Building a Home Mini Server: A Practical Guide (Part 1)


I have also purchased cheap hosts from Tencent, Alibaba, and Ucloud. These are the common "lightweight" student machines with bandwidth of only 5M, such as 1H2G, 2H4G, and 4H8G. Currently, I only have one Ucloud host remaining.


The characteristics are as follows:

  • Expensive renewal leading to migration difficulties: The tactics of domestic vendors are similar. It's easy for new users to have one host, and there's no problem buying another one for old users at a similar price. However, renewals are very expensive. Except for Tencent's student machine, which can be renewed at the original price a few days before expiration, I haven't found any other vendors that offer original price renewals. This is quite annoying, as it's a one-size-fits-all approach just to meet targets. The term "heirloom" server emerged in this situation, referring to servers that can be renewed indefinitely at the original price and have a good cost-performance ratio. Changing servers means rebuilding or migrating the entire service.

  • Usually low configuration: In addition to low CPU and memory performance, these types of servers usually have limited storage capacity, only a few tens of GB. They cannot be used for services with databases in the long term.

Some of the summarized requirements are as follows:

  • Cost-effective, total price under 1000 yuan
  • Stable, needs to run 7x24x365
  • Low power consumption, average of 17w, 98% uptime per year, electricity price of 0.5 yuan without peak electricity price calculation, annual electricity cost is 72.9708 yuan
  • Silent, including heat dissipation
  • The higher the similarity in environment functionality/hardware performance, the better
  • Server maintenance and containers: Install Debian, use 1panel server panel to manage Qinglong panel and qd-qiandao panel. These two services are for daily website and app check-ins as well as wool harvesting.
  • When there is redundancy, I also want to tinker with remote downloading of videos, live streaming, software routing, and other things. This specifically refers to pre-remotely downloading Blu-ray discs/4K HDR videos for local playback, without the need for large-capacity storage for on-demand viewing. The downloaded videos will be deleted after watching a few of them.
  • No need for data backup: Personal data of over 100GB is mainly stored in iCloud, with Baidu Cloud as a backup. I despise NAS as a "data backup" method that is neither here nor there. AIO (All In One) is also not a requirement.
  • No need to bring office equipment on business trips

Host Selection Process#

I have previously tinkered with the N1 box.

The advantage is that it is cheap, and it can be done for less than 100 yuan, with low power consumption. The disadvantage is that the performance is average, and the ARM architecture does not fully support Docker applications.

I have also tinkered with the Raspberry Pi 4B, but neither of them meets the current requirements.

Finally, I set my sights on mini home hosts. After multiple comparisons, I finally chose Intel's 12th generation chip N100.

The N100 was initially launched in March 2023, and by the end of 23, various monsters and demons had appeared. Among them, the most representative are the Zero Moment EQ12 and the Extreme Demon G3 series.


There are also series like Mingfan, NUC, and Changwang, which have undergone significant modifications. I don't have the energy or the need to investigate them further.

Here are some rumors I have collected:

  • Zero Moment has many manufacturing issues, but their customer service is good. Mingfan has good manufacturing quality, but their after-sales service is not good.
  • Zero Moment EQ12 is further divided into models like EQ12-N100 and EQ12-N95. Although Zero Moment N100 has USB3 ports, the M.2 hard drive has a PCIe3 x1 bandwidth, which is inherently limited. Due to the limitations of the N100, all N series hosts have low power consumption and crippled PCIe channels.
  • I am using Changwang's N100. The BIOS and motherboard updates are quite frequent, and basically all the features that can be opened are opened. Although it doesn't have USB3.0 ports, it doesn't matter.

My final choice was the Tianhong QN10. The host selection was based on my personal preferences, and I have no knowledge about memory and hard drives. I just chose something that looked similar. Please don't criticize me, experts.


The Tianhong QN10 defaults to WIFI5+Bluetooth 4.0, and you can add WIFI6+Bluetooth 5.2 for an additional 50 yuan. But with a secret code, you can get a discount of 20 yuan, so in the end, I spent an extra 30 yuan.

I chose 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD. The total cost was 1115.8 + 30 = 1145.8 yuan, exceeding the budget (700-900 yuan) by 27.31%. It was a case of poor budget control.

The main reasons for choosing this model are:

  • M.2 NVME PCLE3.0x2 dual-channel, maximum 2TB, supports adding a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive
  • DDR5 single-channel, maximum support for 16GB single module
  • 2.5Gbps x2 Ethernet ports, although the chip is i225v instead of i226, I noticed that Zero Moment EQ12 N100 also uses i225v during the same period
  • Type-C with full functionality but does not support power supply

This is where this article ends. In the next article, I will update after receiving the equipment and experiencing the services I want to play with for a while.

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