Home Server - Recommendations on Upgrade from RPI to PC

I've recently discovered the joy that is Docker, and with it I've been building up a collection of containers on my RPI 3b+.

Unfortunately it's got to the point where my raspberry pi can't cope any more (hosting home assistant, pi-hole, nextcloud and a web server among other things).

I've been eyeing a Lenovo M92p as an upgrade due to it being SFF and a substantial performance boost, however I'm not really sure if there's anything in particular I should be considering when I look for an upgrade. It'd be nice to fit a 3.5" drive in, which I believe the M92p has, however I'd really like to keep the size down as it'll be sitting on top of my fridge in a fairly visible spot. I can get this M92p for $150 used online, which is ideally what my budget will be for this build.

I know I could go with an Rpi 4 for a similar price, but I'd like to use this device as a host for nextcloud so I really need a decent size hdd (not an sd card) as the storage.

Does anyone have any suggestions/recommendations based on their own setups?


  • If you have a partner, kudos for getting them to green light storing the server on top of the fridge. I wouldn't get away with this.

    • Yeah, don't think she's keen on the fridge part, but it's a granny flat with not much space aha. Think she'd prefer even smaller, but not really sure what cheap options I have. I did just notice there's an M93p which is even smaller than the M92p, so maybe that's an option…

  • pia , pihole, home-assistant, duckdns, letsencrypt, transmission, rpi-monitor on Pi4 with NAS, no knowing issues.

  • It'd be nice to fit a 3.5" drive in, which I believe the M92p has

    Nope, its a 2.5" HDD, not the end of the world. Pop a decent SSD or notebook HDD in.


    • Right. Think I was getting confused with the m90p. Thing is, I want to use this as a cloud storage solution (running Nextcloud), so ideally I'd have 4TB+ of storage. Don't think I'd be able to manage that in 2.5" without some serious cash.

      • If you want 4TB, then you need to look at the next size up. 2.5 drives max out at 2TB.

        You could add USB drives I guess to expand it out?

        • I was worried that performance wouldn't be that great. I guess network connection is likely to max out before usb-3 limits are reached?

        • You can easily have 4 or 5TB in 2.5". Get a portable seagate drive and shuck it and you have a 2.5" drive. You can get this 4TB for $151 and a 5TB for around $175-200

          You haven't mentioned what your resource requirements (RAM specially) are but have a look at ODROID HC1 and HC2. They come in a tiny case that fits a 2.5 drive and great for file serving, etc. Uses much less power compared to a X86. I myself have one and had been working great for about 3+ years.

          Or get a 2 bay Synology or Qnap. Can do everything you wanted and more. Both are capable of running Docker and LXC and you have a purpose built compact storage server.

          • @websterp: Yeah, that's not too expensive really for 4tb.

            I think I'd prefer the increased flexibility & performance that comes with x86 & 4GB+ RAM, but at this stage it's really just docker hosted containers (home assistant, pihole, web server/s etc). I'm not too worried about the power usage (or is it a big deal?).

            I was considering a NAS, but I figure this is cheaper/same price for better performance and more flexibility. You're right that a NAS would probs be a bit better size wise though.

      • SFF PC definitely has 3.5 HDD bay… same for Dell OptiPlex SFF PCs.

    • I have a M92P SFF and it definitely fits a 3.5" drive! You might be confused with the 'USFF' or 'tiny' model :)

      • Oh missed the OP wanting the SFF. I just googled M92P and only the tiny model was popping up, so assumed that one as they are popping it above the fridge.

  • Raspberry Pi 4 8GB should have plenty of memory to run all your containers / docker / LXC, and probably won't be much more expensive than the old M92p after adding a case & some storage. Definitely draws much less power.

    RPi4 has USB3 so you should be able to attach external HDDs & run nextcloud. USB 3 has theoretical bandwidth of 5Gbps so should be able to saturate the Gbit ethernet on it. I doubt most spinning hard drives would be able to sustain that speed anyway.

    • Hmmm, maybe you're right. I wasn't sure if running external hdd's as my main storage would be an issue. I know RPI 3 USB & ethernet ports share the same bandwidth, which is terrible for NAS usage. I assume RPI 4 deals with this limitation.

      Is power consumption something to be concerned about? I don't really have much idea how expensive it is to run a home server.

      • RPi3 has only USB2 & 100BaseT ethernet on the same bus, whereas RPi4 has USB3 + dedicated Gigbit ethernet — huge difference, which makes RPi as NAS now feasible. As of power consumption, Lenovo M92p has this 8yo CPU i5-3470 which has 77W TDP. RPi4 has power supply rated at 5V 3A = 15W but the actual usage might be much less. More power consumption = more cooling needs = fan noise.

        • Yeah, thought they might have upgraded that bus. Maybe I'll wait for a deal on the 8GB version. Sound actually is quite important given it's in the middle of a kitchen/living area. Thanks for the advice.

          • @jakem742: I haven't used RPi so won't comment but consider failure rate of older machine vs new
            For noise I doubt the SFF under typical use/load makes more noise than the motor of the fridge you are sitting it on - you won't notice

  • I have quite a large homelab but recently moved all of my Docker containers (e.g. Unifi Controller, Home Assistant) to a NAS making my older Pi's quite redundant. Power consumption is low compared to using a desktop PC.

    • I still think my Pi will be useful for redundancy, but yeah, it definitely looks like I'll need to move away from it to keep everything running smoothly. Looks like I might just go with an rpi4, but I'll keep an eye out for NAS deals.

  • I'm running Docker on a second hand Dell Optiplex 9020. I've installed Ubuntu Server 20.04 LTS headless and am running docker ontop of it. Works a treat and the power consumption is very low. These Dell business grade pcs are designed to comsume low power. You could also look at going a Pi4 8GB if that floats your boat. It might be a suitable solution since you're already familiar with it.

    If you have an old desktop laying around I'd install freenas and pop in some old drives for a cheap nas. I'm using parts from an old AMD donor pc as my nas and it works a treat. Cheap and nasty but it does the job.

  • Think about an Intel NUC, very small, quiet and power efficient!

    • And you can get the H model that fits a 2.5” drive.

    • They look fairly expensive for the performance they offer? Or are they fairly competitive price-wise?

      • Used they go cheap for the celeron powered ones. Compared to a rpi3 with a case, etc they are a good deal

        • Yeah, I always think of celeron as pretty gutless, but I guess compared to rpi processors they'd be on par/better. How does support for intel architecture compare to rpi's arm based architecture? From what I've found, there's a lot of support for raspberry pi's ARM based systems and I'd love to keep that with whatever new system I build.

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