In general, “server” and “low energy use” are mutually exclusive, at least compared to something like a NUC’s energy use, although newer, low end servers are a lot better than they used to be in that regard.
I kind of wish I could afford a cheap version of some of the Cisco gear I get to work on here: You could use it as a router, switch (NIM module) and run a VM for your server(s) (another NIM module is a UCS VM server),
That may not help, but is jsut the weird stuff I’d like to do.
You won’t be able to run MS Server as they have their own operating systems (usually Linux based), but I’ve found that isn’t an issue.
I have a Synology DS415+ and love it. It has an incredible number of uses:
File server (obviously)
Media server (I’ve ripped all my DVDs / Blu-rays and they get served up from my NAS - also any downloaded TV shows*)
Database server (though I think it only does MariaDB)
Cloud server (I use this to access my files from work)
You wouldn’t want to do all those things at once because it is a lightweight server - my one only has 2Gb of RAM. I have it doing files, media (that’s all media - video, music, photos), cloud, and sometimes Docker when I’m playing with that.
* Not that I’m saying I do that sort of thing of course, but Duckie TV is apparently a wonderful invention
I use Group Policy on my domain to control some desktop settings (printer mapping, login settings, for example) and I really like Active Directory to control user access. I have the occasional guest for game (tabletop) who logs into the domain to access character sheets or other game materials. I also feel that it’s a good thing to have the domain at home, so I can be an example to my students. I teach MS classes, after all.
Another vote for a NUC, sized appropriate to your needs.
My guess for your requirements would be this one, which comes with a Broadwell i3 and can take a 2.5" drive and/or an M.2 drive. Cost right now is $291.
You’ll need RAM (8GB would be a good start) and a disk (a 120GB Samsung 850 EVO is a great fit for something like this).
Total cost before shipping/taxes would be $433.61.
If that’s too high, then you could take a whack at reducing your RAM (might save $10-20) or going with a lower-priced SSD (again, might save $10-20), but there aren’t that many cost reductions to be had here. You could also downgrade your NUC from an i3 to something less capable—see the NUC comparison chart for an outline of your options.
We just recently replaced our conference room computers with NUCs. We mounted them under the table so now it looks like there is just a magical wireless keyboard and mouse on the table. Pretty good specs too (Core i5, 128 GB SSD, 16 GB of RAM). Our IT director wants to do the mount behind the monitor thing when we do a hardware refresh in our call center. I’m all for it because those desks have limited space anyway. And also because most of the computers over there are POSes and the aforementioned NUCs would be a great upgrade.
Yeah, I live some of the tiny gear today, and I say that as someone with a couple 19" rack cases in my basement lab stuff. And as the guy who (mockingly) joked with the Mainframe admin at my previous job years ago because I no longer had the largest piece of equipment in the data center when her mainframe got moved in.
I use mine for work from home. Instead of a laptop I have a couple monitors and keyboards at home and the office. I throw the NUC in my bag and tote it around. All I have to do is keep track of my USB key.