I recently upgraded my server, so I'm adding my humble contribution to this thread. I started my server journey 2 years ago when I bought an el cheapo Rackable Systems 2U :
Intel S5000PSL motherboard
2x xeon L5420
16 GB DDR2 FB-DIMM
For a home server, I was satisfied with the overall performance of this machine, on wich I had 4 VMs running hosted in Server 2008 R2, but there were some clouds in the sky :
- I soon realised than 4 hdd bays where not much for storage, and I was soon limited in this regard. I had 2 raid 1 arrays, one for VMs and one for storage. To maximise the space, I had the host booting from a usb stick with all paging/writing disabled as advised by microsoft.
- Server was incredibly loud, blasting 3x 80mm fans at full throttle all the time. I tried to modify the BMC to allow the motherboard to control the speed but nothing worked. I ended up "5 volting" theses fans to reduce the speed, but the PSU was still quite loud. As you can see on first picture, I located the server in my house "engine room" near the furnace and electrical pannels, where the furnace noise was hiding the server sound.
- The FB-DIMM memory is not only slow, it run hot and is power hungry ! The whole system at idle was drawing around 180w with 8 x 2GB sticks. I replaced thoses sticks with 4 x 4GB, wich lowered the consumption at around 160w, but this is not ideal for a 24/7 machine. I also suspected the PSU to be highly inneficient.
I ended up upgrading as I really needed to add disk space, and after some shopping, ordered a used Supermicro Opteron based tower server. For my needs, this time the match is perfect. I bought the complete system first, and liked it so much than I completed it with a cpu/ram upgrade, the Nics / Raid cards and some spares parts to replace the usuals failing suspects. I now need to find good deals on high capacity Hdd to add storage.
Specs :Supermicro SC745TQ-R920B caseSupermicro H8DGi-F motherboard
Single AMD Opteron 6276 (16 cores @ 2.3ghz)
32 GB DDR3 ECC (4x 8GB)
Adaptec 5805 RAID card + BBU
HP NC364T quad ports Gbit ethernet
Supermicro PWS-920P-1R 920W Platinum PSU
2x 256gb SSD in Raid1 for Host and VMs boot drives
3x 1TB hard drives ; 2 in Raid1 for Storage, and 1 for backup / snapshots
I've seen a lot of consumer grade tower case, but this server tower is in its own class. This is some serious stuff : built of heavy steel, the case alone weigth 28kg without anything inside. Hot-swapable redundant PSU / PWM fans / SAS/SATA drives. Airflow is impressive because cable management is childplay, the air shroud aims air directly on CPU/memory and finally, the 5 SanAce fans actually move some air! Best of all, under normal load it is not louder than a gaming rig.
The motherboard is also quite solid from my point of view, as it supports 2 CPUs and a ridiculous 512GB max amount of ECC ram. The nicest feature on it is the IPMI : the screen next to the server was never used, I'm able to do everything from my office two floors up. And I mean everything, power on/off, insert boot disk/usb, play in bios, monitor hardware, raid setup... Exactly as if you where next to it, and all you need is a web browser !
My only regret is not finding this kind of setup in an Intel platform. Still, thoses opterons are really good values, considering than mine scored around 9k in Passmark for a chip I paid 60 buck. Also, the idle power consumption without the PCI cards is of 90w, 105w with the cards... Not a xeon D, but not bad either !
All that to say I'm now a Supermicro fan
.Edited by OliG - 2/5/16 at 8:58pm