I the last years I decided to put a stop on my RasperryPI2 and have a mini pc always on.
It is a very slow centrino with 2 CPU threads and 8Gb of RAM, a huble micro SATA SSD and works great with Debian Linux. I use it as a benchmark to understand if a project is worth studying: if the CPU Load stay low, the code is very well written.
I use it to run PIHole, a custom Gitea Server and the nice healthcheck monitor system for my home lab. It can be used to do docker builds too, and have access to my diskstation NAS when disk space become a issue.
I have started to see if there are some configuration you can apply to get decent mini server for more heavy usage, using used spare parts too.
RasperryPi2 is nice because it has low power consumption, but RasperryPI4 needs more powerful adapter, and it seems a bad fit as cluster server, because it scales bad with rising costs of electricity. So the RasperryPi series now is pricely and a bad fit for a mid-size home server cluster.
- At least 4 CPU, 2Ghz+
- RAM 8GB+
- SSD: 256MB+
- Linux runs well
- USB-C/USB-3 Extension
- Cost around 500€
To create a powerful server cluster you need at least two of them, scaling up to 3 or 4 so the single unit cost should stay around 500€ to keep the overall cost behind 2000/2400€.
Big Company like Lenovo, Dell and HP sell ‘mini’ office-pc often used as cheap workstation or dumb terminal server.
Offices buy them in bulk and then sell them when they do routine changes, so it is easy to find them as refurbished.
ThinkCentre M93p Tiny USDT, Intel Core i5, SSD 512 GB, 16 GB RAM
Around 250 €, it is fain-less with 2×3.60Ghz Intel Core i5-4570T. Very cheap but seems not a good bet for a server.
I am not an Intel-fantic, and my experience with Ryzen-based CPU was fairly good.
This model costs less then a Dell Optiflex mini pc and seems a decent assembled one.
Mini Pc DELL OptiPlex 3060
This series seems a bit more pricely, but spot a Core i7-8700T. The PC is used and the i7 is the most powerful one, featuring:
Intel Core i7-8700T (6 Cores/12 MB cache/12 Threads/up to 4.0 GHz/35 W); supports Windows 10/Linux
Plenty of Beelink with a good price tag can be found on Amazon.