Question Server build advice < $AU2000 -- # of cores and reliability a big factor

pjw

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Edit: Note: After numerous very helpful suggestions, the final build can be found here.
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Several years ago (10 or more!) I asked for advice here on building a reliable server. That server is still running but in need of an upgrade.

Approximate Purchase Date: by end of Feb, 2021
Budget Range: $AU2000 (approx $US1200?)

System Usage from Most to Least Important:Hosting several virtual servers performing a variety of tasks. continuously running.

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade:Complete new system

Do you need to buy OS: No

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: https://www.pccasegear.com/ or https://www.umart.com.au/ or https://www.newegg.com/global/au-en/
(any local supplier will do, though)

Location: Australia.

Parts Preferences:
No brand preference, but nested virtualization, reliability and durability are important. In the past I have used a lot of ASUS parts.

Overclocking: no need

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution:
1920x1080

Additional Comments:
Dust is a problem -- a system that minimizes dust and/or makes cleaning easy would be great.
Want VMCS shadowing support in CPU if Intel (ie. a vPro CPU)
Need lots of cores (looking at core i9000 (10 cores, 20 threads)
Need full virtualization support in the Motherboard (note that VMCS Shadowing needs a vPro CPU but does not need vPro motherboard)
Decent amount of memory (32gb min, prefer 64)
1TB of storage. Note that disk will be backed up regularly.


And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading:
Need to run more VMs
Want to take advantage of nested virtualization

This is what I am considering, but I have no idea how reliable each of these is:

Intel Core i9 10900 Processor

https://www.pccasegear.com/products/50107/intel-core-i9-10900-processor

ASUS ROG Strix H470-I Gaming Motherboard
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/50319/asus-rog-strix-h470-i-gaming-motherboard

Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz CL16 DDR4
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/44143/corsair-vengeance-rgb-pro-32gb-2x16gb-3200mhz-cl16-ddr4

Thermaltake View 31 Tempered Glass ARGB Edition Mid Tower Case
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/47359/thermaltake-view-31-tempered-glass-argb-edition-mid-tower-case

Thermaltake Smart BM2 Bronze 550W Power Supply
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/50963/thermaltake-smart-bm2-bronze-550w-power-supply

Intel 665p Series M.2 NVMe SSD 1TB
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/51346/intel-665p-series-m-2-nvme-ssd-1tb

Any advice would be really appreciated!
 
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I'd like to recommend the Ryzen 5900X 12 cores but I'm not too sure about that VMCS shadowing support since I don't even know what it is :)

2000 AUD is around 1542 USD.

And you don't need a GPU so AMD is out of the question with their 3400G CPU.
 
I don't know much about servers but I do know Thermaltake cases are junk for the most part.

https://www.pccasegear.com/products/48734/lian-li-lancool-ii-tempered-glass-case-black
Lian Li Lancool II Tempered Glass Case Black $169


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lfxuqjt38dA
 

Karadjgne

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As this is a preview release of Nested Virtualization on AMD, there are some guidance and limitations to keep in mind if you want to try this out.

  1. Ensure your OS build number is 19636 or greaterRight now, this has been tested on AMD’s first generation Ryzen/Epyc or newer processors
  2. For maximum stability and performance use a Windows guest with an OS version that is greater than or equal to the host OS version (19636) for now.
  3. Linux KVM guest support will be coming in the futureCreate a version 9.3 VM.
  4. Here’s an example PowerShell command to ensure a version 9.3 VM is being used: New-Vm -VMName “L1 Guest” -Version 9.3
Follow the rest of the steps in our public documentation
https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/virtualization/amd-nested-virtualization-support/ba-p/1434841

Basically (as that's an older posting) by now nesting VM shouldn't be an issue on Ryzens.

https://rcpmag.com/articles/2020/06/11/windows-10-amd-machines-now-support-nested-virtualization.aspx?m=1
June 2020.

Up to you.

Intel/amd personal preference it seems.

I'd not use a mITX motherboard. It's limited on ram slots, fan headers, external headers.

VMs live for Ram, big ram. 32Gb is barely worth it, you'll want 8Gb for the base and at a minimum 8Gb for each VM. So 32Gb would be no more than 3 VM's or you push your luck. I'd strongly suggest at least 64Gb, especially if running more than 3 VM's or high ram usage programming.

High cpu usage, high ram usage, constant storage usage = higher than normal case/equipment temps. I'd not use an airflow restricted snazzy looking TG front case, use a mesh front and keep that air moving nicely.

That psu is a joke. High powered, sensitive cpu with fast ram and constant storage usage. You'll need the best psu you can budget, epic voltage control, total stability, great under constant loads and more protections than you can spit at. I'd be looking at the Corsair HX, Seasonic Prime Platinum series or similar.

Nothing I can see wrong with the storage, apart from its size. You may want to consider some additional SSDs just for the VM use and storing files/working/scratch space without taxing the base storage.

You have not mentioned cpu cooling. Don't skimp there either. The newest Intel and Ryzens boost/core use depending on temps, so cpu temp management is important, and that falls partially under case choice as well.
 

pjw

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It's a linux host, which I should have mentioned, so not sure about nesting for Ryzens still.

I'd not use a mITX motherboard. It's limited on ram slots, fan headers, external headers.
The motherboard was chosen mainly because I read "ROG STRIX" are the higher quality/durable ASUS boards. I would prefer more RAM slots but could not find one to fit the bill. Any suggestions?

VMs live for Ram, big ram. 32Gb is barely worth it, you'll want 8Gb for the base and at a minimum 8Gb for each VM. So 32Gb would be no more than 3 VM's or you push your luck. I'd strongly suggest at least 64Gb, especially if running more than 3 VM's or high ram usage programming.
Yeah, 64 would be nice. The only saving grace is that a few of the VMs have a TINY memory footprint; so I could probably live in 32. I ws hoping for 4 RAM slots to allow expnsion later as needed...but again, could not find a motherboard that I knew would be durable.

High cpu usage, high ram usage, constant storage usage = higher than normal case/equipment temps. I'd not use an airflow restricted snazzy looking TG front case, use a mesh front and keep that air moving nicely.
The case was chosen because it is a somewhat dusty environment, and it has removable dust filters. Are you aware of any cases that are more open and have filters?

That psu is a joke. High powered, sensitive cpu with fast ram and constant storage usage. You'll need the best psu you can budget, epic voltage control, total stability, great under constant loads and more protections than you can spit at. I'd be looking at the Corsair HX, Seasonic Prime Platinum series or similar.
Sounds good. Any suggestions? I don't anticipate adding more than one other disk, if any. But future-proofing is not a bad idea.

You have not mentioned cpu cooling. Don't skimp there either. The newest Intel and Ryzens boost/core use depending on temps, so cpu temp management is important, and that falls partially under case choice as well.
Any suggestions? Was going to go with the fan that came with the CPU... 8-(
 

Karadjgne

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The motherboard was chosen mainly because I read "ROG STRIX" are the higher quality/durable ASUS boards. I would prefer more RAM slots but could not find one to fit the bill. Any suggestions?
MITX is a form factor. It's also by far the smallest physically, just 6" x 6".
Theres several ATX/mATX Asus ROG Strix versions, but any ending in 'i' will be mITX and versions ending in 'm' will be mATX (micro atx).
MITX has 2 ram slots, mATX can have 2 or 4, ATX has 4 slots. ATX is the second largest physically, and the 'standard' size. Having more 'real-estate' to play with, ATX also has the largest amount of storage headers, ram slots, fan headers etc.
The case was chosen because it is a somewhat dusty environment, and it has removable dust filters. Are you aware of any cases that are more open and have filters?
Most decent cases have dust filtration. One of the best airflow cases around is the Fractal Design Meshify series.
Any suggestions? Was going to go with the fan that came with the CPU... 8-(
The Ryzen cpus from AMD are the only stock coolers worth their salt. There's nothing prior or anything from Intel that doesn't sound like a freight train and allow higher temps under heavy loads. Running VMs will mean running high core counts, and while the 10900 is decent at just 65w, that performance lasts only a few seconds, after which it goes downhill in a hurry.

https://www.techpowerup.com/review/intel-core-i9-10900/22.html

Unlock that 65w power limit and you'll get far better multi-core performance, but the cpu will act more like a 150w cpu, not the 65w cpu it's gimped to, and the stock cooler is nowhere near up to the task.
 

pjw

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OK...so this is where the revised options are. Still missing a CPU cooler (maybe), may not bother unlocking the higher power consumption on the CPU.

Intel Core i9 10900 Processor
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/50107/intel-core-i9-10900-processor

ASUS ROG Strix H490-H Gaming Motherboard (ATX)
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/50125/asus-rog-strix-z490-h-gaming-motherboard

Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz CL16 DDR4 (or maybe 4x16)
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/44143/corsair-vengeance-rgb-pro-32gb-2x16gb-3200mhz-cl16-ddr4

Fractal Design Meshify 2 Black Solid
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/52440/fractal-design-meshify-2-black-solid

Corsair RM550x Gold 550W Power Supply (do I really need an 850? This is a low power system, I think)
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/42990/corsair-rm550x-gold-550w-power-supply

Intel 665p Series M.2 NVMe SSD 1TB
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/51346/intel-665p-series-m-2-nvme-ssd-1tb

CPU Cooling(???)

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition CPU Cooler

https://www.pccasegear.com/products/45065/cooler-master-hyper-212-rgb-black-edition-cpu-cooler
 
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Karadjgne

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If you aren't gaming, and aren't doing any intensive graphical work, and aren't rendering using the gpu, then No, you are pretty much good with even a small gpu such as a 1030GT or even the igpu built into the cpu.

For that kind of consumption, a 550w is plenty, a 450w Platinum would be best, returned investment on the electric bill with such long load usage. May only be pennies on the dollar daily, but it can add up over months.

That's a much better looking system, far better balanced for your needs and does offer the option of higher ram amounts without needing to replace existing ram due to slot fill.

Not a fan of the Hyper212 series, but that's years of frustration with those coolers. The newer versions are better, but performance is still just above average. Performance - price value it's hard to beat.
 
OK...so this is where the revised options are. Still missing a CPU cooler (maybe), may not bother unlocking the higher power consumption on the CPU.

Intel Core i9 10900 Processor
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/50107/intel-core-i9-10900-processor

ASUS ROG Strix H490-H Gaming Motherboard (ATX)
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/50125/asus-rog-strix-z490-h-gaming-motherboard

Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz CL16 DDR4 (or maybe 4x16)
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/44143/corsair-vengeance-rgb-pro-32gb-2x16gb-3200mhz-cl16-ddr4

Fractal Design Meshify 2 Black Solid
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/52440/fractal-design-meshify-2-black-solid

Corsair RM550x Gold 550W Power Supply (do I really need an 850? This is a low power system, I think)
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/42990/corsair-rm550x-gold-550w-power-supply

Intel 665p Series M.2 NVMe SSD 1TB
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/51346/intel-665p-series-m-2-nvme-ssd-1tb

CPU Cooling(???)

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition CPU Cooler

https://www.pccasegear.com/products/45065/cooler-master-hyper-212-rgb-black-edition-cpu-cooler
The Seasonic PSU is $20 cheaper than that Corsair and it's Seasonic who manufactures that Corsair PSU. Also you want a better cpu HS.

Something such as this as long as you don't plan on O/C.

https://www.pccasegear.com/products/46193/be-quiet-dark-rock-slim
be quiet! Dark Rock Slim $89
 

pjw

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Thanks for all the amazing help...again!

The only remaining choices are (with an emphasis on reliability/durability):


Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition CPU Cooler
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/45065/cooler-master-hyper-212-rgb-black-edition-cpu-cooler

VS

be quiet! Dark Rock Slim
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/46193/be-quiet-dark-rock-slim

---------------------------------------------
-- AND --
---------------------------------------------

Corsair RM550x Gold 550W Power Supply
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/42990/corsair-rm550x-gold-550w-power-supply

VS

Seasonic Focus SGX SFX-L Gold Modular 500W Power Supply
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/47083/seasonic-focus-sgx-sfx-l-gold-modular-500w-power-supply

VS

(( Current favourite->Assuming SF* is OK!))
Corsair CP-9020181-AU SF Series, SF450 Platinum, 450W Platinum Fully Modular, 80+ Platinum Certified

https://www.amazon.com.au/Corsair-Platinum-Fully-Modular-Standard/dp/B07KYDG56C

VS

Some other 450-550 Seafocus/Corsair.

The lower power of the 450&500 is appealing, and it's smaller size is also appealing, but I have been unable to find quality information (same manufacturer doesn't always mean same quality, afaict). They both have a 10 year warranty.

Sadly, amazon was the only place that had the 450 platinum (and was not on my list of preferred suppliers).
 

Karadjgne

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The SF series of SFX (that's a small form factor) psus is about as good as it gets. ATX is a standardized size, bolts right into almost every mATX and all ATX cases. Because it's basically a one-size-fits all psu, competition is fierce, which lowers prices and raises quality.

For many years SFX, TFX and other small firm factor psus were basically over-looked, you couldn't put multiple gpus in such a small space on an mITX motherboard that only had one slot. But with such good gpus out now, there's no need for sli or crossfire, a single gpu is plenty. And ppl like small and unobtrusive powerhouses. Like the one I have (signiture).

So SFX has become quite popular and Corsair and Seasonic have very little competition there, Silverstone was the go-to for years and while some models are pretty decent, Seasonic and Corsair are a step or three above.

The SF Platinum series will stand toe-to-toe with most ATX platforms and is better than a good chunk of what's out there.

Or I'd not own one.
 

kanewolf

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If your primary reason is "Hosting several virtual servers performing a variety of tasks. continuously running. " Then 32GB RAM may not be enough. You can time share CPU cores among many VMs. You can't share RAM.
Is power consumption important ?
What about noise?

If those are not important, but reliability is, then a used DL380 or Dell R720 might be a better answer. ECC RAM, IPMI, SAS storage, redundant power supplies. Those are things than maintain uptime.
 

pjw

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Not a fan of the Hyper212 series, but that's years of frustration with those coolers. The newer versions are better, but performance is still just above average. Performance - price value it's hard to beat.
Its there a more reliable cooler you would recommend? The heat output is going to be pretty low, I expect...
 

pjw

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Edit 13/2/2021: Note the fan is too big for the quoted RAM (RAM is much larger than normal due to fancy LEDs), and the power supply has cables that are ALL too short for an ATX board.

Thanks all, for those who are interested, the final build is as follows:

Intel Core i9 10900 Processor
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/50107/intel-core-i9-10900-processor

ASUS ROG Strix H490-H Gaming Motherboard (ATX)
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/50125/asus-rog-strix-z490-h-gaming-motherboard

Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz CL16 DDR4 (or maybe 4x16)
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/44143/corsair-vengeance-rgb-pro-32gb-2x16gb-3200mhz-cl16-ddr4

Fractal Design Meshify 2 Black TG Light Tint (to see the fan lights!)
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/52442/fractal-design-meshify-2-black-tg-light-tint

Corsair CP-9020181-AU SF Series, SF450 Platinum, 450W Platinum Fully Modular, 80+ Platinum Certified
https://www.amazon.com.au/Corsair-Platinum-Fully-Modular-Standard/dp/B07KYDG56C

Intel 665p Series M.2 NVMe SSD 1TB
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/51346/intel-665p-series-m-2-nvme-ssd-1tb

Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M Addressable RGB CPU Cooler
https://www.pccasegear.com/products/43301/cooler-master-masterair-ma410m-addressable-rgb-cpu-cooler
 
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Karadjgne

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Looks good. 👍.

If budget allows, it's better to get all the ram you'll want in a single kit, so if there's any hesitation or doubts about 32Gb being enough to do the job, it's better to go with 2x32Gb sticks in a single kit instead. 4x16Gb locks you in, you'll get all you can want, but 4x sticks Is harder on the memory controller inside the cpu, which does elevate temps. 4x sticks is also somewhat more temperamental, much harder to diagnose any issues that may arise. Your choice, but I prefer just 2 sticks.

On the off chance that one stick does go bunk, you'd still have 32Gb on a single stick to continue working until it can be sorted.

Common usage has it that when it comes to a finite component like ram, it's far better to have too much and not need it, than need it and not have enough.
 

pjw

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@Karadjgne -- Interesting, re 4 vs 2 memory slots. If I had purchased only one 32GB card...assuming that's even possible...what would the impact have been on performance, heat etc.
 

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