A home server is a great idea if you want to store and back up data. In today’s world, we take hundreds of pictures every year, so it would be a good idea to have a place where your family could store all those photos. You can also access the data from anywhere inside your house (or even remotely with the help of some software), host a gaming server, or even run a web site.
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of making your personal home server. It can be a great gateway to learning more about tech. If you are planning to build a home server, we will help you choose the best CPU for home server. You will find a range of different options that will suit your needs.
Best CPU for Home Server
- Best Overall: AMD Ryzen 5 3600.
- Best for Plex: Intel Core i7-9700K.
- Best Budget: AMD Ryzen 3 3200G.
- Ultimate CPU for Home Server: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X.
What to Look For When Buying a Server CPU
The best CPU for home server will vary from person to person, but there are some things that you need to pay attention to. What you want to use the server for and how much storage you need are the primary concerns for the vast majority. If you plan to use your home server for more than just storing data, you will need something with more cores and more power.
A home server can be a powerful gaming machine that your entire family can stream from, but your network has to be very good in that case because any lag can ruin your experience. This is especially convenient if you have a large house but do not plan to buy multiple computers. Even if you do have multiple gaming computers, a server can still be of great use. You can use a home server to store games and then load from them as well, but you have to have fast storage and a good network.
The best CPU for home server that is used only for storage and playing movies would be something cheap. You can even buy a used low-end computer for that purpose, but the reliability of such hardware is questionable. It is especially dangerous when it comes to old hard drives because they are prone to failure and, if they do fail, you are going to lose all your data.
There is also the question of ECC RAM support. If you do not know what that is, ECC stands for “error-correcting code”, which is a type of memory that can detect and correct errors. This is a very important feature if you can’t risk losing any data, though for most people it is not a big factor. ECC ram is mostly used in servers and workstations for that exact purpose.
If you plan to do more advanced stuff, such as virtualization, you will need a high-end CPU and expect to pay more than $300 for it. Something like an Intel Xeon or Core i9 or an AMD Threadripper or Ryzen 9 is what you need for running multiple operating systems without any compromises on a single home server CPU.
When it comes to choosing the best CPU for home server that supports ECC functionality, the choice can be difficult. You need a CPU and motherboard that will support the ECC features of the RAM. Otherwise, it will just run in non-ECC mode. Doing proper research on both the CPU and motherboard is very important if you care about that. So, let’s now move on to finding the best CPU for home server.
Top 4 Best CPU for Home Server
1- Best Overall – AMD Ryzen 5 3600
The Ryzen 5 3600 is a do-it-all CPU that is the best and most reasonable choice when building a new computer. It is great at everything that it does – gaming, work, video editing, photo editing, etc. So, it is no surprise that this is the best CPU for home server as well. Not only is this CPU a great value, but it is also a future-proof chip that is guaranteed to last you a very long time. The low CPU TDP, good stock cooler, and low heat output also mean that your CPU is going to last a long time.
And since most people do not upgrade their computers very frequently, servers are no exception to that either. This is why choosing a CPU that is going to last you around 10 years without any issues is a sound investment. Also, if you care about ECC support, this CPU will support it, depending on the motherboard. And if you plan to use your home server for watching multiple video streams, this CPU will make short work of it.
The benchmarks of this CPU show that it has outstanding multithreaded performance, which is important for a range of different workloads. The 6 cores and 12 threads allow for great multitasking performance, so a few people using the home server in different ways at the same time won’t be an issue. The only downside is that Ryzen CPUs do not support Quick Sync like Intel chips do, which means that an Intel equivalent would do a better job at high bitrate transcoding for Plex.
2- Best for Plex – Intel Core i7-9700K
The main reason why the previous-gen 9700K instead of the current-gen 10700K is recommended here is the price difference. While the 10700K is a much better performer, largely thanks to the 16 threads vs the 9700K’s 8 threads, we can’t justify spending around $100 more. If you can afford it, then by any means do buy the 10700K, but the 9700K will be more than enough for streaming multiple 4K videos from Plex, as long as you have a great network to go with the great CPU.
The i7-10700K has 8 cores, so any form of multitasking will be a breeze. It will outperform the Ryzen 5 3600 without costing much more, so it is a great choice if you want a high-end home server. Storing data, doing work remotely, rendering, playing games, hosting a video-game server, hosting multiple websites, and so much more can be done without any problems on this CPU.
If you have a large family that can benefit from something high-end, then this is the best CPU for home server. Streaming multiple 1080p, 4K, or perhaps even 8K won’t be an issue on a server that runs on an i7-9700K. And just like with the Ryzen 5 3600, this CPU is going to last a very long time. People play the latest video games on 6-year-old Intel Core i7, so we can see how this CPU won’t be any different. The 95 W TDP and mediocre stock cooler are the only downsides.
3- Best Budget – AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
Here is a good budget CPU that also has Radeon Graphics. In other words, it is an APU, so you won’t be needing a graphics card with this chip for your home server. If you plan to have a graphics card or have already bought one, then go with the Ryzen 3 3100 or Ryzen 3 3300X instead as they will have slightly better performance at around the same price. The main advantage of the 3200G is the outstanding integrated GPU that can be beneficial for your home server.
This chip is a great choice if you plan to use your home server primarily for data storage and video encoding. You can also stream some light gaming on this chip as well, but the performance will not be very good for any newer titles. This chip also has a TDP of only 65 W, which is much lower than what you would get with any CPU+graphics card combination. And the stock cooler is more than enough for the chip.
The four cores and four threads will be enough for any light workload, but if you plan to stream multiple 4K videos, then get something with more cores. Also, it only supports x8 PCIe 3.0, which is a bummer because fast storage is the most important thing for any home server. And the chip is not the best choice if you plan to use it for more than 5 years because it will be outdated. It also lacks support for ECC memory. And there is no Quick Sync for Plex.
4- Ultimate CPU for Home Server – AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X
This is by far the most powerful CPU that you can get for a home server. It can do whatever you want. It is mostly directed towards professionals who do a lot of video editing or similar CPU-intensive tasks, but it can be used for whatever you want. The 64-core, 128-thread beast of a CPU can do virtualization without any problems as well. This means that you can run multiple operating systems from this CPU, which you might need if you have a house full of people.
Naturally, data storage and backup, video encoding, security, gaming, working, and everything else that you could use a home server for is not an issue on the Threadripper 3990X. You can have a few cheaper computers around the house and use the Threadripper server for heavy workloads. This means that everyone in your household gets to use the same best CPU for home server.
It goes without saying that ECC memory works with this CPU and it can do that in quad-channel as well. It also supports 88 PCIe 4.0 lanes, which is the most that you can get today on a single CPU. You can run a ton of SSDs on this CPU, then. The main downside is the extremely steep price, which is around $3,600. And it has a 280 W TDP that will be not insignificant on your electricity bill or room temps. Also, it comes without a cooler and your motherboard choice is limited.
The best CPU for home server is the one that will do whatever you need it for. If you plan to use your home server for only storing data and encoding videos, the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G is the most sensible choice. But the problem with the chip is the lack of future-proofing and you would probably want to replace it in 4-5 years, once all screens in your household are 4K or better.
If you want something more powerful that will last for much longer, the Ryzen 5 3600 is a perfect choice. It has more cores and threads, so it will do a much better job at multitasking. If you are doing some work and somebody else is accessing the storage at the same time, then this CPU is the minimum. If you live in a larger household and plan to use your home server for multiple Plex video streams, then the Intel Core i7-9700K can be an excellent value CPU as well.
But if you are into virtualization and plan to use the home server for a range of things, such as multiple people doing video editing on it, then the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X is going to be an amazing CPU. The incredible support for fast storage, quad-channel ECC ram, and the sheer computing power of this chip can make even high-end workstation desktop computers blush.
All in all, whichever CPU you choose, a home server is an excellent thing that will make your life easier. It will also make your data more private and secure because it is in your hands.