Updates to this article below
The Supermicro SuperServer 5028D-TN4T motherboard and CPU installed come pre-installed in a compact chassis with a 250 watt power supply, all pre-wired and ready to boot, complete with a 3 year warranty.
Most places you buy this system, it arrives bare-bones, which means there's no hard drives, no operating system, and no license for an operating system. It's also bring your own memory.
That means you have some shopping to do, and it's pretty straight forward, seen in the detailed recommendations below, with a list that is likely to grow over time. Feel free to drop a comment below with suggestions and feedback.
While I enjoy being a cautious-but-early adopter, I'm also looking forward to an expected large community of folks who invest in this same exact server set up. This will greatly help us all help each other. Along with the open comments below all TinkerTry articles, there's a new forum dedicated to this little SuperServer that could.
Supermicro SuperServer 5028D-TN4T
Not available on Amazon or Newegg, I got my system (CPU/mobo/power/mini-tower pre-assembled), at Wiredzone for the reasons outlined here.
Some resellers will offer you some configuration options before its shipped, including memory and drives, explained here. But their price uplift tends to be rather steep. If you're comfortable installing your own memory and drives, you can save hundreds of dollars by buying those items separately. Videos I'll be producing soon show how very easy it is.
Memory (~$250 each)
32 GB Samsung DDR SDRAM (minimum qty. 2, max qty. 4, ensure all are identical part#)
Supermicro approved Samsung 32GB DDR4 DIMM
If you buy any smaller size DDR4 DIMMs, you'll have to toss them aside once you get to the point where you want to upgrade to the full 128GB memory that this little beast allows. So I'd strongly recommend starting with a pair of 32GB DIMMs. If you're at all serious about virtualization, and wish to juggle many VMs concurrently, especially memory heavy workloads that include MSDN's many beefy offerings like SQL Server or SharePoint Server, then invest in memory you can keep running for years to come. I know 32GB started to feel rather tight on my 4+ year old vZilla build, keeping me from going past about 8 VMs concurrently without starting to run into memory-starvation-related performance issues.
If you're buying your system from Wiredzone anyway, for the reasons I outlined here, you can get 32GB Memory DIMMs there too, the Manufacturer Part # M393A4K40BB0-CPB that Supermicro lists, at a better than average price.
Same DIMMs for about $20 more (per DIMM) on Amazon
Last week, these weren't even available on Amazon yet.
Same DIMMs for about $80 more (per DIMM) on Newegg
Storage (up to 8 drives total!)
6 TB Western Digital Red WD60EFRX (~$250)
Just one of many big drives you may want to consider is what I use for my daily Veeam, Nakivo, and other daily PC backups appliances I'm testing. Eventually, it may get re-purposed for deployment in a NAS.
Insert whatever drives you wish, ideally whatever you already own, so you can save up for the upcoming 4x speed Samsung SM951 M.2 NVMe SSD that will fit right into the motherboard that comes equipped with a
- 1 M.2 drive socket (M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4, M Key 2242/2280) OR 1 SATA DOM (yellow SATA port on motherboard) (BIOS doesn't allow both, if the M.2 is AHCI device like some Samsung SM951 SSDs. Modern NVMe drives like the Samsung 950 PRO M.2 NVMe are not AHCI.)
Meanwhile, you can also fit up to:
- 4 3.5" drives (4 removable 3.5" drive carriers included, can be replaced with optional 2.5" carriers)
- 2 2.5" drives (Hot Pluggable, but requires screwdriver/bracket that's inside the case)
- 1 PCIe (PCI-E 3.0 x16 (Low Profile) slot) for more storage, or other expansion needs, and 1 M.2 drive.
with all 6 SATA3 drives running at a full 6Gbps. In the BIOS, make sure all those SATA ports recognize your drives, and be sure they're also set to AHCI.
Note: if you use that 2nd side-mount 2.5" drive bay, you'll need to get a SATA3 cable to route to the yellow SATA DOM port on the motherboard.
That's up to 8 concurrent-use storage devices (4 3.5", 2 2.5", 1 M.2 SSD, 1 PCIe SSD) in a significantly-less-than-one-cubic-foot server. Not too shabby, eh? That Mini ITX form factor, paired with a versatile case, sure can fit a lot!
Operating System (~$200)
VMware vSphere 6.0 three 365-day ESXi 6.0 Hypervisor licenses
EVALExperience bundle that comes with many other VMUG benefits
OS choice is up to you of course, since Supermicro doesn't bundle an OEM license, a good thing for DIYers, less waste. With this much RAM, pretty typical you'll be using a hypervisor to make good use of it all, whether that's Hyper-V, VMware ESXi, or one of the many other good options available to you. Note that I went with fully licensed EVALExperience, with limited official support, but good VMTN community support.
D-Link DGS-1024A 24 port Gigabit Switch
If simple unmanaged efficient and quiet gigabit network switching is your thing, you'll find it hard to go wrong with these 8 to 24 port affordable models.
This Superserver has 2 1GbE ports and 2 10GbE ports, and one 1GbE port dedicated to IPMI management.
Those 2 10GbE ports can be used as 1GbE ports, assuming VMware & Intel complete their driver).
So you'll need to use up to 5 ports of this network switch right away.
It's not good if you're planning to go with bonding multiple ports, but personally, I'd rather save for a 10GbE switch, should I someday have more than one of these 10GbE equipped servers.
See also the TinkerTry exclusive Superguide: Efficient hardware for your home network.
Third-Party Accessories (compatibility tested)
I've tested Sandisk Ultra Fit flash drive extensively, and the USB Motherboard Header Adapter works on this motherboard with that flash drive just fine, but this motherboard socket is USB 2.0 only. There is (barely) enough clearance from adjacent connectors, and plenty of room above for bigger USB flash drives.
Patrick Kennedy recently said this about the included thumb-screws.
Would like to have seen a sixth SATA cable/ power connector and thumb screws used for the ability to open the chassis in a tool less manner.
Those new thumbscrews (on order) should allow me to skip the need for a screwdriver, while still solidly securing the cover to the chassis.
I'll need update this article with my experience with the APEVIA Case Speaker, since it hasn't arrived yet. I'm actually not sure of the BIOS of this system supports POST beep codes, which could have been somewhat helpful when I intentionally put the 2 DIMMs in the white sockets (2 DIMMs should go into blue sockets), noticing that the web-based IPMI status doesn't work, in that particular scenario. I'm just curious really. If it doesn't work, I can use this tiny speaker for my gZilla build.
Oct 12 2015 Update - If you don't see the list of Amazon items displayed below, you'll need to whitelist in your Ad Blocker. My apologies about any mixed http/https content warnings you may get, since this Amazon list doesn't yet fully support https sites. I also have an (older) screenshot of the list.
Third-Party Accessories (incompatible)
The "quakeproof" SMAKN mSATA to M.2 adapter.
Remember my plan to buy some time to save for NVMe, just in case it becomes sort of affordable? Well, it was in that mind set that I figured why not re-use an mSATA drive I already own, and tuck it nicely right onto the motherboard, using a little adapter.
Well, during the unboxing video, you'll see me embarrass myself when realize I couldn't possibly get this "B + M key" adapter to work, with the motherboard having a PCI slot that's just too close by. Explained here. Would need about 3 mm more clearance, an "M key" or "B + M key" adapter that's 3 mm narrower. I won't be holding my breath for that. Oh well, the only "sad trombone" moment really since buying this server just a few days ago, hardly a big deal.
JUL 01 2015 Update
Good news, the APEVIA Case Speaker works just fine, with POST beeps working just as the BIOS finishes, as you'd expect. Not super loud, but easily heard through the front bezel. Nice prompt that comes about 40 seconds after power up, letting you know it's time to hit Del to get into setup. A bit of foam tape can stick it down to the floor of the chassis, staying out of your way.
JUL 02 2015 Update
Reviewing the SYS-5028D-TN4T parts list, sure looks like the 8.27in 30AWG SATA S-S Cable would work nicely for that side-mount internal 2.5" drive. I'm also looking into the 3.5in HDD to 2.5in HDD Converter Tray to allow hot-swap/hot-plug of a 2.5" SSD. Doing a bit of sluething, the included 4 drive caddy/drive trays are listed here as MCP-220-00075-0B, and the replacement I'm thinking about as MCP-220-00043-0N. Both of these parts are both listed on this one Supermicro product site, so it's likely to work just fine.
JUL 06 2015 Update
I will be trying out 2 more Amazon items, to ensure compatibility, and add to my system's versatility
- mSATA SSD to M.2 (NGFF) Adapter Card with FFC Cable
- SATA HDD to M.2 NGFF Socket Adapter Converter Card
JUL 08 2015 Update
I'm elated to report that not only does this GPU/video handle 3 outputs in a tiny form factor with low watt burn, but also that it fits in nicely, runs cool, and it works with ESXi 6.0 VT-d (passthrough)!
Here's the way to install it, pretty simply and easily
- back the screw out a few turns, on the back of the case, right above the PCI backplate cover
- unscrew the backplate cover, long magnetic Philips #3 is best, removing the screw and backplate
- if you have installed a speaker, set that header aside, temporarily
- insert rear of 7750 in to the rear backplate area, crouch low to see the PCI slot as you slowly rotate into position above the slot, making sure to clear the drive backplane above, you'll need to angle the entire board a bit to get it lined up with the PCI slot
- once situated in the slot, you'll be able to get the car upright, clearing the drive backplane above the card
- use two fingers to apply even downward pressure, it should pop into the PCIe slot
- re-use the removed backplate screw to fasten the board
- attach your monitor to the appropriate port on the back, I used the bottom HDMI hole
- optionally you can go into the BIOS using iKVM, and set the BIOS to prefer PCIe Video, but that disables iKVM, so it's best to leave it alone and just iKVM for BIOS access.
A magnetized philips screwdriver is very handy, for things like removing that PCI backplate, or the motherboard's M.2 screw without dropping it onto the motherboard, as seen in my M.2 install video. How about one so long it can easily go straight down from the top of the chassis (with the cover off), without having to worry about trying to jam your hands inside the chassis? It's a bit too long, I know, but it works very well, and it's affordable and very hard to lose! I use just the #2 Philips of the 3 piece set every time I'm working inside my SuperServer. You probably shouldn't use the magnetic tip near your hard drives.
Supermicro SuperServer 5028D-TN4T
Not available on Amazon or Newegg, I got my system (CPU/mobo/power/mini-tower pre-assembled) at Wiredzone for the reasons outlined here. If you appreciate the information and videos you've found here at TinkerTry, and you decide to buy, please consider using the above link.
Supermicro SuperServer 5028D-TN4T Photo Gallery
JUL 01 2015
- Intel Xeon D-1500 crams incredible virtualization lab specs into tiny mITX size, codename Broadwell-DE
MAR 09 2015
- Superguide: Home virtualization server enthusiasts' colorful variety of ESXi whiteboxes
JAN 05 2015
- Supermicro SuperServer 5028D-TN4T User's Manual
JUN 01 2015, by Supermicro
Supermicro SYS-5028D-TN4T Review small box – big power
MAY 13 2015, by Patrick Kennedy at Serve The Home
Intel Xeon D – Intel SoC Changing the low end with Broadwell-DE
MAR 09 2015, by Patrick Kennedy at Serve The Home
- Supermicro X10SDV-TLN4F Review – A must get platform
APR 13 2015, by Patrick Kennedy at Serve The Home, here's an excerpt:
With four port Ethernet (two 10Gbase-T and two 1Gbase-T), solid storage m.2 PCIe x4 and 6x SATA III, a fast and low power CPU (Intel Xeon D-1540) and 128GB of RAM, the Supermicro X10SDV-TLN4F is a must get platform. For those still using Intel Xeon L5520 or L5620 generation processors, one can get more performance in less than half of the power and space footprint which is astounding. For those that always wanted more than the Xeon E3 line could offer in terms of their limited RAM capacity (practical 32GB limit) and core count (4C/ 8T max), this is the answer.
- Buying An M.2 SSD? How To Tell Which Is Which
APR 07 2014, by MARSHALLR
My apologies for the mixed content warnings you may get for just this one article above. Related to the Amazon widget above, and I'm working with their support to help resolve this side-effect of being an all-https site that is already SPDY enabled today, with plans for an even "better, faster, stronger" HTTP/2 by 2016!