Long term 2019/'20 upgrade path: LINUX+Looking Glass, switch to AMD, consolidating TWO boxes (&VMs) into ONE 24/7

Ohai, there! :3

i’m currently evaluating the consolidation of two separate boxes into a massively virtualised ONE. This thread is intended to be kind of a public project log book, with comments from random internet strangers. ;D

Please see also, “Questions” below. (I might update this section.)

Here’s my CURRENT scenario:

  • 2 boxes, mostly Linux
  • 1 home server (see also “Box 1”) for Linux/KVM virtualisation, networking, local cloud sync, and [redacted]
  • 1 daily driver (see also “Box 2”) for every-day Linux desktoping, also Windows-dual-booting for Gaming
  • triple monitor setup, cobbled together, all older than 9 years, but quite large (19/21/27 inches), DVI-D, HDMI, there’s a DP-to-VGA dongle somewhere

Project goals:

  • implement ONE 24/7 box (instead of two), that does everything
  • two GPUs; a very affordable (used price-performance, incl. long term power consumption?), relatively low spec, but sufficiently capable, AMD Radeon GPU (with FreeSync) …it’ll be the primary interface to all of my monitors, the boot-time-GPU
  • …and my existing GTX 1070 as a secondary, for PCIe-passthrough and Looking Glass (Windows 10 gaming)
  • upgrade to at least 32 GB of DDR4 RAM, with a decent spec, 3200+ …probably the single most expensive position in the whole calculation
  • a 10+ minutes UPS, optional, when budget permits …what for failing gracefully

Project constraints:

  • BUDGET! I’m a pensionist. No worries, i can take loans and finance my new gear, all right. But i can’t pull a “Tom’s Hardware” and “Just buy it!”
  • also, i’d sell almost all of my current gear (1 Gigabyte C232 ECC mATX mobo, 1 ASRock H97 mITX mobo, 2 CPUs (the 4790 with liquid metal), 2x8GB DDR3-1600, 2x8GB DDR4-2133 ECC, crappy ATX mid-tower, fancy Cooler Master Elite 130 mITX SFF case) …there’s still quite a lot of value in my current gear …should be convertible into a substantial amount of money, for paying off the new investment
  • the overall user experience SHOULD feel like an upgrade, relative to my current daily driver, “Box 2” (i7-4790)
  • my OPNsense router machine (VM) should be “up&running” most of the time during migration, obviously …it drives everything; DHCP, routing, firewall, infosec …but no worries, i’ve got an untrusted ISP-provided “HomeBox” router, to which i could connect temporarily, if need be
  • SHOULD implement only ONE set of keyboard+mouse (limited desk space); i wouldn’t mind an additional PCIe-pass-through of a USB card + switch box …manually switching USB devices in a KVM kind of way …you know, like those old (analogue) parallel port (or VGA) A/B switch boxes …ONE K+M set, but with a manually selectable “T-junction” …alternatively, a VirtualBox-like (VMware?) hot-key capture&release solution (maybe Looking Glass already implements something similar)

Motherboard considerations:

  • MUST have 2 PEGs, “PCI-E for Graphics” slots; i’m totally fine with connecting my monitors to a GPU that runs off of a 3.0 x8 slot, but the high-performance one (Windows VM GPU pass-through) should run off of the x16 …well, unless 3.0 x8 is sufficient to saturate a 1070
  • MUST be capable of selecting the low-performance GPU, in the x8(x4?) slot, as primary, for booting into the daily driver desktop environment.
  • SHOULD have EVERY PCIe slot assigned to a separate IOMMU group
  • SHOULD have a THIRD PCIe 2.0+ x4, with SR-IOV, for my i350-T4 NIC (the OPNsense VM)

Box 1 - the VM host / home server:

  • runs 24/7, no UPS (yet)
  • Xeon E3-1230 v5 (Skylake)
  • Gigabyte GA-X150M-PRO ECC, Intel C232 chipset
  • Intel i350-T4 quad-Gigabit, with SR-IOV
  • Matrox G450, 32MB, PCI
  • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Server
  • ZFS (z1/RAID5), 3x 1TB spinners, for “/storage” …SSD slog/l2arc
  • hosts 3 VMs: OPNsense router, Nextcloud, and [redacted(Linux)]

Box 2 - the daily driver:

  • i7-4790, 16GB
  • Zotac GTX 1070 Mini
  • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Gnome Desktop
  • mostly web browsing, a few Steam games that run with Proton(WINE)
  • dual-boot Windows 10pro, only for gaming

Plan A:

I’ve already compared my daily driver to the most capable AMD APU …nope, that’s totally unacceptable! I thought, an APU would be totally sufficient as a daily driver, with it’s integrated GPU. But there aren’t any APUs, more capable than my 4790.

Plan B:

At least an AMD Ryzen 5 2600X seems more like an upgrade, that might be able to handle my project constraints …but even more cores would be kind of neat

Questions / considerations:

  • What motherboard should i choose? (IIRC, the Taichi was quite good …I’ll watch the review again …however, it’s quite expensive)
  • Should i actually choose Threadripper - because of the metric butt-load of PCIe lanes, and because that ONE box will be doing absolutely everything?
  • Should i swallow the pill, and invest in Threadripper; Why?
  • Which trade shows / exhibitions / product launches / price reductions are coming up, WHEN? Maybe AMD will reduce prices for current (2019-03) products.

EDIT: fixed typo “Looking Glass”
EDIT2: additional comments to Plan A

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Computex is the next tech show from May 28 to June 1st.

AMD 1000 and 2000 chips are already on sale. Newegg has a 2700 with mobo and m.2 SATA ssd for 299.99. https://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.3903922

But eventually prices will go up again for the chips. For example, the Threadripper 1920x was like 290$ back when the 2000
series was about to be released but it eventually went back up in price. So the price won’t be low forever… then again that’s more of a non consumer chip, so maybe that’s why prices increased again. :thinking:

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I did a build similar to what you want to do a while ago, though it is a bit of a lengthy post.

Honestly, I’d wait for the Zen 2 to drop. The 1000 and 2000 series stuff should drop in price significantly at the least if you do go for AMD, and the 3000 series is looking like it’s going to be a great chip

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Looking at your usecase, I’d say you’re approaching this from an odd angle.

If you want a 24/7 server, these days I’d look at an SoC computer such as the Raspberry Pi or, my personal favorite, the ODroid. There seems to be raid expansion cards as well. The advantages are quite a few, not in the least in the power draw department (draws 10W instead of 300W+).

For your daily driver on a budget, I’d probably go with a Ryzen 2400G built-in GPU plus your 1070 card. In theory, this should be a perfect match for passthrough, since most Linux games and applications are not as demanding graphics wise, and even if they are, you can always switch the 1070 card to Linux for those. This would mean you would not have to buy a second GPU card. It would draw a lot less power as well.

Just a couple of suggestions that might make life easier for you. Best of luck!

The 2400G is quite capable. Handles most games at 1080p/medium settings fine. Not sure if it fits the rest of your plan.
The 2600X drops the iGPU for two more cores, wich can be nice, will require you to get a second GPU.

The ASRock Rack X470D4U is probably the best AM4 board for 24/7 operation, if it fits your motherboard considerations.

Like @Goalkeeper mentioned, TR 1920X can be had for cheap. Might want to look into that.

These will not be fully satisfied by Ryzen or Threadripper. Information on net suggests that anything connected to chipset is in the same group. Can confirm it for x370 and x399. Performance is around the same so if you dont get the model with higher core count it will be mostly sidegrade.

The ASRock Rack X470D4U mentioned by @MazeFrame would have split all the PCIe ports. A price for that is that both M.2 come form chipset and share the same PCIe 3.0 x4 with rest of the integrated devices. Also it is missing USB 3.1 gen 2 . Seems it is used for IPMI.
EDIT: It does not seem to support APU as it has no output for it.

And the 1070 will not suffer from the x8 port.

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I am confused about the motherboard.
It is mentioned in reviews that the new Ryzen processors work best with a memory speed of 3200 to 3733Ghz.
But the ASRock X470 only supports up to 2667 and that is running with one 1 DIMM.
So what is the memory configuration you should put in if you want optimal performance but also want the full 64GB.
And also what is the performance compared to a X570 board, is it a big performance hit?

RAM Speed is dependent on Ryzen CPU. I can’t recall the Ryzen 2000’s mhz supported but it was about 2.6k… My 3000 series I just built is 320mhz; corona-market so I opted to go with the AMD-supported stable 3200 even though there is high confidence 3600 usual works on devent mobos out of the box. There is a memory ratio issue somewher past 3600 to research where performance hits issues to adapt to/accept.

X470/X570 I believe are both dual channel not quad channel. Rule of thumb is to run pairs for maximized dual data rate numbers.

Optimal Ryzen 3000 memory out of box ease to stability to cost ratio I’d hit DDR 3600; YMMV better than mine due to timing.

X570 is mostly A: PCI Express 4.0 (You can find plenty of youtube itemizing how to gauge if you want it; most don’t for gaming purposes… even building for longevity isn’t worth it until Ryzen 4000 and/or next AMD chipset IMO.) and B: 128GB RAM. I opted out of both and went X470… Crosshair VII Hero for the unqieue M.2 dual full speed option and VRM coolness/etc…

Depending on your needs there is a wierd ASUS X570-ACE workstation targeting more machine learning/data processing options. Worth a look. Didn’t fit me. dual m.2 (one half speed), u.2, triple slot spreading as low as 8x/8x/8x…