Seeking advice on older hardware

xwire

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Aug 24, 2021
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First post here, I've been lurking on the ServeTheHome forums on and off over the years. Mostly out of curiosity as I've never had any real need to set up anything major at home. I'm now thinking of putting together a TrueNAS box with older components and I was hoping to get some advice from those more experienced than I am.

Looking around eBay, it seem like stuff like Supermicro X10 motherboards and matching Haswell and Broadwell Xeon E3s can be had for relatively cheap now. I'm tempted to pick up a set, but I have to ask:

1) Is there any point in buying parts that old at this point? From what I can tell Haswell and Broadwell processors were released from 2013 to 2015, making them at least 6 years old now. On the flip side, I'm just looking for something that will do basic file storage and don't really need any significant performance.

2) Are fakes a problem? I've seen the article and posts here dated 2019 about fake Xeon E5s, but nothing yet about E3s or Supermicro motherboards. Again, on the flip side, there seems to be a lot of these around eBay. I'm a little suspicious about sellers who have dozens of the same part for sale.

3) Following up on that last bit, are there any sellers known to be reliable, or to be avoided? I have one or two sellers I'd trust, and I understand if nobody want's to post that in public. Are there any warning signs I should look out for?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!
 

zer0sum

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Mar 8, 2013
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X10 and X11 Supermicro boards are perfect candidates for TrueNAS :)
I recently built a new UNraid server and used the following
  • Super Micro X11SSM-F - $114 (Amazon open box)
  • Xeon E3-1270v5 , 4 core / 8 thread, 3.6-4Ghz - $125 (Ebay)
  • Mellanox ConnectX-3 - $20 (Ebay)
  • 64G ECC ram
  • Supermicro AOC-SLG3-2M2 PCIe Add-On Card (Bifurcated)
    • 1TB nvme cache drive
    • 2TB nvme share drive
  • HP H220 LSI SAS2308 HBA
    • 3 x 10TB SAS drives
  • Nvidia Quadro P400 for Plex stream transcoding
  • Icydock dual 5.25" to triple 3.5" cage
This whole setup was pulling 60-70W at idle, which I thought was pretty good
 
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xwire

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Aug 24, 2021
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Thanks for the feedback! Yes, definitely looking at cheaper used stuff off of eBay. I'm not sure I could even find X10 series parts new now.

Another question: What are my options for CPU coolers? (Assuming a LGA 1150 socket CPU.) I'm not familiar with standard "server" solutions, and while looking up aftermarket consumer ones I came across a mention that there's a backplate on Supermicro motherboards that interferes with some of their mounting options.

Would the safest thing be to pick up a OEM Intel LGA 1150 cooler?
 

nukke

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Aug 5, 2021
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Thanks for the feedback! Yes, definitely looking at cheaper used stuff off of eBay. I'm not sure I could even find X10 series parts new now.

Another question: What are my options for CPU coolers? (Assuming a LGA 1150 socket CPU.) I'm not familiar with standard "server" solutions, and while looking up aftermarket consumer ones I came across a mention that there's a backplate on Supermicro motherboards that interferes with some of their mounting options.

Would the safest thing be to pick up a OEM Intel LGA 1150 cooler?
Ultimately it depends on the chassis you end up choosing. An Intel stock cooler would work for e.g. a NAS, but might have thermal issues if you're planning on doing more resource-intensive tasks like virtualization or utilizing containers (TrueNAS allows you to run Plex, for example). The smaller you go, the louder the fans tend to be.

For the backplate, it depends. I believe the stock cooler comes with plastic "turnscrews" that don't require a backplate, but aftermarket coolers do come with their own backplates. You can go off of the socket type to determine the heatsink compatibility (ex. the Supermicro X11SSM-F is a 1151 socket motherboard, so you can safely assume that heatsinks that support LGA1151 should fit the motherboard).
 

T_Minus

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For file storage the x10 is a great bang for the buck and lots of availability on ebay as you're finding and good power utilization as well as compatibility in various cases. You can find some Great Deals for CPU\RAM\Motherboard if you're not in a rush, and don't need 32GB RAM.
 

BeTeP

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Mar 23, 2019
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Better off with e5 v2 platform
I did not think I would say this in 2021 but IvyBridgeEP is still my go to platform for storage systems. My requirements are 10+ drives, low cost (under $20) per drive bay and being able to max out 10Gbps link.

I still build handful of such systems a month. My costs are under $250 per complete 12LFF in 2U system before drives.
 
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xwire

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Aug 24, 2021
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For the backplate, it depends. I believe the stock cooler comes with plastic "turnscrews" that don't require a backplate, but aftermarket coolers do come with their own backplates. You can go off of the socket type to determine the heatsink compatibility (ex. the Supermicro X11SSM-F is a 1151 socket motherboard, so you can safely assume that heatsinks that support LGA1151 should fit the motherboard).
That's exactly what had me looking at stock Intel coolers. I'm almost certainly not going to be doing anything resource intensive with it, so I figured I *should* be safe. The caveat being I have no idea how much power a say Xeon E3 might actually pull.

(Side note, I haven't looked at CPUs yet, but I'm aiming for a lower end Xeon E3. Perhaps one of the L processors?)

Worst case I pick up the motherboard first, look at the backplate situation, then have a look around for aftermarket heatsinks. It'll just take me a little longer to get all the parts together. One option I'd considered is the Noctua NH-L12S - My experiences with them Noctua is their designs tend to be reliable and well put together.
 

Propaganda

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That's exactly what had me looking at stock Intel coolers. I'm almost certainly not going to be doing anything resource intensive with it, so I figured I *should* be safe. The caveat being I have no idea how much power a say Xeon E3 might actually pull.

(Side note, I haven't looked at CPUs yet, but I'm aiming for a lower end Xeon E3. Perhaps one of the L processors?)

Worst case I pick up the motherboard first, look at the backplate situation, then have a look around for aftermarket heatsinks. It'll just take me a little longer to get all the parts together. One option I'd considered is the Noctua NH-L12S - My experiences with them Noctua is their designs tend to be reliable and well put together.
What would be the positives of any E3 over a E5 v1 or v2? One of the main drivers of performance in truenas would be RAM, that is a half to a quarter of the price if you stick to registered DDR3.
 

T_Minus

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What would be the positives of any E3 over a E5 v1 or v2? One of the main drivers of performance in truenas would be RAM, that is a half to a quarter of the price if you stick to registered DDR3.
- Electric use
- Heat output
- Form factor

Most home users don't need a NAS with 32GB RAM let alone >32GB even with ZFS
 

xwire

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What would be the positives of any E3 over a E5 v1 or v2? One of the main drivers of performance in truenas would be RAM, that is a half to a quarter of the price if you stick to registered DDR3.
The single biggest stumbling block for me would be my unfamiliarity with the LGA 2011 lineup. Looking at Supermicro options they seem to be "archived" products. Also I'm angling towards a mATX solution, which seems easy enough to find for LGA 1150, but less so for 2011. Plus if I don't need the processing power, the LGA 1150 based solution gives me the option of i3s or Pentiums. (Or Celerons, but I don't think I'd go that low.) Yes, RAM is cheaper, but looking around not that much so, and as T_Minus noted, I probably won't need that much.

Question about Supermicro X10 boards that feature VGA out: Does making use of that VGA port require an E3 with an IGP? Or is support built into the board itself?
 

BlueFox

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Oct 26, 2015
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Question about Supermicro X10 boards that feature VGA out: Does making use of that VGA port require an E3 with an IGP? Or is support built into the board itself?
For all models that have IPMI, it's on the motherboard. You won't need a CPU with integrated GPU.
 

Propaganda

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By the numbers the TDP on E5 vs E3 aren't drastically different unless you go for one of the anemic versions <25W which I wouldn't personally use. There are plenty of ATX boards for E5 and this is a fileserver we are talking about here, how small do you need to to be? I guess the OP didn't really specify what he was doing well enough to figure out which platform would be best is he planning on having >100TB of raw disk capacity or something a smaller? The rule of thumb I always went by was 8GB + 1GB per TB raw storage, maybe it is overkill but is is what people have been throwing around for a long time.

You say you want matx, that is not so easy to get in the 2011 platform. Do you need ipmi(usually denoted by -F in supermicro part name)? Perhaps you are better off with a ryzen based system you could even get as small at itx there. But as I said before how big of a server are you building here? If you just need a few drives you could even look into G8 Microservers.

To look at legacy Supermicro offerings I usually use Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free & Borrowable Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine. Browsing is a bit slow but doable. If you have a partnumber google nearly always has a link to the old supermicro pages as well.
 

Storm-Chaser

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Apr 16, 2020
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Personal recommendation would be E5 chips in the Xeon 2600 series v2 family. You can actually build a pretty decent system with quite good computational power, especially if you combine two of the chips.

Good chassis would be something like the HP z820. You can find them pretty cheap. Especially keep an eye on ebay, you can usually find them for parts or not working but just lacking hard drives or something for under $200. They are well built and a great platform to learn xeons inside and out since they support up to two processors and have 16 ddr3 1866 memory slots for up to 8 channel memory support.

Going further than that I would recommend the xeon e5 2696 v2, which is an OEM processor (so do your research if you consider it, because it wont work in all mainstream boards/rigs). The reason I recommend this chip is that they run about $100 for 12 cores and 24 threads. They also outperform the flagship 2697 v2 due to 100 mhz higher all core turbo, and DO IT with 10 W less TDP! This combination will give you slightly better performance than a thread ripper 1950X. If you prefer clock speed to core count I would recommend something like the 2673 v2, which has the highly sought after 4.0GHz single core turbo but also a lower TDP than the retail chips in the family. Again just two things to consider, plenty of other good chips out there as well.
 
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Storm-Chaser

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2) Are fakes a problem? I've seen the article and posts here dated 2019 about fake Xeon E5s, but nothing yet about E3s or Supermicro motherboards. Again, on the flip side, there seems to be a lot of these around eBay. I'm a little suspicious about sellers who have dozens of the same part for sale.
No, fakes are not a problem just be heads up and you should not have a problem. Match price and specs and you should be fine.

What would be the positives of any E3 over a E5 v1 or v2? One of the main drivers of performance in truenas would be RAM, that is a half to a quarter of the price if you stick to registered DDR3.
As someone else said you shouldnt need a whole lot of RAM for your NAS setup but again z820 wont disappoint as I said 8 channel memory fitted at 1866MHz speed by populating all 16 ram slots will give you about twice the memory bandwidth of say a dual channel DDR4 state of the art system running at approximately 4000Mhz!
 

xwire

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Aug 24, 2021
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Thanks for the options!

So I really don't need the processing power. I have an assortment of older parts, some drives (6 I think), and a HBA, and the plan is a basic NAS. It is staggering what kind of processing power is available for cheap nowadays, but I can't imagine I'd have any use for it...

Had a nice surprise today. Was poking around my parts box and found an Intel CPU cooler that I think must have come from an Ivy Bridge system. I'm probably sorted for a cooler now, just need to look into cleaning off the (unused!) 8 year old heat sink compound that's on it.
 

xwire

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Aug 24, 2021
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You say you want matx, that is not so easy to get in the 2011 platform. Do you need ipmi(usually denoted by -F in supermicro part name)? Perhaps you are better off with a ryzen based system you could even get as small at itx there. But as I said before how big of a server are you building here? If you just need a few drives you could even look into G8 Microservers.

To look at legacy Supermicro offerings I usually use Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free & Borrowable Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine. Browsing is a bit slow but doable. If you have a partnumber google nearly always has a link to the old supermicro pages as well.
It doesn't need to be tiny, and I suspect the final size will be dictated by the drives... (planning for 6 at the moment). But I've never made full use of a full ATX board and it just seem like wasted space. Compact is nice and preferred, but not an absolute must.

Good idea on using the Wayback Machine! I didn't think of that.
 

nukke

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Aug 5, 2021
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It doesn't need to be tiny, and I suspect the final size will be dictated by the drives... (planning for 6 at the moment). But I've never made full use of a full ATX board and it just seem like wasted space. Compact is nice and preferred, but not an absolute must.

Good idea on using the Wayback Machine! I didn't think of that.
Another thing to consider regarding size requirements is whether you want a rackmount chassis or a "desktop" case that supports lots of drives (Fractal Design Node series & R7, Silverstone, Lian Li). So it's not so much about picking a motherboard size (ATX, mATX, ITX) but more about the height of the chassis (1U, 2U, 3U, 4U, full ATX tower).
 

xwire

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Aug 24, 2021
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Another thing to consider regarding size requirements is whether you want a rackmount chassis or a "desktop" case that supports lots of drives (Fractal Design Node series & R7, Silverstone, Lian Li). So it's not so much about picking a motherboard size (ATX, mATX, ITX) but more about the height of the chassis (1U, 2U, 3U, 4U, full ATX tower).
Uh, thanks for pointing that out. I hadn't really thought about that bit. Honestly I'm not impressed by Fractal's current offerings. Every generation seems to get larger, and it seems like I'd have to go big to get a worthwhile number of drives in. They used to make an Arc Mini(?) that seems like it would have been ideal.

I might just bodge something together with sheet metal and aluminium extrusion, but first:

I've managed to pick up a X10SLM-F and some RAM to match at what I think were pretty decent prices. I'm now trying to figure out which CPU to get and have started a thread for it here. In short, I'm looking at a E3 1220, 1225 or 1226 v3. I suppose a 1231 or even a Pentium is an option, but that last just sounds like a bit of a waste of the rest of the system.