Home server sanity check

Hello all, I want to do a sanity check/get lvl1 community advice run-down before spending some major coin. Time to retire my z800 ESXi home server/lab that has FreeNAS virtualized (probably not ideal).

Goals: Use rack mount old enterprise equipment, avoiding a white-box build. Multiple ESXi host (or maybe Xen) to have High Availability. Designated bare-metal FreeNAS box to provide iscsi for VMs, but also run jails and SMB for home machines.

What I have had on mind to get from ebay:

  • Dell Poweredge R710 2x Xeon L5630;
    FreeNAS on USB, ditch the Perc6i, put in an LSI 9211 / Dell 200/310 / M1015 with IT flash. Re-use my 3.5 2TB HDDs for a 6 drive Z2 setup. I have an old Samsung SSD that could be used for cache as well.

  • x2 Dell PowerEdge R410 Server 2x 2.13GHz 8 Cores L5630;
    OR Mid-Level HP ProLiant DL360 G7 Server 2x 2.53Ghz E5630
    ESXi (or other) on USB/SD, using these Dell’s simply for compute, and all VMs reside on the FreeNAS iSCSI.

  • HP ProCurve switch model XYZ- Layer 3 switch that doesn’t break the bank.

  • What I already have- a small little fanless Amazon/Ebay 6 port pfSense appliance already setup with DMZ, LAN, IoT wifi, home wifi etc. Already routed cat6 to garage and mounted wall rack, already have dumb switches in closet for hardwired home LAN etc.

Not going for anything crazy like a lot of home lab vids on youtube of giant racks packed with gear. Just looking to keep doing what the z800 does (self host some services on DMZ, hone Plex, home NAS, lab etc), but do it better- redundant hosts, bare metal FreeNAS etc.

Any suggestions such as HP > Dell (or opposite), certain gens to avoid, HP switch versions to choose over other HP switches etc?

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I can’t speak to the specific models you’re looking at, but just a friendly reminder to plan for heat, noise and electricity consumption.

I had a similar home lab a couple years ago, and I while I understood that those 3 variables were in play, I definitely underestimated them.


Feel you there- initially I was going to have the lab in the guest bedroom- but with just the z800 running in there makes a temperature difference, and the thing is louder than any z800/820 I’ve come past (mine is a craigslist purchase, but at work there are tons of them idling away almost totally quiet). I even changed a number of the fans to noctua. Thats why I’ve ran everything to the garage (vented garage), so all that jazz is in there. My concern now is dust buildup, especially when I do work in the garage. I’m will have to jurry rig some filtration.

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I recently put some of this in the intake of a 1U chassis. It doesn’t keep out finer particles, but good for cat hair or similar. Easily cut to size with a box cutter.

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I dont know about ESXi but with proxmox they recommend three hosts in the cluster to use HA.


I cannot speak for the 710 but i own 1 R410 and i can say that it’s a fairly noisy machine. Think graphics card under stress test loud.

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Yeah I had an ESXi instructor say this, then proceed with a week long course using a lab that only had two hosts to run through ESXi’s VCP curriculum of actual HA and FT setup and testing- weird. If need be I might just have to get a third host, in which case I’d be tempted to get the single CPU units.

Its all good, will give the garage a nice white noise haha.

BTW guys, I’m using this website to filter ebay listings, found on reddit homelab- just wow: