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Virtualization home lab server

Posted on 2015-01-30
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-23

I am thinking of buying this used server for my home lab. Its cost is around AUD $975 with the following spec. Please share your thoughts. I am looking to use the server to learn virtualization in depth. I also want to simulate some production environment before I deploy them in real production environment.

DELL POWEREDGE R710 Rackmount 2RU 2xQC E5520 2.26Ghz Server.
2x Intel E5520 5.86GT/s Quad Core  2.26Ghz 8MB Cache each  EM64T+VT ,Bus speed 1333MHz -Upgarded
MEMORY 64Gb (8x8GB) DDR3 R-DIMM Reg PC3-8500R
DELL PowerEdge SAS RAID Controller PERC 6i Dual Channel Built in+RAID Key
STORAGE  600Gb  as 2x300Gb SAS 15k 3.5" HOT-Pluggable drives- 6 drives capable
4x Gigabit FastEthernet 10/100/1000Base RJ-45 Built in.
DVD -RW  drive installed+2xUSB front access.
4xPCI-Express Extention slots (2-Riser cards), 2xUSB ports 2x POWER SUPPLY Installed.
Question by:Educad
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Expert Comment

by:Network Zero
ID: 40580927
Sounds good to me and has a lot of redundancy. With the 64 GB you can do a lot testing.  For the price sounds like a good deal - I would be concerned in testing the hardware since its used. I have a server with 16gb of ram that I use as my development server and I can get a lot done with it. Good luck.
LVL 123
ID: 40580931
Yes, a fine server for Hyper-V or VMware ESXi (it's on the Hardware Compatibility List), however designed for the datacenter, if you have any noise concerns, or budget for electricity usage - avoid, they consume a lot of electric, and are very noisy, as they are designed for Air Con Datacenters.
LVL 62

Expert Comment

ID: 40581153
Maximum power consumption is 1400W , or like permanently keeping water kettle boiling....
Typical home storage mini server will have tenth of that.

While it might sound like a good deal
1) There is no way it could be under warranty, and disks are 5y old
2) Are the PCIe riser cards intact?
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Expert Comment

by:Dawid Fusek
ID: 40581347
"Maximum power consumption is 1400W , or like permanently keeping water kettle boiling...."

Mate, did you install any 2U server last years? and go to back of it and measure air flow, air temp and power usage? Do you try to calculate what may use 1400W in a 2U 1 node server? Do you check R710 specs?

Dell R710 has come with 2 PS, 570W and 870W, on both PS, with 2CPU config, 18x8GB of RAM and 8x SAS 2.5" drives will use something around 200-240W when idle, and it will be (depends of CPU's) around 350-500W with max load, where is this 1400W???!!!

Dell R710 is a rack server, but it is not very noisy when not overheating and not loaded too much and as lot of servers when he don't have any expansion cards, when it have, same like HP DL it will start to be little more noisy that it should. So consider this when you will be looking for a place to it.

Generally Dell R710 is a good choice for Virtualization lab (when you have place for it with some airflow and temps below 27 deg. C.), same like HP DL380 G6, they're same generation servers.

best regards
LVL 62

Expert Comment

ID: 40581353
You dont run econometric models on those machines. Yes, idle power is around 200w, like 10 laptops.

Expert Comment

by:Dawid Fusek
ID: 40581389
yep, but 288GB of ram is something like 18 laptops :P, also r710 with 288GB of ram will be much cheper than 18 laptops with 16GB of ram each :P, also laptops dont have ECC mem, for any important data it's also an advantage of a server...:P

but, I agree (cos of power usage) and also like low power usage solutions and slowly looking for a laptops like or m-itx board solutions for home lab hypervisors (8 slow cores and 64GB of ram on single micro-ITX mobo at 35W max :P and 15W at idle), like this one:
but Atom like CPU cores are too slow for me, so still waiting.

LVL 62

Expert Comment

ID: 40581494
Electricity will level that out and old laptop disks (oh no - they are called server class disks) will fail soon if used at all...
It is really a risky business buying old server...
LVL 62

Expert Comment

ID: 40581504
HP microserver G8 costs like 500AUD
+200 for maximum memory

Expert Comment

by:Dawid Fusek
ID: 40581896

mate, what you are suggesting here...?
I based on used srv hw in my soho lab/DC from 10 years.
Server boards, hw and disks (SAS) are not witch such low quality like laptops (and cheap sata disks), it's (still, good for us) a way level higher quality than consumer hw.

In most cases if it working for 1 month after buy it will work for long time, but sure any eventual repairs especially to board will be costly (better to change for same from similar used server).

If one want to use server class hw, don't say it's worth nothing, it's not true mate.

LVL 123
ID: 40581961
Just to add, I know very few VMware vExperts, Geeks, Nerds call them what you will, which have purchased R710/R720s for Home Labs, because we've all been there and been "burnt" with high electrical costs, and noisy servers, when building labs, where we want to evaluate and have a minimum of 3 Bare Metal Servers.

So that's why *most*  VMware vExperts, Geeks, Nerds build home labs, on modest kit, of use VMware Workstation (AutoLab) to build labs for learning VCP up to VCDX and certifications, using Desktop Equipment, which is faster, lower noise, and later can be used as traditional workstations, and uses cheaper parts, than commercial dumped on eBay systems, marked as ESXi Lab Machine.

Popular for Labs are Intel NUC machines, or HP ML350e Gen8, just google VMware ESXi Whiteboxes!

Author Comment

ID: 40582901

Can I use normal desktop to build labs? But normal desktop are not in the Vmware HCL list..

Do HP ML350e Gen8 use less electricity than older servers?
LVL 123

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1000 total points
ID: 40582930
Yes, normal desktops, are not in the HCL.....

there are a list here, at fellow vExpert!!!


that's why we call them whitebox builds.....

Very few vExperts, have servers which are on the HCL, for Labs, because they are too expensive, noisy, costly to run, and WHY....

ESXi 5.5 is ESXi 5.5, whether it's in VMware Workstation, or Dell R720, it does the same function, and you'll still get your VCP.....

Check the VMware Hardware Compatability Lists HCL here

The VMware Hardware Compatibility List is the detailed lists showing actual vendor devices that are either physically tested or are similar to the devices tested by VMware or VMware partners. Items on the list are tested with VMware products and are known to operate correctly.Devices which are not on the list may function, but will not be supported by VMware.


Whitebox HCL

The Whitebox Hardware Compatability Lists is a list put together by the community that have had success with whitebox servers, e.g. unbranded or homebrew, DIY servers, which have been found to work with VMware Products.


Ultimate Whitebox

The Ultimate Whitebox Hardware Compatability Lists is a list put together by the community that have had success with whitebox servers, e.g. unbranded or homebrew, DIY servers, which have been found to work with VMware Products.


VMware Communities

This list is maintained and put together by members of the VMware community forum, that have had success in building whitebox servers.


Assisted Solution

by:Dawid Fusek
Dawid Fusek earned 1000 total points
ID: 40582936

You can use normal desktop, or even laptops to build a labs, even they are not on HCL, but first you have to check that they working stable with ESXi and if you see NIC's and local storage. The advantage is less power usage (laptops), ut disadvantages are slower less stable local storage, non ECC memory (mean any errors will corrupt your VMs and will probably make PSOD - Purple Screen of Death on ESXi) and in laptops single HDD (but you can connect USB drives, but not always working stable with ESXi, need to test.

HP ML Gen8 are really power efficient but minimal idle power usage (40-60W for Gen8 single cpu and 1 hdd) will still be more than on laptop (20-25W), but possibilities of expansion (RAM, HDD, CPU), stability and price per resources (RAM, HDD, CPU) is better for a Gen8 server than laptop or desktop (40-90W).

HP Gen8 servers will use less than Dell R710 (which is rather close to HP G6 series) from power usage perspective.

You can also use great HP Power Advisor tool to estimate Power Usage, Dell R710 is something like HP DL380 G6, tool can be downloaded here:
You may need to learn it, manual and usage guide is also at the link below. Remember to click config, then set utilization (5% is idle) and add Processor, Memory, Storage, eventual Expansion Cards and Power Supply.

Dell have similar tools but on webpage:
Dell Energy Smart Solution Advisor here:
Dell Datacenter Capacity Planer here:

best regards
LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Nagendra Pratap Singh
ID: 40583310
I used a core i3 + DH 55TC PC as my virtualization lab for few years now. I use Windows 8.1 on it now. It allows me to use hibernate with 16 GB RAM.

Anything server class is very expensive buy and  replace. Also if you are not running A 24 X 7 environment, then  there are other ways to get it cheaper. Besides,  you also need to consider the costs for storage/UPS etc.

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