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Budget (including currency): $~500 CAD

Country: Canada

Games, programs or workloads that it will be used for: Home server, mainly for mass photo/video archiving but could also be used for ~5 person minecraft servers or running plex in the future, want to keep my options open. 

Other details:

My current best idea is to get a used Dell Optiplex off Kijiji for ~$250 (i5 2400, 8gb ram), and then just add larger storage drives and go from there. Should the additional drives specifically be NAS grade (Ironwolf etc..) or would any decent HDD do? Any recommendations on what softwares to run on the server?

 

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This is a pretty decent idea considering the budget. Drives can be NAS grade (they're designed for 24/7 ops in close proximity to other spinny drives), but don't have to. I'd also think of adding more RAM if that's possible. Keep in mind however that it is strongly recommended to use a RAID 0/5/6 array to protect from drive failures, so it'll increase your drive costs.

I won't respond unless you quote me |  SSD tier list (Samsung drives are overpriced) - PSU tier list (80+ metal is ranking of efficiency, not quality) - NVMe is not better than SATA for gaming - AMD is NOT your friend

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I used to do this a few years ago (albeit with an old AMD Opteron CPU), but a few considerations:

 

1) "Tinkering" (Plex + Minecraft) - do you really want your storage to be rebooted or unavailable while you're changing things on Plex or anything else?

2) Look at the power costs of running an old i5 2400K 24x7.

 

I ended up getting a Synology Diskstation for the storage and then just put the "processing" server into a little HTPC box for when we needed the Plex/Minecraft server online.

My mid-budget workstation/gamer: Ryzen2700X @4.25Ghz, Noctua NH-D15, ASUS Prime B450, Palit 1660SuperOC, 32Gb Vengeance DDR4-3200C16, M.2 EVO970Plus, M.2 WDSN550, 2x 8Tb WD80EFAX, PCP&C "Silencer" 610W 80+(from 2008!!), Corsair Carbide330R case + 4x NF-A14's, Gigabyte M27Q (27"/1440P/170Hz), 2x Asus PA248 (24"/1200P/60Hz), G110 kbd, G502 mouse. 

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