SFF 1U Rack Workstation -- Will this insanity work?

I want to put together a Linux-friendly workstation in a 1U enclosure that is less than 12" deep, and can support multiple 4K displays. It’s not for gaming at all. Light media creation, server administration, coding, etc.

This is what I came up with… I think I can build it for around $1k. It’s for my desk.

Case: https://www.supermicro.com/products/chassis/1U/510/SC510-203B

Motherboard: https://www.supermicro.com/products/motherboard/Xeon/C236_C232/X11SSL-F.cfm

Processor: https://ark.intel.com/products/88175/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E3-1260L-v5-8M-Cache-2_90-GHz

GPU: http://www.amd.com/en-us/products/graphics/workstation/firepro-3d/wx5100#

Memory: Any 4x4 kit of ECC 2400/2133 DDR4 UDIMMs

Storage: Any SATA III SSD… maybe SATADOM

PCIE Riser: Supermicro RSC-R1UFF-E16

Heatsink: Supermicro SNK-P0046P

What do we think? I’m concerned about the power supply. The Radeon pulls 75watts but it’ll never be under full load.

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CPU is 45W, GPU is 75W, throw in 25W for everything else, add 10W because I can, that gets us to 155W. You should be good.


Do you need to build one? Could be fun, but are there any second hand ones on ebay that suit your needs?

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Based on your case, it looks like you might need the right hand side riser, rather than the left hand side riser. Here’s the model number:

I could be wrong, as I’m basing everything off of a picture that I have to zoom in on, but might want to verify.

The only problem I see is that the build is going to sound like a bit of a leaf blower. Like that case has 2 x 8500rpm fans. Might behoove you to consider deliding that Xeon to make it a bit easier to cool, and thus make the fans not have to work/spin as hard. Even a 45watt part is going to make those fans work, especially with the mayonnaise thermal paste between the cpu and heat spreader.

I was planning to build it from a mix of ebay parts and new parts. I did see at least one config with this mobo already in the case but it was $500 (barebones, no processor, heatsink, etc). It’s about $300 to buy them separately.

Yes, I was confused by this as well. I was 75% confident about the left one after looking through the Supermicro site for a while, but I think I’ll reach out to them to confirm. Like is it the right hand side when you’re looking from the back or the front?

I saw that the 4 node 2U case used the right hand ones. I’ve worked with that case before and I think the nodes have the riser on the opposite side, but again, I’m not 100% on that.

These are the little details that I think might trip me up on this build which is why I brought it up here.

Yes, I am aware that it will be pretty loud. I actually have access to a system in this same chassis, so I was going to go remind myself how bad it is before buying. I think I can deal with it. This room has a ton of street noise already and I’m in headphone land when I work anyway. To do the build in this size/format, I think fan noise will be inevitable.

Do you know if the E3-1200 V5’s are soldered? I am definitely down to delid if it’s not soldered. If it is, I’ll have to think about it…

Intel hasn’t soldered anything on the mainstream platform since Sandy Bridge if I’m not mistaken.

I believe I had one of those cases and (well, mine at least) had no fans and no provision for fans. The only fan in the system was the one 40mm unit inside of the power supply, and it didn’t move a whole lot of air. This forced me to go super low power on my build. The included Supermicro power supply eventually fried and killed my hard disk in the process. : (

That’s more or less true. Since the E3’s are LCC die with locked multi and IOMMU, we’re probably going to see shit paste under the IHS.

Was that fried because of it being a bad PSU or heat?

I use all supermicro stuff at work and while we often have power supplies die, it’s a similar rate to hard drive failure.

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There’s a very similar case with no fans that’s intended for Atom systems. This one has some small high rpm fans that are probably pretty loud.

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Great, I’m glad that you verified the fan situation. I wouldn’t want you to be surprised.

Yes, if they move any meaningful amount of air, 40mm fans are pretty much guaranteed to be loud and obnoxious.

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I wonder if Noctua or any other 3rd party makes queit(er) 40mm fans. I think I saw some somewhere, but the rpms were way lower. Might be ok though if I delid the cpu. Maybe I could find a copper heatsink too… the one that’s spec’d for the system is aluminum.

They do, but they aren’t going to move nearly the same volume of air as a “server” fan spinning at 40,000RPMs.

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Yeah, that’s what I remember. I guess I’ll put it together and see what the temps/fan speeds are. From there I can delid and take other steps to bring the necessary fan rpm down to the Noctua level and replace the fans. I think it will also help that it is not up against any other hot hardware, unlike in a typical server rack.