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A quiet Hyper-v testing server for under $2500

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December 5, 2009 8:35:16 PM

I'm building a testing servers that I will have in my living room, in other words, the system should be as quiet as possible (for a “server”).
-- Primary use will be visualization.
-- Second, play some music & movies. (No Gaming, OK maybe space invaders and Asteroids).
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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: (The closer the better) BUDGET RANGE: ($2000 – $2500 CAD) After Rebates.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
1.Running Win Server with Win server 2008 Hyper-v;
2.Visualization of server farms; visualization of SQL, Sharepoint and web development;
3.Load testing for performance/browser/system compatibility;
4.Play some music & movies.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED:
  • CPU: Intel Xeon E5520 Nehalem 2.26GHz LGA 1366 80W Quad-Core Server Processor Model BX80602E5520 – Retail
  • MOBO: ASUS Z8NA-D6C Dual LGA 1366 Intel 5500 ATX Dual Intel Xeon 5500 Series Server/Workstation Motherboard - Retail
  • RAM: WINTEC 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) ECC Registered Server Memory Model 3SR34550K-13 – Retail
  • HSF: ?
  • HDD: 4 x Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3750528AS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
  • PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ... - Retail
  • GPU: ATI 100-505552 FirePro V3750 256MB 64-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Workstation Video Card – Retail
  • DVD: LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Reader SATA Model iHOS104-06 – OEM
  • Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
  • Thermal Compound: ?
  • Sound: Turtle Beach RIVIERA 5.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card – OEM
  • Keyboard: Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 – OEM

    PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: (newegg.ca, ncix.com) COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: (Canada).

    PARTS PREFERENCES: CPU - Intel.

    OVERCLOCKING: No. SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No.

    MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200 +

    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
  • I will probably be running up to 2 SQL servers and 3 Sharepoint servers, plus 3 desktop clients all at once. Will 12GB RAM be enough? Or is the CPU more likely to be the bottleneck? I am planing on upgrading with a second CPU and 12GB more RAM in the future, if the system gets to slow.
  • I used PSU Engine and Recommended PSU Wattage was: 554w.
  • Not lots of bling, I would like a quiet PC!
  • Price from newegg.ca $2,016.37 CAD

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    Thanks!
    Fpt
    December 5, 2009 8:49:02 PM

    What motherboard and is the PSU compatible with a dual socket motherboard? The bottleneck will probably be the hard disk, particularly if you'll be running 2 SQL servers. Several hard disks are better for visualization.
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    December 5, 2009 8:55:57 PM

    GhislainG said:
    What motherboard and is the PSU compatible with a dual socket motherboard? The bottleneck will probably be the hard disk, particularly if you'll be running 2 SQL servers. Several hard disks are better for visualization.


    Thanks for your quick reply!

    Do you think that adding one more HD in Raid 0 would resolve the disk issue?

    Thanks
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    December 5, 2009 9:02:36 PM

    If losing all your VMs isn't a concern when one hard disk goes bad, then the answer is yes. I prefer using one hard disk for 2-3 VMs. Combine a disk heavy VM with a couple that aren't. Backups also are a good solution if losing your VMs isn't an option.
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    December 5, 2009 9:14:50 PM

    GhislainG said:
    If losing all your VMs isn't a concern when one hard disk goes bad, then the answer is yes. I prefer using one hard disk for 2-3 VMs. Combine a disk heavy VM with a couple that aren't. Backups also are a good solution if losing your VMs isn't an option.



    Loosing all stuff if one disk goes down is not a major concern. I will be adding more disks, as time goes by. So I will change it over to Raid 5 in the future. I will take backups of the virtual machines.

    Thanks for noticing that the power supply, only supported one CPU, I am investigating other alternatives. Please feel free to come with suggestions.

    F
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    December 5, 2009 9:44:45 PM

    The power supply doesn't need to support 2 CPUs since you can get a Molex to 8pin cpu power cable for $5.

    I totally agree that the hard drive(s) will be the major bottleneck.

    That case will definitely not be quiet due to the large fans on the side and it doesn't support dual-CPU motherboards (E-ATX).

    If your budget allows it, there is this Supermicro case w/ 650w PSU http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
    It has great airflow and easily supports 8 hard drives in addition to an E-ATX board.

    Are you familiar with Server 2008 and its Hyper-V? I am only familiar with VMWare's Workstation and ESX and windows Virtual PC(running XP Mode in Win 7). With Workstation, I can assign up to 2 cores to each VM whereas Virtual PC only allows 1. In my expereince, 2 cores make a huge difference in speed and responsiveness. However, for large numbers of VMs, VMWare's ESXi is one of the best hypervisors and doesn't require a host OS.
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    December 5, 2009 10:11:50 PM

    Unfortunately ESXi hardware support is far more limited than Hyper-V.
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    December 5, 2009 10:14:44 PM

    specialk90 said:
    The power supply doesn't need to support 2 CPUs since you can get a Molex to 8pin cpu power cable for $5.

    I totally agree that the hard drive(s) will be the major bottleneck.

    That case will definitely not be quiet due to the large fans on the side and it doesn't support dual-CPU motherboards (E-ATX).

    If your budget allows it, there is this Supermicro case w/ 650w PSU http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
    It has great airflow and easily supports 8 hard drives in addition to an E-ATX board.

    Are you familiar with Server 2008 and its Hyper-V? I am only familiar with VMWare's Workstation and ESX and windows Virtual PC(running XP Mode in Win 7). With Workstation, I can assign up to 2 cores to each VM whereas Virtual PC only allows 1. In my expereince, 2 cores make a huge difference in speed and responsiveness. However, for large numbers of VMs, VMWare's ESXi is one of the best hypervisors and doesn't require a host OS.




    Thanks both of you! As you might have understood, I am new to building from scratch and really appreciate all the help. Please let me know if you notice anything else that is missing to make this build complete. I have worked some with VMWare, but will use this server to learn Hyper-V, which is totally new to me.

    I have update the stuff in my original specifications.

    Thanks
    F
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    December 5, 2009 10:28:15 PM

    id you read the case specs: "4 x 5000 RPM Hot-swappable PWM Cooling Fans". Don't expect that case to be quiet. It will be very well cooled and probably awfully loud. Building a quiet server is no easy task, unless you've already built lots of PCs.
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    December 6, 2009 12:10:53 AM

    GhislainG, very good point about the fans. Sorry fpt, I totally missed that.

    For a 'quiet' server case, look at Lian-Li. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    And then I remembered some of the rack cases I looked into for a small render farm. This one is cheap and works great. Read the reviews - one of them gives good info about fans and drive cages.
    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
    But I would replace the 4 80mm fans with speed adjustable from Antec or Noctua. Noctua has a reputation for quiet fans and I have used Antec's 3 speed fans. And then you can add 2 120mm fans in front of the drive cages.

    What about placing some sort of wall in front of the case between it and you? This will greatly reduce the noise you hear.

    I couldn't find this case on their CA site but Lian-Li makes some of the highest quality cases. Most of their higher priced cases include sound deadening material on the sides in addition to supporting E-ATX and sevral hard drives. I have one of their discontinued cases that holds 12 drives and it is almost as quiet as the Antec P182, which says a lot (btw, I had a P182 for my living room next to the TV and it was quiet)

    However, I did notice other XClio models on the CA site that support E-ATX. One thing to look into though, is 'gaming' cases that also support the physical size of E-ATX can make life very rough for installing dual-CPUs because of their backplates. I haven't personally experienced this though I remember reading about others who have including one person who got out his Dremel and cut away metal for it to work.

    Just want to make sure - you have Server 2008 64 BIT, right?
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    December 6, 2009 12:45:34 AM

    To be honest I built a server to test Hyper-V that's very similar to my VMWare server. It's based on a Q6600, a few hard disks and 8GB of RAM in a very quiet Antec Sonata Plus 550. The bottleneck usually is the hard disks as the CPU rarely exceeds 40-50% utilization. Only one VM is SQL Server with a few Oracle servers. Since this is a test server, performance rarely is an issue.
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    December 6, 2009 1:16:09 AM

    Cool and Quiet rules out the WD's.....you want 7200.12's or slower "green" drives

    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...

    37C to 46C for the Black

    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...

    41 dba to black's 53 = 16 times as loud

    That case if the specs are correct will not be quiet....not w/ four 5000 rpm fans in it.

    I'd like some data on that PSU

    Check out these case

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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    December 6, 2009 1:19:36 AM

    Believe me, any case with four 5000 RPM fans will be loud. You sure won't hear the WD hard disks.
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    December 6, 2009 5:10:04 PM

    Thanks to all of you! I am looking at all the different cases. I first considered the WD green edition, because of price and how quiet they are. However, I was not sure if the performance was good enough. But I prefer quiet over performance. It's just for testing, so the lower performance might just make up for not having any user load on the system.

    Thanks again!
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    December 6, 2009 5:55:37 PM

    I have 4 1TB 7200.12s in an external hot-swap case in Raid 10 and can never hear them even though they are only 4 feet from me. I also have 2 1TB 7200.12s in external eSATA cases(for backup) sitting on top of the hot-swap case and can never hear them either.

    But I had 2 1TB WD Blacks in Raid 1 inside an Antec P182 and could hear them from 4ft away (and this was a quiet case).

    Plus, your hard drives will be a serious bottleneck so getting the best performance possible will help.

    Like GhislainG does, putting only 2-3 VMs per disk will help too (rather than Raid 0).
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    December 6, 2009 11:48:13 PM

    Hi all,

    Specialk90 – I took the advice about concentrating on the Hard drives. I have update the specifications with:
    HDD: 4 x Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3750528AS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

    I looked at all the cases that you guys suggested, and decided for one of them, just to realize that it was only avalible in the US... :-(
    So I took another look at the more limited selection, that we have available in Canada. Please let me know what you think about this one:
    Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail

    specialk90 – Yes, I have bought the 64-bit version, since I am planing on running Hyper-v, that I believe is only supported in the 64-bit. Thanks for asking!


    I have now updated the specifications with the added stuff. Please let me know if there is anything that looks strange!
    Thanks for all your help guys!
    m
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    December 7, 2009 2:18:56 AM

    I like that case a lot - its drive bays are sweet and there is a large fan to cool them. The only thing you will hear are the fans though.

    I just remembered that the Xeons do not include a heatsink. I just looked at the .ca site and could only find an open box Dynatron. The heatsinks made for i7 1366 chips might work but I don't know for certain.
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    December 7, 2009 4:05:00 AM

    specialk90 said:
    I like that case a lot - its drive bays are sweet and there is a large fan to cool them. The only thing you will hear are the fans though.

    I just remembered that the Xeons do not include a heatsink. I just looked at the .ca site and could only find an open box Dynatron. The heatsinks made for i7 1366 chips might work but I don't know for certain.


    Thanks Specialk90, I was unsure about the heat sinks, and after looking into this I found a post that said that you can not use the i7 heatsink. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/259814-28-help-buildi...

    In that post, Gary1847 also mentioned that the power supply might not be the best choice “As for power supply, go directly to either the 1000watt or 1200 watt corsair power supply or an equivelent that has both the 8 pin connectors“.

    -- The selection of heatsinks is very limited. This is the only one that said that it is for the Xeon 5500 models: Dynatron T667 60mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler
    and I should probably replace the fan that sits on that ugly box with something like this one:
    VANTEC TF6025 60mm Case Fan - Retail

    I don't know if I have to get a 1000 or 1200 watt PSU? Could someone please give some advice? Thanks!
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    December 10, 2009 11:00:21 PM

    specialk90 said:
    I have 4 1TB 7200.12s in an external hot-swap case in Raid 10 and can never hear them even though they are only 4 feet from me. I also have 2 1TB 7200.12s in external eSATA cases(for backup) sitting on top of the hot-swap case and can never hear them either.


    I have 4 of them in a NV+ NAS about 18 inches from me......can't hear anything
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    December 10, 2009 11:06:07 PM

    fpt said:
    So I took another look at the more limited selection, that we have available in Canada. Please let me know what you think about this one:
    Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail


    The HAF932 and the Antec 1200 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681... are the consensus favorites.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/full-tower-case,210...

    The 1200 won't do EATX tho......but on the plus side, it can fit this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Jack
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    December 12, 2009 4:50:15 PM

    JackNaylorPE said:
    The HAF932 and the Antec 1200 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681... are the consensus favorites.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/full-tower-case,210...

    The 1200 won't do EATX tho......but on the plus side, it can fit this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Jack



    Hi Jack
    Thanks for the links, I had already placed my order at the when I saw your post. I will post a final conclusion when I have all the stuff up and running. Thank for the help everyone!
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    !