What's Currently the Best Bang for the Buck CPU/MB for a Home Server?

rootshell

New Member
Jan 10, 2021
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I asked this question a few months ago when I was favoring a low end EPYC 7003 build, but stalled due to processor unavailability. In that time, I've also started second guessing the EPYC choice since idle power consumption seems to be significantly higher than Intel, and I expect this home server to be idling much more than running all out. Build needs are as follows:
  • Run ESXi 7.x on bare iron
  • TrueNAS VM w/ the required HBAs passed thru
  • ~2-4 lightweight VMs for various home server duties including
    • Plex on linux w. some sort of GPU pass thru
    • Blue Iris on Windows (Intel QuickSync would be nice)
    • Some TBD Container OS
  • IPMI
  • SFP+
  • Ideally: Low idle power consumption, low cost, but enough horsepower to more than handle the workloads I've listed.
  • Also Ideally: MB w/ support for a couple M.2 NVME. Embedded LSI/Broadcom HBAs.
  • Function for 3-5 years
  • Rackmounted. Plenty of room for an ATX or eATX MB.
Currently Have
Case:
SuperMicro 846BA-R920B (4U, 24 hot swap trays)
  • Backplane: SAS846A
  • PSUs: 2X PWS-920P-SQ
NAS Storage: (8) WD 8TB Red 3.5" HDDs

I read Patrick's April 2020 TrueNAS build using the Xeon D-based ASRock Rack D1541D4U-2O8R. And while his needs were similar to mine except for size/space, unfortunately, that Asrock MB is no where to be found anymore. And Xeon D 1500 was kinda long in the tooth in April 2020, and now is even a year older! So I started looking at the Xeon e5-2690v4 (14c/28t) since I can get them used on Ebay for $230. But those are still Broadwell cores, vulnerable to Spectre/Meltdown... I was hoping for something a bit newer & shinier.

Started looking at the Scalable 1st gen, something like a 4110 (8c) used for $300ish, and then finally landed on the Scalable 2nd gen 4210 (10c) for $350 'new' on Ebay. Was thinking about teaming that with a MB that comes embedded SFP+, Broadcom/LSI 3008 SAS3, and preferably 2 NVMEs. Currently looking at something like the Supermicro X11SPH-nCTPF. But I've also been eyeing the SM workstation board X11SPA-TF and it's 4 NVME drives... which appears to use a C621 chipset vs. C622, but I don't see much difference between the two. The X11SPA-TF would be a more expensive option, unless I can find one used, since I would need to add cards for SFP+ and SAS3.

Any thoughts or input? What am I missing?
 

bayleyw

Active Member
Jan 8, 2014
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Maybe others can chime in but I've never gotten my Scalable system to idle reasonably, with a handful of spinning drives, SSDs, and GPUs my single CPU system idles at something like 150W under XenServer. Your needs sound like the correct target for a Ryzen 3000 system, you have to spend more buying ECC UDIMMs but a 3700X will beat the 4210 and you can just about fit a GPU (in x8, which should be fine for Plex), an HBA, and a 10G NIC in the right board. There's a little bit of contention going on - the NIC and 2 NVMe drives will all share an x4 link to the CPU but that should be fine unless you are doing something crazy.
 

rootshell

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Jan 10, 2021
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I'd be curious what others with a single CPU Scalable are seeing for typical idle power consumption. 150W w/ 8 spinners would be on the high side of what I was hoping for.

Original plan was a ASRock Rack ROMED8-2T + 7003 series CPU, but would probably opt for a 7002 series since I believe it idles w/ lower power consumption.... and is actually purchasable. Just thought the Intel Scalable would idle even lower...
 

zack$

Active Member
Aug 16, 2018
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Your not gonna get QuickSync on server CPUs other than E3-V3-6/E-21xx/E-22xx/W-12xx/W-13, so that more or less limits your options a great deal. Not to mention limited IO + Ram capacity @ UDIMM.

I would suggest getting one of the project tiny/mini/micro/nano boxes to run blue iris with quick sync (you can even run esxi and passthru igpu: ) and just building whatever server your heart's content.
 
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PigLover

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Jan 26, 2011
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For that set of workloads I’d skip the big Xeon/Epyc and go with current gen Intel desktop parts. I’d also skip ESXi and freenNAS. Just run Ubuntu, build up your disk array on ZFS and share it out with Samba or NFS.

The i9-10900 is about perfect. You can run BlueIris in a KVM vm and pass through a “share” of the iGPU using GVT-g. Run everything else in Docker, including giving the PLEX container access to the GPU. And yes - doing this lets you share the GPU with BlueIris and PLEX at the same time (while still using it on the host).

This is pretty much what I’ve just set up - without the NAS part, which I am serving a different way.
 

rootshell

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Jan 10, 2021
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For that set of workloads I’d skip the big Xeon/Epyc...
Pig - that's an interesting option for sure that I'll need to sleep on. No ECC support on the i9-10900 is the only 'catch' I see at first glance, so not sure how the ZFS gods would judge that as I'll be using it for NAS duties as well. lol as I know ECC is a religious debate with the ZFS gurus.

I'm was mainly planning to do ESXi and ZFS for the experience as I haven't worked with either before. I work in IT, but in a hands off role, and trying to keep my skills up.

Which bring me back around to whether a Ryzen 5k platform with IPMI might not be a bad idea. Probably doesn't sip power at idle, I'm guessing.
 

rootshell

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Jan 10, 2021
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Another option I'm checking into is the new Intel Xeon workstation CPUs like the W-1390. Support Quicksync, ECC, virtualization, 8c/16t, etc.

Seems like it may fit the bill...?