Question Getting more PCIe expansion slots for a Ryzen 3950x server build... ?

Aug 19, 2020
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I'm looking to build a server that can run several VM's, plus have tones of extra storage for professional photo and video work.

I've looked at processors, and old enterprise stuff, new enterprise stuff, but I keep coming back to the Ryzen 3950x because for the price, it seams to cream everything else out there, including processors that cost ten times as much.

I have a Ryzen 3950x workstation, but I'm struggling to find a suitable motherboard for my server needs.

Problems:

1. The Noctua coolers work great (better and cheaper than water cooling) but block the first two PCI slots. Motherboard manufacturers don't seem to grasp this concept, as they always put an M2 slot first, then a PCIe16 in position two, then leave physical slots three and four empty (no slots). They usually put the battery there. Now if they just left 1&2 blank and put the battery there, and put that M2 and PCIe16 slot in the 3&4 positions, that would make a lot more sense. But they don't.

2. Pathetic number of slots. They all have 3 of the 16x slots (although they might not actually be 16x) and a bunch of 1x (or none) and some M2's.

What I'd like to do is install two hardware RAID cards for two RAID 10 arrays, which require at least a 4x slot each. Also, I need a 10Gbe card, which is 8x for two ports, or 4x for one port. (Two ports would be better, as I could avoid buying a switch until I nee more than two workstations). I'd also like to have an external SAS (SFF-8088) card so I can connect a drive shelf with either a bunch of RAID arrays or ZFS.

3. No integrated graphics. This is a server for a closet. I just need to see the Linux command line on it. And aparently I have to waste a precious slot (and money) on a graphics card.

So this is really all the same problem: Not enough PCIe slots, and in the right configuration.

So I guess I need:
16x slot for a graphics card
8x slot for a 10Gbe
4x RAID
4x RAID
8x SAS SFF-8088 Card

The Ryzen has 24 lanes, so 8+4+4+8 should be doable (ignoring the graphics card that I "need" but don't need or want).

Are there any motherboards that would work well for this? Or workarounds to the number and placement of PCIe slots?
 

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