COTS Server Preferences For VMS / NVRs

Good afternoon guys,

What is your go to COTS server for building a small/medium sized NVR? I can't seem to find any Workstations that will accept multiple 3.5" drives on the front.

I'm trying to find the perfect sweet spot that will provide the following:

  1. Enough processing/Ram power to act as the surveillance host (I know that most VMS's don't require major high end server processing power, it's the client that draws more resources).
  2. Preferably a backplane with space for at least 8 3.5" drives.
  3. Hardware Raid 5/preferably 6.
  4. Support for windows 7ProX64 (most servers only natively support server OS's)
  5. Keeping price down.

I currently use HP DL380 Gen9 servers, but the price is a bit steep and makes the whole system a harder sell.

Your help is greatly appreciated!


We have been having great luck with the Dell Servers, they seem to be priced in the right ball park. I feel like the dells have a little more use in the surveillance world than HP. I really like to R530's for the middle of the road power house, the R230's which have 4 drives and you can customize them. Or if you want to go all out get the 730XD, that thing has some capacity you can build right in the box, then if you need more drop a DAS below it or start blowing cash on a SAN.

But if you don't want to deal with the server OS, you could always just get a workstation OS and put it on. If rack mount is not your thing, then they have tower servers as well. its worth looking into.


Thanks for your helpful reply.

Rackmount is really my preference. I'll definitely check out the Dell R530's.

I'm a big fan of HP's Z440 series for price and performance, but it isn't exactly small.

Dumb question: why do you need it to accept multiple 3.5 slots on the front? Hot swap capability or?


The HP Z440 is a nice workstation but doesn't really meet the spec that I need that for. there's no way I'm putting 8 3.5" drives in there.

The reason for the front load option is because when it comes down to utilizing the RAID benefit, Swapping out a drive is a breeze. and yes HS is a real life saver in this case.

Thanks for your help though.

Sorry, I missed the part about how many drives you wanted to stuff in there.

I was really hoping to find a workstation that supports my needs.

As workstations come with native windows 7x64 support, they make support and setup easier. And, the VMS that I use sees no benefit of using a server OS.

Only hard part is finding one that has a backplane with hardware RAID 5/6 and is still budget friendly.

Supermicro has many options like this that may fit your needs.

iStarUSA also has some smaller options but you will be limited to 4 3.5 bays

<I work here>

I suggest that you consider one of the offerings from Seneca. We design and manufacture All-in-one NVR servers specialized for video surveillance. DSS Servers

There are several chassis choices…including a 2U-8bay with 3.5 drives you have in mind and supported with Windows 7/8 or Server OS.

We use enterprise class components to help foster a highly reliable machine at a good cost.

Part of what we do to specialize the product is complete configuration of the system that optimizes the server for video recording/viewing and initialize the RAID set per request (part of the cost).

When you get the server, the machine is already set up for video surveillance functionality and you don’t have to build the RAID yourself.

At the top of the 24bay chassis is the 192TB server recently mentioned here.

I run the DSS Engineering lab here and we are always running performance benchmarks on our systems and tune them for optimal performance in this space.

As a result, we are familiar with how many of the top VMSs run and our service department also has some of this expertise.

We are good partners with several VMS vendors as well and we have good technical contacts within them, which helps when there are issues in the field.

We've been using Seneca stuff for several years and they've worked well for us.

I know the struggle! I've been looking for a similar option, and at this point I am pretty confident that only way to get what you want at a good price is to build it. I've been looking for the same specs as you, but I also require that the RAID controller support hot spares, and that the chassis supports dual PSUs for failover AND has room for 3rd party video cards and a second NIC. I can build it for less than 2k, but custom builds=yuk so I won't. The other options that I've run across cost more than a R530 with an essentials license and 24x7 support, and given the more stable nature of a Server2012 the desktop loses it's appeal.

We tried that build yourself route for cost savings and it came back to bite us. Funky quirks here and there. A builder has a much consistent baseline and more time spent (a quality builder, at least) with certain hardware to know it's in's and out, and should have regular life cycles so spare parts are available for so many years after a line is discontinued. Building your own only saves a minimal amount of money in the overall scheme except for maybe the lowest budget installers, and you take on being responsible for a lot of possible incompatibilities.

Plus, in my experience, I haven't noticed Server OS being more stable than Workstation OS, and I've seen name brand VMS systems crash and freeze on name brand hardware like HP and Dell. Plus, the problem with installing a Workstation OS on a server that is not supported is the drivers don't always match or you can't get drivers for that OS. I have personally seen where the Server version of the driver won't work with the comparable Workstation OS (like drivers for Server 2008 on Windows 7), and some component ends up not getting a driver or you have to use the Windows generic built in version. Probably due to nuanced firmware that's specific for that manufacturer order. Don't always assume that LSI driver off their website will always work the same as the brand specific (HP, Dell, Lenovo) driver for what looks like the same RAID controller.

IT people take their chances when they try to be security integrators. Not sure why security integrators want to take chances being IT companies.

I completely agree on the custom build front. We are an equally capable IT MSP and LV company, and that's one of the few things everyone agrees on. I would also strongly agree with not installing workstation OS on a server. Would very strongly disagree on the stability of a server OS.


You asked.." I also require that the RAID controller support hot spares, and that the chassis supports dual PSUs for failover AND has room for 3rd party video cards and a second NIC."

We have those options already and several more For example, SFP+ fiber NICs if the unit will be storing/archiving to central iSCSI storage (which we also have).

Not much to add here as far as the COTS but as far as stability with a desktop OS vs a server OS: I have 2 servers with 50+ cameras each running (believe it not) Windows Vista that have been running perfectly fine and stable for 5+years. Also have upwards of maybe 1000 cameras on other installs all running on Windows 7. Very few issues to speak of.