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First Rackmount Build

Should I buy the server below?


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tl;dr: If you could spend ~$1,000 on a rackmount FreeNAS server, what would you buy?
________
Context: Hi Everyone! I've read a dozen different tutorials including the official FreeNAS hardware guides and posting on reddit, and I've gotten to the point where I'm just feeling lost from all the unfamiliar considerations with rackmount hardware. I currently run a gaming server on a VPS, a few small LAMP-stack website instances in the cloud, and I have a 6x8tb FreeNAS backup & media server that my siblings access over OpenVPN. I use a rackmount cabinet to keep all my equipment tidy because I live in an open floor plan apartment but I don't have any rackmount servers yet.

Goals: I want to purchase a rackmount server to separate my media server from my backup server, which I'll keep on my current FreeNAS box. I'd like to be able to run my gaming server off the new rackmount and experiment with virtualization a bit. I already have extra 3.5" drives so I'd prefer a case that fits them.

Limitations: Noise is a real concern because my apartment is essentially one giant room. I was hoping to spend about $1,000 but I can spend more if people think I should.

Plan:
Buy a used 4U Supermicro server off ebay and swap the fans and PSU to make it quiet(er). I won't need all the bays for the foreseeable future, so I think I can get away with this. I am looking at the one below and will consider asking for more, denser ram. I've found cheaper servers but they tend to use motherboards like the X9DRI-F that others on this forum have described as inadequate.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/4U-24-Bay-...-2660-8-Core-2-2Ghz-FREENAS-JBOD/142615793012

I'm new to rackmount hardware and I'm feeling paralyzed trying to compare between all the different, unfamiliar hardware options--I tend to learn best by doing. I've been looking at the waters for the last few months and at this point I just need to dive in.

Thank you for your patience. If there's a way I could make this post clearer, please let me know. If you have a better suggestion, tell me, and I will do as the forum wills it.
 

joeschmuck

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I think it's funny that the site is advertising this as a FreeNAS system. It is older hardware which means more power, more heat, more noise, slower CPU. The power supplies pictured have small fans in them, if you replace them for slower more quiet fans then how do you know that you will be cooling off the power supply properly? I think you will have a noise issue.

I think you need to specify your goals just a little more for the new server such as storage capacity and exactly how you are planning to run multiple servers on the one machine. Are you using ESXi or FreeNAS VMs. What kind of content are you streaming and how many streams do you need at once? All this kind of stuff factors into the process.

$1000 buys you a lot of present day machine without the hard drives, and a quiet machine at that.
 

Ericloewe

Server Wrangler
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Limitations: Noise is a real concern because my apartment is essentially one giant room.
This is a big one with rackmount. Even with modern PSUs, it's still an uphill battle to keep noise in check.
 

Stux

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Chris Moore

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tl;dr: If you could spend ~$1,000 on a rackmount FreeNAS server, what would you buy?
________
Context: Hi Everyone! I've read a dozen different tutorials including the official FreeNAS hardware guides and posting on reddit, and I've gotten to the point where I'm just feeling lost from all the unfamiliar considerations with rackmount hardware. I currently run a gaming server on a VPS, a few small LAMP-stack website instances in the cloud, and I have a 6x8tb FreeNAS backup & media server that my siblings access over OpenVPN. I use a rackmount cabinet to keep all my equipment tidy because I live in an open floor plan apartment but I don't have any rackmount servers yet.

Goals: I want to purchase a rackmount server to separate my media server from my backup server, which I'll keep on my current FreeNAS box. I'd like to be able to run my gaming server off the new rackmount and experiment with virtualization a bit. I already have extra 3.5" drives so I'd prefer a case that fits them.

Limitations: Noise is a real concern because my apartment is essentially one giant room. I was hoping to spend about $1,000 but I can spend more if people think I should.

Plan:
Buy a used 4U Supermicro server off ebay and swap the fans and PSU to make it quiet(er). I won't need all the bays for the foreseeable future, so I think I can get away with this. I am looking at the one below and will consider asking for more, denser ram. I've found cheaper servers but they tend to use motherboards like the X9DRI-F that others on this forum have described as inadequate.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/4U-24-Bay-...-2660-8-Core-2-2Ghz-FREENAS-JBOD/142615793012

I'm new to rackmount hardware and I'm feeling paralyzed trying to compare between all the different, unfamiliar hardware options--I tend to learn best by doing. I've been looking at the waters for the last few months and at this point I just need to dive in.

Thank you for your patience. If there's a way I could make this post clearer, please let me know. If you have a better suggestion, tell me, and I will do as the forum wills it.
That specific model is not a good solution.
We will need more information about your plans for how the server would be used.
What is the reason for a rackmount if it is a 1 room apartment.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I537 using Tapatalk
 

tvsjr

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959
I don't think I've ever seen a rackmount server that a. was of reasonable horsepower and had many drives inside, b. had adequate cooling, and didn't c. sound like a small jet turbine. In most cases, especially with anything off the shelf, it's simple not possible to get proper cooling in a rackmount chassis and also make it quiet.
 

Stux

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I don't think I've ever seen a rackmount server that a. was of reasonable horsepower and had many drives inside, b. had adequate cooling, and didn't c. sound like a small jet turbine. In most cases, especially with anything off the shelf, it's simple not possible to get proper cooling in a rackmount chassis and also make it quiet.

I think it is possible, if you're not using 7200 rpm conventional drives, and if the system is not heavily loaded.
 

Chris Moore

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tvsjr

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I think it is possible, if you're not using 7200 rpm conventional drives, and if the system is not heavily loaded.
It's possible, if you're willing to do lots of custom work. But most people I've seen try just go downsize the fans... "oh, it's a same CFM!"... forgetting about things like static pressure. That tends to result in hot drives and lots of weird hot spots throughout the system.

A thermal imaging camera is very helpful in these situations.
 

Chris Moore

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It's possible, if you're willing to do lots of custom work.
No, all you need to do is slow the factory fans and replace the passive CPU coolers with active models. I have done it with two servers and they are quiet enough that I have them sitting in my office 8 feet from my desk. Comfortably.
 
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Thanks for your patience, everyone! Work got busy.
We will need more information about your plans for how the server would be used.
I think you need to specify your goals...Are you using ESXi or FreeNAS VMs
  • Backing up family files accessed over OpenVPN: Currently 10tb and increasing. I'd like at minimum 8 3.5" drive bays, but more would be better as I'd like to be able to expand freely
  • Running a Minecraft server using an MCMyAdmin panel with ~10-20 players on per night
  • Maybe virtualizating a second game server, like Ark
  • Learning about virtualization in general
  • Possibly virtualizing pfsense in the distant future (need to understand more about possible security risks)
  • Possibly running a media server, though I think I'll keep those functions on my current freenas tower (so no need for streams currently)
  • I'm not sure what I would run the VM's on. I prefer open source for ideological reasons and might just use FreeNAS/freeBSD as a hypervisor, but I'm open to ESXi or VMware.
  • In general, I want to be able to experiment with this machine and see what it can do, so I'd prefer to have it slightly over-spec'ed if I can afford it. That's part of the fun for me.
What is the reason for a rackmount if it is a 1 room apartment.
I'm filling up a 6x8tb tower and if I want to go larger rackmount hardware has a better price point. I'd also like to learn more about rackmount hardware, personally.
if you replace them for slower more quiet fans then how do you know that you will be cooling off the power supply properly?
I was planning to replace the PSU as well, similar to this guy. FWIW I always keep my apartment at 68 degrees or colder.
I think it is possible [quiet and adequate cooling], if you're not using 7200 rpm conventional drives, and if the system is not heavily loaded.
I have mostly WD red's (5400 rpm) and I don't imagine the drives themselves will be under heavy strain with my usage. Additionally, most of the bays will be empty for the next year or two. Hopefully by then I'll have a house again (moved to a pricey city)
This is a better value and the hardware is better too.
I wanted that, but this guy in a FreeNAS forum post said that motherboard is inadequate. I don't know enough to say he's wrong :-/

e: grammar
 

Ericloewe

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Last edited:

Chris Moore

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Would you expect that would be a good system, or were you just pointing out that the server I'd selected was not even a good deal?

Thanks again, guys
The one I pointed out would be better because of the properly conforming part (the SAS controller) and because it has more RAM in addition to which it is less expensive.
 
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