Building home virtualization server, looking for quality LGA1150 motherboard

gr8ape

Member
Jun 15, 2015
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Hey all!

I did a quick search, but I didn't see anything conclusive. I'm hoping I can get some feedback from the experts here.

I build a home virtualization server using a Xeon E3-1246-v3, Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD3H-BK motherboard, and 32GB non-ecc DDR3 1600 memory. It works well, but now I'm thinking I may be better served by getting a real server motherboard that supports ECC memory, vPRO, and all the virtualization stuff that my hardware can support. I have an LSI9211-8i flashed to IT and an intel i350-t4 that I plan to add to the build.

Main requirements are: ECC memory, 32GB worth (preferably 4 240 slots since 16GB+ ram is expensive), Multiple PCI-express 3.0 connections ( I need at least 2x 8, but anything higher will work). The more onboard nics the better (intel only please), and preferable would be a USB A female slot to use a flash drive as a boot drive.

Currently I'm running ESXi, but I could be persuaded to use whatever Level 1 hypervisor is best. I use a mix of windows, linux, and BSD.

Any suggestions for reasonably-priced parts for this? I'm on a slim budget, but I'm still trying to do the best I can.

Thanks!

EDIT: I'll be running pfSense, Plex, NAS, and AD (either samba4 or win2012r2, I haven't fully decided yet) off of this for servers. I'll also be running a few desktops for the family.
 
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RTM

Active Member
Jan 26, 2014
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Sounds like something like Supermicro X10SLM+-f or X10SLH-F would be good choices.
Both have 2x Intel I210AT nics, separate IPMI interface (so you won't need vPRO).
I think both (you should verify) also have the onboard USB connector that you are looking for.

If it is very important that the NICs are onboard, you could look at the X10SLM+-LN4F, but you lose a PCIe slot, and the general PCIe slot configuration looks to be less than optimal for your requirements.

Also for the record, you can only use up to 8GB UDIMM sticks with the boards + CPUs.
 
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rcstevensonaz

New Member
Jul 4, 2015
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I build a home virtualization server using a Xeon E3-1246-v3... I have an LSI9211-8i flashed to IT and an intel i350-t4...

... I'll be running pfSense, Plex, NAS, and AD (either samba4 or win2012r2, I haven't fully decided yet) off of this for servers. I'll also be running a few desktops for the family.
Expanding on RTM's earlier response....

Not sure if you are still looking for information, but for a home ESXI build I would recommend:
  • Supermicro X10 board (see list below)
  • Kingston Value RAM KVR16E11/8HB (be sure it is the HB model... ignore the hyperlink this site adds)
The following Supermicro boards are great for home use. The common denominator is all onboard NICs are Intel i210AT (easiest compatibility with ESXi) and an IPMI port. All include USB header you want.

Most likely contenders for you:
  • X10SLL+-F (C222). Dual NIC. PCIe 3.0: x8(16), x8(8). PCIe 2.0: x4(8)
  • X10SLM+-F (C224). Dual NIC. PCIe 3.0: x8(16), x8(8). PCIe 2.0: x4(8)
  • X10SLH-F (C226). Dual NIC. PCIe 3.0: x8(16), x8(8). PCIe 2.0: x4(8)
Of the above, the C226 may be useful if you are buying a Xeon with GPU built in. But, I'm not positive about whether you can yet use that for pass-through to a Windows machine for graphics output. The reason these cards are good is that you already have the LSI HBA and you also already have an Intel NIC for extra ports.

Other cards that are also worth considering (you trade off PCIe slots for built-in NICs or HBA):
  • X10SLM+-LN4F (C224). Quad NIC. PCI 3.0: x16(16), PCI 2.0: x2(8) {good for pfsense router}
  • X10SL7-F (C222). Dual NIC. LSI 2308 (8x SAS2). PCI 3.0: x8(16), PCI 2.0 x4(8) {good for NAS}

Other thoughts:

1. Many people recommend that you do not run NAS as a virtual machine (if it is your primary NAS). In which case, you might want to add the following as a dedicated NAS. Do not skip ECC for this machine:
  • X10SLM+-F or X10SLL+-F (trade-off is number of 6Gb SATA drives)
  • 8 GB ECC RAM -- 2x KVR16E11S8/4HB {add more RAM if using ZFS deduplication}
  • Core i3 (unless very high use and encrypted drives, in which case jump to Xeon with AES built in)
  • Use your existing LSI HBA
  • If you want >8 drivers, add a SAS Expander (e.g. Intel, HP or Chenbro)
2. Many people recommend running pfsense on a separate machine to provide a gap between the outside and inside world (either bare metal or virtualized). In which case, this machine could be:
  • X10SLM+-LN4F
  • 8 GB ECC RAM -- 2x KVR16E11S8/4HB {or can use non-ECC here if you want}
  • Celeron (if you don't have a lot of VPN/OpenSSL connections) or Xeon (if you need AES)
3. I have found that I prefer a SanCruiser FIT as an external USB instead of using the internal USB header. The FIT is very compact; and having on outside makes it easier to replace on fresh rebuilds since I don't have to open the case to access it.

4. You can incrementally work your way up to multiple servers over the coming years. Your initial ESXi can be an all in one build. Then, you may want to move NAS to dedicated box... so you get the next generation Intel Xeon / Supermicro board to become your new ESXI virtual machine server and re-purpose the original machine as the dedicated NAS box. Etc. for adding a dedicated pfsense down the road.
 
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