Media Server Processor (CPU)

Media Server Processor Guide

Before we get started, I’m going to start by saying…power consumption, power consumption, and power consumption! This is a huge! Remember we are essentially building another computer to handle a few tasks of another and in doing so, we are taking up extra power. Our goal should be limiting the power consumption of our media server.

Having said the above, we should hunt for a processor that has a proven low power track record. Two processors come into mind, the Intel Atom and Amd E-350. The Intel Atom was king of lower power applications, until the AMD E-350 came along. The E-350 uses roughly the same amount of power, is a bit quicker, can playback 1080p, and has a few more connectivity options. Right now, the E-350 would be my choice for a simple media server.

NOTE: I’d also use a E-350 for a Standalone HTPC!

You might wonder why I’m recommending a processor that is capable 1080p playback for a media server build. The reason is, its cheap! You can’t get any better for less. Try finding a motherboard and processor combo that use equal to or less power than the E-350. You can’t. So if it comes with a few extra bells and whistles, so be it.


GIGABYTE GA-E350N-USB3 AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

ASRock E350M1/USB3 AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

MSI E350IA-E45 AMD E-350 APU, dual core Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

ASUS E35M1-I Fusion AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

If you are planing to go with a ZFS storage system, you’ll need to choose another processor/motherboard combo. The E-350s do not support memory ECC. You’ll probably go with some type of AMD combo because Intel generally reserves ECC for server grade equipment. My recommendation is to find an AMD 160u! These are generally only found on ebay, but are worth it! They have a TDP (thermal design power) of 20 watts! and are capable of accepting unbuffered/uregistered ECC ram. Also make sure your motherboard supports the ECC feature!

Next lets talk about some motherboard options!

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