Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Homelab buyer's guide - Rackmount servers

Buying second hand servers for your homelab can be confusing. The below table should (hopefully) shine some light on what is currently on the market.  I've broken this down into four categories:

Outdated - Servers that primarily offer Space Heater as a Service. Most modern enterprise operating systems have deprecated the processors or drivers (although an argument can be made for Linux). These are the least efficient servers you can buy secondhand, and should only be considered at extremely low upfront cost.

Out of warranty - Servers that are past warranty but still supported by enterprise operating systems to an extent. Drivers are starting to become deprecated. This is generally the sweet spot in terms of cost to efficiency as IT shops start rotating these out for more modern hardware. Both low and high end processors can be had for a fraction of what they were new.

Hardware refresh - Servers that are still under warranty or capable of being under warranty, but are no longer sold as new by the manufacturer. Servers with flagship processors can be had for a good price, but higher end parts still have the enterprise premium as shops will try to upgrade to avoid a full refresh of their environment.

Latest - Servers that are being offered by manufacturer as new. These are the most expensive servers that can be purchased, deals are hard to come by.

Dell generation is determined by the number in the middle. For instance, an R610 would be considered 11G, R620 12G, and so on. The AMD variants end with the number 5, such as the R715, or the R7515.

Lenovo changed the MX moniker to SR for rack, ST for tower starting with the Xeon Scalable generation, with a similar designation for Intel/AMD as Dell (0 and 5 respectively).

Out of Warranty
Hardware Refresh

Xeon E/X 5500/5600 (DDR3)
E5 V1/V2 (DDR3)
E5 V3/V4 (DDR4)
Scalable gen 1/gen 2 (DDR4)
Dell 11G
Dell 12G
Dell 13G
Dell 14G
Lenovo (IBM) M5
Lenovo SRXX0
Cisco M1/M2
Cisco M3
Cisco M4
Cisco M5


Opteron (DDR3)

Threadripper (DDR4)
Dell 11G

 Dell 14G/15G

 HPE G10

 Lenovo SRXX5

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