2017 Ryzen Threadripper DIY Server Project

A dozen or so VMs exist on my network. Everything from my virtual router (PFSense of course), a Plex server, a Nextcloud server, as well as some world domination experiments. Muaahhhh ha ha! Up until the last few months, they have run on a VMware cluster consisting of a pair of Dell Poweredge 2950s that I had absolutely maxed out with 32GB of RAM each and 4 of the best Xeons I could find for that socket. Needless to say these were power hungry beasts, also, outdated. I measured the wattage they pulled and it was somewhere around 810 watts at any given time. Compare that to my 120 watts that my newish x99 i7 desktop rig pulls at any given time and that's a big difference. Seeing as how using electricity costs uhm, money, I couldn't justify the cost of running my servers anymore. At that point I decided to just run all of my VMs on my desktop rig. I thought about using VMware workstation, withing Windows, but when I did that last year, VMware workstation was not reliable and had performance issues with large file transferrs between the host OS and the VM. I decided to convert my VMs to HyperV. And since I already run Server 2016 as my main desktop OS, it seemed like the logical choice. For a few months this worked, until I wanted to take my desktop rig somewhere. Then is sucked for the users of my virtual servers, because my servers were then mostly inaccessible. This was my motivation for building a new server.

I just so happened to acquire a new Ryzen Threadripper 1950x for very cheap through a dumb mistake. Thus, my new server build would soon spawn from the 16 core / 32 thread CPU, that is THREADRIPPER -ripper -ripper... *dramatic echo*

Some years ago I found a guy on Craigslist who ran a datacenter in Detroit. He was selling a some used 42U, full-depth, SMC brand cabinets with a shiny window in the front. I bought one of them for $100 and threw it into the back of my friend's Ford Ranger. It barely fit. So because I have a full depth cabinet, I wanted to find a full-depth server chassis. I searched for hours online for a decent 4U ATX full-depth chassis, to my surprise, there's really not much out there. I finally found this Rosewill RSV-L4000, 4U Rackmount Server chassis. I watched many reveiws online before I bought it. and I found it to be perfect.

The whole point of this was to spend less money on electricity and less money in general. So at the heart of this build, I wanted an efficient power solution. In my mind, the only power solution that would be fitting of a server, would be to have a redundant power supplies. I wanted 3 things, efficiency, redundancy, and cost effectiveness. First, I found the Athena Power Zippy MRH2-5AD0V0H 1400W set, but at that price point, it would defeat the purpose. I then remembered that the HP Common Slot PSUs that I use for my bit miners have a 94% efficiency rating and they're super cheap! I got a pair of 750 watt PSUs for around $40 dollars on eBay. Now I've tried to rig a proprietary power supply backplane to work with a standard 24 pin ATX motherboard twice before to no avail. This time it was just as challenging. At first, I bought the

519200-001 backplane, but with that one I could only get on PSU to work at a time. The motherboard would power on, but I had no redundancy, so that wasn't going to work. After that, I decided to take a chance on the 637464-B21 backplane. To my surprise, it worked right out of the box! No modding needed! The only modifications I had to do to the PSU backplane were minor. I just had to solder an 8 pin ATX power connector where the to the 4 pin connector, and after that I just had to convert a couple molex power connectors to SATA power. At this point the case modding could begin!

I had to Dremel out a few slots in the steel of the chassis and the PSU backplane chassis to get the radiator and the power supplies to fit in. Even then, there was just barely enough room to fit it all in, as you can see in the picture below.