Sunday, April 29, 2018

My homelab hypervisor server gear recently became unstable, it was randomly freezing up and I didn't have the time to diagnose the real problem after I excluded the obvious culprits...

I was using a Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI with a  i7-3770T and 16GB of RAM. It worked fearlessly for 5 years. Humming along 24/7. I decided to change motherboard, RAM and CPU. At first I was thinking about going the second hand server route. There is a good market in Europe with very interesting deals but I decided not to do it, at this round anyway, because I don't have room for a rack server and I was concern about noise and power consumption. Our gear is "hidden" in a special compartment in a closet, but still, less noisy it is always better. I admit that a real server has its advantages, even for a home lab, like being easily upgradable, but it is bulkier and it uses more power than a microserver or a custom build server. Also, for a custom-build, there is the fun part of picking the components and putting them together. :)

I apologize for the mess, I usually don't have much time to
tidy up. Things will change in the near feature, hopefully.
This time the hardware I picked is server grade instead of consumer grade. These are my choices:

Asrock E3C226D2I
Xeon E3-1271v3
Plus, of course, 16GB of ECC RAM:

Transcend TS1GLK72W6H
The E3-1271v3 is a tiny beast, as the previous i7 is a 4 cores 2 threads per core CPU with 80w TDP but it is more powerful. The Asrock E3C226D2I is a mini ITX motherboard and the idea is that in the future I might decide to use a tiny case instead of the bulky Corsair tower you see in the picture. The Corsair was supposed to be temporary to begin with, the precedent server was indeed installed inside a tiny case until the PSU gave up and I had to quickly find a substitute.

In any case the E3C2226D2I has other advantages like having IPMI with a dedicated port and having Intel network cards instead of the usual Realtek stuff.

Not as refined as HP iLO but you don't need a iLO advanced license key to use the remote console.
Power consumption of the hole thing is pretty good, according with the PSU the consumption increased of just 40 VA, which is roughly... I don't know, 30 watts? Increased  compared to no server, not to the old gear up and running. The old gear with the 45w TDP i7, if my memory serves me correctly, was 25 watts. Not bad at all. 

Noise is basically not existent with the fan Intel put in the CPU package, even less noisy then the old Noctua NH-L9i I was using with the i7.

All in all I'm pretty happy about this build, it was fun to put together and Proxmox 5 is running happily on it, but I would say this is subject for another post.

See ya.

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