Building a Micro Server – Part 1

You might recall a number of months back I was working on repurposing an old iMac into a web server. I was doing this more because it could be done and not because I had to. Truth is I have two other servers which have more then enough head room to take on the additional, and somewhat minor load of web serving duties. But it was the challenge — or complete and utter geek indulgence — that drove me to waste spend my time making something of the old iMac G3.

However, the footprint of an iMac G3 (both physically and environmentally) is not ideal. You can’t rack mount an iMac G3, or stick it on a shelf or hide it under a desk… So I promptly ditched the idea and trumped it up as good bit of fun and some R&D.

But the bug for a smaller server had been planted… I was really liking the idea of a mini server that I could stow away under my desk (and not in a sound proof closet). Not just a web server, but a little everything server.

I had initially toyed with the idea of buying a Mac Mini for this but thought my wife would likely kill me for buying a new Mac as an experimental toy server while she continues to work from a PowerMac G4 (that happens to be dying a slow death). So I set about seeing what it would take to build my own micro server with all new parts that would approximate the Mac mini. Could it be done for less?

This is what I found (no affiliation):


The total, if you include the hard drive, is $397.95 ($345.96 without hard drive). That’s more then $250 – $300 less then the Mac Mini. I know it’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges; the chip is slower, the bus is slower, the footprint is bigger and the I/O doesn’t really compare. On the flip side, the Mac mini doesn’t have a server grade power supply, is limited to slower laptop HDD’s and can’t be rack mounted. There are tradeoff’s either way but when I look at what I am hoping to use it for — web/file/media server — the differences will be outweighed by the 40% – 45% savings of the home built micro server.

This was enough for me, I was sold on the idea. If for nothing else then the pure geeky joy of it… so I went ahead and ordered the parts.

In part two I will show you the assembly of the micro server once the parts arrived, and some of the hiccups I had.

Read part 2

[tags]how to,server,mac mini[/tags]