Let's create a monster! - part1

Let's create a monter with some parts coming from the graveyard of internet!

Let's create a monster! - part1

Don't Panic. I have not received any little chemist game for Christmas, I am talking about building my next new big personal server at home.

The story

All start with a chat I had with my brother. One day he contacted my at work over gmail hangout and tell me that he buy a Xeon CPU for the PC's motherboard he used as a gaming PC. My first thought was "What a strange idea??!!". I thought that maybe thare are some difference between a "consumer" (like the I7) cpu and a professional cpu (like a Xeon). But after some quick readings, I have found no evidences that the processors are so different in their design. I was a little concerned about some features that could only exist in the I7/I5/I3 CPU but my brother just told me that he found that the Xeon works better, cooler, more core available, more overclocking possibilities and less power used. So, because I trust my brother I also buy the same CPU on ebay (35-40$ CA). In my case, I use the same motherboard for my proxmox server, not as a gaming PC and found that, more cpu mean better performance on my vms. The same day, we starting to have fun finding some old but still powerful components that we can use to build a new monster. So at that point, I thought to change my promox server to become the same gaming pc as my brother and wanted a new big server instead that will have more ram and will not cost too much, because, well.. it's a test server for home fun right? The ram has always been an issue with my server/vms at home. And, even if I hear you saying "you can do anything with some raspberry pies that has only 1G", sometimes, that's not enough. I know, I know, I may have too much VMs and some of them may be badly configured, I know that.. still, I found that having more ram could help some key part of my infrastructure, like my Elasticsearch cluster for example.

Anyway, my brother send me some links about some motherboards he found on Aliepxress, and I focus one on of them: a beautiful 2 socket (2 physical processors) motherboard that could accept the same kind of cheap Xeon processor!! Excellent! And the cool thing is that it was on the ATX format like a regular PC so that (could) mean that I could use standard PSU, casing and stuff on it. Some sparkles could be seen in my eyes at that time and I started to think about the project to make it a reality.

Now that I have a goal, let's start finding the parts! And that's not the easy part of the project since I am not in expert in PC components at all. That's where I rely on the talent of my brother to help me find the right peace and the right place at the right price.

What I need:

  • Motherboard
  • CPU
  • RAM
  • Since the mb is only SATA2, I need kind of PCI disk controller that could use my SATA3 drives (at least 2 for RAID1)
  • PSU (should handle the 2 CPU (2x 95 watt) + hard drives + RAM, so I guess that a 650 PSU should be enough
  • A case
  • Some cooling for the CPU.
  • Dual port Ethernet card.
  • A sound card (no, I'm joking :)

Concerning the cooling

The problem I have with the cooling is that:

  • I hate when a PC is making too much noise
  • I hate huge cooling system (because it's hard to put in place and make your PC weight a ton!) and having 2 of them for the 2 cpus could make the air flow tricky to manage

So that's why I try to use liquid cooling most of the time. It's quite and very efficient. And the cool thing is that my brother just told me that the Xeon CPU do not heat too much and stay at very low temperature with a corsair water cooling system.

I have checked on the internet but can't find a water cooling for 2 cpu so I guess that I have to find 2 cooling for my 2 cpu and have the fan/cooling thing placed right in the casing..

Again, my brother help me. I try to have a nice casing where I can put 2 fans/cooling at the top for the CPU so a standard casing will not work. Gaming casing are cool but way to expensive for a server. So, I try to find a cheap but good one that could have 2 cooling system at the top.

The disc controller

Now for this, my brother told me that for a server, a sata3 may not be really needed. My thoughts about that is if I can find a good but not that expensive sata3 controller that can fit into the mb, why not buy one?! So, I dig the internets and found one that seems to me a good option.

The parts listing

So, here is the parts listing below as it was at the beginning of the story.

  • Motherboard: ASUS Z8NA-D6C (ebay): 134$
  • RAM: 96GB (6 x16GB) DDR3 RDIMM Memory For Dell PowerEdge T320, R320 (ebay): 208$
  • Disk Controller: LSI MegaRAID 9261-8i 6GB/s SAS/SATA RAID Controller Card Low Profile (ebay): 50$
  • CPU: Intel Xeon Processor X5660 12M Cache/2.8 GHz/6.4 (ebay): 50$
  • Casing: Corsair Carbide 275R (amazon) 50-90$
  • PSU: Seasonic PRIME Ultra 650W ( 200$

Why I have not listed any disks in this setup? My goal is to reuse the one I have spare somewhere or reuse the one that I have in my actual proxmox server:

  • Seagate 3T: ST3000DM001-1ER166 (depend): 2 x 130$

My philosophy is to use as much as I can the nas for the data and ansible/backup as a way to store important config so the entire vm should not take that much amount of disk on the proxmox server itself (I may be wrong..)

So to date, I need to bur the PSU and the casing but still need to do a little more checking. I will explain why it's tricky to choose in a next blog post for sure!

See ya!

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