New home media server

So I need a new media server for home for music files and Plex. My friends over at have had good luck with Intel NUCs, so I’m going to give that a try. Running Linux of course. I do sometimes use it as a generic Unix system and server for other things, but it’s not for heavy duty computation.

Parts list:

  • $343 Intel NUC7i5BNH
    The main system, based on an i5-7260U. This one is the “tall” version with room for an extra internal 2.5″ drive.
  • $163 16GB of DDR4-2133 RAM, Corsair CMK16GX4M2A2133C13
    FAIL. This is desktop RAM and will not fit in the NUC.
  • $190 16GB of SODIMM DDR4-2133 RAM, HyperX HX421S13IB2K2/16
    16GB may be overkill, but I like RAM. Also this is remarkably low latency ram (CL 13). $90 for 8GB of Crucial RAM is probably just fine.
  • $108 256GB SSD, Samsung 970 EVO
    The current hotness in SSDs for the operating system.
  • $50 1TB 2.5″ hard drive, WD Blue
    A cheap internal drive for media files. Could be bigger or faster but I don’t need it. I think the NUC is limited to 9.5mm high drives.

Total without tax is $690. FWIW Apple’s similar system is $700 for a slightly faster CPU but no SSD and only 8GB of RAM. So I’d put the Apple tax at about $120 which isn’t that bad when you think about it.

I’m a little bummed that Intel hasn’t updated this NUC in awhile; this model was first sold a year and a half ago. But nothing really important has changed in the intervening time, and there’s something to be said for a tried-and-true system.

One confusing thing; Intel is also selling NUCs with “16GB of Optane memory installed”. This is not system RAM. Optane is more of a cache for the hard drive. There’s no Linux support and anyway I’m going with a real SSD.

I’m going to build this myself. A reasonable alternative would be to get a System76 Meerkat, a rebranded NUC where they do the installation work for you. A similar system from them is about $1000.