It’s been just over a year since I unboxed my Supermicro 5028D-TNT4 and setup my new homelab. A year is a long time in computing so I though I would write up some thoughts on how the server has performed for me and give some feedback on what’s worked and what hasn’t worked with having the Supermicro system as my homelab machine.
As a refresher, this is what I purchased…
I decided to go for the 8 core CPU mainly because I knew that my physical to virtual CPU ratio wasn’t going to exceed the processing power that it had to offer and as mentioned I went straight to 128GB of RAM to ensure I could squeeze a couple of NestedESXi instances on the host.
- Intel® Xeon® processor D-1540, Single socket FCBGA 1667; 8-Core, 45W
- 128GB ECC RDIMM DDR4 2400MHz Samsung UDIMM in 4 sockets
- 4x 3.5 Hot-swap drive bays; 2x 2.5 fixed drive bays
- Dual 10GbE LAN and Intel® i350-AM2 dual port GbE LAN
- 1x PCI-E 3.0 x16 (LP), 1x M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4, M Key 2242/2280
- 250W Flex ATX Multi-output Bronze Power Supply
In addition to what comes with the Super Server bundle I purchased 2x Samsung EVO 850 512GB SSDs for initial primary storage and also got the SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43 16GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive to install ESXi onto as well as a 128GB Flash Drive for extra storage.
One Year On:
The system has been rock solid however I haven’t been able to squeeze the two NestedESXi instances that I wanted to initially. 128GB of RAM just isn’t enough to handle a full suit of systems. As you can see below, I am running three NestedESXi hosts with NSX, vCloud Director and Veeam. The supporting systems for the NestedESXi lab make up the majority of the resource consumption but I also run the parent VCSA and domain controller on the server leaving me with not a lot of breathing room RAM wise.
In fact I have to keep a couple of servers offline at any one point to keep the RAM resources in check.
What I Wanted:
For me, my requirements where simple; I needed a server that was powerful enough to run at least two NestedESXi lab stacks, which meant 128GB of RAM and enough CPU cores to handle approx. twenty to thirty VMs. At the same time I needed to not not blow the budget and spend thousands upon thousands, lastly I needed to make sure that the power bill was not going to spiral out of control…as a supplementary requirement, I didn’t want a noisy beast in my home office. I also wasn’t concerned with any external networking gear as everything would be self contained in the NestedESXi virtual switching layer.
One Year On:
As mentioned above to get to two NestedESXi lab stacks I would have needed to double the amount of RAM from 128GB to 256GB however the one stack that I am running covers most of my needs and I have been able to work within the NestedESXi platform to do most of my day to day tinkering and testing. The CPU hasn’t been an issue and i’ve even started using some of the spare capacity to mine cryptocurrency…something that I had no intention of doing one year earlier.
In terms of the power consumption the Xeon-D processor is amazing and I have not noticed any change in my power bill over the last 12 months…for me this is where the 5028D-TNT4 really shines and because of the low power consumption the noise is next to nothing. In fact as I type this out I can hear the portable room fan only…the Micro Tower it’s self is unnoticeable.
From a networking point of view I have survived this far without the need for external switching while still being able to take advantage of the vSphere private VLANs to accomodate my routing needs within the system.
Looking at the WiredZone pages the SuperMicro systems haven’t really changed much in the past 12 months and prices seem to have stayed the same, however the price of RAM is still higher than when I purchased the system. For me you can’t beat the value and relative bang for buck of the Xeon-D processors. My only real issues where with not having a “management cluster” meaning that I had to take down all the systems to perform upgrades on the VCSA and hosts. To get around that I might consider purchasing a smaller NUC to run the core management VMs which would free up 16GB of RAM on the SuperMicro meaning I could squeeze a little more into the system.
All in all I still highly recommend this system for homelab use as it’s not only proven to be efficient, quiet and powerful…but also extremely reliable.