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Stallion or a workhorse? My first build for years, got to last a few too.

by brownandsticky


Part List View full price breakdown


Date Published

Sept. 28, 2015

Date Built

May 31, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

3.5 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

5.5 GHz


Virtualisation Server and Pass-through Workstation

Key Aims: Virtualisation, resiliance, future proof / upgradable, reasonable performance.
Key Roles: Virtualisation host, light gaming, media center, PVR, family PC, software build, home security, AD controller, print queue.

Passing through a GPU and a USB controller to one VM; a GPU, a sound card and a USB controller to another VM; and a TV tuner card to a third.

The rig runs cool on a high shelf in the cupboard under the stairs. No figures I'm afraid.

The Coolermaster HAF XB Evo case worked really well. I've flood wired the SATA ports to the various bays which should hopefully make future work easier. It really is a joy to work on. Granted it's wide but it's not actually that big. The upper area with the mobo is really nice and clear of cables as they all just fall off the side.

My mobo doesn't have many PWM ports so I used put a splitter on the front case fans. I'm not certain whether they are running half-speed or not, but it seems happy. I should bang Windows on a spare hard disk and run some diagnostic software to look at the temps and watts.

I'd have liked slightly longer cables on the semi-modular PSU to route, but that's mostly down below so I'll never really need to touch them.

The CPU cooler has a fair bit of space to the case top using the Gelid Tranquillo which I don't think I'd have had with a Hyper 212. If I got the urge to install a top fan, I reckon it would just about fit over the CPU cooler.

I've gone with ECC memory. There are pro's and cons, but for a box that's going to store the family album it's worth the overhead. As it goes I had to get another 16Gb, you can't reduce the RAM just because you're virtualising. This CPU maxes out at 32Gb.

The Intel Xeon 1275 gen3 CPU is a workhorse that handles everything the environment throws at it. On board graphics is only for the Xenserver console. I could use it for a VM, but have no need. I'm slightly annoyed that virtualisers are not keen on CPU power saving states so I've had to disable some features in the BIOS.

The rig runs stable with Xenserver 6.3, passing through graphics cards, USB controllers, and tuner card. to VM's. The tuner card driver drops out occasionally which is annoying. Xenserver 6.5 would not passthrough the graphics.

The Netgear consumer NAS is working very nicely as shared storage. Obviously it's a bit light on sustained transfer, but it's working fine for day-to-day use with Win7 and Linux VM's.

HDMI from the AMD is fine over a 10m cable as is USB. For the other graphics card, DVI is fine on 20m cable and is also USB.

Comments Sorted by:

dunkeymonkey 3 points 41 months ago

I see you have an apple in your build...maybe you should drop that and go with Windows ;) hhaahha

Rashiq 2 points 41 months ago

I thought the haf xb came with windows?? or is it the gates version??

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TechyinAZ 14 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Huh, using a computer case for an eating plate, I like your style. :P

Looks good, may I ask though, why twin 270Xs??

brownandsticky submitter 1 Build 1 point 41 months ago

Not for Crossfire. I pass a GPU through to two separate virtual machines. One drives the Lounge TV and another the Kitchen Workstation. One day I'll build a little Media Centre system for the Lounge, or maybe another lesser host for the kitchen that can vMotion/Xenmotion live VM's. Whatever, this box is going to be a good base for the next few years.

polowog 1 point 41 months ago

LOLL thats insane.... passing one gpu to a VM.... how well does it run?

brownandsticky submitter 1 Build 2 points 41 months ago

Just to clarify. Each graphics card is passed through by PCI device number to a separate VM.

It actually works better than I expected. The driver is stable in Windows (hardware Manager picks it up and requests the driver) and Linux (kernel detects it and xorg loads fglrx fine) VM's 3D is adequate but not quite as smooth as direct. It is going through the Xen pciback module after all. The sound on the graphics card also works well coming through HDMI, detected as usual by Windows7 and the Linux kernel. Best of all. I can fiddle with the TV VM without interfering with the other VM's such as AD DC, Storage, Media.

polowog 1 point 40 months ago

late answer, some good stuff dude

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TechyinAZ 14 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

So, how do you clean the "plate"?

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DS4130 3 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Really nice to see something a bit different that serves a specific purpose on here. Slightly surprised to not see a small SSD for OS though? +1

brownandsticky submitter 1 Build 1 point 41 months ago

Yes SSD is the future. In my case, the internal disk is storing the virtualiser OS (4Gb tops) and recorded TV (300Gb). I haven't got around to putting the second 1Tb disk from the old system in for RAID1 yet. The virtualiser doesn't do software RAID and installing the RAID controller would mean temporarily shifting the recorded TV elsewhere. However the virtualiser OS can be installed clean in ten minutes and pull the db from shared storage, and recorded TV isn't that important. Come to think about it, the Wife Appreciation Factor would drop like a stone if all the TV got lost! Where did I put that RAID controller.

Vergere 7 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

+1 for banana comparison.

theNeybor 1 point 41 months ago


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brownandsticky submitter 1 Build 2 points 41 months ago

Passthrough of GPU's to separate virtual machines.

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