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Old 02-08-2015, 08:21 PM   #1
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Default Server Build

So I've been wanting to make a dedicated server for the longest time. I've been using an old touchscreen computer and it's been fine, but I got the money to start building an actual server that will be running ESXI as the OS. Probably maximum of 8 virtual machines I'd be running. Domain controller, proxy, dns, file server, possibly some game servers such as minecraft. Nothing too cpu heavy. I did select a rack instead of a tower because eventually I'm gonna be getting a server cabinet to house all of my networking devices

Click Here for Parts List

That is the part list I did create. I'm looking for any constructive criticism on it. If there's a reason I should go with something else, why?

Thanks so much for taking the time to look at it. I look forward to ALL the feedback!

Edit: I also noticed that the motherboard is now out of stock so if there are any other motherboard that would perform well let me know!
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Old 02-12-2015, 05:14 AM   #2
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It's a nice idea, but I think that a lack of memory will let you down eventually. (when you've added a few more test things, got some clones of your servers running for when you test updates, have a machine running for some project etc)

You're running a file-server (and multiple VMs) on a single hard drive. - that's not only a good way to loose everything at once (if your drive fails you lose all data and all machines. - but it's also going to be the big bottle neck for your system. 8 systems using 1 disk, in a hyper visor that'll be ham strung for RAM, and so probably will use memory caching to disk in swap space- and your VMs will be trying to use their own swap/page space on the disk also... - try getting more disks and setting up a RAID array for faster access/data security.

you have listed

SUPERMICRO SYS-5018D-MTF 1U Rackmount Server Barebone LGA 1150 Intel C224 Express PCH DDR3 1600
Model #:SYS-5018D-MTF
Item #:N82E16816101787

(tech specs say 4 x ddr3 memory slots)

then you have

Crucial 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Server Memory Model CT2KIT102472BD160B
Model #:CT2KIT102472BD160B
Item #:N82E16820148770

(2 sticks)

and then


Kingston 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Server Memory w/TS Hynix B Model KVR16LE11/8HB
Model #:KVR16LE11/8HB
Item #:N82E16820242041

(4 more)

so you'll find that you have two stick or memory without a home!


the processor is good.

overall the mainboard lets you down, (for the sake of a rack mount chassis).


you don't say what your budget is...

but for roughly the same money.

I'd drop the $492 case board combo


and get a better server board:
ASRock EP2C602-4L/D16 SSI EEB Server Motherboard Dual LGA 2011 Intel C602 DDR3 1600/1333/1066 - Newegg.com

you can keep the same processor, even get a second one in the future when finances allow, and your 32GB memory limitation is gone, (upped to a 512GB RAM limit for the board).

you could choose to deck out a quarter of the board with 32GB of RAM (same as you were planning to buy), but personally I'd spend some of the money that you saved earlier getting a larger capacity stick rather than 4 smaller ones.
Kingston 32GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model KTH-PL316LLQ/32G - Newegg.com

the reason is again the ability to upgrade.

then I'd get a cheap and cheerful server case (no hot swap drives etc - which you can't use with a single HDD anyway!)
Logisys CS4801BK Black Server Case - Newegg.com

essentially the budget was $1452

Taking off $319 (4x8GB RAM) taking off $492 (server case + small motherboard) (-$811)
and replacing it with
1 x 32GB stick + $472
Larger motherboard with more future capabilities + $309
Large 4u server case (allows future expansion more drives better cooling etc + $52

that's 22 bucks more...
(and 3 units more)

but allows you plenty of opportunity for future expansion.
(more RAM, more CPU, more HDD etc)
and will probably be quieter, (small 40mm fans do generate a lot of noise)

(if you stayed with 4x8GB sticks instead of a single 32 GB one then you actually save money ($130) getting a more capable board and a larger case. - perhaps use that to get a nicer case? -or a second hard drive)


Even if you're not planning on running anything too heavy right now, don't expect that won't change.


Essentially, I'd start with the same as you have now. but a case that is not a 1u rack mount.

I'd get a cheaper case and a more capable motherboard for less money.
I've use the saving to get a second hard drive and setup a RAID 1 array at the start of the build.
(or possibly two smaller hard drives and setup of a RAD array for storing OS system disks, then have that large drive for Data drives) (and with all my data on one drive, I'd want a pretty slick and regular backup strategy too!

In future I'd expand as necessary. - though it seems likely that with 32 GB of RAM at the start this will be the first thing to show signs of lagging.

then CPU.

then if you need a machine that big (by the time your board is "full" that could be 16 HT cores (32 threads) at 3.4Ghz with half a terrabyte of RAM. you're probably going be looking at getting a "real" data storeage solution, (SAN/NAS, Iscsi, real SCSI or Fibre etc (in a seperate box))
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Old 02-12-2015, 05:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Server Build

Thank you so much root for replying. You had an insane amount of information which must of taken you a bit of time. I thank you for taking time to try and help me out.

All the things you have suggested does make sense..for a small business. I feel I should have had more emphasis on the environment it will be in. All the server will be used for is just me and my machines. It's my way of getting more attuned with servers and it gives me the chance to play around with it. 8 VMs would definitely be that max i'd probably ever run but I doubt Ill even hit that.

I had two different RAM on he parts list but one was just there so I could compare the pricing to the other. I have removed one so the the one left will be the one I'm going for. And it will be 4x8Gb which will suffice for a max of 8 VM, 4gb per VM is suitable for me.

For the board you did suggest, that is in fact a LGA 2011 board which would not fit Xeon E3. I would have to step up my processor and get the E5 which i feel is not necessary. I honestly was originally look at maybe spending 800$ but of course I get all caught up in the moment and end up spending loads more! lol

And lastly, the noise for the fans indeed will be loud, but I will hopefully be getting a small cabinet (which I will make sure have good air flow) and it will muffle the sound. But like I said, sound doesn't bother me.
** My gaming pc sounds like a jet engine so I'd like to see them battle it out for Top sound maker lol**

I really do appreciate all the time you have spent on this post! I definitely have considered all of what you said and will consider it if ever I purchase another server years from now, so thanks.
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Old 02-21-2015, 08:50 PM   #4
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Default Server Build

Very interesting build specs, I too am looking into building something similar but it'll be awhile til I get funds for it.

Hope it all works out for u👍


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Old 02-21-2015, 09:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Server Build

Yep! Got all my stuff. And its up and running. Just didn't realize than you need a supported dedicated raid card for ESXI to detect it. Ill be saving up for that. But other than that. It's been great!

I wish you the best with your setup!!
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Server Build

Thanks mate, I'll put up my build specs one day and compare. Iv always wanted to run a home network setup just to see how things work


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Old 03-01-2015, 02:39 AM   #7
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Default Re: Server Build

Hey jak123abc,

Do you have to have a raid card to run multiple drives on esxi? Also did u purchase a license for esxi?


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Old 03-04-2015, 07:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: Server Build

I have a question regarding to server builds.

I wanted to build a server mainly for virtualization. When you look at the product compatibility listings for parts, do you have to get them particular parts or can you use any model? e.g. ram, hdds, cpu etc.

I have read several forums stating that the vendors test x amount of ram sticks or hdds drives to see if it'll work but most of the time you have use any kind of rams of the same brands.

I will post my build specs once I get a reply from this post..

Thanks..
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Old 03-06-2015, 09:51 AM   #9
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It depends on what you're doing and the level of support that you require...

to all intent and purpose, if you just want to "play" with VMware for the sake of testing out something else (e.g. testing new software, creating build environments for software, creating test environments for testing software on vanilla builds (that won't have all the libraries that you're using so you can check you're packaging the right stuff)...

then you should probably use VMware player, or VMWare workstation.
this would allow you to make virtual machines so you can have some test rigs, you can actually even virtualise an esxi build on vmware player, (there should be some sort of xibit "i heard you like virtualisation so I virtualised your virtualisation"...

If you want to run esxi so that you can run a bunch of servers, (maybe with port conflicts etc, or you're worried about one server getting hacked and loosing stuff then it's kind of worth looking at virtual servers... (basically, there isn't much point in using VMware for fun, it's really not that much fun)...
or if you're running a business and can realise the power savings of getting shot of 20 old servers and consolidating on a single server then maybe vmware is worth it...


to answer your original question...
If this is for work, and you want support from vmware, then look at their hardware compatibility list. you want to run the same make and models as they say that they will support, simply because if you call them up wanting support because ESXI keeps crashing on your off brand board, with weird clone network card. running some obscure or old processor, they won't help you...

if you're doing this at home, and have no specific requirements for uptime, or feel able to support and debug your environment yourself in case of problems, feel free to ignore their hardware compatibility list.


also, you should be aware that vmware doesn't support storage on any IDE drives. (though they don't say this as headline news!)
but of course IDE drives aren't on their hardware compatibility matrix. - the matrix is a list of what is supported, it's not exhaustive (there are other things that it will run on) it's just a list of what esxi has been tested on.

there is no definitive list of hardware that will not work...

(so best to stick to the list... if possible)
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Old 03-07-2015, 01:15 AM   #10
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Default Re: Server Build

Hello root,

Thank you for you good in-depth answer. I will post my build specs in one moment. I have been using vmware workstation for quite sometime now and have played around with esxi on a barebone setup.
Eventually, i will open my own business relating to Networking IT, so to be spending money to build this server is not my concern. It's an expensive hobby that I have developed over the years learning computers.

My build specs are:

* Supermicro 743TQ-865B, Black Tower Case, 865W PSU
* Thermaltake NiC F3 CPU Cooler
* WD Re 2TB, WD2001FYYG (2x drives with be raided to raid1 for the servers, let's say I'm installing 1x DHCP,1x AD,1x DNS + maybe a Media server)
* WD Black 1TB, WD1003FZEX (4x drives raid maybe RAID1 for OS installs. I could have anywhere from 5 - 10 instances let's say 3 XP, 2 WIN 7, 3 Ubuntu for now.)
* Supermicro X9DAE Motherboard ( this is the board that i was talking about in terms of compatibility. I know with CPU support and ram u obviously look at what is supports (Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600
and E5-2600 v2 family†
(up to 150W TDP **)
and
  • 1866/1600/1333/1066/800MHz ECC DDR3 SDRAM 72-bit, 240-pin gold-plated DIMMs
  • Support ECC and non-ECC UDIMMs)
but it did say something about needing a backplate to have the SAS drives connected and working?)
* Intel Xeon E5 2620 v2 (2x of these babies)
* (The Ram I'm not to sure on I was looking at these:
--> Kingston KVR16R11D4K4/64I 64GB (4x16GB) 1600MHz ECC Buffered DDR3, can't find support for these rams but I might take a sting at it. Would it be better to get ram sticks with higher memory? or get 8x 8GB sticks?)
* (also not to sure on which SAS/SATA RAID card to buy?)
* and eventually I'll get a GPU card to passthrough and play old games

I'm still new with this virtualization technology but for now, it's just an idea of what I might need to build down the track.
I was also looking at a rack server as an alternative solution but still pondering the expense and noise/upkeep and so on.

take your time in answering my post as it'll be quite sometime til I get it up and running lol.
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Old 03-14-2015, 11:07 AM   #11
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Default Re: Server Build

you need to check against the hardware compatibility matrix.

-for example at work we're upgrading firmware in servers that are 2 years old because that server with default firmware has dropped off the list.

What I mean is me looking at the list for you isn't going to be enough... you need to check it and check it regularly if you ever want support...

(but it obviously opens the door to saying.
the compatibility list isn't a "it'll only work on this list" -as I said we're upgrading firmware to have continued support, not because things are broken.)

I think it more likely said something about a storage back plane rather than storage back plate.
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Old 06-21-2015, 08:09 AM   #12
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Default Re: Server Build

Sorry, I do realize this post is a bit old, but wanted to give some personal input on this topic since I built an ESXi host in my home to consolidate several machines into one hefty efficient machine.

You NEED to look at the HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) for the version of ESXi you would like to use, I am using ESXi 5.5, they dropped a ton of official support for hardware like RealTek network controllers. You can build an ESXi 5.5 image that supports those controllers, but, don't cry if you run into bugs, because it's not meant to work that way.

Never depend on a single disk in a system, nor use the motherboard RAID solution, many times the motherboard is deploying software RAID which will not work in ESXi, you HAVE to pretty much get a dedicated SAS controller that supports hardware based RAID. A good controller that can be found cheap is a 9650SE, comes in a 4, 8, 12, and 16 disk version.

Next thing, when doing RAID with ESXi, you almost always have to turn write caching on in your raid controller, otherwise you will see that you get horrible writes to the RAID array, the downside is, this means you also have to have a BBU on your controller to help prevent data corruption if the power is lost.

RAM, 32GB might be JUST enough for 8 machines... I have personally found that 16 is too little for just four, and 32GB would be just enough to be comfortable with 6 machines. ESXi does use some of the RAM, remember this.


Now, to my actual experiences... I am cheap, horribly cheap. When I started my ESXi project, it was so I could retire two old rack servers in my closet that ran PFSense, as well as move my media server over to the same server. I made the mistake of not having a proper disk controller, and found some driver packages that I could put into my ESXi install so that I could use my motherboard controller with the OS. The downside, now, all those disks that are attached to the motherboard, are married to ESXi, this shouldn't happen, but it's a bug from using improper drivers to get a non-compatible SATA controller to work. If any of those drives vanish, ESXi will not boot, which is a bad thing, that's 4 disks, all in AHCI, that can fail at any time with vital data on them, and one of them failing will take the whole server with it, easily half a day worth of work just to get it back online.

Don't source all your parts from online retailers, look around ebay, you can get some pretty decent older hardware that will serve you just fine. Can find a 9650SE-12ML for $75 with the fanout cables. Still have to learn how to SSH into the host and install the controller, but it works great. Stay with higher end Intel NIC's for your network, your going to need two ports IMO, one for management, and at least one or more for your VM's.


In my personal opinion, you need a beefy CPU IMO, while you may not use the power that much, it certainly makes life aa bit easier should you ever need that extra power.

Consider 64GB of RAM, and don't allocate it all, always keep some of it left over.

Consider an actual RAID controller seperate from your motherboard, that way if a failure occurs on the RAID card, you can just swap the cards, and not the whole motherboard. Easier to find a controller than a whole motherboard.

Consider your overall network throughput, and how much your going to be using this thing, the goal of virtualization is overall power reduction by sharing resources, sometimes it's not wise to share a single NIC between several VM's, especially if you ever get to where multiple networked computers are accessing different machines at different times. Congestion is real, even at 1GBit these days.

If I am not mistaken, for passthrough to work, the system as a whole (motherboard) must support it, can't just throw in a card and pass that piece through to a VM. It actually has to be fully supported.

Plan, plan, PLAN. Ask questions, research, don't buy the most expensive part because it looks like it might work, actually research that component to see what you might have to do to get it to work with ESXi. If you think you are done planning out your hardware, ask others to evaluate the build. Take the input, and plan more. Once you are done, start planning on how you will handle the datastores, how you will be backing the datastores up, and how your going to setup your system resources between the different machines. If you don't setup reserved resources and maximum resources properly, a single VM that acts up can bring the whole system to a crawl.


Yeah, I know my post is a bit scattered, and a bit late, but I am tired, and just wanted to share a little bit of my experiences with ESXi and running VM's in a home network.
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