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Build Home Virtual Server or Buy Off the Shelf?

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  • Systems
  • Servers
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April 10, 2014 8:09:41 AM

I'm almost 50, used to build computers back in the day when Pentiums dominated lol Software eng. these days and use laptop 100% of the time @ work and home.

I would like to build a dedicated Virtual host system at home where I can spin up 6-8 Windows-based VM's for testing/lab use, etc. as it relates to software development and IT related projects.

Most systems will likely be Server 2012 R2 ...

Since I've been out of the custom build world for years all the latest/greatest hardware, cpu's, memory, etc. throw me for a loop and I don't have the time to invest in learning the trade again. Given compatible components I have no problem building a system with parts which has me at the crossroads of determining if I would be better off buying a OTC server or build my own. I know the best route is likely to build my own but want to stay under $1200 or so.

I don't need monitors as I have gobs of flatscreens, peripherals, etc. Basically need a case, MB, memory, powersupply and disks...think I want SSD's and 32GB of RAM.

Looking for advice ...and pending the route what system or parts list would be preferred. Thinking about a E3 Zeon 1245 V2 since it has built in graphics, reasonably priced, and built for virtualization environments.

Here's a build I threw together on a website not having any clue/idea if the stuff is good/bad or otherwise compatible.

Would appreciate any thoughts on the below components ...if you would prefer something over what is listed, etc. The Z3 work with (4) 8MB sticks correct? I realize what I have is not ECC and not sure if it supports non-ECC or what I'm sacraficing not going ECC and spending 2x as much? IIRC ECC has something to do with error correction and the memory is more stable/reliable? Probably not a big deal for what I'm using the system for ...assuming non ECC would work.

Appreciate any feedback.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1245 V2 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($267.88 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($30.98 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($128.49 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($138.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($138.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($203.29 @ Amazon)
Case: Corsair 400R ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Micro Center)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 750W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($149.99 @ TigerDirect)
Total: $1233.59
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-04-10 10:55 EDT-0400)

More about : build home virtual server buy shelf

April 10, 2014 8:32:23 AM

OK a disclaimer before I say anything here is I don't build servers.

I think you would be better going with a socket 1150 server board, you will likely get a better onboard RAID, more SATA ports and less power use as you won't need the PCIe slots, etc provided by the Asrock. Also the server board will run ECC RAM which is generally more stable for what you are trying to achieve. Also the rated max RAM speed for that Xeon is 1333mhz not 1600mhz so you may save some $$ buying 1333mhz registered RAM over 1600mhz.

Only some brief observations! Also are you likely to be using multiple drives? As the 400R is probably not the best case, I have a fractal design define mini for my unRAID server and it's excellent. Comes with sound dampening and an excellent hard drive mounting area at the front.
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April 10, 2014 8:45:00 AM

Will you be running Hyper-V? You probbaly don't need ECC memory (I don't and my servers have been running stable for a long time), but I agree with tophog's suggestion to get a socket 1150 motherboard. A 256GB SSD may be too small to store 6-8 VMs on (unless they require little disk storage).
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April 10, 2014 12:41:13 PM

I'll likely be running Hyper-V at some point ... once I decide on what tools I want to use long term. Will likely play with VMWare Workstation which is what I use presently, iESX, VirtualBox and SCVMM.

Thanks for the suggestion on the MB ...have no idea what the 1150 offers over what I chose. This site I used to build system supposedly selects components based on compatibility ...so I sorted by ranking and filter based on Amazon Prime, etc. and went with components that had high ratings ... or selected CPU and select "Show compatible Motherboards" link ...then filtered those. Likely not a good approach but one I used....so I appreciate the feedback.

The VM's won't host much data ... more for POCing different configurations, setting up CI build environments using different technologies, etc. In fact I may go with using "Linked Clones" to save some disk space.

off to find a good 1150 board ... if you have any suggestions or other coments I'm all ears.
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April 10, 2014 2:28:18 PM

An ASRock Z87 Extreme4 and a Xeon E3-1245 V3 would be a good start.
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