I have been recently requested to build a server for one of our clients who’s running a little web hosting company providing a cPanel shared and VPS hosting solutions. Client was looking to virtualize 3 virtual servers on a single physical machine (host). His budget was estimated to be around $1600 per server. The host box had to be 1U with quad-core processor, 32 gigs of RAM, 4x1TB 7200 RPM drives (hardware raid 10) and remote management controller. Customizing a server with similar specs on Dell or HP website appeared to be way behind his budget. Looking for a used server on ebay without vender warranties was a little risky. With that in mind I’ve done my research as well as called few friends (server technicians) who work in data centers of New York metropolitan area. Some of them recommended Supermicro custom “white” boxes making accent on affordable hardware/parts cost and stable machines’ performance over the years. I was even able to get a detail Supermicro machine specs that some large web hosting companies were implementing and currently using to run their infrastructures. After analyzing, researching and thinking through my options I came up with next server components that would like to share with WHS visitors:
1. As for the chassis I purchased 1U Supermicro CSE-813MTQ-350CB (Black) that was an ideal fit for the motherboard described below.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811152137 - $225
2. Motherboard: Supermicro MBD-X8SIL-F-O. This motherboard supports Intel Xeon X3400 / L3400, up to a 6 SATA/SAS drives and has Remote Management console (IPMI) that in my case was requested by the client.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182211 - $190
3. My processor is a Quad-Core Intel Xeon X3440 Lynnfield 2.53GHz. Processor with 8MB L3 cache and HT (Hyper-Threading). It is LGA 1156 socket as per motherboard requirement.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117225 - $240
You also need to get a heatsink:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816101298 - $22
4. Memory: Since motherboard supports up to 32 GB of DDR3 ECC Registered RAM and has only 4 DIMM slots the following selection has been made :
4 x Kingston 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Registered - Model KVR1333D3Q8R9S/8G
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820139280 - $280
Keep in mind that 4x8GB configuration will run at DDR3-800, but that’s a memory controller limitation, not the RAM’s fault.
5. Hard Drives: I used 4 x SATA SAMSUNG Spinpoint 7200 RPM drives due to money issue but you can choose others out there, more expensive SAS drives if your budget isn’t that limited. At the time I made a purchase these drives were on sale and had very decent reviews on newegg (reviews are still good though. A single drive was about $59.99). http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185 - $240
6. Mentioned above motherboard has Intel and Adaptec raid chipsets and allow you to configure RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 for Windows and RAID 0, 1, 10 for Linux accordingly. I’m a little skeptical about “fake” array controller and decided to buy a hardware LSI MegaRAID card.
This is a little expensive but trust me it worth it. LSI MegaRAID SATA/SAS 9260-4i is the one I got.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816118107 - $360
In order to install the card you need to get PCI-E Slot Riser Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816101390 - $13
I would also recommend adding the 5th fan which will keep RAID card cool. Server’s chassis come with 4 real fans and a “dummy” fan. What you need to get is one more Supermicro FAN-0065L4 40x40x28 mm 4Pin fan and manually install it. I didn’t find newegg selling these particular fans but it was easy to find them on ebay. Also, 4 pin fan wire 12” extension might be necessary to put your fan wire around the board. Ebay should also have them.
An additional fan and wire extensions shouldn’t be more then - $30
Total (approximately) - $1600
This particular server went into production about 8 months ago and seemed to be running with no issues so far. This article should be helpful for folks out there looking to build their own low-cost powerful server or add an existing one to their collocation. This hardware has been successfully tested with Citrix XenServer 6, VMware vSphere 5 and MS Hyper-V R2 hypervisor.
Don’t hesitate to post your comments and questions.
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