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Last weekend I wrote about how I do SharePoint 2010 development & presentations both on the road and also from my home office. In that post I broke it down into two categories: what I use as my portable rig (laptop) and what I use when I'm not on the road in my home office. Since I posted that I've had quite a few questions through my blog about the silent virtualization server I setup. So I'll take a minute to update you on that setup here on that post... hopefully it helps someone else in the same scenario.

A few years back (late 2008) I decided to invest in my home office and get a server that would simply act as a virtualization server (vRig). You can read about the saga I went through in three posts: part 1, part 2, part 3. The result is that I ended up building a custom server that was designed to host multiple virtual machines and be as quiet as possible. That's what I documented here with all the details on the specs and picture sand such.

Over the last 2.5 years I've become incredibly reliant on that server. There are times when it goes down for some reason or another and when it does, it's crippling. It not only stops me but it impacts our business, Critical Path Training, I kept finding myself wanting a little more security and redundancy. So earlier this year I embarked on building a 2nd one with the same requirements (fast, quiet/silent & reliable).

Last time I did this a handful of people told me they took my specs and build the same rig out themselves. These ranged from individuals like me who work out of a home office & some small consulting shops that needed to host multiple machines without buying a lot of servers and keeping costs down. So this time around, I'll share the same specs.

Some stuff has changed since the last time I built one of these. Drives are bigger, boards support more RAM & have more features. So here's what I settled on:

  • Motherboard: ASUS Z8PE-D12 w/ the ASMB4-iKVM module (link)
    • Big fan... plenty of room and supports a TON of RAM. Best of all, onboard RAID and a killer iKVM module so I can go straight to the box via IP even when it's off and turn it on as well as remotely monitor the sensors.
  • CPU: Intel Quad Core Xeon E5620 2.4Ghz (quantity 2) (link)
    • Newer version & lower power than what I had in the old server. So far these guys have been running great!
  • CPU Heatsinks: Noctua NH-U12DX 1366 Xeon Quiet CPU Cooler (quantity 2) (link)
    • Last time around I used Thermalright's, but they didn't fit in the server this time around based on the way the ASUS board is designed. Bit frustrating... I had to do a little extra doctoring up to cut off some of the radiator fans with a Dremel so they would clear the RAM heatsinks.
  • Memory: Crucial 8GB DDR3 PC10600 (quantity 6) for 48GB (link)
    • I love their stuff... can't go wrong with these guys.
  • Memory Heatsinks: ThermalRight HR-07 (one set of high & one set of low) (link & link)
    • RAM gets HOT... these keep them cool and make them look pretty slick. I did the same thing on the old box, check it out.
  • Drives: Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache SATA 3GB (quantity 6) (link)
    • These are setup RAID 0+1 for a total of two striped and mirrored 6TB arrays for 6TB of fault tolerant storage.
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower W0133RU 1200W ATX12V (link)
    • Learned my lesson last time after going through three PSU's before I found one that worked. This time I needed more power with all the drives (I know my old server is a bit under-powered)
  • Case: Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 (link)
    • Same exact case for the other server. I love the airflow, how open it is and the handles making it easy to slide around. Best of all, the two servers look identical!

All in all, this monster box was around $4,000 & provides some fantastic peace of mind. It's now the primary server in my home office & the older one is still heavily used. Both have schedules where their VMs are shut down and backed up to each other weekly so if one goes down, I can bring the other one up fairly quick.

As I said, hopefully this helps someone in sharing these specs. I'll pass on showing pictures this time around as it looks about the same as the older server I've already shared pictures of.

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