As I noted a few weeks ago, I was pondering replacing my old trusty 10 year old server with something new and quieter. I finally settled on a https://silentpc.com/powerhouse-pcs/ryzen-powerhouse build from silentpc.com. Here’s probibly more than anyone wants to hear about it.
First, I could easily have built up a new machine myself, researching and ordering parts, carefully hitting them together and cabling things, but… I have done that a number of times in my life, and now mostly find it tedious. If thats the sort of thing you enjoy, then do go for it, but personally, I’m happy to pay overhead to a place like silentpc.com to let them source all the parts, get them all working nicely and cabled well.
I went with this machine for a number of reasons:
- I wanted something with enough drive bays for 3.5″ spinning rust so I could just move the 4 from my old machine. That would simplify migration and let me have some ‘slow’ storage for things like backups and such. This machine has 10 bays total. 1 used by a dvd drive, the others open.
- I wanted to go with an AMD cpu. I’ve heard a lot about the current gen being fast and power efficent.
- I wanted to start with 2 nvme drives, then add later a 4 nvme expander pci card. This MB should support that.
- I wanted a quieter machine.
Ordering was easy. The sales folks were quick to reply to my questions about nvme expanders and video cards. I definitely did not want an nvidia card, so they arranged to add just a low end, but linux support radeon card. They estimated a 6-10 day build process before shipping, but it was less than that, and around christmas time too! They really did a banner job on packaging. The machine came in a big box with a small box of cables/etc and another box for the server itself. They carefully filled the interor of the machine with bubble wrap so nothing moved around in shipping. The case is super heavy and has noise dampening material on it. There are 3 fans, but they are all large and slowly moving (500-600rpm). Even after adding 5 3.5″ spinning drives, the fan in my computer closet is much louder than the server. The CPU heat sink is massive, but thats great, because it means it doesn’t need to run the fan at vast speeds. The power supply ( a HX850) actually powers it’s fan off when things are mostly idle!
Lets take a look at some stats from the old server:
- Dell C1100 “cloud” node
- 72GB memory ( 1066Mhz/DDR3 )
- 4 3TB 3.5″ 7200 rpm SATA drives (3GB/sec) in a raid5
- 2 Xenon L5639 @ 2.13GHz ( so 12 cores, 24 threads)
Against the new server:
- Powerhouse Rizen PC
- 64GB memory ( 3200Mhz/DDR4)
- 2 Samsung SSD 990 PRO 2TB (currently in raid1)
- 5 3TB 3.5″ 7200rpm SATA drives (6GB/sec. I had one spare, might as well add it in) in a raid5 (converting to raid6 as I write this)
- AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-Core at up to 4.9GHz
So, really the only thing the old server has any more of is memory, and it’s old/slow memory anyhow. 🙂
I did need to order a few spare parts, but those were pretty easy. Got another network card (I use my main server as the firewall/gateway to my network) and some sata cables.
Like any good sysadmin, I got the new box all installed (Fedora 37 from netinstall) and configured and all ready, then set a downtime to migrate things. Everything worked fine out of the box on Linux, no problems with network cards, wireless, or anything. I did have to enable SVM in the bios to get kvm support, but that was easy enough to do. As part of this I cleaned up my computer closet, re-ran some cables and got some old UPSes batteries replaced. The downtime then was just:
- Take down old server
- Move network cables to new server for wireless/dsl
- Move SATA drives from old to new server and connect
- Add spare SATA drive and connect
- Bring up and fix any issues
Things seemingly went fine, but then I hit something disturbing: My borg backup jobs that ran after the switch (to backup my laptop and main vm) failed. A borg check showed things were not happy. I wondered if it could be a borg bug (say that 5 times real fast), so I tried using restic. restic did manage to back up fine, but a check on it’s repo afterward showed weird corruption. Looking at raid I saw that there were a number of mismatches on the SATA raid, so I wondered if those drives just were giving up after so many years. However, I soon noticed that there were mismatches on the raid1 on the 2 brand new nvmes! My next guess was a bad memory stick, but why was it only affecting the backups/raid? A bit more digging and looking, I finally realized what it might be, and indeed a reboot brought things back to normal. The problem was that I had been playing with powertop and had done a ‘powertop –auto-tune’ and some power saving setting on some chipset device was causing all the issues. After a clean reboot and some repair/check’s, the mismatch count on both raid arrays was 0.
Overall I am quite happy with the box. It’s super fast and super quiet. I should be able to do some expanding on it over time (bump memory to 128GB, add in the nvme card, there’s even space on the back of the MB for 2 2.5: ssd sata drives if desired). There’s space for 3 more 3.5″ drives also (although I think after I add the nvme card I might drop all the spinning drives back to the old server). I would recommend/buy from again silentpc.com