Home Lab 2016 – Part 2

| 15/03/2016 | Tags:

Home Lab 2016 – Part 2

Welcome back for Part 2 of my Home Lab 2016 Series.  I hope that you enjoyed my previous post, Part 1 from last week, where I covered the basis of my home lab and presented the Bill of Materials (BOM) for my mini-datacenter environment.

Today I am bringing you Part 2 and will cover the actual physical build process, putting together the components to build each ESXi host server.  I hope you’re as excited as I am!

Beginning with the case, I chose to go with the Supermicro CSE-504-203B which has the motherboard backplane and all connections at the rear of the case, instead of the CSE-505-203B which has everything in the front of the case.  I wanted to have more of a cleaner look to my rack enclosure, and the best thing about these cases is that they come with a 200W High-efficiency “80 Gold Level Certified” power supply!

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The next component to go into this case is the motherboard.  I chose the Supermicro A1SAi-2750 with an Intel ATOM “System on a Chip” (SoC) CPU.  This is a 20W, 8-Core processor, is compatible with “Westmere” VMware Enhanced vMotion Compatibility mode, and supports a maximum of 64GB DDR3  RAM in (4) DIMM sockets!  I went ahead and maxed the RAM on each board with (4) 16GB Micron MEM-DR316L-CL02-ES16 DDR3 1600MHz ECC 204-pin 1.35V SO-DIMM chips.

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Since I wanted to have redundancy for all my network connections, as per “best practices”, I decided to install an Intel I350-T4 quad-port NIC.  Unfortunately, even with the low-profile mounting brackets that come with the cards, they simply would not fit in a small 1U case, as they are designed to be installed horizontally.  I picked up a couple of Supermicro RSC-RR1u-E8 PCI-E x8 riser cards which would allow me to insert the NICs properly.


Next, came the disk drives to run ESXi as well as VM’s, in a VSAN cluster, for management machines if I wanted to move them off of my shared storage device.  I also wanted to have the ability to create a VSAN environment for testing and educational purposes (i.e.: VCP/VCAP certifications).  I decided to utilize the onboard USB 3.0 socket and installed a SanDisk Ultra Fit 16GB USB 3.0 flash drive to run ESXi, after all…this is a lab right?  For my VSAN drives, I decided to pair a Kingston SSDNow V300 series 120GB SATA III SSD with an HGST Travelstar Z7K500 500GB 7200RPM HDD


In order to stack them together, I picked up a Supermicro MCP-220-00044-0N HDD Converter bracket.

Here is the end result of the insides after all the components above were installed.

Once I had the first server built, I powered it on to ensure it was in working order before continuing on and building the remaining (3) hosts.  Afterwards, I decided to tidy things up a bit further, zip-tying cables, etc. for a cleaner look, before closing up the cases to place them in my rack enclosure.

Please stay tuned for Part 3, where I will quickly cover my networking and storage solutions!  Thanks for stopping by!

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