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Thinking of moving workstations over to server racks, any thoughts?

#1

hello all,

As you’ve shown to be a good bunch, I thought I’d ask this question.

In the next 6-12 months I’m hoping to have a dedicated room for PC’s and then (in theory with some of them), put a small ish rack mount and put each machine in a 4U case. I think that’s the height needed for putting my average gear in. There’s likely to be 3 PC’s:

1 workstation with USB/DisplayPort passed though to another room directly to monitors.
1 workstation that’s as above, but just for one monitor. (Funds permitting, threadripper)
1 file server with FreeNAS in it, or similar, might even try VM. (Re-using my old Xeon 1650 V4)

If I can, I’d like to buy a rack mount UPS as well, but only to keep me covered until machines are turned off safely (hopefully via automatic S/W).

One little question - would Video cables (DisplayPort) interfere which each other if they were close together? Also, would it be a problem if USB cables would be the same (about 3 of them)?

From what I see, I’ve seen 4U racks of around £40-90 which will also take my existing PSU’s, which is aces :blush: I’ve also seen a cheap rack for around £170 which is even nicer HERE.

After working in a cluttered area for so long, I’d quite like the have some peace behind a sound insulated door.

Any general thoughts on this welcome - is it utterly stupid? This relates to a potential new outbuilding I’m building, see attached. The main room is mine, the other front (narrow room) is tools and machinery, the back square’ish room could be the computer room.

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

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#2

Maybe I am tired, but description does not correlate to the image. You also did not specify the reasons for all of this, and each machine. I had render farms in spare WC, and experiemented with other configurations in different apartments, I might be able to help.

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#3

You weren’t tired at all, I accidentally uploaded a much older plan…because I was tired too! I’ve corrected the plan on that first post now.

Reason for it is:

I do CAD drawing for construction and sometimes it requires me to do visuals like this. It’s not the greatest and I’m far from pro but people only want to get a general idea of what’s proposed without spending too much. At the moment I have a i7 7700K safely overclocked for nice quick CAD work. I have a E5-1650 v4 machine that I was hoping would be ‘the’ machine, but it doesn’t feel right (mouse movement in CAD) so I’m going to re-purpose it as a file server with FreeNAS. The Possible threadripper is for rendering images which are dog slow on the Xeon CPU, and time is money :unamused:

In my spare time I do computer things like, but I’m no where near as good as the people here. I would like one day to have Plex also running on the re-purposed 1650.

I’m also planning to bury 2 CAT6 cables (about a foot deep) to the house to get the internet, 2 in case one dies.

I hope this is all useful information! :slight_smile:

Sketchup-Internal-3D-visual-640w
Internal-D-01

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#4

You shouldn’t have a problem as long as the cables are of premium quality. I personally have never had issues with any cables and cross-talking before.

Having soundproofing isn’t a bad idea at all, if the equipment is going to be roaring it makes sense. How are you dealing with cooling of the equipment if it is going into (what looks to be) a closet? What are the average temperatures in that closet during the summer and winter months?

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#5

Thanks for that - I will definitely be sharing the spec / manufacturer on here before I buy. I have some cool ideas…that may not work in practice, but I’m game to check the theory :+1:

I’m glad you said that and it’s not much more to insulate a door / wall, walls are just stud so while it’s opening, sticking some rockwool or similar in the void really isn’t an issue and probably only costs £50 at most. I think most of the time the computer fans won’t be maxing, but it’ll be nice just to get the boxes away.

Cooling though, I’ve only thought a little about that, off the top of my head, I could allow for 1 inlet at low level (mesh over to avoid insects), and an outlet at high level like this…may be?

I don’t want to overthink, but perhaps I need to figure the max heat generation? Hmm. :thinking:

As it’s not built yet (only submitting planning in the next month or so), I can’t say what the temps will be, but I’m looking for stable temps inside between 18-21C (64-70F) while ambient externals are down to -10C (14F) and up to 35C (95F) with probably an average of 10C (50F). I’m going to put an Air con unit in the main room…though when it comes to the computer room, I should probably focus on getting hot air out, then pay to ‘make’ cool air?

I suppose something like this would be comically overkill! :laughing: LINKIE

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#6

Unless you want to put an AC in there, BTU/hr and Watt are of little concern.

Two or three 120mm server fans pushing air out should do.
Examples: Dynatron DF1212025_L, Noctua NF-F12 industrial
Could wire up a temperature sensor with relays to turn the fans on when temps reach a set threshold.


Depends on length.
For more than 5 meters on USB, I would recommend you get an active cable or repeater. They then often require your input side to have power (plug in keyboard, mouse, etc. into a powered hub, then the hub into an active USB extension)
HDMI appears to be good to 15m, then you need active cables here aswell (expensive).
For audio, it would make sense to use balanced signals (meaning two cables, one per side. This can be achieved by using a so called DI-unit wich are relativly inexpensive).

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#7

Thank you for that, sounds good to me, I had thought about the temp sensor as there’s little point in it running all the time. :+1:

That’s very useful to know, thank you - that USB extension is a good find. 15m is more than enough, I’d have to buy the cable and test before install. For Audio, I might look at my monitors to see if they have a 3.5mm jack plug or something, cos the HDMI can carry audio perhaps?

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#8

HDMI does carry audio (as does DisplayPort). Else you can just pull an optical cable and have a DAC at the place you want audio.

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#9

As long as everything is well ventilated, it gonna be alright. Depending on the length you may require active cable. IMHO, I would just bring one active thunderbolt 3 cables to each stations, hookup it up to a powered thunderbolt 3 hubs and connect accessories and the display to it. Normally, thunderbolt 3 should have enough bandwidth.

(or the cable can be directly hookup to the monitor with all the accessorizes connected to it if your monitors allow it, even cleaner)

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#10

image
this was a give but couldn’t get it to run.
is there a Way?

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#11

It will work, but those computers should not make that much noise, so to me it would not justify allocating such a big room in such a nice place. The most noise I have is from NAS and RAID enclosure, sounding like I am boiling eggs whole day long, but computers are pretty much completely silent. I have a dual xeon BOXX machine that I used for rendering but it makes noise more than 5 new machines. If that xeon you have is loud, get rid of it and just get something silent. Forget thunderbolt 3, as unless you have over 3 HDDs in RAID0 (4 RAID5, 6 RAID10) the you won’t reach even USB3.0 speeds. Also why do you need 3 DP cables… maybe you can use just a remote desktop to the machines you are not using for CAD drawing. I used to manage render nodes just through remote desktop, and if you have less than 3 you can use Deadline for job distribution (or pay to use more than 3)

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#12

The one small thing I can contribute, is double check the height of your CPU Heatsinks. Even a noctua NH-U12 will not fit in a 4u case. It is 158mm tall and usually you need 154 or shorter in a 4u. You can mod things, like shorter stand offs or other things, but they technically don’t fit.

(coming from the guy who has a U12 in his 4u case, but I modded the case lid)

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#13

just run cat 6 and do usb converter and hdmi or dp converters. you can buy the cat 6 in bulk cheap and you might as well run a few extra for data and upgrades down the road. and if plans change in the future, you have cat 6 and that 1gb/s can be converted to most anything or used as normal cat 6. and assuming you are running the internet to your server room and have the modem/router there, you need ot run cat6 anyways.

run 6 or so cables form the server room to your office, get two back plates,12 keystones, 2 6 port front plates, and buy/make usb converters on either end and buy display/hdmi converters for either end.

also if you want to use 10gb just sub cat6 for cat6a and be prepared to spend a fortune.

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#14

DP and USB cables are premade which sucks to run them in walls etc. If you can source the cables and test the out before installing them I think it might work well. EG bundle the USB and DP or HDMI cables together with zip ties etc and run them all over the floor for a week and see how it goes. Good cables are all shielded. Return them if they dont work bundled.

The USB could do a DAC at the workstation end if HMDI / DP audio is not suitable. Would love to hear how it works out.

Power wise with 3 machines you could vent heat out or into the office depending on your weather. Or setup both and have winter / summer options.

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#15

I racked my desktop PC last year, or maybe year before actually, and ran a 40 ft DVI cable to the next room where my desk was, as well as a 50ft HDMI cable for my Vive headset. My DVI cable needed a power injector to reach that far, and even then there was some noise in the image (green dots scattering across really dark backgrounds).

AFAIK DP uses packets instead of a constant signal like DVI or HDMI. There is a set limit to the length DP cables can be without power injection and i believe it’s limited to 2 or 3 meters. USB 3 has similar length limitations without power injection. I researched this topic and the best way to get video long distances is to either use HDMI cables with Redmere or use adapters to convert the signal to Ethernet and back.

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#16

Cheers Maze, much appreciated :+1:

Thank you for that cityle, that sounds like a plan - though the thunderbolt gear does cost quite a bit doesn’t it? I’m not restricted to a budget (yet), but it’s always handy to know before I get rose tinted glasses. Sounds like a good solution though!

Oh don’t worry, I’m a bloke so it’s gonna have all sorts of crap in there! :laughing: That’s interesting about noise for you, mine isn’t so bad really, though my i7 7700 can get quite noisy, though I blame that on a dusty AIO. I’ve got an air compressor so I’m going to put it outside and go to town on it soon, just in case it’s just that!

When you’re talking about Thunderbolt 3, I’m a bit confused as I thought that would be used for displays and mouse/keyboard? Are you talking about data transfer for, say if I plugged a memory stick in? Sorry for not knowing!

As for 3 DP cables, I like having 3 monitors connected to 1 OS, I normally do CAD on one, email and notes on the second one and then look at site photographs on the third one. I think it would be confusing to do that with 2 OS’s, though I do like the idea of just remote desktop’ing the non-CAD machines, that’s a good plan! I had never heard of Deadline, will give it a look. My ideal plan is to avoid paying for render nodes and instead do the bulk of work on the faster machine, then open up the file using the high core machine (via remote desktop thanks to you!) and have it render while I work on other projects using the faster machine.

VERY good point sir, thank you! My i7 cooler is a chunky monkey, so I better check before making any purchases. Nice one! :+1:

I had never even thought of that, thanks, CAT to to the rescue! :+1: Some of that might be over my head, but I’ll definitely look into it.

Thank you for all that - you’re right about USB / DP not really being easily re-wire’able. I’d have no problem pulling them through the walls/ceilings and making good. I’ve got a slightly silly idea about how to run the cables, I might put that by you peeps soon.

If I do any of this, I will definitely let you all know and definitely test before I start burying it in the walls! :+1:

Thank you for that, very useful info. I know this seems petty, but my main concern is with mouse lag over long distance. I’ve had a few machines that seemed perfectly well setup but just didn’t ‘feel’ right when I was using CAD. With most computers I can get used to how much I have to push the mouse to get to a certain place. One machine though, just never felt right (E5-1650 V4, X99-WS Mobo, GTX 1070, ECC RAM). So frustrating…so it’s going to become a server instead!

Thank you again people!

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#17

Used a pair of those magical things once. Suddenly a Cat6 cable was a 50m long HDMI cable.

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