Choosing ideal mini server for a home lab, by Askar Kopbayev of VMware

There's this TinkerTry visitor who has been dropping a lot of insightful comments below various SuperServer articles lately. Like another VMware guy who reached out to me recently, it would seem that Askar Kopbayev is rather keen on getting just the right fit for his home lab needs.

I'm hoping to eventually get more Wiredzone Bundles created that will include the bits and pieces that make the new ownership experience just as smooth for SYS-E300-8D and SYS-E200-8D customers as it has been for the the original SYS-5028D-TN4T mini tower. TinkerTry'ing devices starts with my extensive testing, only then do I decide if it's suited for home lab use, and bundle-worthy.

Some folks like Askar just can't wait, and have already placed their orders for their mini Xeon D system and memory separately, without the BIOS upgrades, burn-in testing, handy extras, and free US shipping that bundles will likely soon add to the sweetness.


I now present to you Askar's wonderful new article filled with the thoughtful analysis and pictures that you've been craving, hot-off-the-press, pictured at right:

Power consumption

This can be pretty important thing to consider in some countries. I read funny stories when people happily buy full sized 1/2U servers, e.g. HP or Dell, for very good price and month later get surprised with electricity bill.

The first home lab server from Supermicro was SYS-5028D-TN4T on Xeon D-1540 and it made its way to VMware Hardware Compatibility List. I am inclined to believe that Mini-1U servers will soon get on VMware HCL too. Intel NUC isn’t on this list and the chances it will get there are very slim.

Hope this post gives you enough information to digest and will let you make an educated decision.

Let’s convert the homelab world from NUC to Supermicro.

About that last line. I would add that the move to more Xeon D solutions is likely from other vendors too, especially as folks come up with 3rd-party enclosures with cooling solutions that put out less noise. Even though Supermicro seems to have beat the others to market with the ultra-compact SYS-E200-8D (1GbE RJ45x2, 10GbE RJ45x2) and SYS-E300-8D (1GbE RJ45x2, 10GbE SFP+x2), there are very worthy competitors already shipping Xeon D motherboards too, such as the larger ASRock Rack board with RJ45 10GbE, and the Gigabtye board (1GbE RJ45x2, 10GbE SFP+x2). Such competition is good for everybody, and keeps Supermicro on their toes for the next time they engineer a Mini ITX enclosure, once they realize these aren't just for datacenters anymore.

My home datacenter demonstration rig status

I've fallen a little behind queue of tests I'm trying to squeeze in before my trip to VMworld 2016 in Las Vegas that's coming up in just two weeks, partly from a potential BIOS 1.1b/networking issue that took priority over everything else, and the scramble to come up with a Plan B after the news from Micron that they likely won't be able to provide the vSAN-compatible NVMe M.2 loaner SSDs quite in time for my planned all-flash vSAN demo at VMworld. It would seem they've joined Intel and Samsung in being not quite ready to ship next-gen M.2 NVMe.

On the bright side, you may want to check out the useful NUC/Supermicro comparison table I just published. Over time it will be enhanced, with rows added to include benchmark results, watt burn, and noise tests. I'm trying to get all this done under Windows 2016TP5 and VMware ESXi 6.0U2, both at idle, and under load.

So please stay tuned, as I continue to gather data on these loaners while also creating a compelling demo for VMworld complete with UPS, 1GbE and 10GbE networking and affordable vSphere home datacenter friendly DHCP/DNS/routing. It's a lot of fun being the (temporary) owner of the first SYS-E200-8D made, and my beloved original mini-tower sure has a lot of company lately, as seen pictured below.

Oh, there's is that one more thing. But details on that will have to wait for another day...

See also at TinkerTry

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See also


Yet another VMware employee who is also an accomplished blogger at


And finally, a TinkerTry visitor with a lot of first-hand experience. Thank you Victor H!