Technology has come very far over the years, finally, we can consolidate all of our physical machines into virtual machines. The benefit of this is huge as we save on hardware & electrical costs all while simplifying management. In this article I will share with you, the hardware I have used for my home server build as well as all of the costs associated with it. But first, let’s get into why you would want to build a home server and it’s many applications.
Why Do I Need A Home Server?
There are many advantages of having a home server but its primary usage will solely depend on the user. Here are some of the many uses of a typical home server.
- video surveillance (dedicated video recording, Blue Iris)
- print server (dedicated server for holding print jobs while home & away)
- file storage & backup (digital storage for all of my important paperwork)
- home media server (Plex media server)
- home lab setup (ESXI hypervisor, Virtual Networking, VLAN’s, etc)
- router (virtualized router using pfSense)
I personally use my server for many of the things listed above. It would definitely cost me a lot of money in energy if I were to have an individual appliance for each of the above applications. That’s where virtualization comes to play, VMware ESXI allows me to run multiple servers in a single physical machine. Now there are many other virtualization hypervisors out there that you can use such as Hyper-V & Zen. I personally like ESXI and it is also free like Hyper-V & Zen. Although, Hyper-V is free assuming you own a Windows Server license.
ESXI Home Server Build – Parts, Performance & Energy Efficiency
While picking out the parts for this VMware server, I wanted to strike a balance between energy use and performance. This server will be on 24/7 so power efficiency was very important. Here are the parts I’ve used for this build & a short description of why I have used these in my build.
Processor – Intel Xeon E3-1231 V3 is a 3.4 GHz processor that is robust and energy-efficient. This processor has a max energy consumption of 80 watts which makes it perfect for an ESXI home server build.
Case – Fractal Design Node 804 is an amazing case, with plenty of room for all of your drives, and very well built. You can fit up to 10 – 3.5″ drives and still have room for all of the cable management. The compartmentalized design of this case is genius which separates the CPU/Motherboard and drives sections.
Power Supply – I went with a Seasonic power supply due to their quality reputation and I wanted something modular for my case, taking this route helped tremendously with cable management.
Memory – You can use NON-ECC memory on this board. I went with the ECC memory because I may convert this into a FreeNAS/TrueNAS box later. Also, the added protection doesn’t hurt for a small price difference.
Motherboard – Supermicro X10SL7-F is a pretty well-built board, it does include some of the nicer things server motherboards come with such as IPMI. It includes a built-in LSI RAID controller and a built-in USB 3.0 header on the motherboard. The built-in USB 3.0 header is perfect for ESXI/TrueNAS installations.
Hard Drives – Western Digital Red – 6TB – 5400 RPM drives are getting cheap so that is what I went with for my build. I find the RED drives to be more reliable for a RAID/Server build. Hard Drive capacity is more of a personal choice so I am listing links to 4 terabytes & 3 terabytes drive below as well.
BUY 4 TB WD RED DRIVES – Western Digital Red Pro 4TB 3.5-Inch 7200rpm 64MB Cache NAS Hard Drive (WD4002FFWX)
BUY 3 TB WD RED DRIVES – WD Red 3TB NAS Hard Disk Drive – 5400 RPM Class SATA 6 Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5 Inch – WD30EFRX
RAID Controller – LSI MegaRAID SAS 9270-8i is the hardware RAID controller of my choice. Super Micro’s built-in RAID controller is pretty good if you manage to flash it to an HBA for TrueNAS. I will be going with a half RAID-10 and half RAID-6 setup thus needing a dedicated controller.
Cooler – I went with the Noctua NH-U9S, I know it is an over-kill for my Xeon. I wanted something durable as this server will be running 24/7.
ESXI Server Power Consumption Tips
What is the energy consumption like on this ESXI home server build?
My server with 8 hard drives and 1 solid-state drive doesn’t go past 130 watts of power at the most, this is even lower when processor utilization is low. The Xeon 1231-V3 is a workhorse so my server doesn’t even use up half of the CPU resources most of the time. For those of you who are wondering, I am running a pfSense VM and a Windows server 2012 R2 virtual machine. The Windows server handles the following tasks: file server, surveillance & plex media server. You can reduce your server power consumption even more by swapping traditional hard drives for SSD’s if possible.
Coming from an old AMD Phenom X4 build using 180 watts of power, this was a major improvement for me. Although, AMD processors have gotten much better nowadays with the introduction of Ryzen using just 65 watts of power and a ton of cores.
So why didn’t I go with a Ryzen build you ask?
I wanted enterprise hardware reliability and features like IPMI & ECC memory for my home server. Also, since I am running VMware ESXI, I wanted this build to have full compatibility with the hardware that I am using. During this process, I will also gain knowledge handling ESXI and other VMware products, and that experience is valued in the enterprise world. If you have any questions please comment below and please share your home server build or specs with us, thank you for visiting.