For the WoW stuff, I'm assuming you are referring to hosting the server and have 5 separate PCs connect to your private server. If so, WoW server runs fine from Linux, in fact it's probably better than Windows.
Now if you want the server to do your GPU work as well for your WoW clients, you will need something like RemoteFX or the comparable from Citrix or VMware. Using Hyper-V on a physical server with a pair of serious GPUs would allow you to play WoW via RDP on some thin clients, allowing you to put more money into your server instead of your clients. What you will find, though, is that licensing costs of doing this are going to blow that 15K budget out of the water.
Without knowing what software you plan to use to manage your solar array and energy monitoring, I can't specifically speak to to that. However, I seriously doubt much power is needed for that. Heck, having a really nice meteorology station at home and logging to a MySQL database and running a custom PHP-based analytic website using rrdgraph would only take 1GB of RAM or less ,and minimal CPU cycles. Point is, what you're looking to do won't actually require THAT much raw CPU/RAM.
I also have no idea what you mean by:
Originally Posted by NonOtherThenI
Lastly I need simple-raw-POWER, as I would like all users to manage at least a high preset even with all 5 users on at once!
I definitely think you should use virtualization, instead of slapping this all on one physical server. Separation of roles will allow you to perform maintenance without interrupting other services. If you plan to use this server for your kids education, I would consider it quasi-mission critical. With that in mind, I think you will need more than one server and you should also focus on other considerations like redundant power such as redundant PSUs and UPSs for your hardware (I see you mention generators, but I'd still HIGHLY recommend UPS on your servers to help condition the quality of the electricity and ensure no brown-outs while the gennies are starting, and to also prevent surges), redundant network (two switches will likely suffice), and redundant storage.
Hardware-wise, definitely doable with $15k. Software costs is what will get you, unless you stick with open source.
Regardless of the workload I was planning to do, I always virtualize what I can. There are instances where virtualization isn't a good idea, but I don't see why you couldn't for your needs. Grab 3 used OEM servers from eBay (Dell C1100, HP DL160 G6, Dell R610, etc) -- something with dual Xeon L5500+ CPU (such as L5520, L5639, etc) and 48-72GB of RAM. I know it's easy to load up on hardware, but realistically you won't need 3 servers with 72GB of RAM for your workload. You will definitely hit storage I/O issues before using 200GB+ of RAM. Expect to spend about $500 per server, so that's $1,500 for your main hardware.
Get some used switches, like Dell PowerConnect 5448, which are about $150-200 each. Get two. Add a quad gigabit PICe card to each server, giving you a total of 6-8 gigabit NICs per server. Assuming you went with Dell R610 (my personal choice now, instead of the C1100), you would have 8 NICs. Use 2 NICs in LACP, and 6 NICs in MPIO on a storage network. 2 ports per switch should LACP to each other, while splitting the other NICs between the switches. For example, the 2 NICs in LACP from each server, one NIC should go to each switch and be on your LAN VLAN. The remaining 6 NICs should have 3 NICs on each switch, on your Storage VLAN.
For storage, I say get something like a Dell C2100. 12 3.5" drive bays, and typically come with x2 Xeon L5630, 24GB of RAM, and a Dell PERC H700 for around $700. Grab 4 512GB SSDs (~$350 each), and 8 3TB drives (Toshiba DT01ACA300 would be my choice -- $100 each) and have two separate RAID10 arrays. You would have ~1TB of super-fast, redundant SSD storage for your VMs (more than enough for VMs), and ~12TB of pretty fast storage on spindle (~650 IOPS). Use this for file storage, and even for VMs that don't require high I/O, even though you will have plenty of SSD storage. Add two quad gigabit NIC card to the C2100, and set up 4 NICs in LACP for your LAN VLAN (used for management and file traffic), and use the remaining 6 for your storage VLAN. Again, split these NICs across cards and switches, for redundancy. This is a full, complete storage system for around $3000. May seem like a lot, but this includes 1TB of redundant SSD storage which is more than you should need.
For your gateway, I'd recommend a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter POE, which will give you 5 ports. 1 for your WAN, 2 ports in LACP for your LAN (1 NIC to each switch), optionally leaving 2 ports which could be used for a Wireless LAN and/or DMZ networks (think guest/visitor access who you don't want on your LAN, but you want to share your internet with). These are about $200. Maybe even consider buying a second as a backup?
For UPS, take your pick between APC, Dell, or any other out there. I'd recommend getting a pair of 1500-2000VA, which should be 2U rack mount and around $300 each. Since you're servers have 2 PSUs, plug one PSU to each UPS. Redundancy is key.
So yeah, hardware wise:
$1500 -- Workload servers
$3000 -- Storage server with drives
$400 ---- Switches
$200 ---- Gateway
$600 ---- UPS
$5700 -- TOTAL
That should give you some seriously redundant hardware to allow you to do about anything, and plenty of money to play with if you want to expand. Need more file storage? Get another C2100 with 1 quad gigabit NIC card with 12 3TB drives in RAID10 for ~18TB ADDITIONAL storage, for around $2000. Sure, you could build something cheaper but this comes with dual PSUs, hardware that is known to be compatible, and a great hardware RAID controller.
Want to redo your wireless setup? Get 2-3 Ubiquiti UniFi APs (stick with the base model, or get the newer square one if you want 802.11AC). Base model runs around $70 for each radio, while the AC models run for around $300, I think.
(Profile says your in GA) check Craigslist near Atlanta and find you a server rack/cabinet for $300 or less and rackmount all this gear in your basement/garage. For shiggles, get a second ISP connection (say cable broadband as your primary connection, and cheap slow ADSL as a backup) and configure both to that EdgeRouter. You would have redundant ISP connection, power, network, workload server, and storage.
This is basically what I would do if I had $15k to spend, or even a third of that.
I just now saw the bottom part of your first post. I would highly recommend dual socket boards instead of quad socket boards. The only reason one should ever go for quad socket boards is if space is a serious issue (rack space typically) or you are wanting a single box to maximize folding on. I wouldn't recommend building a home server for all this either, since you will spend way more than buying Dell R610s. If you're concerned with buying used OEM servers, just grab some spare parts (spare Xeon L5520 is about $50, R610 PSU is about $75, about $25 for a single 4GB DIMM ECC Registered and $50 for a single 8GB DIMM).
Oh, just realized I forgot OS drives for your servers. I'd recommend either Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V, or ESX. With either Hypervisor, I'd recommend a pair of 73GB 10K SAS drives in RAID1. These drives are usually about $30 each, so about $200 for 8 of them? May even find R610's with 73GB drives already in there.
OS wise for your workloads, Linux when you can and Windows when you can't. I seriously doubt you will need to do any custom kernel work, especially if your energy management & solar array software is pre-built and provided by a vendor instead of custom built. Even if it was custom built, I don't know why custom kernels would be needed.
So what to do with the remaining $9k in your budget? Build 5 new computers for you and your users/kids, if needed. i5-4670k, 16GB of RAM, 500W PSU, and GTX 770 or Radeon R9 280X should run about $900 each. Add in another $250 each if you need to buy new monitors, keyboards, and mice. So let's see...you have 5 new awesome gaming rigs, a super awesome home infrastructure that will rival many medium sized businesses with 24 cores/48 threads and ~200GB of RAM for virtualized servers (CPUs go much further than you probably realize, and you will likely only average about 5% usage at the most, if that), ~13TB of great performing and highly redundant storage, and still have around $4,000 left over.
Ship the kids off to their grandparents and take the wife out for a weekend get-away?Edited by tycoonbob - 4/1/14 at 5:57am