In my previous post I talked about why I’m building a home lab server, the goals and starting info I was using. In this post I’m going to detail what I eventually got, the build itself and any gotchya’s that I encountered during that process.
My goal is to be able to have 6 Azure medium sized VM’s (4 core, 16GB of RAM) up and running all the time. That will save me $1,000 per month based on Pay-As-You-Go pricing. With still having some headroom left over for the host and other infrastructure.
Immediately I need to support the following VMs:
- freeNAS Server for local sharing and backups
- CyberPower UPS Agent
- TeamCity build server and agent
- Photon OS for DotNet Core and Docker development
Straight off the bat that’s 2 VM’s that would have cost me $330 a month. With the overall goal of adding up to 4 more. Resource allocation out of the gate will be:
So now that I have my first set of system requirements, the load I’ll be placing on the system, it’s time to start buying the parts. As much as I can, I’m trying to buy the parts new and I was able to for most of the system, outside the processors which I got on eBay.
|Intel Xeon E5-2670v2 CPU (x2)||eBay||$380 ($190\ea)|
|Samsung M393B1K70CH0-YH9 8GB PC3L-10600R RAM (x8)||Amazon||$190 ($23\ea)|
|Phanteks Enthoo Pro Full Tower Case||Amazon||$100|
|EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G2 PSU||Amazon||$120|
|Cooler Master Hyper RR-212E-20PK-R2 LED CPU FAN (x2)||Amazon||$60 ($30\ea)|
|PNY VCQFX370LP-PCIE-PB NVIDFIA Quadro FX 370 VIDEO||Amazon||$10|
|SAS9260-8I Kit Raid 8PORT w/ Cables||Amazon||$170|
|ASRock Motherboard LGA 2011 EP2C602-4L/D16||Amazon||$380|
|Samsung 860 EVO 250GB SSD HDD||Amazon||$90|
|Asus 24x DVD-RW||Amazon||$20|
|WD 4 TB Black Performance HDD (x4)||Amazon||$760 ($190\ea)|
|CyberPower 1500VA UPS||Amazon||$140|
To finish off the build above I’m missing 4 HDD’s (another $760) and 64GB of RAM (another $190). So the current total is short about $950 what the final total will be. To fully polish off the system is looks like I’ll be about $900 over budget.
I also went expensive on the RAID HDD’s, opting for the faster WD Black Performance edition drives with 7200RPM and 128MB of Cache. Those HDD’s alone will turn into about 1/3 the systems overall cost. But that ensures that the VM’s and NAS will have fast access to the bulk of the storage on the system. You can save yourself a lot of money by going cheaper on the drives.
Some notes from this build:
- I also do not recommend the Cooler Master CPU coolers that I bought. Both fans mad a lot of noise and the coolers themselves are so large that if you don’t get a wide Full ATX case they won’t fit. I ended up buying a 2 pack of Corasir fans to replace the crap CM ones. Look for another LGA2011 fan or water cooler for your build.
- You do not need to buy the EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G2 PSU, you just need a PSU with 2 CPU cables (for the 2 procs). I think any modular PSU will be able to handle that, I know the SeaSonic ones I’ve been buying for years now all came with 2 CPU connectors.
- The motherboard on Amazon says it’s an ATX in the title, that’s 100% incorrect. It’s an SSI EEB server form factor board. You can buy ANY case you want, just as long as it supports Extended ATX (EATX) boards (12” x 13”).
- The Phanteks Enthoo Pro Full Tower is very wide at almost 9 1/2”, this is wider than my Cooler Master Stryker case which is pretty big. So ensure you plan accordingly with how much space you’re going to need vertically and horizontally.
- Never buy parts used in Crypto mining. This is why as best I could I got mine new. The CPU’s I checked with the seller to ensure they weren’t used in a miner environment. This is why I avoided CPU’s from Asia even though they were cheaper.
- I picked up a cheap (used) Quadro FX 370 so I could ensure I had a DVI port I could connect to my HDMI based KVM. I selected this card because I knew it would work with that generation of hardware, is low power and low profile. Note that if you pick it up you will need a special DMS-59 cable to convert it to DVI.
- I went with VMWare ESXi free edition, but finding out how to do that is a little hard, so here is a link to a VMWare KB article on how to license your trial edition for free.
- The RAID card I got from Amazon came with 2 the correct cables and the motherboard came with some for the SSD (where ESXi is installed) and the CDROM. There was no reason to buy additional cables (but ensure your RAID card will come with cables, as they are special 1 connector to 4 SATA ones).
JP Toto’s excellent article on his build server (which I originally followed) has his out the door cost at $1,105 at 1/29/2017. But with the Crypto Mining frenzy, the prize on almost all components (CPU, RAM, PSU’s, Cooling, MB’s) have all risen. So keep an eye on prices to try and get better deals, you may have more luck at a local computer store getting good deals there as well.
If you’ve stumbled upon this article anytime in the future I highly recommend looking at V3, V4 or higher versions of the Xeon processes. With every version they get faster, more cores and more Cache. But you will need to buy DD4 RAM and a motherboard that supports that processor version, so just ensure you checking that compatibility. From what I read that ASRock MB that I bought will only support up to the v2 editions.
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