Best AM4 motherboard for whitebox server?

rtangwai

[H]ard|Gawd
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My dual Xeon X5650 whitebox server (Supermicro X8DAi motherboard) is getting a bit long in the tooth as it runs ESXi. Due to new CPU support restrictions by VMWare I am unable to upgrade to ESXi 6.7 (I tried, didn't work despite my best efforts). This is important to me as the company I work for uses ESXi and I need to keep up with the changes so I know what the hell I am doing - we don't have any servers lying around for me to play with at work..

Is there a suitable AM4 motherboard for light to medium hypervisor work? I currently run a number of VMs full-time (Windows Server 2012r2, Ubuntu Server 16.04 LTS, FreeNAS, pfSense, a UPS appliance, and vCSA) plus the odd extra VM or two for testing various apps in different environments like Win10 and Linux. I'm looking at AMD because:
  • Ryzen/Threadripper CPUs have high core/thread counts per dollar compared to their Intel counterparts
  • My current server was given to me by a frenemy who is a diehard Intel fanboy and was nearly frothing at the mouth when he found out I was using a FX-8350 for ESXi - I want to see how he can justify me not switching back to AMD (I'm kinda hoping he'll give me a dual LGA2011 this time to stop the Ryzen purchase)
Just on the off-chance my well-meaning-but-loco buddy doesn't give me a newer server to play with, is there a Ryzen board with server qualities like:
  • ECC RAM support (I know it will be unbuffered)
  • Dual onboard Intel NICs (preferably 10gbe copper)
  • Onboard hardware RAID (SATA is sufficient, I don't use SAS drives)

I'm looking at a Ryzen 2700 (I don't think I need the higher clocked 2700X) mostly because it is more budget- and power-friendly than a Threadripper 2950X, but I am fully aware that Ryzen 2700 is aimed mostly at prosumers and I'm asking a lot from it that it was never really designed or intended for. I would actually prefer the Threadripper 2950X but its pricing is above my current budget for this project. Is there a Threadripper board that is more server-oriented and would justify finding a way to increase the budget?

I will have to make compromises to get everything to work with only a Ryzen 2700 (as I will be losing 4 cores/8 threads). I'm actually kind of hoping that a Zen2-based Ryzen will have 12 to 16 cores to match my current server but I don't dare wait too long as my company will probably be upgrading to ESXi 6.7 by Christmas and I need to be ready by then. I'm hoping that the Zen2 Ryzen will have more cores and yet be a drop-in replacement, even if it isn't I can use the Ryzen 2700 as my new personal workstation (I currently use a Haswell i7-4770K).

Thanks in advance!
 
Why not dive into threadripper with the 1900x (~300-350) / 1920x (~400-450) first and later upgrade to the Zen2 threadripper model (summer /fall 2019) . Everything I have read suggests Threadripper should stay with the same socket until DDR5 and that Zen2 will be DDR4 still.

You may want to get the latest version threadripper mohterboard though as i believe the power delivery requirements for the top end threadrippers can really stress the original threadripper motherboards, so if the trend continues for Zen2 (which it may not due to a substantial die shrink to 7nm) then it is possible that an original threadripper board might have compatibility problems due to power delivery in the future (this is all speculation though).
 
Why not dive into threadripper with the 1900x (~300-350) / 1920x (~400-450) first and later upgrade to the Zen2 threadripper model (summer /fall 2019) . Everything I have read suggests Threadripper should stay with the same socket until DDR5 and that Zen2 will be DDR4 still.

You may want to get the latest version threadripper mohterboard though as i believe the power delivery requirements for the top end threadrippers can really stress the original threadripper motherboards, so if the trend continues for Zen2 (which it may not due to a substantial die shrink to 7nm) then it is possible that an original threadripper board might have compatibility problems due to power delivery in the future (this is all speculation though).

I have considered this - if I could have gotten that $249 Threadripper on the Amazon flash deal I would have gone that route. The rumors of a bigger Ryzen however have made me a bit cautious - I don't need a lot of performance for home use but I do prefer not to overprovision too much. I also want to see how well Zen plays with ESXi - if it really hates it I'll make the AMD box my new personal workstation, then sell a kidney and maybe a testicle or two (I'm not using them these days) to pay for a Xeon. A Threadripper is overkill for my personal use and any money invested in it is that much less for me to put into an alternate solution should ESXi throw a fit.

I haven't seen a Ryzen *OR* a Threadripper board that would make me really happy for ESXi - for example, none of the ones I've seen have anything like IPMI.
 
Well, most (all?) am4 boards support sata raid, so that won't be an issue. That leaves dual NICs and ECC, which I'm only aware of Gigabyte auros ax370 gaming 5 and gaming k7 that have dual NICs. They also support ECC. However, only one of the 2 NICs on them are intel, but not ever having nic issues I'm not sure what's driving that requirement.
 
Opened thread, now I want to go tr4. I should mind my own business...
 
Well, most (all?) am4 boards support sata raid, so that won't be an issue. That leaves dual NICs and ECC, which I'm only aware of Gigabyte auros ax370 gaming 5 and gaming k7 that have dual NICs. They also support ECC. However, only one of the 2 NICs on them are intel, but not ever having nic issues I'm not sure what's driving that requirement.

I'm trying to keep the add-on cards down to a minimum and ideally I want 2x 10gbe. The Intel requirement is because ESXi is picky on hardware - you try loading Realtek drivers on ESXi and all you get is laughter coming out of the speakers.
 
If you find an Asus X370 Prime will work for your needs, let me know. Have a brand new one (non refurb it was an off the shelf MicroCenter exchange) I will give you a good deal on.
 
If you find an Asus X370 Prime will work for your needs, let me know. Have a brand new one (non refurb it was an off the shelf MicroCenter exchange) I will give you a good deal on.

A or Pro? I'm thinking of cutting the baby in half by converting the current server into a SAN and building a smaller second server for ESXi, depends on if multiple 1gbe links are sufficient or I need to go 10gbe.
 
A or Pro? I'm thinking of cutting the baby in half by converting the current server into a SAN and building a smaller second server for ESXi, depends on if multiple 1gbe links are sufficient or I need to go 10gbe.

It is the PRo model. I have a guy that offered a price and asked for my PP address, but if he doesn't get it or a response to me by late tonight I will message him and open it back up for sale.
 
Now if you will ask that question in 2021 then the best AM4 motherboards are X570 or B550 motherboards which has PCIe 4.0 slot also.For more information about motherboards you can visit techmotherboard
 
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