Niels Segers

Full Stack Developer at delta.app


The struggles of an impulsive buyer (Server Edition)

I’ve been using single board computers for quite a while now and have used them for a variety of experiments and fun little projects over the years. The main use I have for them though is to improve my home network and for ease of use. The ones I already have running at home are:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3b+ which is used as an OpenVPN server and web server to run my personal website on together with a backend and database
  • An Odroid C2 which is used as a file server with samba and droppy (was originally used as a Plex server) because of it’s ability to transcode unlike the Raspberry Pi.

The newest addition to the family is an Odroid H2.

With a background in DevOps I always have fun to tinker with stuff in my home for ease of use in my network and then automate it and simplify it by dockerizing it. But the ARM SBC's were holding back the fun a bit. The ARM architecture resulted in things often taking longer than they should’ve compared to setting up on an x86 architecture, trying to find the ideal ARM image for the job. Paired with an M.2 SSD and 8GB of 3200Mhz RAM this baby allows me to do whatever I want (or need). I even got a fancy case for the thing so it fits nicely on my desk. The final price tag was roughly 343.22€.

So how did I get to buying this SBC? Well...

I started searching around for some of the better x86 intel based SBC’s on the market which would allow me to setup a more powerful home server for a relatively cheap budget. And after some in depth research I had brought it down to 2 options. The Lattepanda Alpha and the Odroid H2

The Lattepanda Alpha is a beautiful piece of technology, no denying that. And a bit overkill for most use cases. But the price makes you wonder if it’s still worth investing that much money in an SBC with a price tag of around 400€... But! Even though it’s expensive I could already see the fun I could be having with this board. Running both Windows and Hackintosh on it while still allowing me to set up stuff like a file server and game servers. But what caught my eye about the Lattepanda was the possibility to plug in an actual GPU! I was so pumped to actually use it as a small easy to transport gaming PC or server for LAN parties and such. So pumped that I preordered one immediately. Yay for impulsive buying of fancy stuff! But after a while the price tag started sinking in and I started realising that I would still have to spend a reasonable amount of money to complete this project (RAM, SSD, GPU). It felt like I was making a really irresponsible purchase with a baby coming up. So I cancelled the preorder. I guess sometimes you just have to tell yourself NO!

So I started looking into the Odroid H2 again. Even though the board is less powerfull than the beast Lattepanda Alpha, the base price of 110€ is what sealed the deal. You can find more information on the H2 on the website by clicking here but allow me to summarize the specs.

  • Intel Quad-core processor J4105 (14nm) with 4MiB Cache, up to 2.5Ghz(Single Thread) or 2.3Ghz(Multi Thread)
  • Dual-channel Memory DDR4-PC19200 (2400MT/s)
  • Total 32GiB RAM Space with two SO-DIMM slots
  • 4 x PCIe 2.0 for one M.2 NVMe storage
  • 2 x Gbit Ethernet ports
  • 2 x SATA 3.0
  • SSE4.2 accelerator (SMM, FPU, NX, MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, AES)
  • Intel UHD Graphics 600 (Gen9.5 LP GT1) up to 700Mhz
  • HDMI 2.0 and DP 1.2 multiple 4K/60Hz video outputs
  • RTC / BIOS backup battery is included

Even though I won’t be able to use it as a portable gaming PC (not that I need one since I already have an overkill station at home) it still allows me to use it to do whatever I want for a relatively cheap price.

After experimenting for a bit I set up a Minecraft server and a Colony Survival server running alongside each other and was so happy to see that the thing can handle it so well even under load. Temperatures don't even exceed 40 degrees Celsius! I still remember trying to get a basic modded Minecraft server up and running on my RPI that would go OOM if too many chunks were loaded when 2 people went separate ways on the server. I also moved over the Samba fileserver from my old Odroid C2 to the H2 which is now also running smooth as butter.

I'm looking for more ideas on what to do next with this baby. Feel free to contact me on Twitter if you have any.

Written by Niels Segers