Building a Hyperion Home Lab: Choosing Your Chassis and Power Supply

Before we get started, here’s the entire series in case you need to look back (or ahead):

We’re slowly nearing the exciting completion of our new Hyperion Home Lab!  Now that we have all of the key components (besides storage), we need something to power our lab and a place for it to call home.  Cases are all about where you plan to put the system and what’s going in it.  Power supplies, and making sure that you make a quality choice is far more important.  I’ve made sure that I’ve only selected power supplies that I would trust in my own systems.

Desktop High Budget

Because all of our desktop options utilize Micro-ATX form-factor motherboards, this entire section is interchangeable.  For our high budget option, I’ve selected the Fractile Design Define Mini.  This is a great case with good airflow and a great layout in general.  It also has excellent expandability for a Micro-ATX case with six (6) 3.5″ hard drive bays (SSD compatible) and two (2) external 5.25″ bays.  This case is also compatible with Mini-ITX motherboards should you have a tiny server you would like to fit in there.  At $69.99, this case is really a great deal.  If I had a Micro-ATX system to build, this is the case I would go with.

For our power supply, I’ve chosen the SeaSonic S12G S12G-550.  Perhaps among the worst-named components out there, this is a very solid power supply that produces 550 Watts and carries an 80 PLUS Gold certification.  This basically means that it is insanely efficient.  At $79.99, it actually costs more than our case choice.  But as a I mentioned, power supplies are far more important from a quality perspective.  I have several SeaSonic power supplies and I’ve always had great luck with them.

Desktop Medium Budget

For our medium option, we’ll cut the budget down to $47.99 with the Cooler Master N200.  This is another case with a great layout and airflow design.  It has a giant intake fan along with space for two (2) 3.5″ hard drives and two (2) 2.5″ hard drives.  It also has two (2) external 5.25″ bays for additional expansion.  Like the prior choice, it also supports Mini-ITX.  If you need a few more hard drives, you may want to go with the slightly higher priced Fractile Design case, but outside of that, it is definitely a solid choice for any of our budgets.

For our power supply, we’re going to stick with the SeaSonic S12G, and we’ll just leave it at that…

Desktop Low Budget

For the absolute cheapest option, check out the Rosewill FBM-01.  At $29.99, it definitely has cost going for it.  It has two (2) internal 3.5″ hard drive bays, two (2) external 5.25″ bays, and one (1) internal 3.5″ hard drive bays.  This is about as traditional of a design as you will find.  But…it gets the job done at a low cost and provides some expansion options.

For our power supply, this is where things get a little more interesting.  I did a lot of research and found that the EVGA 100-W1-0430-KR is a great low cost option that is pretty high quality.  It’s not perfect, but is at least trustworthy.  It can be found for $39.99 along with a $20 rebate.  It’s hard to beat for effectively $19.99.

Server High Budget

Once you get to servers…things again change.  Our top two options use rather large motherboards, so let’s move on from Micro-ATX and into the land of Extended-ATX and EEB.  For our high budget option, we’re going all rack.  I’ve chosen a case that I’ve used for many years, the Norco RPC-4224.  This supports 24 hot-swap 3.5″ bays that are 2.5″ compatible out of the box.  Each row of four drives connects with an SFF-8087 connector which allows for great flexibility in how the 24 drives can be connected.

When we talk about power supplies, we have to remember that this is a home lab.  For that reason, I went with a consumer power supply for this option.  The SeaSonic G-750 SSR-750RM is a 750 Watt power supply with dual 8-pin CPU connectors.  This is specifically important for our server options with dual CPU’s.  It is also an 80 PLUS Gold certified power supply which brings along with it excellent efficiency.

Server Medium Budget

As we move down the budget scale towards our medium option, I’ve chosen to given a couple of choice for the chassis.  Our first option is also a great choice for our high budget option if you want to stay away from rackmounted equipment.  The Phanteks Enthoo Pro is the case that a colleague of mine used his build that prompted me to publish this series.  He wanted a regular case that would fit a giant motherboard and provide plenty of expansion.  At $94.99 and with six (6) 3.5″ bays, one (1) 2.5″ bay, and three (3) external 5.25″ bays, you can load this thing up with drives and a giant motherboard.  It has an excellent layout and great airflow.

For our second option, we go back to the rack.  This time we go with a much lower cost Norco option, the RPC-470.  This is a great 4U rackmount option that has a lot of expansion for the cost.  At $86.99, this case supports ten (10) 3.5″ bays and three (3) 5.25″ external bays.  If you don’t really care about hot-swap bays and you want to go rackmount, this is the case to go with.

For our power supply…let’s just stick with SeaSonic G-750.

Server Low Budget

We’ll go back to a desktop favorite for our low budget server.  Because we chose a Micro-ATX board, we can again go with any of our desktop options.  Our choice is the Cooler Master N200.

And for the power supply, we’ll go back to the desktop options to the SeaSonic S12G.

Tiny Server

The tiny server gives us a whole host of options given the Mini-ITX form factor.  First, we’ll look at the Supermicro CSE-721TQ-250B.  With a name like that, who wouldn’t choose it?  This case is specifically designed for the Xeon D platform.  It’s compact, comes with a matched high-efficiency 250 Watt power supply, and is reasonably priced at $159.99.  It has four (4) hot swap 3.5″ bays and two (2) stationary 2.5″ bays.  This lines up nicely with our six ports of SATA3 on our Tiny Server choice of motherboard.  And, again, this chassis comes with a power supply, so we can stop there.  Of course, the first two options in our desktop section would also do the trick, as they support Micro-ATX.

And here are our options in a nice pair of tables:


Desktop HighFractal Design Define Mini$95.99Link
Desktop MediumCooler Master N200$46.99Link
Desktop LowRosewill FBM-01$27.99Link
Server HighNORCO RPC-4224$429.99Link
Server Medium Option 1Phanteks PH-ES614PC_BK$94.99Link
Server Medium Option 2NORCO RPC-470$86.99Link
Server LowCooler Master N200$46.99Link
Tiny ServerSupermicro CSE-721TQ-250B$159.99Link

Power Supplies

OptionPower SupplyPriceLink
Desktop HighSeaSonic S12G S12G-550$79.99Link
Desktop MediumSeaSonic S12G S12G-550$79.99Link
Desktop LowEVGA 100-W1-0430-KR 430W$39.99Link
Server HighSeaSonic G-750 SSR-750RM$119.99Link
Server MediumSeaSonic G-750 SSR-750RM$119.99Link
Server LowSeaSonic S12G S12G-550$79.99Link

And now…we have a place for our home lab to live.  The end is near!  Next up…storage options.  This should be interesting with all of the new options out there these days between standard SSD’s and NVMe hitting the market with a giant surge in performance.  Can’t wait!

Brian @ KScope 16

As the year rapidly passes me by, I realize that KScope isn’t really that far away.  I hope to meet many of in Chicago this June!  I’ve been very fortunate to have two presentations selected again this year:

PBCS Is Still Hyperion Planning

Date, Time, and Session # TBD

With Oracle’s release of PBCS, many services companies have started releasing their one-size-fits-all implementations. The unfortunate truth is that PBCS is still Hyperion Planning. This presentation discusses the best practices around implementing PBCS and how to avoid the pitfalls of implementations offered at insanely cheap (and underestimated) pricing. Attend this session if you don’t want to have your PBCS project “land and expand.”

The Planning Repository Revisited: Beyond the Basics

Date, Time, and Session # TBD

If you’ve enjoyed my past presentations on the Planning repository, you should enjoy this presentation even more. We’ll take a step beyond the basics and provide a whole new set of examples that take a leap into real-world use. Whether it’s synchronizing metadata across applications or deleting dimensions, this presentation will dive deeper than ever before into the repository. But wait…there’s more. This presentation will have full samples in both Transact SQL for SQL Server users and PL/SQL for Oracle users. That’s two languages for the price of one (shipping and handling not included).

And here:

I’ll update this post once we have dates and times.  Looking forward to Chicago!

Building a Hyperion Home Lab: Choosing Your Memory

Before we get started, here’s the entire series in case you need to look back (or ahead):

We have our first two major components, but now we need memory.  After all, memory is what Hyperion craves, and each release seems to need that much more.  Each of our budget options has a different level of capacity and functionality.  Today we’ll look at an option for memory for each configuration, but keep in mind that memory is a highly volatile market and that prices at the time of publishing this blog may change significantly.

So let’s get started…

Desktop High Budget

As we’ve discussed, all of our desktop options will max out at 64 GB of RAM.  In the future, I hope to update the high budget option to use the next generation of high-end desktop processors.  These processors will have higher core counts and support at least 128 GB of RAM.  But…for now, we are stuck with 64 GB.  The cheapest option I’ve found so far is the G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 64 GB Kit.  This kit includes four (4) DDR4 modules at 16 GB a piece and is priced at $394.99.  You will see a lot of different options out there around DDR4 speeds, but unless you are a serious gamer and this is a multi-use system, go with inexpensive, as you are unlikely to see a difference in a home lab.

Desktop Medium Budget

For our medium budget configuration, we will go with 32 GB of RAM.  This is where the options get a little more complex.  The cheaper option is to go with four (4) modules of 8 GB.  This can be found for as cheap as  $129.98 (two Crucial 16 GB kits at $64.99 each).  Alternately, we can choose to use two (2) sticks of 16 GB.  This allows us to have 32 GB now and eventually upgrade to 64 GB without needing to replace all of our memory.  We can use the 32 GB version of our high budget option: the G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 32 GB Kit.  The price difference isn’t substantial at $179.99.

Desktop Low Budget

The Crucial 16 GB kit is a great choice for our low budget option as well at $64.99.  The downside of course is that 16 GB of RAM is only enough to do so much with virtual machines.

Server High Budget

Servers are a little bit of a different animal when it comes to memory.  First, most of them require ECC RAM.  ECC stands for Error Checking and Correcting.  In theory, you can run regular RAM in a server, but your maximum memory goes down to desktop levels, so very few people ever do it…even in a home lab.

Some servers also require registered RAM.  Essentially, we use unbuffered RAM in desktop applications and some server types while we use registered RAM for the rest of our server types.  We have a bit of a mix in our server options, but all of them use ECC RAM.

In our high budget option, we want a lot of RAM.  The challenge is that server motherboards not only want Registered and ECC RAM, but they are often times very picky about brands and speeds of RAM.  This is why the motherboard manufacturers publish a list of certified memory.  At the same time, memory manufacturers publish a list of motherboards compatible with their memory.  This means that we should try to find memory on one of those two lists for our motherboard of choice.

The Crucial 64 GB Kit (16 GB x 4) is guaranteed by Crucial to be 100% compatible with our Supermicro X10DAi motherboard selection.  This is also one of the cheaper sets available at $449.99.  For our high budget option, I suggest a pair of these kits to give you 128 GB of RAM with the ability to expand to 256 GB using another pair in the future.

Server Medium Budget

The medium budget option is a little more complicated.  For one, we won’t be going to Newegg to get our RAM.  We could, but it would cost twice as much, or more.  Instead we’ll be watching Ebay looking for the right RAM for our motherboard.  I have two of the ASRock motherboards that I recommended.  One is running Kingston RAM and the other is running Crucial RAM.  Samsung and Hynix should both be pretty good as well.  So what do we look for on Ebay?  If we want the absolute best bang for the buck, we are looking for sixteen (16) stick of 8 GB of registered ECC DDR3.  These should be readily available for $15-$20 per stick depending on your patience level.  That means for 128 GB of RAM, we only need to spend a little north of $300 depending on the deal you find.

The downside to this option is that we will fill our motherboard to capacity and only get 128 GB of RAM.  So our second option is to find eight (8) sticks of 16 GB.  The downside here is going to be cost and availability.  The 8 GB sticks are literally everywhere.  The 16 GB sticks are there as well, but the cost varies greatly.  With enough patience, you should be able to find these sticks for $70-$80 each.  Notice that our cost is not double, but quadruple that of our 8 GB sticks.  So for the same 128 GB of RAM, we pay roughly double the cost.  For that doubled cost we have the ability to expand one day to 256 GB of RAM.  Is it worth it?  I’ll leave that up to you and your significant other to decide.

Server Low Budget

For our low budget option, I’d recommend picking up a pair of 16 GB modules made by Supermicro.  They are $114.99 per ECC module and are certified to work on our motherboard selection.  This gives us 32 GB to start and allows us to later upgrade to 64 GB without needing all new memory.

Tiny Server

Our tiny server option is a bit interesting.  While it may be tiny, it packs a serious punch and has some impressive options for memory expansion.  Maxing out at 128 GB of RAM, we can really go as low or as high as we want.  For the purposes of this guide, I’ll assume that 64 GB is a good starting point, and you can always add more later if we use the right modules of RAM.  So what’s the right module of RAM?  Supermicro makes one just for this purpose.  For $239.99, you get 32 GB of RAM on a single stick.  So we’ll go with a pair of those for our tiny server with a total cost of $479.99.

Just to summarize…here are all of our memory choices with specific pricing and links to purchase what you need.  Next up…we need a place to put all of this nice new hardware and a way to power it up.  Stay tuned…

OptionMemoryTypeTotal MemoryPriceQtyTotalLink
Desktop HighG.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 64GBDDR464 GB$394.991$394.99Link
Desktop Medium Option 1Crucial 16GB (2 x 8GB)DDR432 GB$64.992$129.98Link
Desktop Medium Option 2G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 32GB (2 x 16GB)DDR432 GB$179.991$179.99Link
Desktop LowCrucial 16GB (2 x 8GB)DDR416 GB$64.991$64.99Link
Server HighCrucial 64GB (4 x 16GB) Registered ECC DDR4DDR4128 GB$449.992$899.98Link
Server Medium Option 1Ebay 16 x 8GB DDR3DDR3128 GB$20.0016$320.00Link
Server Medium Option 2Ebay 16 x 16GB DDR3DDR3256 GB$75.0016 $1,200.00 Link
Server LowSupermicro X11SSH-F-ODDR432 GB$114.992$229.98Link
Tiny ServerSupermicro MBD-X10SDV-4C-TLN2F-ODDR464 GB$239.992$479.98Link




Building a Hyperion Home Lab: Choosing Your Motherboard

Before we get started, here’s the entire series in case you need to look back (or ahead):

At this point, hopefully you have decided on what processor you would like to go with.  But, if you haven’t, perhaps this post will help you with that decision.  As we look at different motherboard options, we’ll stick with the plan of desktop and server options with budgets for low, medium, and high.

So how do you select a motherboard?  When it comes to Hyperion, we are interested in memory capacity first and foremost, then storage options, and finally general expansion.  The entire purpose for our home lab is to learn more.  Learning more generally means we have more virtual machines running more versions of Hyperion.  This means we need more memory to keep those different virtual machines running.  In our desktop options, we’ll see that we will be limited to four (4) memory slots that will max out at 64 GB of RAM.  We should see some better options once the next generation of high-end desktop processors and motherboards come out, but for now, this is what we have to work with and it is still double what most laptops will offer.

But…that still might not be enough for you.  That leads us to our server options.  Basically if you want more cores and more memory…go the server route.  Now on to the options:

Desktop High Budget

As we look at each of our desktop budget options, the main difference will be the chipset that each motherboard is based on.  For our high-budget option, we’ll be looking at an Intel Z170-based motherboard from ASRock.  The ASRock Z170M Extreme4 is a Micro ATX (this will be important when we get to chassis selection) motherboard with four (4) memory slots, Intel LAN, three (3) PCIe x16 slots, USB 3.1 support, and an Ultra M.2 slot.  This means we have the best expansion options available.

Additionally, with Intel LAN, ESXi now supports this motherboard.  The Z170 also supports overclocking, if that’s your thing.  The Z170M Extreme 4 is priced at $124.99.

Desktop Medium Budget

Our medium budget option is very similar to the high budget option, but at a significant cost savings.  Based on the Intel H170 chipset, the ASRock H170M Pro 4 is also Micro ATX.  This board has four (4) memory slots, Intel LAN, two (2) PCIe x16 slots, and an Ultra M.2 slot.  So with one less PCIe slot and no USB 3.1, it has less capacity for expansion.  The H170M Pro 4 is price at $84.99.

Desktop Low Budget

Our low budget option is basically the minimum required to set up your home lab.  Based on the Intel H110 chipset, the ASRock H110M-HDS is also Micro ATX.  This board has four (4) memory slots, Realtek LAN, and one (1) PCIe x16 slot.  Basically we lose Intel LAN (necessary for ESXi), another PCIe slot, and an Ultra M.2 slot.  We can basically only add one significant device to this board (either a PCIe SSD or a different network card).  But, at $51.99, at least it has low cost going for it!

Server High Budget

Interestingly, our high budget option does not give us the highest level of performance.  As you will see once we get to the medium budget option, Ebay can be a powerful tool in the construction of a home lab.  For those that are not comfortable with used hardware and would prefer to just get new gear quickly from Newegg or Amazon, this option is for you.

Based on the Intel C612 chipset, the Supermicro MBD-X10DRI is our selection for the high budget option.  This board is Extended ATX (massive) and is packed with plenty of features including sixteen (16) memory slots, dual Intel LAN, USB 3.0, three (3) PCIe x16 slots, and three (3) PCIe x8 slots.  Given the number of PCIe slots, the exclusion of the M.2 slot isn’t surprising.  Chances are, if you go with this option, you will be looking at Intel PCIe SSD’s anyway.

All of our server boards will also have something called IPMI on board with KVM over LAN.  This is basically a web-based management system that allows you to power your server on and off, reset it, see vital statistics, and even have access to the mouse, video, and mouse over the network.  This enables our servers to be completely headless (no monitor, or any other devices for that matter).  So if you wanted to say, stick it in a closet…no worries.

The X10DRI is priced at a hefty $429.99, but again, it has great features and will last a really long time.

Server Medium Budget

This is my favorite options.  The ASRock EP2C602-4L/D16 motherboard is based on the Intel C602 chipset and also includes a great many features.  It also has sixteen (16) memory slots (though DDR3 instead of DDR4), quad Intel LAN, four (4) PCIe x16 slots, and one (1) PCIe x4 slots.  As with all of our server options, this board is also equipped with IPMI and KVM over LAN.  At $309.99, it makes for an excellent match to our Ebay-purchased E5-2670 processors.  And as we’ll see in our upcoming memory post, there are some great deals to be had for memory that works in this board.

Server Low Budget

For our low budget option, I’ve chosen a single-processor motherboard to support our Xeon V5 processor.  The Supermicro X11SSH-F-O is based on the Intel C236 chipset and supports socket 1151 processors (include Core i5 and Core i7 processors).  The board has four (4) memory slots, dual Intel LAN, USB 3.0, one (1) PCIe x16 slot, and two (2) PCIe x8 slots.  So why would this board be better than our desktop models?  First, it is a server board, that’s what it was made for.  Second, it has IPMI and KVM over LAN.  This feature alone makes its far superior if you want a truly headless system.  Third, it supports ECC RAM.  Clocking in at $218.48, it is also the cheapest board by far of our server options.

Tiny Server

Finally, if you want a really tiny server that packs a punch, we have our Tiny Server option.  Based on an integrated Intel Xeon-D 1540, the Supermicro MBD-X10SDV-4C-TLN2F-O (wow…nice name), packs a lot of punch in a tiny format.  With four (4) memory slots, dual Intel LAN, USB 3.0, and one (1) PCIe x16 slot, this board still has quite a few options.  It also support IPMI and KVM over LAN along with a maximum memory size of 128 GB.  It does have very limited memory support to reach that capacity, but we’ll get to that soon enough.  Clocking in at $0.00, since it comes with the processor ($489.99), this board is a steal!

There are also other variations of this board with 10 GB LAN and an eight (8) core processor, but the price is nearly double that of this board.

That’s it for motherboards.  Here’s a quick summary of the motherboards in a table:.

ASRock Z170M Extreme4$124.99Newegg Link
ASRock H170M Pro4$84.99Newegg Link
ASRock H110M-HDS$51.99Newegg Link
Supermicro MBD-X10DRI$429.99Newegg Link
ASRock EP2C602-4L/D16$309.99Newegg Link
Supermicro X11SSH-F-O$229.99Newegg Link
Supermicro MBD-X10SDV-4C-TLN2F-O$0.00Newegg Link