Intel NUC-like micro servers with 4 or 8 1GbE/10GbE ports? Introducing Supermicro SuperServer SYS-E300-8D and E200-8D powerhouses, Xeon D-1518/1528 inside!

Posted by Paul Braren on Jul 16 2016 (updated on Aug 10 2016) in
  • Virtualization
  • ESXi
  • HomeLab
  • HomeServer
  • Storage
  • This article is undergoing significant additions and revisions now that the unboxing has begun, refresh to see the latest tech specs, with significant updates added below.

    Excerpt from Supermicro site, re-sorted.

    I happened to be poking around Supermicro's New X10 UP Server & Storage Solutions page today, looking at various compact systems in the ever-expanding Xeon D-1500 family of SoCs. To my surprise, I suddenly spotted 2 new entries right up top as seen at right. These will both likely be of considerable interest to the home server enthusiast:

    • Supermicro SYS-E300-8D Product Page
      As of July 20th, ordering became available at Wiredzone. These bare-bones systems have not been "TinkerTry'd" yet and are not currently available as burn-in tested/memory-included bundles. Hoping to have an eval. E300-8D unit soon.

    • Supermicro SYS-E200-8D Product Page
      As of July 20th, ordering became available at Wiredzone. These bare-bones systems have not been "TinkerTry'd" yet and are not currently available as burn-in tested/memory-included bundles. Hoping to have an eval. E200-8D unit soon.
    Coming Soon, as seen on the "Supermicro New X10 UP Server & Storage Solutions" page.

    So world, what do you think, is this the Intel NUC disrupter you've been waiting for? How does 4 or 8 copper 1GbE ports and 2 copper or 2 SFP 10GbE ports sound?

    JUL 17 2016 Update

    Think SuperNUC! Admittedly, with 3 little fans in there, it will likely be louder than any Intel NUC, but a lot more capable.

    Looking carefully below, you'll see the differences between these new Mini-1U systems, with the original Mini Tower added below to provide a reference. I've resized Supermicro's images, approximating the same scale, so you can easily see relative sizes. I wish I had higher resolution images to work with, but they just don't seem to be available yet.


    What I really like about this Xeon D platform growth is the commonality that is likely, with operational tasks likely to be very nearly identical across all these models, such as simple ESXi installation onto USB from iKVM. The only OS level significant difference is likely to be the which Intel NIC model is used (1GbE copper, 10GbE copper or FC/SFP).

    Check out the Intel IoT site for the SYS-E200-8D.

    Note that the Supermicro full model designation is actually SYS-E300-8D and SYS-E200-8D, with the SYS meaning it's a NUC-like kit that just needs you to add RAM and storage before you can power up and install your OS. The turn-key bundles add some extras like pre-installed and tested memory.

    Bullet lists below highlight the features that differ between these models. Systems appear in ascending order of estimated computing power, based on CPU core count and L3 cache.

    JUL 18 2016 Update

    Preliminary Analysis

    Keep in mind these SYS-E300-8D and SYS-E200-8D systems aren't available for pre-order anywhere yet, and I have not had a first-hand look myself. But there is so much commonality with the existing Xeon D-1500 line-up that I feel reasonably comfortable offering some of my thoughts and opinions now. See also my full disclosure below.

    It can take years for the latest Core i7 chipset interfaces such as Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1, to make it into the stability-for-servers-first Xeon product line. Broadwell 14 nm is the basis for the entire Xeon D-1500 product line that began shipping in volume in mid 2015, not Skylake 14 nm. By the time Skylake technology is found in some Xeons, Skylake will likely have been replaced by Kaby Lake for the rest of the Core i3/i5/i7 world.

    If you're worried about expansion, keep in mind that the low-profile PCIe slot in the E300-8D (occupied by a 4 port NIC in the pictures that isn't mentioned in the specs) could offer potential for Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1/USB Type-C/other expansion at some future date. Also keep in mind that those 2 built-in copper (E200-8D) or 2 SFP 10GbE interfaces (E300-8D), coupled with a new quiet 10GbE switch that can handle either connection, could be a way to essentially create a RAID6 of ultra fast NVMe storage over 10GbE. This is better known as VMware VSAN.

    If full VMware support is important to you, note that VMware hasn't listed any Core i7 equipped systems on the VMware Compatibility Guide since 2013, as mentioned in my 11"x17" foam board poster below that I used during my recent set of 7 live demonstrations.

    Closing Thoughts (for now)

    If you're looking for the latest interface technologies in a small and quiet Windows gaming-capable system that can also be used as server, only the latest NUC, the Intel NUC6i7KYK, offers full-speed M.2 storage.

    If you're looking for a compact virtualization server and don't need or want a watt-burning GPU, but you do need full-speed M.2 and a 2.5" drive bay and 10GbE future-proofing, then the E200-8D appears to be great choice, with extremely easy ESXi installation pretty much a given, since its sibling is on the VMware HCL.

    If you also want the E300-8D's PCIe slot, it will likely allow a low-profile efficient GPU like the NVIDIA K1200 for those that have non-GRID non VT-d GPU needs, or the AMD VisionTek Radeon HD7750 for full VMware VT-d/passthru support. I've successfully tested both GPUs in the nearly identical SYS-5028D-TN4T, drawing about 45 or 65 watts respectively, at maximum GPU benchmarking stress.

    We know that an Intel NUC6i7KYK currently goes for about $650 USD, without memory or storage. The 8-drive-capable Supermicro SYS-5028D-TN4T mini tower goes for about $1200, also without memory or storage.

    The SYS-E300-8D has more ports but no drive bays and fewer cores, so it should be priced well under $1000. Two more cores and more L3 cache will likely mean the smaller SYS-E200-8D will come in somewhere closer to $1000 than people are hoping for.

    I realize not everybody wants or needs "production level" performance, and are better off going for a proof-of-concept configuration for the fewest dollars. The Core i5 NUC6i5SYH would still likely be a great choice, as long as its limitations aren't issues for your needs.

    The list of server specs has now been updated, and moved here:


    See also at TinkerTry

    See also

    Wikipedia entries for Mini-ITX and Flex ATX.


    Disclosure, LLC is an independent site, has no sponsored posts, and all ads are run through 3rd party BuySellAds. All equipment and software is purchased for long-term productive use, and any rare exceptions are noted.

    TinkerTry's relationship with Wiredzone is similar to the Amazon Associates program, where a very modest commission is earned from each referral sale from TinkerTry's SuperServer order page. I chose this trusted authorized reseller for its low cost and customer service, and a mutual desire to help folks worldwide, including a new way to reduce EU shipping costs. Why? Such commissions help reduce TinkerTry's reliance on advertisers, while building a community around the Xeon D-1500 chipset that strikes a great balance between efficiency and capability.

    I personally traveled to Wiredzone near Miami FL to see the assembly room first-hand, and to Supermicro HQ in San Jose CA to share ideas and give direct product feedback.

    I'm a full time IT Pro for the past 23 years. I've worked with IBM, HP, Dell, and Lenovo servers for hands-on implementation work across the US. Working from home lately, I'm quite enjoying finally owning a lower-cost Supermicro solution that I can recommend to IT Pro colleagues, knowing it will "just work." That's right, no tinkering required.