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HP Gen 8 Xeon vs. Homebuilt i5


Don W
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I am really on the fence about buying a Gen8 and have never had a Xeon processor. I just built a new Homeaserver about 6 months ago and it is doing great but I can re-purpose that machine into a family PC, I love the idea of having the Gen8 Hot-Swap HD trays. My Home server is on 24/7, I am really worried about data integrity. Is the swap over worth it??

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The Gen8 doesn't have hotswap bays, unless you put in a real RAID card like the P222.  Sorry.

 

Swap over worth it?  Absolutely not, you'd be going backwards from an i5.  An i5 is basically a Xeon minus the ECC RAM support, and some of the virtual functions.  

 

I had a Gen8 and never got on with it.  Too slow, too noisy, the iLO is pointless unless you get the advanced key for it, and even then it's pretty weak.  

 

I played with AsRock server boards, but I've finally (after a year of trying various boards until Amazon emailed me to tell me to stop sending stuff back) settled on a Supermicro board with an older Xeon E3-1240.  It's a Sandy Bridge S1155 CPU.  I'm using DDR3L-1600 ECC RAM in it, and though the CPU only supports DDR3-1333 it works fine with the faster RAM.  Supermicro's remote console is far better than HP's IMHO.

 

Note, I'm only using the ECC RAM because I bought it for the Gen8.  If I didn't have it, I'd be happily using normal RAM.  I've never, ever, ever seen ECC actually log a fault that it fixed in 8 years at work running ECC enabled workstations and servers.  ECC is a waste of time in home servers, and it's not essential on 24/7 workstations.  I'm not even convinced of it's function on servers most of the time.

 

I'd stick with what you've got, or you'll end up like me with a room full of expensive computer equipment I'll never use.  :rolleyes:

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What case is your X97 in?  If you had the available 5.25" slots on the front you could install an Icy Dock 5 in 3 Fat Cage and have hot swap capability right there for minimal incremental costs (could be a great BD or Anniv present :) )  

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817994155&Tpk=N82E16817994155 

 

https://youtu.be/-89O4cFvw7o

 

With an X97 and an i5 that has been running well for 6 months my inclination would be to stick with that.................

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... Supermicro's remote console is far better than HP's IMHO....

 

Something to bear in mind is that the Supermicro IPMI web based Java remote console relies on a binary (ATEN??) and as such isn't reliable on non-Windows systems...

 

Booting a Windows VM every time I wanted to use remote console got tedious very quickly.

 

AsrockRack server boards use a different IPMI Java remote console and Ive tested it working fine on Windows, OS X and Linux.

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The best way to take advice is to keep asking people ... until someone suggests the action you were going to take anyways :-)

 

1. In the UK a Kilowatt hour of electricity costs 16 pence.

So a Kilowatt year for 24/7 operations is 1.40 pounds.

So if you were to switch down from an i5 processor using (my guess) 65W to a low end Gen8 Microserver using 25W you would save £56 per year on power consumption.

In the UK the Gen 8 is on offer for £99!

OK, you need to do your own calculation for US prices and idle/active consumption balance.

[i'm gearing up for solar power, home-wise.]

 

2. The Gen8 disks are not hot-swap ... but the drives are easily accessible by opening the front door. Hot-swap is a luxury ... be good to have ... but really is a very minor consideration in most home setups. The kids can do their homework while you reboot the server and replace a disk!

 

3. If you need another family PC ... then the current fileserver is much better suited to a desktop workload. 16GB RAM? Jeez, I've edited gigapixel images with 6GB in Photoshop and still had memory to spare. My first Microserver was 1.2GHZ AMD, 1GB  RAM, Windows 7 ... and it still pumped out 100MBs as a fileserver.

 

The Gen8 has 2 network ports: so you can cable up for 200MBs transfer to your workstation (if it too has dual LAN ports), see SMB Multichannel.

 

I like Joe's SSD mod but not because it offers SSD disk speeds (which are not generally required), but because it leaves all 4 disks bays for RAID and such and doesn't compromise the thermal design of the Microserver. (Leave the 256GB drive in the family PC and buy a cheap 128GB SSD.)

 

4. I'd be interested to see some unbiased evidence that ECC is useless. Doesn't matter of course if you get a machine for £99!!

 

5. iLO? What's that? Remote Desktop to Windows Professional on the server for me. I only install the B120i RAID driver at bulld time ... Windows will find the USB 3 driver and graphics is remote so no need to install the Matrox. Heck, why not sign up for the Windows Insider program and try Windows 10? Might convert to W10 Pro FOC on July 29th <your alternative Windows license manipulation here>.

 

OTOH

6. Office 365 Home for 5 users is $73.25 p.a. in the US. Comes with unlimited OneDrive storage. Don't buy more servers, split your mirrors (you now have 12TB ... and potentially unlimited). Needs a good broadband connection. Let Microsoft buy the enterprise grade storage systems and worry about power and installation maintenance. Yeah, yeah, I know ... the indispensable system image backup functions in WHS are in constant demand and cannot be replaced by a scheduled job pumping data to a network share, or the new reset feature. If the server is down the kids need to download tonight's videos from OneDrive while they are doing their homework. 

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Note, I'm only using the ECC RAM because I bought it for the Gen8.  If I didn't have it, I'd be happily using normal RAM.  I've never, ever, ever seen ECC actually log a fault that it fixed in 8 years at work running ECC enabled workstations and servers.  ECC is a waste of time in home servers, and it's not essential on 24/7 workstations.  I'm not even convinced of it's function on servers most of the time.

Yeah. If its just a home server or just a regular web server then you probably won't care that much. Bugs in your software or OS will dominate the causes of crashes or incorrect operation. Its more of an issue if you're running an important financial application or require extremely high reliability + uptime where a random undetected bitflip or fault could cause massive issues. If you're doing those sorts of things then your requirements will be different anyway and you're going to investigate more advanced ECC systems.

 

I'd still spec for ECC RAM in any servers I order though just on the off chance it does help *shrug*

 

Read http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~bianca/papers/sigmetrics09.pdfif you want more information about how ECC helps and some stats on it.

Edited by GotNoTime
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