New Security System Server

The original server I was using for the security system is about three years old. Due to an underestimate on my behalf as to how much CPU time recording multiple cameras would take, it has also become underpowered for the application. Recently it has been running at about 90% CPU utilisation.

With the intention of adding a new camera sometime in the future, I decided it was time to upgrade the system.

The Design

This time I decided to build a custom server for the application. This allowed me to include everything I wanted. The hardware I eventually decided on was the following:

  • Intel Quad Core i5 (6th Generation)
    • This processor would have more than enough power to run the current setup and to allow for future expansion.
  • DDR4 RAM
    • As DDR4 RAM is becoming more mainstream now I thought it would be good to include.
    • As I intend to keep the system running for a long time I wanted to still be able to get parts in the future.
  • SSD
    • I decided to run the operating system off an SSD to make it faster and hopefully more reliable.
    • As the video recording would result in almost constant activity to the recording hard drive, I wanted to run the operating system off a different drive.
  • 2TB + Rotational Hard Drive
    • I didn’t want the videos to be recorded to the same drive as the operating system.
    • Instead I added a 2TB rotational drive to hold the recordings.
    • They are also mirrored to an external drive for redundancy.
  • Rack Mountable Case
    • To consume the least amount of space in my rack I decided the best case would be one that could be rack mountable.
    • I didn’t want to installĀ a special cooling system, like some of the smaller 1U and 2U rack cases require.
      • I decided to go for a 3U rack case as it would allow be to use the stock CPU cooler and have room for full size PCIe cards.
  • High Quality Power Supply
    • As this server was going to be operational all of the time, a high quality power supply was essential.
  • Windows 10 Pro
    • Blue iris, which is used to control the cameras only runs on windows (Otherwise I would have used Linux)
    • I decided it was best to go with the latest version of Windows, being Windows 10
    • Finally I wanted access to Remote Desktop as the server would be running headless, therefore I required the professional edition.

Building the Computer

The case I purchased allowed sufficient room for the motherboard. However, the power supply I purchased was physically too large to fit into the case. The back of the power supply would hit the hard drive mount.

To solve this problem I removed the hard drive mount from its intended location. I then found that there was enough space below the power supply in the case to mount the hard drives. I had to cut off unnecessary parts of the bracket, but eventually was able to mount the hard drives to the bottom of the case, under the power supply.

Setup

Once I installed Windows, I had to reconfigure Blue Iris again. This was not too difficult as all of the devices have static IP addresses and they are all well documented. The task that took the most time was calibrating the camera’s motion detection settings.

Once the system was completly running I noted that the idle CPU utilisation was only 25%. This was a significant improvement from the old system, which was averaging 90%.