starting fresh - need some purchase advice!

LrdHelmet

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Jul 12, 2016
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Hi all,


Trying to wrap my head around options for a home ESXi lab, which will be running mostly Windows VMs (6 - 10 VMs total, for stuff like SharePoint, Exhange, AD, other apps.).

My hardware knowledge is pretty out-of-date, so I need a hand!

My priorities are:

  • running multiple, memory/proc hungry VMs concurrently with good performance
  • relatively low power consumption (will be on during the workday)
  • not too noisy
  • stable
  • don't want / have time or energy to tinker with it

I see a lot on eBay, and a lot of interesting posts here, but not sure what's appropriate. Hoping for some advice here, so I'd appreciate it if nobody sniped these auctions, if they're good deals! =)

Right now, I'm looking at -

HP Proliant DL360 DL360e G8 Gen8 2x 2.5GHz E5-2430 v2 6 Core Server RAID/Rails
HP Proliant DL360 DL360e G8 Gen8 2x 2.5GHz E5-2430 v2 6 Core Server RAID/Rails


Intel S2600C0 Server 2x E5-2630 V2 2.6GHz 64GB DDR3 SSD

Intel S2600C0 Server 2x E5-2630 V2 2.6GHz 64GB DDR3 SSD *** MORE ***

Are these decent choices? Overkill? Too expensive?


 

T_Minus

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Skip the E5-24xx completely.

That E5-26xx setup looks like something I'd avoid due to configuration/layout and price.

It's also hard to feed the need for memory and proc hungry VMs and keep it low power without spending more $$ too.

Rackmount or tower?
Do you want to build something or buy it ready to go?
 

LrdHelmet

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Jul 12, 2016
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Don't have a rack, but I'm indifferent otherwise.

I'd much rather buy the server ready-to-go - don't have time, patience or expertise to pick parts these days.
 

j_h_o

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Apr 21, 2015
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Do you need storage/SSD? You haven't mentioned storage. Is your budget including storage for your VMs?

Cheap + low power + quiet is going to be difficult.

You've quantified how much you want to spend. Can you quantify what you consider low power, and how many dB is quiet?

Memory and proc hungry -- and good performance. How much mail are you looking for this to be able to handle?

Xeon D is going to be 35-50w, but it's going to cost more than 1k.
Older E3/E5 systems are going to be 100w+, but less than 1k.

EDIT: Consider an Intel NUC perhaps? Or a Lenovo SFF?
 
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LrdHelmet

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Jul 12, 2016
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I do need storage.

I guess I'd consider low power to be not more than a couple of mid-range desktops from 2005 - which was the last time I checked into this kind of thing. ;)

Xeon D looks like it will cost me about 2K to get a server with 8 cores, 64GB of ram, and a a TB of not-that-fast disks. And I don't even see a 16 core option available..

I'm not sure if I'll see the ROI there, though I get nervous seeing 'dual 1400W PSUs' being advertised in some of these listings!
 

LrdHelmet

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Jul 12, 2016
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For reference, my current setup is based on the old 12 core AMD 6174, 24GB of ram. Doesn't use a lot of power, but its slow, flaky, and I'm out of headroom.
 

j_h_o

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Apr 21, 2015
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If 2005 is your benchmark, then you can probably buy the systems you have listed above in your OP without worry. Your current CPU uses a lot of power, by today's standards.

If you want to get some 2016 power savings, you don't need that many Xeon D cores, likely.

I'd look at the CPU benchmark scores vs. TDP for some CPUs here: PassMark - Intel Xeon D-1540 @ 2.00GHz - Price performance comparison

Compare the:
to get an idea of what you're getting.

I put this table together when I was testing my Xeon D systems: Xeon D-1540 Benchmarks · Justin Ho

Do you have a sense of if you're starved of CPU cycles in your current set up? Would more memory and flash/SSD help, or do you actually need more CPU? (I know you still need to replace the system, but you should determine if you actually need more CPU.)
 
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LrdHelmet

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Jul 12, 2016
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If 2005 is your benchmark, then you can probably buy the systems you have listed above in your OP without worry.

If you want to get some 2016 power savings, you don't need that many Xeon D cores, likely.

I'd look at the CPU benchmark scores vs. TDP for some CPUs here: PassMark - Intel Xeon D-1540 @ 2.00GHz - Price performance comparison

Compare the:
to get an idea of what you're getting.

I put this table together when I was testing my Xeon D systems: Xeon D-1540 Benchmarks · Justin Ho
This is great, thanks.

Not sure how I could go with fewer than 16 cores though, as I currently get saturated running 4 VMs on 12 cores.

EDIT: memory is definitely an issue, but I frequently find I can't get any more VM's going because there just aren't enough processors to go around. A typical workload might be - 1 DC (1 core) + Exchange (2 cores) + SP (2 cores) + apps (6-8 cores) + virtual NAS (1 core).
 

Terry Kennedy

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I do need storage.

I guess I'd consider low power to be not more than a couple of mid-range desktops from 2005 - which was the last time I checked into this kind of thing. ;)
Over in the for sale section I have a system that I'm asking $350 for. Actual power consumption is < 450W with 16 2TB WD2003FYYS drives installed (the chassis comes with the drive trays and screws, but not the drives). CPUs are dual E5520's - not speed demons, but this system will take just about any 5500/5600 Xeon CPU. Installed memory is 16GB, but maximum memory is 192GB. The only issues are that it may be too noisy for you (it is pretty quiet while running, but on startup/reboot the fans go to full-speed) and that I don't have packing material, so this only works if you're within a couple hundred miles of NYC.

The advantage is that you could throw some CPU / memory upgrades in it and still be well under $500. When you need something faster, just pass it on to the next guy.
 

LrdHelmet

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Jul 12, 2016
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Over in the for sale section I have a system that I'm asking $350 for. Actual power consumption is < 450W with 16 2TB WD2003FYYS drives installed (the chassis comes with the drive trays and screws, but not the drives). CPUs are dual E5520's - not speed demons, but this system will take just about any 5500/5600 Xeon CPU. Installed memory is 16GB, but maximum memory is 192GB. The only issues are that it may be too noisy for you (it is pretty quiet while running, but on startup/reboot the fans go to full-speed) and that I don't have packing material, so this only works if you're within a couple hundred miles of NYC.

The advantage is that you could throw some CPU / memory upgrades in it and still be well under $500. When you need something faster, just pass it on to the next guy.
Thanks for the offer, but I'm in NC - and NY is a bit too far to drive!
 

Terry Kennedy

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I run some R710's here. They're nice boxes. The only issues I can see (based on your described usage) is the 32GB is 8 * 4GB modules. Aside from being a bit odd (that system is normally populated w/ 6, 12, or 18 modules) it means you'll end up removing that memory if you want to approach the maximum memory you can have in the server. It also has a PERC 6i card - if you plan on using Dell firmware the PERC H700 is a nicer controller. If you are using the Dell firmware, you want Dell-certified drives or the fault / locate LEDs won't work.

This listing doesn't come with the extended remote management (iDRAC6 Enterprise vs. the Express that's in there), front faceplate (bezel) or rack rails. I don't think any of those mattery for your described use.

EDIT: or would something like this work? Two processors removed. Is this a noisy server?

HP ProLiant DL580 G7 2x 2.00GHz E7-4820 8C 32GB RAM 4x 300GB 2.5" HD 512MB FBWC
I haven't liked HP in years (which is a shame, as "old HP" was great). They want a service contract to make some firmware updates available, and the number of systems they do that on seems to be growing.
 
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fractal

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Don't have a rack, but I'm indifferent otherwise.

I'd much rather buy the server ready-to-go - don't have time, patience or expertise to pick parts these days.
May I ask why you linked rack mount servers when you don't have a rack? I see a lot of people suggesting rack mount servers to you.

1U / 2U rack servers as many have proposed are typically NOT quiet and work best in a rack.

Is there any reason you are not considering a workstation class machine? HP, Dell, Lenovo all make 1s/2s workstations you can buy for between 100 and 10000 USD ranging from 1s/4c/4t to 2s/16c/32t. These would sit quietly next to your desk and just work. Ok, you aren't going to get much for 100 dollars but 500-800 will get you a decent machine on eBay.

lenovo d30 | eBay and hp z620 workstation | eBay should get you started.
 

LrdHelmet

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Jul 12, 2016
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May I ask why you linked rack mount servers when you don't have a rack? I see a lot of people suggesting rack mount servers to you.

1U / 2U rack servers as many have proposed are typically NOT quiet and work best in a rack.

Is there any reason you are not considering a workstation class machine? HP, Dell, Lenovo all make 1s/2s workstations you can buy for between 100 and 10000 USD ranging from 1s/4c/4t to 2s/16c/32t. These would sit quietly next to your desk and just work. Ok, you aren't going to get much for 100 dollars but 500-800 will get you a decent machine on eBay.

lenovo d30 | eBay and hp z620 workstation | eBay should get you started.
Thanks for the links. I've looked at some workstations too, but the 32 GB ceiling for the workstations makes me wary While I don't have a rack, I do have some shelving that I think will do, and an AC'd utility room to stuff the thing in if the noise is really unbearable.

What do you think of this one?
DELL PRECISION R7610 2 X E5-2660 2.20GHZ 32GB 2 X 500GB HDD RACK WORKSTATION

Could add some RAM to this?
Supermicro 1U Server X9DRW-3F 2x intel Xeon E5-2650 Eight Core 64GB Dual PS Rail
 

fractal

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Thanks for the links. I've looked at some workstations too, but the 32 GB ceiling for the workstations makes me wary
Not sure where you get a "32 GB ceiling".
The D30 I linked has a maximum of 128G UDIMM, 256G RDIMM ( Detailed specifications and overview - ThinkStation D30 - Lenovo Support (US) ), the Z620 up to 192G ( HP Z620 Desktop Workstation | HP® Official Site ).

HP, Lenovo and Dell all have workstation and server builds with similar specs. The difference is the packaging. You can get a lot more servers in a smaller space with rack mount but pay for it with noise.

I don't want to sound like I am trying to dissuade you from rack mount gear if that is what you want. You can always "make do." It is just that I thought "this guy wants a workstation" when I read your OP and wondered why everyone was recommending rack gear for someone who sounds like he wants a single system in an office environment.

I would consider a 128G RAM, 2 socket, 16 core, 32 thread, 1 TB SSD, 8TB HD quiet workstation common.

And, since this forum is about Chassis, I am wondering what chassis you might consider. Getting goodies to put in it depends a bit on what chassis you pick.
 

Terry Kennedy

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The difference is the packaging. You can get a lot more servers in a smaller space with rack mount but pay for it with noise.

I don't want to sound like I am trying to dissuade you from rack mount gear if that is what you want. You can always "make do." It is just that I thought "this guy wants a workstation" when I read your OP and wondered why everyone was recommending rack gear for someone who sounds like he wants a single system in an office environment.
If you're buying new, I agree with you. In the used space, there are lots more rack servers available than pedestal / desk systems of similar performance. That drives the price down. It seems that companies that buy (rather than lease) lots of rack servers run them until the warranty ends, then upgrade them in bulk and surplus out the old ones. The office servers seem to be either minimum-spec desktop type systems or workstations that used to be called "desk-side supercomputers" and management seems to pay a lot less attention to them, so they trundle on long past warranty expiration until either a fan gives out and they overheat, or the user finally complains loudly enough that the system gets replaced with a newer (but probably not new) unit.