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The New Addition to the HomeLab

So I had mentioned previously that I was looking for a new server to help reduce the overall electric usage in the apartment. Unfortunately, I live in an area with progressive electric bills and I was well on my way to having a $1000 monthly electric bill by the end of the summer. I did a lot of research and changed my mind many times. Eventually I settled on something that is turning out to be a nice, yet overly loud, option. I opted away from using one of the Embedded processor options I had been looking at due to the limit of 8 processor cores with no expansion capability. I tend to run a lot of VMs at once and available processor cores matter. Truth of the matter is that the 8 cores on my NUC 10 are getting hammered trying to run vCenter or a NSX-T manager node. My new baby (above the Dell):

I ended up with the following configuration:

All links are to the manufacturer with supporting NewEgg or Amazon Affiliate links following. I know there are plenty of other vendors. Because of my location, I’m fairly limited to these two. Definitely shop around for your area!

If you’re wondering, I wanted to have the ability to do vSAN at some point in the future with this system. So, the SATA DOM is used to boot ESXi. That leaves the Samsung 980 as my cache disk and the 4 HDDs as my capacity drives. The intent was to create a RAID 5 array in ESXi. UNFORTUNATELY, this doesn’t work. After being frustrated and looking around a lot of Google results, I found out that the Intel RAID controller isn’t recognized by ESXi. So even though I created the RAID in the BIOS, ESXi still only sees the 4 individual drives. It won’t be an issue with vSAN since that’s the preferred configuration. However, I am disappointed here. My two options at this point are to leave it as is and deal with 5 datastores on the host or to buy a new RAID Controller card and lose the 2 SFP+ 10Gb ports I have. Since my current host setup requires 4 network connections per host (I mirrored the setup for my Dell on this), this wasn’t much of an option. Guess I have to manage the additional datastores then… Again, not ideal, but also not a deal-breaker. For anyone looking to run this server with RAID’d disks, you WILL need an additional RAID Controller card. Do verify it is on the VMware Compatibility List prior to making your purchase. It will save you time in the long run.

So far, my impressions have been very positive. The server performs very well. The 128GB of RAM and the 2nd gen 12-core processor perform very well with the VM workloads I’m running. I’ve gotten the IPMI up and running and can start up or shut down the server completely headless. My ONLY issue with the server so far is the noise. I didn’t realize I was ordering an Aircraft Engine!!!! When the 4 40mm fans get going, they get loud. Luckily it calms down a bit after the system boots up, but it is still noisier than the Dell.

Because of the summer heat, and my fear of blowing a circuit in our apartment, I’m not running the server full time. I bring it up when I need more than what the NUC or my VMware Workstation on my desktop can run, and then bring it down at the end of the day. Perhaps if I ever move back to the U.S. and have a place where the electric and cooling bilkl won’t kill me, I’ll be able to run my stack full time. Long term, I see purchasing at least 1 more server so I can run the three in a vSAN configuration. But that time will have to wait until I’m able to run the stack all the time.

In any case, happy buyer here and just wanted to share the new server love. Have a great day and sound off in the comments if you have any thoughts or suggestions on my config!

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