I DevOps

and this is what I think about it

Dell R710 Ultimate ESXi Home Lab

Heads up: Still working on this post

So about a year ago I wrote a Guide to the Dell CS24 Server but I have to confess that I recently upgraded my home lab with a bigger, badder, Dell R710

Unlike the CS24, The Dell R710 is a mainstream server with support from Dell, VMWare, and most vendors that support Dell servers, which is a big win for those of you that need that kind of stuff but still want to save big $$$ by going with the used server market.

Lets start with what I am working with: I got my Dell R710 from a startup that was upgrading and no longer needed it.  The rough specs are as follows

  • Dell R710 6×3.5″ Chassis w/ iDrac 6 Enterprise
  • 96 GB Ram (Mix of 8GB and 4GB sticks)
  • 2 Intel Xeon 5600 series processors (need to get the exact number)
  • 2x 1TB Hard Drives installed with Trays No other Trays.
    • Trays can come as cheap as $10/tray
  • Dual Power Supplies 575 watts
  • Obviously no OS because who wants an OS installed on their brand new server?
    • I’ve since installed vSphere Hypervisor 6 (ESXi 6.0)

What have I learned?

This server is a beast. My other CS24’s pale in comparison to this server.  The Disk I/O, Raid options, and overall storage performance is way better than the CS24.  I have no numbers to back this up but that is what I have found so far.

The expandability is a huge plus.  The R710 comes with 4 PCIe 8x slots for all those accessories.  You can also swap 2 of the x8 slots for a x16 slot with a different riser card.  Awesome stuff for a home lab machine if you want to install sound or video cards.  Just note that 1 of the 4 x8 slots is used by the RAID card for the server’s backplane.

When compared to the CS24, everything about the R710 feels better.  The CS24 was a custom build by Dell meant to be mass manufactured on the cheap for datacenters that didn’t need the nice to have features that make maintaining a server less painful.