Undecided between Ryzen/Threadripper/Epyc server for a small business

Hello! We are a small software development and education business with expertise in home servers and the like. Currently we have a very weak infrastructure and we would like to get a proper server now with the launch of Ryzen 5xxx series of processors. We know that, most likely, renting a server is a better option here but we’re hardware enthusiasts and we would like to own our servers. We have good electricity costs and really good internet in our country.

Our use cases include:

  • Software development automatic deployments and testing for several applications (GitLab pipelines, Selenium and the like). This is performance and memory intensive
  • Self hosted cloud applications (OnlyOffice, GitLab, RocketChat and the like)
  • CouchDB and MongoDB databases
  • Website that serves as a learning platform which will host videos and other media
  • Mail server
  • Other small applications such as a Discord bot and a small Minecraft game server
  • We do a lot of video editing… although our personal rig can handle this but just in case you have some recommendation on that front we’re using Davinci Resolve on a Ryzen 2700 + Vega 56 setup.
  • Aside from that we don’t need any overclocking, we’ll go full air cooling and we’d like to use virtualization (although this is a new avenue for us)

Now, as for our details:

  • Budget should be around 2000 euros, albeit it is quite flexible if there’s a significant gain to it we might grow the budget. Although we have a few possible builds that fall well below this threshold.
  • We are based in Romania and use RON as our currency

This is what we currently have in mind: PCPartPicker list id (can’t post links): MNBXy4 (with some Samsung 1x32GB ECC memory stick which wasn’t on the list) and RAID 1 between the 2 SSDs.

Now, this is not a traditional server build as it uses a Ryzen CPU, here’s my question:

  • Is there a glaring issue with a Ryzen setup for servers? Should we look into Threadripper/Epyc for our use case? Although we’ve seen some good refurbished Intel servers, the performance is appalling (the CPU being 2x or even 3x the performance of a refurbished one at about the same price)

It sounds like you intend to throw quite a lot at it… How large is your team? (How many builds will it be doing at any given point?)

The top Ryzen 5000 seems like a good option, and I guess there wouldn’t be any issues setting it up in a server configuration. Just make sure you use ECC in that case (which all Ryzens graciously support, just might end up costing a lot more). Those things look like they’re beasts, I only have a 3700X and it’s already fantastically performant for development workloads.

Consider Thread Ripper or Epyc if you need the PCIe lanes or more than 16 Cores.

Otherwise, Zen 2.5/3 should be more than enough. You need at least two stick of ram to get the performance that you need so I would at least split up the 32GiB RAM into two 16 sticks, or spring for two 32GiB sticks since you plan on doing virtualization and have other things always running in the back ground as well as using it as build system. RAM is king for compilation tasks, next cores.

Currently we’re only a team of 2 but I expect this server to accommodate at least 10 people as we will expand in the near future. So currently only about 2 builds in parallel.

With the current server we have spikes from 4GB usage to its max 8GB (+ going to swap) and CPU is pinned whenever we do a build… and takes upwards of 30 minutes because of that.

Definitely we’ll go the ECC route (not sure yet if there’s a big issue with getting just 1 stick of 32GB… if it is, we’ll get 2x 32GB to make sure we have enough).

The CPU is not set in stone yet, we’re juggling between 5950x, 5800x or 3950x (if found at a big discount).

You answered your question. Thread Ripper. You need to support more than 64GiB of Ram with 10 people based on memory usage going to swap and you need more cores if you are going to support ten people and run all of that stuff in the background. Also, will need two sticks no matter how much RAM you have for performance.

If you can swing it, you may be able to get a first gen Epyc server for about 2000 Eros that is being decommissioned at a data center.

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your main issue is memory bandwidth, a single dimm will starve a threadripper/epyc system
consider going with a board with 2 dimms per channel and picking a smaller memory density like 16GB, so you can get 2x sticks for roughly the price of 1, or if you splurge 4 sticks for the price of two, this
“should” be cheaper and will be better for memory bandwidth

if you plan on expanding the ram very soon after then stick with high density but only if you’re going to upgrade shortly after


All of the people likely won’t build at the exact same time, so even with 10 people you can expect less builds at any given point. Waiting in queue is not bad as long as up to something like 5 minutes or so. But if your builds are as heavy as you’re describing, Ryzen is likely not going to cut it. Plus, you’re going to be running other services, that need to stay performant while those builds are in progress. You probably need VMs that don’t steal each other’s CPU time so that means enough cores and memory to stay comfortable. Yep, sounds like ThreadRipper or Epyc in a perfect scenario.

Though if your team is staying small for a while, I’d probably be against spending much $$$ too early. That’s for you to know and decide anyway. Hardware gets out-of-date, if you spend a lot and not get 100% out of it, that’s money wasted IMO.

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Tru.dat FAQs!

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Yea… we would go for Threadripper in a heartbeat if the price wouldn’t be twice as much as a Ryzen server.

The builds seem heavy but it’s because the CPU is always at ~60% usage due to GitLab and the CPU is a poor i5 3470.

For now, the solution looks to be to get a decent Ryzen server with 2x 32GB ECC memory and, once that’s overwhelmed move to getting a proper server cabinet and an Epyc-based machine.

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Are the first gen Epyc servers good enough for this? How do they compare with the current gen Epyc/Threadripper or even Ryzen? Also, if you can point me to some websites I can look for those decommissioned servers it would be great! (So far, only refurbished Intel based servers I found). Thank you!

I’d recommend a second-hand first or second gen TR

might get you way more performance with pci lanes and 10 people

The first gen Epyc traded blows with what Intel had. they did not win everything but they were the best performance/price. Second Gen trounces Intel.

But you can get first gen for a steal, at least here in the USA.

My server hands on experience is limited, but my general experience of PCs in business is over a very long period - since ~1975.

My instinct agrees with this tentative approach.

things that stand out most to me are

modern is good - its well worth having. Dont waste ur time on old tech when there is new tech at fair value now. Limit gambling on future proofing, but if better/newer exists NOW as good value mainstream, then grab it.

the power that you can have very cheaply from x570 AM4, is an incredibly stark contrast to the limited power you have now. The contrast is so great, it seems a bit silly to fuss about having the expensive latest and greatest cutting edge stuff.

do you really have or want to spend the money modern TR takes?

As I say, my practical server experience is limited, but that seems a big shopping list of tasks/apps to run smoothly & concurrently on one rig? Some may be better farmed out to some repurposed networked PC from ur office to hum away undisturbed in a cupboard somewhere.

To this amateur, it seems a lot of apps that could get in each others way while ur going thru a learning curve on many of them - just saying

The essence of what I say, is that x570 is a breed apart from other am4 mobos (b550 or 400 series) due to an extra 16 chipset lanes, double the shared bandwidth for chipset (8GB/s vs a barely adequate 4GB/s), & consequently, more and better ports like sata/nvme/wifi/usb/pcie 4/…

x570 is a poor mans TR - a great value mid point between desktop & TR, at consumer prices (~$250 newegg for ~Asus bifurcatable dual PCIE slot as above).

add an 8 lane gpu - prefer pcie 4 - leaving an 8 lane slot free in reserve or a file server like sata controller, or 2x powerful nvme as discussed above.

add a 2x 32GB ram kit (dunno about ECC, but regular 3200 cl16 kits are sub $200 on newegg - a steal), which can be re-used on a subsequent switch to TR or epyc later. TR allows a duplicate kit be added to double capacity.

even a 12 core 3900x ~$400, is a monster vs what u have, & has all the above TR like benefits. it can be bought readily w/o any indeterminate wait for Zen 3 cpu supplies to improve - maybe a black friday bargain or used from a zen 3 upgrader? You retain an upgrade path to 16 core zen 3 if needed - a simple swap.

add a case & PSU etc., & u have a very powerful assemblages of resources to throw at the apps u decide on.

when and if that runs out of steam, your options will be considerably advanced & cheaper by then. Buying time like this can be money well spent. Buying options u MAY need later, is pure guesswork.


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