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Advice for a homelab starter server

Hello, i wanted some advice on buying a server. Why? I don’t trust my computer being on all the time, and why not.
I think i want the unicorn of servers, because i want it to be small, cheap (~350€ without drives), that it doesn’t waste a lot of energy, and it to be quiet.
I would use it mostly as a NAS, and for some VM (PiHole, mail server, Minecraft server, …)
The first solution i came up, building something like the new Gamers Nexus server (without the disk shelf) , it’s everything i want except cheap, only the case is out of my max price.
Then i remembered the HPE microservers, and heare in Spain you can get a gen 10 with an AMD opteron X3216 (2 cores) 8Gb RAM for 377€, witch i don’t think it’s a good price, but it is pretty much what i want.
The CPU is soldered down, and only having 2 cores, i don’t think it will work for my use case.
For the ile system, i was thinking of using ZFS, but i want to run the VMs out of them too, so i don’t know what to use.
One last thing, what drives should i use? i want them to be cheap, but that they would “resist” the use case.
Thanks for everything even if we don’t find any solution, and please don’t be harsh with my english, it isn’t my first language.

I don’t think there’s anything available for that cheap that make sense buying in my opinion. If you need a Minecraft server, PiHole and a mail server you can easly do it on a Pi 4, especially with the 4GB version now available. You could get by with one of those and save up to buy a more expensive solution in the future.
You could even hook up a couple drives and using it as a NAS but it would be kinda getto using USB drives.
I think the complete kit for a Pi4 4GB is around 100€ which is not a bad deal if you ask me.

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The €100 includes power supply, case and perhaps also an SD if you’re lucky. Pi 4 also supports Ubuntu 64 bit now without too much hassle. I’d suggest to first install a raspbian to update the boot eeprom, and then install Ubuntu after, it’s the easiest way for starters.

There are also dell servers on eBay in your price range. I can confirm that a t320 and t420 is virtually silent, my t320 uses no more than 90W with 6 drives installed. These servers are however not as small as you might want. For these, look for one with little ram and small CPU. Can upgrade those for cheap down the line. Can get 8TB SAS drives for €150, seen 4TB drives for €70. If you do choose to do it this way, say so here, there are a few details with drives you have to be aware of.

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I can fit a whole other computer tower under my desk, and i like the form factor. What’s the CPU socket? is it lga 1356? does it have dual sockets?
I have found a T320 with a pentium 1403, 8Gb RAM, 2 480 watt power supplies and 3 500Gb drives, it has the hot swap bays for 350€

I already have a raspberry pi 4 (only 1Gb), but I would have to get a power supply only for the drives, and a SATA to usb converter or I could get usb drives. But i need more power than that.

What are the problems with the drives?

T320 single socket, 420 dual. T320 can use Xeon 14xx and 24xx, T420 requires 24xx if you want two CPUs. Can be gotten in pairs on eBay at some good prices if you’re patient and setup email notifications on the models you’re after.

With drives, you have to make sure you get the right block sizes, depending on controller. For this generation server, you’d most likely have to get 512n or 512e drives (n for native, e for emulated) and 4k drives won’t work. Double check with the controller before you order drives. Drive bays are fairly cheap, I got 10 for €25 a few months back.

The 320 you mention is bit on the expensive in my opinion.

Don’t bother paying extra to get used drives with the server. If they’ve been running for a while and is transported, probability for drive failure increases dramatically.

Ram, I got 64gig for €100 for mine, so it’s fairly cheap to upgrade down the line.

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Do you think i will need the 2 CPUs? Because i can’t find a T420 at a good price heare on eBay (650€ and up) but i have found a T320 with a Xeon
E5-2420 v2, 16Gb ram for 300€ (with shipping) is the cheapest i could find, but i have seen cheaper ones but they don’t have the hot swap bays.

Think you’ll be fine with a 320. Can get decent CPU for that one too (2470 V2). I would’ve loved to have a T420 with two CPUs.

Counting everything I’m running on mine at the moment, 10+ containers, live media encoding with 2-3 concurrent users. Acting as backup relay for servers at work for development and a few of our internal applications, postgresql/mysql backup/relay. It’s running at 30ish% load, rarely peaks to 100%, 50 gig of RAM is used.

I think you’d be ok with a T320, and if you, some day, want to upgrade. The T420 mainboard should slot right in. At least, that’s my next step when it’s under heavier use. The CPU you’re getting is a decent one too, @80W max with 6 cores and HT it’s a decent CPU.

Does the server you looked at have iDRAC?

iDrac is remote management interface, it’s quite nifty to have, allows you to manage the server via LAN, you won’t need to have screen or keyboard connected after you get iDRAC setup first time. Also, you can connect to iDRAC using telnet and force CPU fan off if you want (not recommended), it’s also possible to turn it down so far it’s very very quiet. I can’t hear mine, standing 1½ meters away under my table. iDRAC can also be bought for something like €20 if it’s not there, would just be nice if it was from start.

EDIT: Forgot to add, there are also low power xeons, those that end with L, so, 2450L (8 Cores, 16 Threads @70W) would be a low power. However, you’d get a bit less performance compared to their non low power equals. I got a 2450L for around €40. Was running this one until I got my 2470v2.

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I have reloaded the eBay page of the server i wanted, and it says that someone has bought it. I can only find for the price the one with the 3 500gb drives and one without hot swap bays

I would recommend a used ryzen machine assuming theres any available around you.

I have been searching and I couldn’t find anything n that good.
And, is it inportant that the server has hot-swap bays? I don’t think it would benefit my use case

Hot swap bays are nice to have but not required. Just use any old computer with enough space for the drives.

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+1 used 1st gen like 1600 or 1700 can usually be had for super cheap

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I found A T320 for 240€ with a Xeon E5-2430 and 12gb of ram, but it doesn’t have hot swap bays. It only has 4 hard drive connectors, Is it a good deal?

I mean you can throw in an HBA card if you need more drives. Honestly it will be hard to tell as we aren’t in the same market as you so used prices vary a lot

I could find a Dell T320 with a Xeon with 6 cores and 12 threads, 12Gb ram, but without hot swap bays, and only 4 hhd connectors, for 250€

You can get a cheap 4U chassie with more or less standard desktop parts which with something like freenas could do all those usecases but the price is honestly a non starter unless you only buy the compute parts first and run say the pihole, minecraft and mail part and then get more HDDs and a HBA for the storage aspect.

if you absolutely have to have enterprise grade equipment, sure.

It was one of my first ideas, but the NAS part is more important, i am i such a need of o real freenas server that i’m running an old compaq with a modded xeon E5-430 (4 cores 4 threads) to an LGA775 socket with 2Gb of ram (motherboard only supports 4Gb max) with 10/100 ethernet and a 350Gb drive.

I can’t find any T320 for a great price, except the ones i told you already.

I personally wouldnt be using enterprise stuff for a home lab.