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):
- Introduction and Choosing Your Hypervisor
- Choosing Your Processor
- Choosing Your Motherboard
- Choosing Your Memory
- Choosing Your Chassis and Power Supply
- Choosing Your Storage
- Putting It All Together
- The Build and Installing ESXi
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.
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…
|Desktop High||G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 64GB||DDR4||64 GB||$394.99||1||$394.99||Link|
|Desktop Medium Option 1||Crucial 16GB (2 x 8GB)||DDR4||32 GB||$64.99||2||$129.98||Link|
|Desktop Medium Option 2||G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 32GB (2 x 16GB)||DDR4||32 GB||$179.99||1||$179.99||Link|
|Desktop Low||Crucial 16GB (2 x 8GB)||DDR4||16 GB||$64.99||1||$64.99||Link|
|Server High||Crucial 64GB (4 x 16GB) Registered ECC DDR4||DDR4||128 GB||$449.99||2||$899.98||Link|
|Server Medium Option 1||Ebay 16 x 8GB DDR3||DDR3||128 GB||$20.00||16||$320.00||Link|
|Server Medium Option 2||Ebay 16 x 16GB DDR3||DDR3||256 GB||$75.00||16||$1,200.00||Link|
|Server Low||Supermicro X11SSH-F-O||DDR4||32 GB||$114.99||2||$229.98||Link|
|Tiny Server||Supermicro MBD-X10SDV-4C-TLN2F-O||DDR4||64 GB||$239.99||2||$479.98||Link|