support), works better than a cheap VPS

I run apache and some low-demanding webapps on it: - dokuwiki - miniflux (feed reader) - shaarli (bookmark manager) and it serves pages via my home DSL connection (with DDNS).

I did consider the alternatives - netbook/notebooks - but for my use case reliability, safety and power consumption would be much worse. These devboard is fanless and runs everything off an SD card. OK, SD cards are slow but on failure (never happened in three years!) I can just swap it with a (recent) cloned one with almost no downtime. I could use the faster onboard NAND but it did fail once on blackout and I went back to SD cards. I could even use a SATA HDD but I don't need that much storage.

So... it depends on your use case, I guess.


For anyone who needs it, here's Dell's technical guide:

http://www.sayresd.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/PC-Dell-De...

There are some Amazon sellers who have put together complete systems running Windows 7 or 10 for around US $100:

https://smile.amazon.com/Dell-OptiPlex-FX160-1-6GHz-Windows/...

If you're buying one to use as a server this won't matter to you, but if you want a tiny Linux or BSD desktop, you may want to look elsewhere. The video hardware is SiS Mirage, which has terrible support in non-Windows OSes.


Yeah, using one as a desktop with a GUI is a rubbish experience. Spend a little more and get an i5-2600 SFF box for like AU$150 and it's a vast improvement.


It also has terrible video with Windows in my experience. Good enough for an RDP or XenApp session, sure, but not much else.


He said he's running Plex on it. I wonder what the underlying OS is.


Linux, because he mentions running a LAMP stack.


Another option is just to use an old laptop. This is what I tend to do for media servers, TV computers, and the like. People give away or throw away perfectly usable machines all the time.


I used to do that for my media server/HTPC. The problem in my experience is that laptop fans are pretty noisy. Actually evenn the power supply can be noisy, many of them have a very audible AC hiss. Maybe it's because I tend to buy cheap laptops.

A few months ago I decided to build myself a super quiet replacement, I took a small well ventilated case[1], put an underclocked i3 in it, a fanless heatsink[2] on top, a super quiet power supply[3] and it's amazing. For about 350 euros I have a completely silent and rather powerful HTPC. A lot more expensive than the computer in TFA obviously, but well worth it if like me you can't stand fan noises.

[1]http://www.coolermaster.com/case/mini-itx-elite-series/elite... [2]https://www.arctic.ac/eu_en/alpine-11-passive.html [3]http://www.bequiet.com/en/powersupply/248


I'd imagine it be prudent to remove the battery if that is the case (which you can't on many newish laptops). I know it's tempting to utilize that free UPS but I wouldn't trust a laptop battery that's pushed way passed the intended use.


I did use a laptop that way, and I think that I did knacker its battery prematurely, though I'd simply these days be more gentle about switching between it and external power, like I do with my network gear switching between mains and off-grid.

http://www.earth.org.uk/low-power-laptop.html


Is "pushed" the right word? Rather it seems like the battery is not doing much apart from a little "ambient" discharge for which it occasionally gets automatically topped back up to 100%.

For the plugged-in laptops I use as servers, I have a repeating task in my todo system to unplug and drain them once every couple of months. The intention being to keep the thing's own idea of its calibration honest, in case it ever gets used like a normal laptop again.


Well, I'm no expert but my thoughts are that the temperature alone is damaging for the battery (and it will be ~warm since it is basically inside the laptop). Unless you have a way to change it the charge will also be at 100% which is also not ideal.

The margins of error are quite small considering that they sometimes explode well within their intended use case (which is not powered on 24/7).

The consequences of a fire in a battery is quite severe, and unlike normal laptop usage you probably won't be around it when it starts (or, worse, you might be asleep).

So, I'd err on the safe side and buy a UPS that at least covers the intended use case. For something as efficient as a laptop it isn't expensive either.


This is a great point. I'd likely have a tough time buying a laptop that didn't have a removable battery but sometimes with hand-me-down, I don't have a choice.

Usually, though, by the time they become my HTPCs, the batteries are completely shot already and so I recycle them at work.


If you need more storage, many laptops can have the optical drive replaced with another hard drive.

http://www.frys.com/product/8845262


form factor is a bit annoying, I do this with an old thinkpad and I'm thinking about finding one with a broken LCD to remove the screen assembly altogether and put the base onto a book shelf.


Why not run it closed?


Depending on the particular model, cooling may not work properly.


Still a waste of space IMO.


One nice thing about Raspberry Pis for this sort of thing is that they support the full cec protocol, so can control other devices. I use hooked up mine to switch my TV on and off via an Amazon Echo: https://github.com/simonbyrne/fauxmo

The only annoying thing is that my TV doesn't provide USB power while on standby, so I needed a separate power supply.


You can use that to your advantage and detect when the TV is powered on/off, via a GPIO pin from the USB power of the TV.


It depends on what you want to do with a home server. Is it a home entertainment system with ready-to-use entertainment UI? A computer in a compact case no larger than the size of a modem/router with just an OS installed (Linux, Windows, Mac OSX)?

The former is popularly taken over by the integrated system within TV / media player (yes, many of the newest DVD & BlueRay media players do come with a better, surprisingly [1], integrated system), and you can play media like Netflix / YouTube from your mobile phone.

The latter is somewhat a customized solution, depending on what you do. I would run on my old laptop, or I can run on a raspberry Pi (which is capable of running HD video at 1080p), plus a large SSD network storage device (or use "cloud" if you have a good Internet connectivity).

There are plenty options out there, but for a $60 deal (USD) is pretty good. Most big brands can easily cost you $100+ with just Atom CPU in it. I wouldn't mind getting one though, if it becomes available again.

[1]: Samsung BD-JM57C Streaming Blu-ray Player (love it)


I use my Raspberry Pi to play around with sensors (such as humidity, temperature, RFID, etc) through the GPIO pins. That's the main selling point, I think. It's an educational product more than anything.


I think people would be happy with two different Raspberry Pi like devices, one with tons of GPIO and one with real SATA and 1Gbe ports. Even just having USB 3.0 would be good enough for what most people want their Pi to do. Fortuneately there are other SBCs out there that can do the job but not with the huge range of out of the box compatible hardware and software that the Pi has. I've been thinking about the OLinuXino line of SBCs for some of my projects. At least the one benefit of having 1Gbe ports is that I can setup a network drive for less I/O intensive projects.


This is why I bought mine as well - what language are you using to access the GPIO pins? I've been meaning to look into using Golang, but haven't seen many people using it for that.


I feel that raspberry pi has another advantage -- it teaches people that not all computing is x86. x86 is always almost associated with proprietary close-source code -- both in BIOS, in SMM and various motherboard peripherals. I personally would be very happy to use simpler devices, but if you want high performance and cheap, then x86 is your only choice.

Using non-x86 devices like Raspberry Pi is the first step in breaking this. Yes, Pi itself has closed-source components, but once the people understand that it is feasible and not hard to run generic server code on ARM/RISC CPUs, the demand will appear, and the market would act and bring cheaper and faster servers to the market. And this is already happening -- for example I think odroids got popular only after Pi has created the demand.

So if you have a choice between x86 and non-x86, chose the latter if you can, to make the world a bit more secure and open.


For people interested in building a firewall or just boards with multiple GbE ports I can recommend a swiss company PC Engines https://pcengines.ch/apu2.htm They make really nice x86 boards with AMD chips.


To me the products are different.

The Dell is a complete computer in a box.

Contrast to PC engines, which sell a collection of parts. A motherboard, a case, an AC adapter. Etc.

Oh, and btw careful how you mount the motherboard. I.e.: Conductive cooling from the CPU to the enclosure through a 3 mm alu heat spreader. Please contact us for advice if you want to integrate this board in your own enclosure.

Not that the PC Engines stuff is bad; it's just that I usually prefer to have the manufacturer screw things together and then test the final product.


+1 for PC Engines. Their products are a bit expensive for the hobbyist, and generally use very outdated technology, but they are as reliable as they come. I've been using an Alix 6f2 with a Mini-PciE 3g modem on a remote location with years of uptime and no problems. Same can't be said of many newer, fancier boards!


What a coincidence. Just this week I got a used FX160 for 15 € and right now it's working as a home file server, router, wireless AP and general P2P downloader.

It seems to be running fine even inside of a closed cupboard, the CPU is at 31ºC and using about 16-17 watts on average. It's warm to the touch but it might be the apparently good thermal design of the case which allows for fully passive cooling.

What I don't like is that (at least judging by the heat it generates) most of the power consumption seems to be originated in the video chip, which in a headless server is useless. I tried to disable but didn't have any luck (it's a SiS 771/671 chip).


I've been using a $140 chromebox flashed with Ubuntu as an HTPC and seedbox. It works very well and has very nice IO (lots of USB 3, HDMI, gigabit, etc.).

The only minor problem I've run into is that the processor is just slow enough that it chokes on high-entropy 1080p video. 99.5% of the time it's fine, but if there's something on screen with lots of tiny objects moving in lots of different directions (a swarm of locusts, an explosion in space, etc.) the frame rate drops substantially. It makes perfect sense if you think about how video compression works. I just wish it had a tiny bit more oomph.


Are you using accelerated video decode? 1080P should be no problem for just about any Intel iGPU made in the last 5 years or so when using vaapi.


How do I check? I'm using stock ubuntu and VLC.

Edit: looks like it's not. Maybe I'll try to fix it later, but probably not. That should really work out of the box. The hardware definitely supports it, per vainfo.


Should work with mpv at least (I dont use VLC). You can use the --hwdec=vaapi switch to make sure its on, which I believe also needs --vo=opengl for best performance.


I've previously need to download the Intel drivers from their site to get the hardware decode working, but I don't know in your specific case.


RPI has hardware mpeg decode


Here's a google spreadsheet someone put up the last time other options were talked about https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TCugLk0GSukeWjhsLu73...


Are you the owner of the spreadsheet? If so it is missing many x86 options like Udoo, JaguarBoard, UP board and others.


Nope, but i do hope someone makes something more complete


You could add a comment to the doc like others did.


The hackability of the GPIO pins is what keeps me going back to Raspberry Pi.


You may want to check out the rapidly growing number of RPi clones... cheaper and often more powerful, besides still having GPIO pins. You can find a nice list of options on the Armbian download page: https://www.armbian.com/download/


There's a lot of clones, which is a good thing, but they are kind of a mixed bag on software support.

The one advantage of the Raspberry Pi is it's the one with the most of everything. Other noble competitors, like the Beagle, are pretty good too but getting anything to run on them can be really frustrating.


problem is That a lot have terrible hardware support. and virtually no community following.


It gets even worse when you buy really expensive SBCs from random small companies. You want support? They just ignore any emails because they either can't read your language, closed up shop, or just don't care to respond. Only good thing is that at least the hardware is amd64 and it uses drivers that are in the kernel.


Have you considered UDOO x86? It exposes GPIOs from an Intel braswell CPU and a microcontroller. (Disclosure: I do some software development for UDOO)


Just spitballing, but could the serial port of the Optiplex act as a substitute for GPIO pins?


No way to have a GPIO daughter board ?


I've seen USB GPIO breakouts, but not very cheaply, and I suspect driver support might be an issue. Certainly controlling GPIOs via /sys is extremely convenient! Between that and the built-in Ethernet interface, I suspect a Raspberry Pi makes a better GPIO interface for a PC than almost anything else on the market.


Really ? Because this is trivial to make using a microcontroller. Or you can use any FT232 serial interface.

I mean I'd think you'd prefer an arduino for this application over pretty much everything else since you can quickly upload small programs to the arduino that keep the "fast" logic on the arduino.


Arduinos cost more than a lot of Pis, though. And the network interface of a Pi enables some really interesting capabilities that don't exist, or are harder to obtain, with a device that doesn't have one.


I think ESP8266 boards (running something NodeMCU) are becoming the more popular replacements for Arduino. They're super cheap, and have integrated Wifi.

Cool thing about them is that you can write in C-like AVR code (like Arduino), or micro versions of Lua, Python, and other choices.


It's extremely cheap, packs of lolin nodemcu for 10$, and that's the "noob kit".

btw ESP32 are reaching the 6-7$ range for module + serial board.


4 dollars, including shipping. At this price, they're pretty much disposable. Pi's seem to have bad shipping costs, so they're 20$/piece for the cheapest:

https://www.banggood.com/ATmega328P-Nano-V3-Controller-Board...

14 GPIO (although with hacks you can do more), including 10 bit DACs on all of them, and 4 with hardware PWM. Most have alternate functions, like I2C, that can be used.


Still won't be good for a file server, backup server, media server if you care about decent write/read speeds. Sure it will prob read fast enough for your biggest 4K MKVs but those CPUs are always the limiting factor in disk IO performance. Get a fast SSD, get a platter disk - who cares! So you've got 100MB/s of throughput on your gigabit eth. Too bad! These CPUs do AT BEST 30-40MB/s write theoretical - most folks get around 10MB/s. Google the benchmarks. That's crap! Those Atom CPUs are the sorry excuse for a decade of cheap personal NAS devices (prob botnets now) with no balls.


And the article said it would be a pretty good Plex Server as long as you don't care about transcoding. Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of a Plex Server? If I wanted a small single use, flexible, media server, I would get an Nvidia Shield for $200.


Well these are the old Atoms, which are responsible for the bad rep of the brand.

"Neither fast nor efficient, but it surely is slow!"


Off-lease Dell PCs are great for this sort of thing. My AirPort Extreme isn't quite up to the task of routing a gigabit fiber connection with all the bells and whistles, so I got a Dell Precison T1700 off EBay. Quad core 3.2 Ghz Xeon e3 for $150!


That is a great call, an atom would struggle big time running plex, I have a Thinkcentre M92p which is tiny and silent, do wish it had a tiny bit more grunt but was pretty good value for $200.


Have you ever tried an Atom processor for running Plex? I've always been curious how it would perform.

I had an older Atom device running Plex server for quite a while, but back then I almost never needed full transcoding for playback -- usually 'stream direct' which just shifts the MKV container to MP4 -- relatively easy work. And when I did have full transcode, it was either from h.264->h.264 with slightly different profile settings or MPEG-2 -> h.264. I had to configure it for the lowest quality transcoding settings in order to avoid interrupted playback, but it worked. I upgraded to fastest i5 that was offered about two years ago and it's handled everything quite well -- though h.265 transcoding takes substantially longer to start-up and seek than h.264 full transcodes.

I'm curious what modern Atom processors can handle. I know they've made some improvements to the chips, but is it enough, yet?


The Atom is fine for Plex, just don't try to transcode any video, hah - it sucks at that. 99% of everything I watch doesn't need transcoding though. Sometimes the audio needs transcoding, but the Atom 230 in the FX160 handles that.


I have an old Core 2 Duo 2.66Ghz laptop that can handle 2 streams transcoding at once with Plex. You can buy a refurb Core 2 Duo for less than $200. Why bother with an Atom?


Atom 230 in the article: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Atom+230+%40+1... Scores a 308 on passmark. Plex recommends a score of 2000 per HD transcoded stream.


C2758 seems to handle one Plex transcode (H264->H264, maybe with AC3 to AAC) fine. If there's any particular benchmark you'd like me to run, let me know.


Can also confirm no issues with this transcoding on the C2758. I built a SuperMicro 4 drive NAS a few years ago based on this CPU and it has been very solid. Doesn't run well in Docker, but runs well baremetal.


This is one of those moments where I notice the stark difference in good vs. bad branding (in my opinion).

Raspberry Pi.

Dell Optiplex FX160.


You mean Raspberry Pi B+, Rpi B3 or Rpi Zero W ?


What if I have a compute module and compute board? That's still a Raspberry Pi, right?


I think that Dell would claim that their brand is the more valuable for their purposes.


I think parent comment was discussing the names rather than the hardware.

When I think "Raspberry Pi" I think "Oh yeah there's not very many of those, and they're super cheap and low power and useful"

When I think "Dell", I think "Conglomerate"; when I think "Optiplex", I think "stupid-expensive desktop machines"; when I think "FX160" I think "oh great a !@#$ing model number to look up specs for". Yeah, it's 'cheap' and 'powerful' and 'useful', but far more effort goes into identifying its purpose. And, since it doesn't have any GPIO, it's useful in a different way.

Honestly, it's like comparing apples to oranges. One just keeps the doctor away while I use the other as the base for soups.


Horses for courses.

I think that they are both good brands, aimed squarely at the comfort zones of their target market segments.


no, buy a third gen i5 laptop with a broken screen, or even just a motherboard from one. Lenovo X220/X230 motherboards (with 4xcore i5 ~3GHz) are $30-50. PCIE, USB 3.0, SATA, real 1Gbit ethernet, everything Raspee lacks.


That’s tempting! Any suggestions on how to mount the motherboard outside the laptop case?


I leave mine in original cases. There is maybe even a possibility of making it drastically smaller by cutting off right side pcb section with USB/audio/mpcie port, but I havent investigated it yet.

also http://hackaday.com/2017/04/17/broken-yoga-becomes-firewall/


My main usages with RPi 3 includes: - SSH tunnel from outside when I concern about security / privacy - Media box (Kodi runs pretty well) - Running daemons (DDNS updates, torrent, etc) - Running some nodejs scripts

RPi 3 does these very well, why bother with a more power-consuming box? Not to metion RPi 3 has WiFi builtin (I know it's slow, but good enough for my usage)


I tried to use mine as a media box, but as the article notes, rpi can't power an hdd over usb. And I am too lazy to get a powered usb hub and arrange a power cord for that too.


It can power 2.5 inches usb HDD with no issues. All you have to do is get an official power adaptor and set max_usb_current to true.


Gotta try this.


I havent even set the option and rpi2 started to work with one usb drive when i plugged it in the original adapter.


Maybe rpi2 is better for this. I have the old one.


I used a NAS for storage, works fine for me.


I guess it depends on your use case, but after years of running a couple ARM based devices as a home network/NAS server I switched back to an x86. Keeping the ARMs working is just to much effort, and the ARM devices with good support (rpi) don't have reasonable storage or networking options.

The prime example was crashplan. Every year or so they would push a new package, and I would end up taking their jar files apart to replace the native x86 packages with ARM binaries. Then there was the ongoing problems with performance or running out of RAM on machines with soldered RAM. Today you can get low power skylake motherboard/celerons which are sub 15 watts in normal operation and and have very fine grained power controls which allow them to go into suspend or idle below 5W.



I purchased one of these and installed CouchDB, Apache web server, and some webs I've made and it will serve those apps just fine to a small office full of desktops connected to a LAN.

I've made web apps for managing Contacts, Quotes, Invoices, Expenses, Income Reports, ToDo, Chat, and others. I can back up all my data to a remote server (IBM Cloudant for example), and to another Pi in-house as well.

And I've configured it to boot off of the Hard Drive. You don't even need an SD card in it to boot.

Plus, it comes with all the apps already installed on Raspbian so it works well as a desktop PC too. That's a pretty sweet deal.


>I've configured it to boot off of the Hard Drive. You don't even need an SD card in it to boot.

Woah, that's awesome! I had no idea the pi 3 could do that.

I have a Raspberry Pi 2 B and a 3 B at home. I host my website using the 2 B with cloudflare in front of it [1], as well as use it as a login server, but every couple of months the SD card gets corrupted. The last time that happened was a couple of weeks ago and since I'm currently away from home there's nothing I can do to fix it until I get back so now my website is down and additionally I can't send data to my desktop computer for backup, though fortunately I have two external drives with me so I can have multiple copies of my data still just not at different physical locations.

Totally going to put the 3 B in charge of my website and have it boot from a USB stick instead of from SD.

Searched and found a post with more details about this from the Raspberry Pi guys: https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pi-3-booting-part-i-usb-mas...

[1]: https://github.com/eriknstr/interweb


TIL there's even a PXE boot option on the Pi 3, and several other boot modes as well.

https://github.com/raspberrypi/documentation/tree/master/har...


The network boot can be made to work on the RPi 2, I believe. You still need an sd card in there to host the updated boot ROM but it won't be used for anything except booting, so it should be pretty safe from corruption.


Sweet! I've been wondering how much work PXE boot would be.


> every couple of months the SD card gets corrupted.

You may want to check your power supply before switching to USB storage. In my case, the corrupt SD card turned out to be an issue with the power adapter I bought for the raspi Model 3B. Switching to a better 2A adapter fixed the issue.


I am powering the Raspberry Pi from the usb port of my router and would prefer not to have an additional power adapter. However the SD corruption issues also happened previously when I was using the Raspberry Pi for something else and was using a power adapter.

To be honest I think perhaps the SD card I am using is actually bad. I seem to recall that I lost some photos from the same SD card previously when I used it in a digital camera. So I could also try replacing the SD card if I haven't already but at that point I feel like a USB stick will be just as good anyway.

I intend to configure my Raspberry Pi to not write logs and such to persistent memory in order to reduce wear on the storage since such files are of no interest to me anyway, but haven't gotten around to do so yet. Still the files for my website will be on the USB stick though so therefore I wonder, will the read and write speed be ok even with USB? I think it probably will. Additionally I've been wishing to keep the website files themselves in memory as well (but to write to disk when they are changed ofc) but haven't gotten around to that either.


The only downsides to this setup is it take longer to boot and apps take longer to start. Since I never shut it off booting isn't an issue and from what I've noticed it's only the first time you load an app that is slow. If you quit and restart them they load pretty fast.

This is the forum post I followed to setup the Pi to boot from the HD, I think it may be newer than the one you found:

https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/hardware/raspberry...

Worked like a charm.


Not really. Cheap keyboard and mouse, tiny hard drive. You could buy the parts separately for less.


Not really. Not by much anyway, I looked into it.

That kit cost $109.99

Let's do some math...

From WD: Case: 10.99 Power Supply: 12.99 375GB HD: 37.49

From anywhere else: Pi 3: 40.00 Cables: 10.00

Total: 111.47

You still have no keyboard or mouse.



I use 2 pis as cable boxes (running kodi). For me the pi as a media server is appealing because it's size basically makes it part feel like it's built into the TV. There's no fan whirling or power adapter hanging around anywhere. It has never had any stuttering issues with HD content.

It's powerful enough for what I want to use it for and it's tiny enough as to be basically invisible. Could I get more bang for the buck? Sure. But there's something to be said for the qualitative aspects of hardware preferences.


I was almost convinced there, as a low cost retro games emulator that didn't look horrible under my TV... until I noticed that there are no audio ports on the back of the unit. As there's also only VGA/DVI you are stuck for a nice clean way to get a video+audio signal to your amp or TV.

The moment you start having to plug extra bits in (i.e. USB to SPDIF) you've completely undone the the reason to get one imho.

I'll stick to my bread-box mini-itx units. That said, I do like the custom integrated PSU in the Dell.


One of the main advantages of the Raspberry Pi that I rarely see anyone mention is the composite video output.

It's incredibly easy to build an emulation box with a Raspberry Pi that you can connect to an old CRT TV an have the true retro game experience.

If I wanted to do the same on a normal desktop PC, I would need to look around for an old graphics card with a composite output or for some HDMI<->composite adapter (which are quite expensive IIRC)


just get an AMD 5350 APU.

4 or 8 cores at 2+ghz plus a very decent gpu. with a high end motherboard you get it for $100! and there is one itx motherboard that cames with a 20V input plug to not even need a psu!

best part: mine with a ssd and a hdd streaming movies to the tv in 1080p (supports 4k but i get tearing) de will only consume 35W!


If you have a microcenter near you, you get the cpu / ASRock mini-itx mobo (with dc input) for < $50. I have a couple of these in tiny m350 cases and have been very happy.


Or Athlon Kabini if you don't need a GPU


Any ideas how to use a mobile phone for a home server? (At least mobile phones don't have fan noise.)


You can attach an USB Ethernet Network Card using USB On-The-Go. Then if you have a rooted OS you can run whatever you want or you can create an app instead.

You probably want an OTG cable that allows you to charge it while using the network card.


Depends on what it's for, I suppose. These have no ram or hdd. I'd spend $75 on a used Asus Chromebox instead. Then you get 2gb ram + 16gb ssd. And you can reflash it to run regular Linux. Has an open ram slot too.

Or, if you want a fast dev board, the Odroids are $35 to $60.


> Or, if you want a fast dev board, the Odroids are $35 to $60.

The Odroids are fast, yes, but they are stuck with old kernels in Linux, buggy drivers (especially video), and a very limited OS compatibility list overall. If you're developing with the Odroid as your target, fine, but for general purpose computing you're better off with the Pi if you want ARM, or else a cheap x86 box like the article mentions.


The Asus Chromebox is a cheap x86 box. It is basically a cheap NUC.

As for odroid, I mentioned it because one of the points in referenced article was lackluster speed on the Rpi. If the Rpi is fast enough for what you're doing, none of this is needed.


Yep, speed is the biggest issue on the RPi, both the CPU itself (even the Pi 3) and the network/USB bandwidth. The Odroid is faster, but what's the point of having the fastest board in town if you can only run one or two broken distros on it?


Depends on what you're doing with it I suppose. Everything I've needed dev boards for has been headless, so I never had to deal with GPU driver issues. I recall rpi having issues in that area before as well though.

Odroid says it works with Ubuntu 16.04. that's the current LTS, isn't it?


That's changing, because 4.9 kernel is being worked on. Although it is currently buggy, that won't be the case for long.


Used laptops are a great option for a home server. I think people tend to overlook them because it seems counter intuitive to use a laptop as a server. It's actually super practical though. Nice to have things like a built-in display, keyboard, wifi, battery, etc when you need them.


> These have no ram or hdd.

The one the author links to on eBay has 2GB RAM installed. No HDD installed though.


I spent $300 on a refurbished 3ghz HP tower for my HTPC. I don't understand why everyone wants to run Plex and do all that downloading on toy hardware. The time saved during setup and operation due to it being a faster machine pays the difference.


The main thing that will be of interest to people about the comparison:

>Raspberry Pi, case, power adaptor AUD$73.26. Dell Optiplex FX160 around AUD$60

translated to USD:

>Raspberry Pi, case, power adaptor US $54.19. Dell Optiplex FX160 around US $44.39.

(I used Google to convert the currency, didn't look up prices.)


Gah - thanks for pointing this out! I made an error that I'm guessing a few others' did -- I compared the $35USD against the $59AUD price. This makes a little more sense.

There are a few things that offset this, though. The eBay OptiPlex ships without RAM. The author points out that this adds a minimal $20AUD, but that offsets the sticker price difference. In addition, if Hacker News is the target audience and you folks are anything like me, I have a medium sized box filled with USB cables and power adapters -- more than half of which meet the specs to power a Pi, not to mention about 4 high-end multi-port units, one of which sits where my servers are and has available ports. Plus, on my nightstand next to me are three 16GB MicroSD cards that I could re-purpose for a Pi, so those costs are very efficient for me -- I'd just end up actually using something that's laying around.

Neither come with substantial storage, though. So you're going to be buying a drive to attach to either if you want to serve up video files or the likes.

This puts them about even at sticker price, but you're not leaving them in the box. You have to consider total cost of ownership with a PC just like with a car. The author states that these are silent but it has an HDD fan and it's unclear if there are other fans in the device -- these will wear. And then there's the cost of electricity. I couldn't find any data on power consumption at load/idle but a look at the specs indicates that this ships with a (rather economical/small) 50W power supply (it's 87% efficient). 50W for a PC is quite good, but it's awful compared against a Pi. The Pi is 1.4W idle and 3.7W at load[0]. Granted, more would be required for any external disks being added, but going SSD would be low power as well. Assuming the device will be 'always on', the Dell PC will cost substantially more.

[0] If this source is to be believed, anyway: https://www.pidramble.com/wiki/benchmarks/power-consumption


50W would appear to be a maximum, the article shows a meter at 20W which is presumably total power from the wall socket. Once power consumption gets low enough it should cease to be a consideration. Everybody will have their own threshold for "low enough", but I personally wouldn't stay awake at night over 20W.


I keep having awful luck with USB power adapters and RPis, to the point that I buy a specific adapter to go with each Pi.


It can be a little tricky, but if you know what the adapter is rated to handle it usually isn't too tough to find one that works. About 5 years ago I ordered some 4-port 2.1A Monoprice PoS adapters for a few bucks a piece. I routinely use these for my RPis, but with only one RPi plugged in (add any second device and the thing will start flaking).


Also, a real time clock is probably included on the FX160. And sleep states.


As others have pointed out, there are definitely some flaws with the logic applied here.

> It’s faster, cheaper and still relatively small

Yes, the Optiplex is going to perform better at a lot of things. The prices I'm seeing are around $60 -- the Pi is either $10 for the Zero with WiFi or $45 for the "3" with a reasonably sized Micro SD card. Granted, your needs may include more storage than what's offered by a Micro SD card, so that would set the sticker price higher, but the Optiplex that was linked to didn't include storage, either. But the bigger area where the Pi is going to be less expensive is in power utilization. The Pi is really cheap to run. These things don't even need active cooling to run well.

But it's also not really fair to equate these two devices. It's not even fair to say 'for a home server' -- that all depends on what you're going to use it for. If you're using it as a low power home server for sharing files and/or basic web app, REST service or home automation hub and have no intention of doing processor intensive tasks like media re-encoding[0], the Pi is a good fit and economical to leave powered on all the time. My Plex server, in fact, points to a device that's a Pi competitor which has archived media on it.

Then, there's noise and heat. Provided spindle drives aren't used, Pis are completely silent and generate substantially less heat than a full-sized PC. I am fairly certain the Atom processor in that Dell has active cooling. Even if it's a heat-sink only design, those usually include ducting that feeds off one or more other fans in the device (which end up being more powerful/louder to handle cooling the extra components). Minimally, there's at least one fan running all the time. Yes, you can buy quiet fans (adding to the cost) and nearly eliminate this sound, but in my case, my Pi clone doesn't even have a heat-sink on the CPU. It shares a case with three, rather hot, drives (though I've designed it with ducting and separation to reduce the impact of this heat). It has been running that way for over a year without difficulties.

[0] The specific mention of Plex leads me to believe the author was targeting those of us who want a Plex Media Server on an RPi. I'm not sure how well Plex works on the Pi, but I use my Plex server with a Roku and many of my videos must be re-encoded to h.264/MP4 from h.265/MKV on the server in order to play them back -- I also have to re-encode to a lower bitrate when I'm remote. I'm not confident the Pi could handle those tasks.

[1] It's either a Banana Pro or Orange Pi; can't remember -- I haven't had to touch the hardware since I set it up. It's Ethernet attached with a 1TB SATA drive and two 2TB USB disks. The device handles the task perfectly. In fact, I only set it up because my i5 server case was too small to take on the storage, so I printed up a case to house the Pi clone and the drives. It also serves up a REST service that my SmartThings uses to control my garage door and older Pioneer receiver, as well as a node service that lets my Alexa control my Roku. I even had it set up to run Octoprint to control my 3D printer, but purchased a Pi 3 for that because I wanted to relocate the printer.


I use Plex on the FX160 and basically nothing needs to be transcoded. Streams fine to my PS4, Chromecast and iOS devices. The content I have is in H264 though, I don't leech/encode any H265 yet.


I hadn't thought about that - the Atom processor might not be sufficient for typical transcoding tasks, either. While it may perform better than the ARM, can it do a full transcode to H.264 -> H.264 at different profiles/bitrates or MPEG-2 to H.264? If it can, that would cover a lot and I don't think the ARM processor in the Pi would be up to that task. If it can't, then the added speed doesn't really help any since it wouldn't be fast enough to reach the threshold of usefulness.

I'm guessing that the Atom processor in that device can't handle H.265->H.264. I'm using a two-year-old i5 (top-end of that class of processor at the time) and while it manages, it's pretty close to the edge with the version of ffmpeg they're using.


The article claims the Intel Atom 230/330 CPU is vastly superior to the Raspberry Pi CPU, then says "look at these benchmarks" and links to a page last updated in August 2013. I would like to know how the single core Atom compares to recent versions of the Pi that have a quad core.


Sadly free shipping and price in AU$ almost always means it will ship only in Australia.

Interesting for other uses, surely not for HD video playing, which to me is the only strong selling point for a RPi now that the Orange, Nano PIs and other SBCs surpassed it nearly in every other aspect.



Site must be running off a Dell FX160 ;-)


Yeah, sorry about that. Normally nobody reads the things I write. Had some Apache config issues.


"Error establishing a database connection"

Install a caching plugin!


Appears as though the influx of traffic that Hacker News creates, has struck another website down again, haha. Thanks for the archived link.


Minnowboard sounds like the open source equivalent. It also has gpio, i2c, etc...


After getting tired of RPis corrupting SD cards I just took my old Mac mini 2006, swapped the CPU for a Core 2 Duo (was Core Duo), flashed firmware from the 2007 model, installed an SSD (yea sure SATA 1 limits bandwidth but latency is sooo much better) and installed HardenedBSD. (For which I had to compile GRUB 2 for 32-bit EFI, because well the machine has a 32-bit EFI, and fuck no I'm not using CSM. GRUB 2 worked very well.)

Unfortunately there is an issue with the Ethernet: https://bugs.freebsd.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=206567 so right now my home server is on Wi-Fi :D Which has been perfectly reliable so far, thanks to the good old Atheros card.


If your pi is corrupting the flash drive it's because you don't have it configured for the storage system. You should really be using raspbian which is configured out the box to limit writes to the flash drive. A journaling FS will cook a flash drive in a few months,


RPi corrupting SD cards, how did you confirm it was RPi the one at fault?


I had a corrupted SD card after power outages or when I overclocked the Pi too much. After several times and re-images the damage was permanent and had to replace the SD-card.


It was a common fault at one point. Don't know if it's fixed or not.


I rescued a bunch of these after they were thrown out by a hospital for which I worked. Absolutely fantastic little machines; they run OpenBSD or your average GNU/Linux distro like a charm.


Looks like a good option, but if want to stay in arm land and need more power and connectivity (sata/more ram/gbit ethernet) the bananapi might be a good alternative.


Wow. The Optiplex is $10 AUD cheaper.

And then if you follow the other advice and spend $20 AUD on RAM, and buy an SSD, and do a few other things...

It's not cheaper.


Woke up today, went to hackernews while still in bed, found this article, read 2 sentences, bought one.

You better be right!


> H.264 decoding cards

What's the purpose of installing one of these in a home server? (Genuinely curious)


Media server


Anybody knows if this chipset (SiS Mirage 3) has 3D support on Linux (for Kodi/OpenELEC)?


If it had any way to provision a second non-USB Ethernet port, I'd already own several.


Have you considered pcengines boards? https://www.pcengines.ch/apu2.htm


No thanks. I'll take new over used.

Just just got a W zero for $24 CAD shipped (Vancouver)


> I'll take new over used.

The irony is that most corporate class hardware will last until well beyond obsolescence before breaking. I've heard people say they don't want to buy a refurbished ThinkPad because they're worried about longevity.

Those things will outlast any consumer grade laptop you buy today.


True indeed. I still have a T22 and a T30, mothballed. I'm not sure what I'd even use them for these days... and the batteries crapped out long ago.

My T42 is also still useful enough to continue using, though its battery also succumbed to "always plugged in" syndrome.

My current daily driver is an i7-equipped X201 Tablet. While I don't have much use for the pen-based tablet mode, it was still a very nice laptop for a very nice price.

The X201 came with a good enough battery that I decided to set a maximum charge of 80% to (hopefully) make it last a few more years.


better alternatives than the Raspberry Pi here https://www.armbian.com/download/

I highly recommand the odroid xu4


tl;dr - Buy this stock of FX160's on ebay now, they're better I promise.


actually its not a bad idea if you don't care about size...


how's the capacitor rot on these optiplexes?


Consider the New Banana PiR2

It is supposed to have GBit Ethernet now: http://www.banana-pi.org/r2.html


#neverconsiderdell


Care to explain? I pretty much exclusively buy Dell laptops. Their linux support is pretty good these days.


Perhaps it's just me, but I feel I'm seeing more and more thinly veiled advertisement on HN.

I mean, almost every claim debatably, is an exaggeration or blatantly false.

As CFTM pointed out, the whole thing is a bunch of weak arguments for you to buy some old, out out lease hardware on ebay.

Or buy a known good product, spend the extra cash on the accessories you want, and get what you want.


Please don't insinuate this kind of thing on HN unless you have evidence. It degrades the spirit of the community and most of the time is quite inaccurate.

There's a cognitive bias whereby we assume that if something seems wrong to us, nobody else could possibly hold that view in good faith (i.e. they must be astroturfing or shilling). But people hold opposing views in good faith all the time.


What's your theory, that the author is actually the one selling the units on eBay?

TFA made a reasonable argument for why this was a great deal. I can't find any fault, and certainly it's not an ad.


Indeed, while I would like to see them post some cons to go along with the pros, it definitely felt more like sharing a neat find rather than an advertisement. Dell certainly isn't profiting from the sale of 2008 era thin clients on the used market.


I'm definitely not selling them! I just think they're cool. I picked one up out of curiosity and thought I'd let people know. I did chuck my affiliate code on the eBay link though.


I'll back you up on that one, even though a few of my posts pointed out some things that I think you should have also considered in your analysis.

The reality is that this little PC is a solid choice to consider for a low-end home server -- especially if you have a particular need/desire for x86[0]. They're different platforms that serve different purposes and a micro-desktop like this has a lot of good uses. I used to use a similar device as my playback PC and loved that I could play back every format without having something have to transcode it for me[1].

It didn't even cross my mind to think of that post as 'advertising' or that you might be the actual seller, and I use affiliate links any time I link to a product where I have an affiliate account. I think I've made $5 over a few years, so I wouldn't be inclined to think the inclusion of an affiliate link causes a post to be considered spammy or a motivation to spam. For me, it's just easier to click the associates banner at the top and get a short-link that way.

Personally speaking, I enjoyed the post and think it had plenty of value even though I didn't agree completely with the conclusion and decided to pull a 'Someone is Wrong on the Internet!'[2]. So to offset this small amount of grief you have received, consider this my 'Many Thanks for Sharing' and encouragement to continue to do so.

[0] Personally, I reload my computer enough and it's always painful for me to go through the steps of setting up my environment for cross-compiling to ARM. I never quite get it right on the first try and often give up half-way through, delaying getting things done that I want to do. If it's x86, I can compile locally and cp away.

[1] I'm not sure if that processor could handle H.265, but at the time I was running this device -- which later became my Plex server -- H.265 didn't exist. If it can play back h.265, that would make this quite a solid product for that purpose.

[2] And this being 10:30 PM, my time, I'm literally: https://xkcd.com/386/


Nothing with an Atom CPU will do H265 playback. It'll stream fine with Plex to a playback device that supports it, but I'm not sure what's out there that supports H265. Maybe some sort of Chinese Android TV box?

Glad you enjoyed the post :)


Hey thanks for the tip. I've been thinking of setting up little media station thing...getting tired of using my mac keyboard as a remote..

I have a question.. for anybody, what is the difference between using a PC as media server as OP describes, or using a little Android box thing like the Mi, or something like Apple TV?

Basically I have a MBP, and I'll be getting a TV soon, and I want to be able to easily watch dls on the TV, using a remote. And I'd prefer not to have my laptop doing the grunt work.

Any opinions/explanations appreciated! ta


Anything with an Amlogic S905, cheap and popular in China, will decode H265 in hardware at 4K. I like the Xiaomi Hezi 3.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amlogic#Media_player_SoCs_.28S...




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