Which machine to use?

I am currently starting out using HA and have it installed on a Pi3 while I am trialing it. Eventually I want to have it controlling more than just the few lights and sensors in one room. I am hoping to have it in most every room, controlling heating, lighting, devices etc.

I have the opportunity to buy a small, 2nd hand mini pc using an i3 6100T for cheap. Is this going to be overkill for running HA? Mostly I like I don’t have to get or make a case, can easily fit a hdd/ssd etc, has significantly more RAM than the Pi (8GB). It costs only a bit more than the RRP of an 8GB Pi4.


My view… I found the Pi3+ under-powered - it was just slow, but then the vast majority use a Pi of some sort. I know I’m overkill since I use a Mac Mini M1 (migrated to it yesterday from a 9 year old Mini). The M1 also does Plex, HOOBS, and a few other bits which will grow as I load it up.

I run 15 addons, 20 integrations with many devices/entities. The M1 flies, it was fine on the old i5 Mini.

If you want to see what people use, look here - https://analytics.home-assistant.io

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You are in a very similar situation to me.

General hardware advice for running HA - Hardware - Home Assistant Community (home-assistant.io)

I am running directly off a Pi3+ but was thinking of upgrading from an SD to an SSD to see if that speeds up things a bit.

I cannot work out whether it is better to have a dedicated HA server on the Pi or combine my two ARM-based servers to a single device with a bit more power (my other device is an Odroid HC2, running Openmediavault).

Have a look at my topic, where you can see, what a simple intel machine is capable of :wink:

If you ask me, you won’t ever regret.

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Thanks all. I agree with the Pi3 being a bit to slow, I am only testing so for now it is good enough. But I do think given the cost of the intel machine over the Pi4 it is actually cheaper (if matching the RAM of 8GB), plus easy use of a HDD/SSD.

Now just to research how I can transfer my setup between them LOL

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Make a backup on the pi → fresh install on the PC → when on-boarding, select restore backup.


Go for the PC, the 6100T might be a bit overkill but it’s not consuming that much energy so it’s better to have more performance available than being in need for it - you won’t regret nor ever look back!

I‘ve switched from a Pi 3+ to a Pi 4 with 8Gig and then to an i5-7500T mini PC with m.2 SSD and 32 GB RAM. Pure overkill but:
On the Pi 3 HA felt quite slow, on the Pi 4 it was running ok but on the PC it feels much snappier, starts faster, switching to Node RED or Z2M is lightning fast and the system has many reserves for future add-ons and integrations.
I’m running HA OS.


Im on a Pi48G. Supervised install. HEAVY use of add-ins and community integrations. Running a few ESP devices and a large arsenal of both ZWave and Zigbee devices. (Well over 200 ‘real’ devices total)

IMHO - As long as you use an SSD its more than adequate. I wouldn’t’ do it on an SD card for multiple reasons but the big two are - the SD WILL eventually die (it’s a fact due to the way SDs work) and SSDs are an order of magnitude faster. HA stores its states in RAM - so startup, shutdown, and constantly hitting the recorder database. You can (and should) make efforts to streamline what’s being put in the recorder DB to prevent as much Disk I/O as possible (better running system, etc.) But beyond that for performance tuning purposes. RAM - ALL the RAM you can throw at it.

I was on the same Pi48Gb when I started, the first upgrade I did was the SSD.

The upgrade was almost painless except for my time - as described above, install new, restore backup - done. It made the system MUCH ‘snappier’ (primarily during startup) and haven’t ‘felt’ that it is underpowered in any way.

If I had to do it over again… Yeah, I’d still pick this box. I don’t feel I’m pushing it hard enough to need an extra machine -especially a whole PC. When it’s not updating - HA core idles at about 2-4% CPU and Supervisor is taking 5%. I saw it totally spike to 25% when I installed the update to 2022.2 this morning. (Gasp, the horror) And TBH, my days of building server racks are behind me -the wife really wants the extra computers out of the house… (I can hide a pi discretely behind my monitor.)

Your mileage may vary of course, but it sounds like either of your future paths (Pi or small Intel rig) would more than work. Either way, as much RAM as you can afford and use an SSD…

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Well, there is just a small thing, you are passing by here.

No, I won’t say, that running a Pi is wrong. Far from that. It can be very fine too.

But, anytime, this discussions passes the revue, the Pi boys, and now you too, are comparing it with a big, by the wife unwanted black box size of a half refrigerator…

That is not, what we recommend here. We are talking SFF (Small Form Factor) PC’s.
Like mine is 20x15x4 cm big.
Exactly as your Pi, it is pushed somewhere in a corner, where no one see it.
There is more between a Pi and a full size PC :stuck_out_tongue:


Totally understand we’re not talking about big beige boxes with multiple HDD racks. (BTW anyone want an old ATX case?) And I still stand where I am.

As soon as someone starts talking about intel box v pi, we also have to include cost.
I built my 8Gpi WITH the SSD in a dedicated enclosure for less than $250 USD including the Argon ONE enclosure, Pi4B and SSD (Yes, admittedly that was pre-pandemic supply chain economics, I think the same config would run about $150 USD more if I built it today v. 8 mo ago.)

At the time, I couldn’t TOUCH a good SFF PC case for that price - let alone the guts too. :slight_smile: With supply chain adjusting the price of the Pi4 up to about $150-180 USD, it closes the gap somewhat - but not that much because everything went up. I still stand on if I were doing THIS again - same route (it would just cost me about $325-350 instead of $225)

Conversely - If I were also looking at a NAS / Border router / firewall / media storage - then maybe Intel or some other kind of NAS device. (And if I had the iron sitting around - then of course that’s an obvious choice.) But just running HA - nah. This box is PLENTY.


Well, sure, the costs are a bit lower.

Well, I never got an offer to pick up a Pi for free anywhere.
At our IT department on my work sometimes I can score a used SFF PC for a friendly smile. That’s how I built my HA machine for the price of one SSD :slight_smile: Then the choices are different.

I’m running 3 Pi’s at home for different tasks, but moving HA from a Pi4 - 4GB to a Celeron 2,1 GHz - 4GB did feel like a big difference. I can’t help it :wink:


There is one other important thing regarding Pi’s atm, they are like finding rocking-horse poop LOL Especially the higher RAM versions.

I have taken the plunge and gone for the SFF X86 machine now as it is not much larger than a Pi 4 in a box that can also contain a 2.5" drive. I do have to buy a PSU for it, but I’d have to do that with the Pi4 using a SSD anyway, plus a case (or spend the time 3D printing something). All in, the cost of the X86 machine and setting up an 8GB Pi4 is actually pretty close.

I respect your comments and if the Pi4 was readily available I probably wouldn’t even be asking :smiley: Appreciate you and everyone else taking the time to reply! It’s always good to get other view points, if nothing else as a sanity check!


All this has been a bit of a revelation to me.

Until now, I could never quite understand why some people are running x86 servers when something like a Raspberry PI could do it and use much less energy (and also silent).

As mentioned above, I already have two separate ARM based servers running but want to add more services (like running Pi Hole, RSnapshot etc). I can start to see that if I go any buy yet another ARM device, to run these, it might be worth just putting everything in a single very low powered x86 server instead.