Help deciding new homelab build

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Bard

New Member
Jan 15, 2024
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So, I'm planning to renew a bit my current server to try to save some electricity and improve performance a bit (single thread performance is suffering). I've been mulling over this for quite a while, but a post on reddit about downsizing/reducing electricity gave me a bit of a push so I wanted to give it a try, at least to plan a possible solution. Got some idea but feedback from someone that might know more is welcome. My knowledge is 95% related to enterprise things that would just blow my house fuse, not really on "efficient setups".

What I have:

Dell R720XD, 2x Xeon E5-2667v2, 320Gb RAM, ~6TB nvme storage (3x2Tb) and ~100TB storage (4x12Tb Raid-Z1 and 5x18Tb Raid-Z2), 2x 10Gb fiber, 2x 10Gb BaseT.
Consumes about 300-320W on average (280 to 340)

What I need:

CPU: anything power efficient and relatively powerful

RAM: 96GB might be enough, I'd be happier with 128GB+. I don't need all of the 320GB RAM, most is used when I run labs or test environments that don't need to stay up all the time, I can just run the old server when I need to work on them and turn it off later. ECC would be a plus but 100% not needed.

Storage: ~4TB should suffice for VMs, maybe even less. I'd like to keep file it as is, but might consider splitting NAS from virt server and stick it on a different low power cpu to avoid truenas eating up RAM. Don't need raid on VMs as I'd back them up daily (and some critical ones like DCs weekly on cloud) and there's nothing critical I can't deal a couple of days without.

Networking: At least one 10Gb, ideally SFP+ so I don't need to have a base-t gbic that I hate

Other:

  • TPM
  • no E/P cores shenanigans since I might want to run esxi on it (still undecided, even if I keep the licenses on the old server I still have 4 more left with VMUG if Broadcom doesn't kill it)
  • IPMI (but I'm fine with a PIKVM)
  • Can run a VM to do video encoding/decoding well (jellyfin, Tdarr) <--- only this of the "other" is 100% needed
What I am planning:

At this point I am undecided between:

  • Minisforum BD790i with the Ryzen 9 7945HX, 96GB ram, 1x 10GB Network card. Maybe a HBA card IF it supports bifurcation and I end up running Truenas as a VM
  • Recycle old AM4 mobo I have, get a Ryzen 9 5950x, 128GB ram, ECC support (not sure if the Mobo supports 64GB DDR4 ECC modules? If so it might be double that! but I doubt it). 1x 10GB Network card and an HBA if needed.
  • ??? I accept suggestions

What I got already to work with that might help:
* AM4 mobo (Steel Legend X570)
* 10GB Dual nic PCIE network card
* might be able to dig up a raid card flashed in jbod mode with 8x sas/sata
* a rackmount case with 9x 5.25 slots (6 of them are used for 2x fans with non hot-swap space for a total of 6 drives
* a hot swap backplane for 5 hdd bay in 3x 5.25 slots, it works but has serious heat issues (disk run at 45-50°C++ in it)
* a couple of PSUs Gold 650W and Platinum 1250W
* a RPI4 or a CM4 laying around (I need one for something else, but I could use any one of the two) if I need to run a PIKVM.

The money:
price-wise I'd like to keep it under 1200/1300€ if possible and if I manage to land under 100W of power average I'd be happy since with those two figures I might be able to pay back the expense in ~3 years more or less.

The questions:

Second one should be cheaper as I already have some parts, but first one SHOULD be more efficient? but is it? Not sure what the difference would be but allegedly the first one idles at ~10W and the second at 50+W. But will it be ever really idle?

And if I end up running a different machine as the NAS, what should I pick to run 100TB of TrueNAS? Considering I'd like to have a 10Gb networking (I know I won't saturate it, but I don't want to change the switch to one with 2.5Gb ports, don't have the money to change all of it at once)

What would be best to keep the HDD in? I got a rack case with 9x 5.25" slots so it's either 3x 4 bay backplanes (5 bays I had were always having temp issues on the drive, my hope is that 4 bays might be slightly better) or a new case off aliexpress with drive bays already built in, both solutions seems to run in the 3-400€ range. Is there any suggestions regarding this? specific backplane/case, cheap JBOD enclosures I don't know about?

Honestly I'd welcome feedback on any and all points of the whole thing :D
 

zer0sum

Well-Known Member
Mar 8, 2013
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Slightly different approach, but I'd go with an Epyc system with either the H11SSL (PCIe 3.0) or H12SSL (PCIe 4.0) motherboard.
You can get a 7302p + 256G memory + H11SSL motherboard for less than $1000.

Then you can shove it into an ATX chassis like a Fractal Meshify 2 which can take 15+ HDD's

Now you have 7 x full PCIe slots to play with and can simply run Proxmox, virtualize your NAS and do hardware passthrough of the HBA/disks and something like an Nvidia P400 so that plex/jellyfin/tdarr can use it for hardware transcoding :cool:
 

Bard

New Member
Jan 15, 2024
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Slightly different approach
Honestly I wrote in here to have opinions and ideas on it so it's very welcome.

I am very very pessimistic of that price point here in europe. VERY.

But I'll look into it. Hopefully it's similar here too.

Main aim is to reduce energy usage and improve single thread performance (for game servers mostly) how does that do on those fronts?

I see the TDP is really high but that also isn't a reliable measure of energy usage.

All the ram and pcie would be very welcome of course.
 

zer0sum

Well-Known Member
Mar 8, 2013
862
483
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If you're chasing single threaded speed, then there are different options I'd go with.
Look into AM5/AM4 or LGA1700 based motherboards and CPU's that go with them

AM5 will be more efficient at load, while LGA1700 is a bit more efficient at idle

No where near as many PCIe lanes or slots as Epyc, but might be enough for you?

I have an X470D4U and it is a cool little server :cool:

There are some great discussion here of course



 

Bard

New Member
Jan 15, 2024
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Here I am, took a while to read all that, thanks for the links :D

Indeed AM4/5 LGA1700 was what I was looking at. More on the Ryzen side since from what I seen in the esxi logs, it never goes idle anyway, there's a constant 20-30% load that I expect would be around 10% load on a newer CPU but still not idle.

I already have a spare AM4 mobo, it's not a server one, but I am not really concerned about IPMI as on the mail (for other reasons) I have a Geekworm x680 PIKVM and I got a free slot on that one.

PCIe count is nice but I'd rather have lower power requirements than more of those.

A 5950X on that mobo is a solution I considered honestly, I mostly undecided between that and the BD790i that's running a 7945x. Performance is pretty much the same, core count too.
First one has more PCI slots and supports 128Gb of RAM, but consumes more power
Second one has less PCI slots (unles bifurcation works on it) and only supports 96Gb of RAM but supposedly it consumes a lot less.

On the other hand, Intel CPUs have quicksync for Jellyfin/Tdarr but the weird cores are not supported on esxi so I'd need to use proxmox (that I was considering anyway but I'd be forced to, instead of being an option)

I really wish there were Xeon/Epyc version of the newest laptop CPUs, same specs but ECC support and additional PCI/RAM channels. And I don't say it just for my homelab, I'd love to have some of those at work too for some small branch offices.

Honestly I am utterly undecided
 
Last edited:

SnJ9MX

Active Member
Jul 18, 2019
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FWIW, I just built a new PC yesterday. Gigabyte B650 AORUS Elite AX, Ryzen 9 7900X, 2x16GB DDR5 6000MHz, 1x 1TB NVMe, and a Nvidia 2080 S. It pulls 70W at idle. The Dell Precision 3240 compact it replaced (i7-10700, 2x16GB 2933 MHz, 1x 512GB NVMe, 1x 800GB Intel S3500) pulled 11W at idle. I have multiple Dells in the 9th-10th gen range and none of them idle greater than 12W, including in a regular desktop form factor.

The GPU is easily 20W of that idle, maybe 30, but be aware that Ryzen idles quite high.