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pigr8

[Gen8 Renovation] Going for ESXi 6.5b 24/7

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pigr8

It's been a while since i made some upgrades to the Gen8, and now that a new cpu is coming in had to mod some stuff to make the server ready

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I had in the past the cpu swapped to an i3-3220T that is working wonderfull for my needs, the OS was a simply XPEnology 6.1 baremetal with 4 disk, since now i'm switching this machine to ESXi and virtualize everything i bought a E3-1265L to have vt-d support but before it even arrives i wanted to change the cooler.
I saw Spivak here on the forum use a Noctua low profile cooler that seems really good https://homeservershow.com/forums/topic/6170-active-cpu-cooling-for-the-gen8/?do=findComment&comment=108965 This it the stock NH-L9i

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It's a classic 75mm x 75mm LGA1155 cooler and we know that this is not gonna work on the Gen8 mainboard, that uses 75mm x 65mm pattern.. so i made the same mod that did to make it mount.

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The mounting brackets in the Noctua can be removed with 4 screws so with a bit of diy those can be shortened by 10mm cutting them in the middle and drilling new holes, so the cooler can be attached.

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And after some cutting and drilling this is the result.. on one side i made a hole bigger so that those can be fine adjusted if needed.

 

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The clearing is ok, the screws are countersunk so no they will not in the way :)

 

Since the cooler is to low it has to be secured to the board from underneath, retaining the stock mounting holes/spacers but drilling thru them to remove the thread so that the provided screws can fit properly.

 

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Here it is, mounted and everything clears, contact is 100% :) space from the cooler to the first ram slot is more than enough, ram sticks can be installed with no problems with the cooler on.

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Now comes the disassebly of the Gen8, stripping it down to metal and nothing more.. i took some time to check what to cut and where, my intentions were to remove ALL the metal from the ODD space since i will never install a legacy device like that in my server, reroute and rewire all the cables and connectors and make space for a 5th hdd in that space.. so i took the disk grinder and the dremel cutting what i need, that is the result:

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Detailed image from the space made in the metal.. all the edges are sanded so no cable can be damaged, or my fingers....

 

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Started to install the PSU back in his spot, figuring out where to reroute all the cables since some of them cannot go where they where before

 

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In the space i made i'm going to install an old 5.25" to 3.5" Akasa bay i used back in the days with my N40L, cutting it to my needs to fit it properly

 

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Here i will be installed the 5th WD Red i have, and all of them will connect to the mainboard sata controller in AHCI mode, now only 4 drives are in the removable bays in front but here i will put the 5th one.. plenty of space left to mount it and secure it with 4 screws!

 

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Time for some splicing and soldering, i used the two rails coming out from the PSU 1. to bring power to the whole HDD block (4 over backpanel + 1) and 2. to bring power to other two sata disks later on.. i retained the two female - male sata molex connector from PSU -> HDD bay just because i had no female sata molex spare, if i had i would have upgraded them.

 

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Time to reinstall the mainboard tray, fixing the routing and check for clearance.. cables are fixed in place so the air flow is optimal, everything is shortened so no excessive slack will take unecessary space since this is it's final configuration.
In the PCI-e sloth is installed a simple ASMedia 2x sata3 card, those port will be used by a 16gb half size SSD and a 500gb HDD for ESXi and Datastore, both powered by the second sata molex rail i mentioned before.. those are held by me to show how those two drives will be placed, on the PSU side with a custom bracket just to hold them in place not permanently.

 

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This is the upper former ODD bay where the sata cables come to power and drive the 5th HDD when i migrate the baremetal to virtual setup.

 

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This is the other side, where the cooler clears everything and there is plenty of space for air.

 

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The system will be cooled by 2 Noctua fans, 1 on the top of the cooler that is 80mm i think (or 92mm, don't remember exactly), and 1 120mm SF120a in the rear, both are PWM and both will be attached to the stock connector on the mainboard using the ground-trick from MihaiT, they move soooo much air and are so much quiter than the old setup, the system now is very silent and cooler even with a 8core CPU.

ESXi will be installed (it's installed now) on the SSD, datastore for the VM are on the HDD where there is XPEnology running too, those two  -as i said - before are indipendent from the system on the ASMedia controller, the onboard SATA controller (the B120i in AHCI mode) will be passed through using vt-d to the XPEnology VM so everything is optimized.

To XPEnology will be passed through the USB controller too, and the serial port, but this last one not permanently.

Other VMs installed are pfSense (using the second nic of the Gen8 to go to the modem and the 100/20mb connection i have at home) that will be using 1 of the 8 core to handle AES-ni accelleration for an OpenVPN crypted tunnel, and other Linux VMs for a Reverse Proxy and a website hosting.

 

And this is it, hope you liked my approach and sorry for the bad english, it's not my native language :(

 

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davidgtk

Been thinking about doing the same for a while now. Is there no way to fit 2 drives up there?

 

Take it the two "bolts" (just below the connectors of the new drive) in the back of the driveplane keeps it in place and it will cause problems if they are removed (loose backplane)? Cutting those down would make it possible to fit 2 drives up top?

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