Is there a low-power, low-cost computer with a PCI-e 2.0 x8 slot?
June 7, 2013 4:36 PM   Subscribe

I would like to build a new router for my home network. It won't generally need to do a lot of work, but I do need it to have a PCI-e 2.0 x8 (or higher) slot to accommodate a QDR InfiniBand adapter. Beyond this requirement, my next-highest-priority goal is that this machine not consume a lot of electricity when idle or mostly idle. A low purchase price would be nice, too. I plan to build this machine from parts (motherboard, CPU, etc), although if the cost is low enough, a pre-manufactured system would be fine too. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
posted by Juffo-Wup to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm in kind of the same spot- all I want is an ITX board with an Atom processor and one or two PCI-e slots. I can't find one. It's possible the (current) Atom chipsets don't support PCIe.

If I can't find one after too long, I'm going to build a machine with the cheapest Intel board and Celeron I can find. And possibly underclock/undervolt it. (I'm currently using a P3-733 to do the job, and the CPU never budges from 0. So CPU really isn't a problem. But I need the next machine to be IPv6 and Gigabit. And I'm not shoving a gigabit card into a PCI slot.)
posted by gjc at 4:54 PM on June 7, 2013

I was looking at doing something with an AMD A4 5300 (FM2 socket) and a Gigabyte F2A55M-DS2 yesterday. Just because the local computer shop is selling them off cheap. Sort of looks like they might meet your needs.
posted by Ahab at 4:56 PM on June 7, 2013

The HP MicroServer N54L is low power and has a PCIe x16 slot, and has recently been on sale for as low as $230. Expect to see more sales as the new version will be released shortly.

Of course the Atom supports PCIe. Supermicro x7spa-h-d525 here on the bench works very nicely.
posted by jgreco at 4:57 PM on June 7, 2013

Search ebay for cheap shuttles, then google the model numbers. Any model newer than the P4 ones has a PCI-x16 slot, and they often have 150w power supplies and draw very little.

I found this in less than a minute. I bet you could get a comparable one for even cheaper too, the buy it now for that one is a bit high.

I also found this, and going down the rabbit hole a bit deeper i found it on that recycling companies own website for cheaper. Some googling revealed it apparently has a 1x and 8x slot, and only has a 220w PSU which is lower than any of the SFX power supply based systems on newegg. It's like a very low power machine. I also found a few mentions of machines like this that are atom based and also have a PCI-e slot(although the newegg page for that doesn't mention it, it apparently does) but they also run on the same 200w or so PSUs and likely wouldn't draw much less power.

I've looked in to building my own small machine to specifically run something like what you're trying to do, and the cost of the components is just always more than getting a recycled/used machine with similar specs. An insult to injury thing is that most of the prebuilt ones(like this) only have pci-e x1.
posted by emptythought at 5:25 PM on June 7, 2013

Response by poster: Of course the Atom supports PCIe. Supermicro x7spa-h-d525 here on the bench works very nicely.

Although that port is x16 mechanical, it is only x4 electrical. I need x8 electrical for my application, unfortunately.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 7:48 PM on June 7, 2013

FYI, 200 watts is not low power. A computer monitor will use around 120 watts. The AirPort Extreme base station router uses 21.6 watts. Not saying you shouldn't build your rig, but don't think you're saving electricity bucks in the process.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:57 PM on June 7, 2013

I think something like the Stealth designs are about as low power as you'll get with an expansion slot.

There are lower power pc's out there (e.g. tiny green pc but expansion slots limit your choices
posted by blob at 5:18 AM on June 8, 2013

Response by poster: Not saying you shouldn't build your rig, but don't think you're saving electricity bucks in the process.

Oh, no, my current router is already nicely low-power, but it does not have PCI-e. My reason for building a new one is to be able to accommodate the PCI-e adapter I want to put in it, while hopefully not increasing its power usage compared to the old router by too much.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 9:14 AM on June 8, 2013

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