Looking to build mini/mini server tower (or purchase a pre-fab) - need some advice


New Member
Aug 10, 2020
Howdy all!

Recently moved into a smaller home and have been strong-armed, er, advised by my wife and various family members (I'm sick of arguing and trying to explain my setup, unfortunately all of my possessions have unfairly been labeled 'toys' :-| ), to get rid of the 'eyesore' of my setup right now.

My 'eyesore' is mainly my 15u server racks cabinet, which is 'too big' for the finished area of the basement it is in. Basically none of the visitors and my wife want to see any of it as they come down the steps. Again, it's a total losing battle and it's crap, but whatever. I already told my wife I'm happy to downsize but it will NOT be cheap and that's the end of that discussion.

So, although I'll be giving up my 15u beauty, it only houses the following at the moment:

1 x Mikrotik 24 port switch
1 x 4 port Mikrotik 10g switch
1 x 16 port patch panel (which probably can go but we'll see)
1 x custom supermicro build running on a X9dri-ln4+ with 2 x Xeon e5-2620 CPUs, and 128Gb DDr3 (and like 8 x 2TB drives) - serves as the vhost
1 x HP Microserver G10 (opteron model w/8gb RAM) - serves as my NAS (with 2 x 10Tb drives)
1 x HP T620 Plus thin client running pfsense
3 x tower UPS's to power the above

on top is my 3d printer, hubitat, and the cable modem.

What I need to specifically downsize is the supermicro. Looking to do something similar as the Microserver, but I don't want to feasibly spend more than say 600-700 bucks. Trying to go for bang for buck while leaving expansion.

For the vhost, I need minimum 64Gb memory (I'll be combining some vms to perform double duty as they can).
I'm running:

- Plex
- Server 2016 Essentials
- Another Server 2016 host (Veeam backups) - which could be moved to my NAS since it' runs 2016 Server Std
- Ubiquiti controller for the APs I have
- A win 10 VM for backing up to my cloud backup solution
- A Freepbx vm that uses HW passthrough for a PCIE FXO/FXS card (ATCOM AXE400P-00)
-vCenter appliance

I have another server that I can combine down to the essentials box for PRTG monitoring if need be, and I can combine two ubuntu vm's down to one for JIRA and Confluence. All in all that still leaves me at approximately 64Gb of memory.

Hardware wise I need to be able to accommodate:
- The FXS/FXO card (which is a 1 x PCI-E)
- A 10Gb SFP+ dual nic card (which is an x8 PCIE)
- Potentially a gfx card if using a custom built without an igpu
- ideally an expansion slot like an x1 or x8 for another NIC if needed down the road (e.g. to install pfsense as a vm and remove the physical host for that)
Of course the above cards right now are half height I believe (because of the SuperMicro chassis)....and I may or may not have a full height bracket for each, but I can manage.

For the vhost, I have ESXI and vCenter licensing, so need something that obviously works with it, which is almost anything these days with a modern CPU.

I'll only be using 4 x 2TB drives (SATA III) in the new build, in at least a Raid 10 config.

One thing I've considered is this Potential Custom build
(ignore the alert as the case seems to flag the gpu only because of a half height bracket, but the bracket for full height is included as well)
Looking at a hex core processor to get most bang for buck.
Pricing wise that puts me at $565 and change, so we'll call it $600 bucks. May need a riser ribbon or two depending on bracket situation.

Another potential option is the Dell PowerEdge T40, as with 4x 16Gb Crucial sticks of non-ECC (CT16G4DFD8266) which was confirmed by another user elsewhere (reddit) to be working on the T40. BUT, that server lacks hyperthreading, and the performance may be meh.

I'd like to eventually move to Server 2019 and not have to upgrade for at least another 5 years or longer, so looking for something between best bang for buck and also maximizing longevity.

Lets say ~$600-650 is the max I want to spend. I've already got to drop more $ on getting some new power, Cat6 and coax runs to the opposite side of the basement room where my rack is now, so I can 'pretty it up'. Oh and that reminds me, any good, furniture looking type items that would serve as a rack for the equipment + 3D printer that's not necessarily ikea? :)

Appreciate any feedback.