Need help around home ESXi build - 1P Eypc or Intel, Supermicro/Gigabyte motherboard?

loopback14

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Jan 2, 2018
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Hi guys,

Just started following the site and the forums a couple of weeks ago and I'm amazed at how much great info resides here that I couldn't find anywhere else. Keep up the great work!

I am planning to build an ESXi build for my home lab and I need your help since I am pretty new in the server hardware arena.

So, the ESXi server will be used for a lot of things, primarily for my networking lab in general plus the CCIE lab (a lot of pretty much CPU idle VM-s that will eat a lot of RAM - various Cisco software and virtual routers, Check Point firewalls, F5 load balancers, some Microsoft stuff, etc.). I presume around 30 VMs may be up and running at any single time. In the future I plan to build some sort of NAS on top of the server and maybe add a graphics card for passthrough if I feel like gaming (haven't done this for 15 years :) ). My entire build budget (motherboard, CPU, cooling, RAM, case, storage) is around 2000-2500$ but bear in mind that I'm from Europe and hardware prices are higher here.

Since I started investigating server hardware my decision on what to buy has been harder with each new day :) After all the research I think that 1P CPU (cores > GHz) system, a lot of RAM with ability for RAM/storage expansion (NVMe) would be best suited for my needs. My brain/heart tells me I need to go with an 1P Epyc build but the 8x channel RAM requirements is a little turn off right now since the RAM prices are through the roof. Plus there aren't a lot of 1P Epyc motherboards on the market at this time, unlike the Intel offerings.

1. Epyc build questions/recommendations - my best option would be if I could buy 2x or 4x memory modules right now and add more as the RAM prices drop. I'm not concerned with the performance impact at this moment if I don't go full 8x RAM channels since the VMs will pretty much be idle all the time but the question is how much of a performance hit will I encounter? Will the system be at a point of non-usable with this many VMs? I am looking at the Gigabyte MZ31-AR0 but the prices are a little too high for my taste. I've seen that Supermicro has changed their H11SSL motherboards from "coming soon" to "new" but haven't seen any offerings or prices yet. Anybody has any info on this (I'm in Europe)? Any CPU recommendations for this build?

2. Threadripper questions - this may be a viable option but there aren't any solid workstation motherboard offerings right now (>128 GB RAM). It seems that all of the motherboards I've seen are aimed at gamers... any upcoming surprises here?

3. Intel build recommendations - any?

4. Any storage recommendations to get the server up and running - there will be a lot of VMs that will not have a lot of I/O once they are up and running. I'm looking to go for NVMe non-server grade storage stuff...

As far as I can see the Epyc build will be a little higher in the price range in the beginning but I think it will give me more bang for the buck and more room to expand the system in the long run (RAM,storage, etc.).

What do you think? Any help will be much appreciated!

Cheers!
 
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Subsonic

New Member
Aug 10, 2017
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My Plan is to build a similar machine for same purpose. I´m going to wait a little bit because of the meltdown fiasco. Maybe this will push the Epyc platform and more boards will be released.
 

loopback14

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Jan 2, 2018
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Smart thinking... :) do you know if all of the 8x memory channels have to be populated if the memory performance is not critical, meaning - will I be OK with 2x or 4x memory modules until the RAM prices come down?
 

loopback14

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Jan 2, 2018
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Yeah, I've seen it already, that thread is one of the reasons I am asking the question because they all said "maximum performance possible", and I don't need it immediately, will be happy if the performance will be somewhat bearable until the RAM prices come down... :)
 

alex_stief

Active Member
May 31, 2016
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If your workload is not memory bandwidth bound, I would rather opt for 4x8GB. This way you can still give each NUMA node its own memory which will yield decent performance in applications that are not memory limited. Plus 8GB modules should be cheaper per GB.