Hardware Recommendation Sought - Home Server

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I want to replace the hardware on a Windows 2012 R2 server in which I use Hyper-V to run a couple of Linux VM's. The impetus to make the change is two parts:
  1. The existing hard disks are fairly old and starting and I am seeing the SMART metrics starting to move toward failure.
  2. The processing power (old I3 with 8 GB RAM) isn't supporting some of my current needs.
As such, I am seeking advice primarily with respect to the hardware, but also with respect to moving from Hyper-V to ProxMox VE.

My goals (read needs) are:
  1. Virtualization platform that will support experimentation with multiples OSes: Linux, Windows and possibly BSD.
  2. Support fairly computationally intense needs on demand. By this, I mean being able to run multi-threaded/multi-process applications that can secure near bare metal speeds when needed. Some of the uses are: video conversion via ffmpeg or such and solving complex mathematical systems using a linear optimizer.
  3. As cost-effective as possible (i.e. as cheap as I can get :) )
  4. Minimum SATA support for 4 drives.

My wants/desires are:
  1. Minimum 4 Cores / 8 Threads
  2. Desired 8 Cores / 16 Threads
  3. Minimum Physical RAM 32 GB
  4. Desired Physical RAM 64 GB
  5. IPMI or similar

Additional Info:
  1. Large storage volumes not required as I already have an adequate NAS solution.
  2. Prefer all drives be SSD (2.5" nominally, other format acceptable also)
  3. Solution should be as physically small and as quiet as is practically possible.
  4. Solution to be located on shelf in master bedroom closet

My personal capabilties are:
  1. Experienced with both Windows and Linux OSes setup and administration
  2. Experienced with hardware: build and mod

I have taken a look on various sites, including here, and honestly am overwhelmed by all of the options that exist. Choices and competition are good; however, over the years I have become less of a hardware geek than I used to be. So I am humbly asking for help. Have you recently built something that meets the above requirements that you would like to share?

Thanks in advance for your assistance!!!

lbe
 
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Okay "cheap as you can get" isn't a budget.

What's your REAL WORLD budget?

An 8 core Xeon on a MiniITX board running 64GB of RAM? Just those three things alone will run you $1500. Before disk, power supply, etc.
 

lopoetve

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Lord Chas, for that might as well do the Xeon-D and get the fan built in :p

OP, this can be done for 1-1.5k, all the way up to 4-5k. We need a real budget number. I'm leaning towards a Xeon-D at the moment, or a cheap E5 setup, both of which are pricier.
 
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Thanks to all who have replied!!!

My target would be to see what I can achieve for $1,000. My hardline upper limit for this is $2,000.

lbe
 

lopoetve

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And how small / quiet is "small and quiet" - tower with 120mm fans ok, or are we going for "almost passively cooled, no moving parts" quiet? Changes Proc options/TDP levels/design.
 
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..and ... expandable or not .... ie ... is desired 8 core / 16 thread + 64GB RAM okay
as a locked limit or do you need to be able to expand/upgrade later?

This will determine if an SoC (Xeon D) option is viable or not.

Also ...drives ... you mention you have NAS ...so what are you looking for in local storage?
Consumer? Enterprise? how large?

I am also seeing ~$1500 - ~$2000 .. but depends on answers to above.
 
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Lord Chas, for that might as well do the Xeon-D and get the fan built in :p

OP, this can be done for 1-1.5k, all the way up to 4-5k. We need a real budget number. I'm leaning towards a Xeon-D at the moment, or a cheap E5 setup, both of which are pricier.


Sure, the Xeon-D setup'll run $900-1000 before tax and deliver 8 cores/16 Logical at 2.1-2.7 Ghz.

The separate CPU+Board solution comes in about the same price and delivers 8 cores/16 Logical at 2.4-3.2Ghz

On the flip side, the Xeon-D board from Supermicro looks like a nicer, more expandable solution.
 

Inches

Weaksauce
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Personally, I'd say jump on FleBay and take a look at some of the off lease systems or some of the server components that listed out there. I've had good luck building some pretty decent Virtual hosts with used gear. As far as the small and quiet, that's going to make things a lot trickier when it comes to getting the specs you're looking for.
 

lopoetve

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Sure, the Xeon-D setup'll run $900-1000 before tax and deliver 8 cores/16 Logical at 2.1-2.7 Ghz.

The separate CPU+Board solution comes in about the same price and delivers 8 cores/16 Logical at 2.4-3.2Ghz

On the flip side, the Xeon-D board from Supermicro looks like a nicer, more expandable solution.

Quieter / lower power too, but that all depends on what he really "needs" :)
 

Dead Parrot

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Cliche but true, Fast, Cheap, Good, pick any two. You mentioned experimentation. ONLY experimentation or a mix of test and production? If only test, you can skip things like ECC Ram and Raid 5 drive arrays. SSDs while very reliable, are still subject to the 'Bad Lot' problem. Production machine needs protection against that.

Does your video processing require a high power video card? If so, might argue against putting in a storage closet.

Might check the Dell outlet site. They sometimes have decent deals.
 
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And how small / quiet is "small and quiet" - tower with 120mm fans ok, or are we going for "almost passively cooled, no moving parts" quiet? Changes Proc options/TDP levels/design.

I can live with the 120mm fans if they are speed controlled as that is what I currently have. Per above, this will be located in the closet in my bed room so I am shooting for something closer to the noise level on an HTPC, not a server in a data center :)
 
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..and ... expandable or not .... ie ... is desired 8 core / 16 thread + 64GB RAM okay
as a locked limit or do you need to be able to expand/upgrade later?

This will determine if an SoC (Xeon D) option is viable or not.

Also ...drives ... you mention you have NAS ...so what are you looking for in local storage?
Consumer? Enterprise? how large?

I am also seeing ~$1500 - ~$2000 .. but depends on answers to above.


Desired 8/16/64 should be fine. If I need something larger than desired, then I would probably move to something else.

On drives - 4 bays should be plenty. I'm thinking 2 x 500GB SDD Raid 1 for HyperVisor and Guest OS and then a couple of similar drives for local storage where needed.
 
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Sure, the Xeon-D setup'll run $900-1000 before tax and deliver 8 cores/16 Logical at 2.1-2.7 Ghz.

The separate CPU+Board solution comes in about the same price and delivers 8 cores/16 Logical at 2.4-3.2Ghz

On the flip side, the Xeon-D board from Supermicro looks like a nicer, more expandable solution.

Chas, which Supermicro board?
 
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Personally, I'd say jump on FleBay and take a look at some of the off lease systems or some of the server components that listed out there. I've had good luck building some pretty decent Virtual hosts with used gear. As far as the small and quiet, that's going to make things a lot trickier when it comes to getting the specs you're looking for.

I'm keeping an eye on the Bay, but haven't found anything that floats my boat yet.

Yes, small and quieter is at odds with performance. I plan on replacing an 8 bay tower, ATX format. So at worst, I could go with something similar. But, I am hoping that the advances over the last 5 or 6 years will get me to a mini-itx format. But, as someone once told me, hope is not a plan :)
 
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Cliche but true, Fast, Cheap, Good, pick any two. You mentioned experimentation. ONLY experimentation or a mix of test and production? If only test, you can skip things like ECC Ram and Raid 5 drive arrays. SSDs while very reliable, are still subject to the 'Bad Lot' problem. Production machine needs protection against that.

Does your video processing require a high power video card? If so, might argue against putting in a storage closet.

Might check the Dell outlet site. They sometimes have decent deals.


Only experimentation - no test or production. I would like the ECC, but agree it is optional. Per above, no need for Raid 5 arrays. I can live with the SSD risk in order to get the other benefits as I can replicate the critical data to my NAS.

No need for a high-end video card. Ironically, the video processing works better on traditional CPUs than it does on the video cards. GPUs are optimized for decompression, not compression. There are some short cuts taken with the math to allow for the computation density gains made for decompression, these actually work against the compression side and results in lower quality results.

Do you mind sharing the url for the Dell Outlet so that I am sure that I am looking at the right place?

Thanks!
 

Dead Parrot

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Because the links seem to change often:
Main Dell site: http://www.dell.com/us/business/p?cs=04&s=bsd&~ck=mn Outlet link at bottom.

Outlet side link: http://www.dell.com/us/dfb/p!?dgc=IR&cid=282083&lid=5358091 Has both home and business.

Inventory can change frequently, even as you are browsing. Inventory list seems pretty close to real time.

Sounds like a basic desktop that can take your Ram requirements and has a good multicore CPU might do the trick. If you go the Dell way, double check the max ram the MB can handle.
 
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Thanks to everyone. All of the above is a definite help. At this time, I am going to focus on the Supermicro Xeon D 8 Core boards and start at 32 GB. This should give me a little headroom to upgrade RAM if needed.

Thanks again!!
 

lopoetve

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Stick to the 1541 processor. In my experience, that's the best "bang for the buck" - they get pricey fast :) It's an 8c/16T Xeon-D.

I like the SuperMicro boards for them. They also have a great case that fits it - at least, I've heard it's great. I've got some of their smaller Avoton systems in micro-cases they sell.
 

Simplyfun

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I was able to buy to an older Dell T620 with a E5 2670 v2 ten core, 32 gigs and two 950GB SSD's (OCZ Intrepids) complete with a PERC H710 and two redundant PSU's for 800 bucks. It's the ideal platform for staging VM's to move off to clients or working with at home. Tons of support for most hypervisors and well documented technology with good support forums (if needed). Yes I got a good deal, but there is always something like this for sale if you look around especially when small business get liquidated etc.

I mean I upgraded the memory with a used kit from ebay, but it was well worth it.
 
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I was able to buy to an older Dell T620 with a E5 2670 v2 ten core, 32 gigs and two 950GB SSD's (OCZ Intrepids) complete with a PERC H710 and two redundant PSU's for 800 bucks. It's the ideal platform for staging VM's to move off to clients or working with at home. Tons of support for most hypervisors and well documented technology with good support forums (if needed). Yes I got a good deal, but there is always something like this for sale if you look around especially when small business get liquidated etc.

I mean I upgraded the memory with a used kit from ebay, but it was well worth it.

"Solution should be as physically small and as quiet as is practically possible."
 
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I have found an used, off-lean HP ML350 with 2 - QC 2.4/8MB E5530 and 64GB RAM for $525 including shipping to me. Looking at cpuboss, these chips seem to be pretty comparable to the D-1541 while slightly slower than the E2670. While I am concerned about the box being noisier than I would like, for the potential cost savings, I am willing to take a chance.

What do you guru's think?
 

lopoetve

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The ML's aren't bad noise wise - at least, not horrible. Only you'll know. Make suree it has an iLO license :)
 

lopoetve

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So I looked up the specs on that - those PSUs look like they have squirrel fans in them...? That might be a bit louder than you want.
 
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I think they probably will be louder than I want, but given the price, I'm inclined to give it a try. If they are too loud for the MBR Closet, I can always move them upstairs to the closet in my office. The ambient temp there is a little higher than the MBR, but given the design, I doubt it would appreciably affect it. I have a call into the seller about the ILO and firmware versions. My memory is that HP is a bit squirrely about providing non-enterprise access to their download site :(
 
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It's going to be a little loud during startups, but under normal ops shouldn't be particularly terrible. Power consumption is going to be higher with dual chips.
Still, at that price, it should be quite performant. All you need to do is cram disks in it.
 

Simplyfun

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"Solution should be as physically small and as quiet as is practically possible."

I didn't suggest he buy a tank like mine, merely a used piece of kit that fit the bill. And apparently he's looking into it.

The ML's aren't bad until they load up heat wise and then they do get a bit noisy Still quieter than my Dell). If you're just running an average work load it won't spool up and be super noisy all the time.. It's not silent computing however.

Still I think it's a great way to get a machine cheap that handles what you need it to. Good Luck.
 

lopoetve

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And for most of those, as long as it's not a tiny fan, you can actually swap in quieter fans. You just have to avoid the damned cage ones, as those tend to be super-high RPM just to get enough airflow, and thus are loud no matter what.
 
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I didn't suggest he buy a tank like mine, merely a used piece of kit that fit the bill. And apparently he's looking into it.

The ML's aren't bad until they load up heat wise and then they do get a bit noisy Still quieter than my Dell). If you're just running an average work load it won't spool up and be super noisy all the time.. It's not silent computing however.

Still I think it's a great way to get a machine cheap that handles what you need it to. Good Luck.

Trust me ... i get it ... and scope creep.
Once we start clearing our filters from our search requirements we see the number of returned results go up ...
As you noted ... it appears the OP has cleared the "physically small" filter.

I tend to give them what they claim to look for. ;)
 
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Hey, can't I change my mind? :) LOL Its about the balance of the pros and cons. If I can get a good enough price, I'll go with something, err a "wee bit larger" LOL. Losing a couple of ft^3 is easily worth saving $1,000 ;) My bigger concern is getting ProxMox installed on it with the drivers needed to take manage the fans and the ILO. I haven't found a lot of literature and/or personal accounts regarding the configuration. I'm guessing the only way I am going to figure it out is buy it and try it. Then I can put my experience here for others to try.

If it doesn't work to my satisfaction, I'm sure I can get most of my money back in selling it.

Time to click the buy key ;)
 

somebrains

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We used a bunch of these when I worked in Santa Monica.
They're solid little boxes.
For the hell of it we pulled the Grids and Xen drives out of a cold spare, threw in a 7970, and played Doom on it.
Creative Director ended up to be a huge closet Starcraft geek and took it home for a month bc he could open up his team's work, sit on Basecamp, and play.

I';d offer the guy $1800.
 
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