Maxing Out SuperMicro Whitebox Servers With 32 GB of RAM

Back when I first posted my SuperMicro Whitebox build for my Wahl Network home lab I was limited to using 4 GB SDRAM sticks. The availability of 8 GB sticks was rather new and incredibly expensive, coming in at no less than $200 per stick. This equates to over $800 just for RAM, which is a bit ridiculous. Part of that secret sauce is that the RAM must be both ECC (Error Correcting Code) and Unregistered (which basically has to do with electrical load).

For those new to those terms, Unregistered and Unbuffered both refer to the same technology. Vendors have annoyingly decided to use one or the other in their RAM descriptions, which makes it confusing. Also, both are different from ECC – the two are mutually exclusive. You can have ECC RAM that is Registered or Unregistered / Unbuffered. Welcome to the fun world of word games. :)

32 GB of RAM – Now Budget Friendly?

Today it’s much easier to find more budget friendly 8 GB SDRAM sticks that don’t put your wallet into the hospital with sad cartoon X’s over its eyes. I recently bumped up all of my Lab whitebox servers to 32 GB of RAM using sets of boxed sticks (4 x 8 GB).

8gb-dimms

For those curious, I can verify that these sticks do indeed work out of the box with the SuperMicro X9SCM-F boards that I use (Intel C204). The model of the RAM is:

  • 32 GB Boxed Set: Kingston KVR16E11K4/32I (Amazon ~302)
  • 8 GB Single Stick: Kingston KVR16E11/8 (Amazon ~$72)

Both the price and availability of the SDRAM vary wildly. Sometimes the box set is only in the mid $250s, making it cheaper than single sticks, and other times it is higher. Also, I often find that they are sold out, discontinued, or out of stock (such as on Newegg). If you need a set and see them in stock, snag them quickly!

Whitebox Upgrade – End Results

Here’s a proof shot of the end results. I might have added the Kool-Aid guy. Maybe.

whitebox-with-32gb

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8 Responses

  1. Angelo
    Angelo at |

    Thanks, time to upgrade and build a 3rd box while I’m at it.

    Reply
  2. Paul Braren
    Paul Braren at |

    I also waited until the cost of 32GB of RAM became reasonable. Its worked out well for a year now, running 6-8 VMs minimum 24×7 now, even on a modest commodity mobo, $269 on Feb 12 2012:
    http://www.tinkertry.com/32gb-memory-on-asrock-fatal1ty-z68-professional-gen3-motherboard/

    Pricing of 16GB DIMMs hasn’t fallen much, and affordable mobos don’t have 8 DIMM slots, so looking forward to going to 64GB (on a new mobo/cpu) in 2014, we’ll see…

    Reply
  3. Chuck Reid
    Chuck Reid at |

    Hi Chris, I am a Cisco certified voice Engineer and I need to setup a home lab to run perhaps 6-8 VM’s to simulate a voice environment. I am not much of a hardware guy but I have built my home PC’s for several years. I am used to installing ESXi on prebuilt servers as well. Can you email me or post a link to an updated list of hardware that I can purchase in the next 30 days to assemble a server for home use running ESXi 5.x that is quiet and frugal on power? I don’t need any redundancy, just something I can power on when needed and install voice related VM’s for testing purposes. Something for 1000 or less would be perfect, but could go as high as 1500 if necessary. Thanks sir! 32 meg ram and 2 tb would be great, I could get by with 16 meg ram and 1 tb HD. I also have a Cisco NSS2000 2 bay Gigabit Network Storage System that uses replaceable sata drives if that could be used with the ESXi server…..

    Please advise and thanks!
    Chuck Reid

    Reply
  4. Chuck Reid
    Chuck Reid at |

    Great link, I would rather just buy a retail server to be honest, would a dell T 110 II server with the Xeon E3 1220v2 CPU and 16 gig of dell ram work?
    Any idea how loud they are? The dell site can build this for just under 1000 and that works for me, unless you can recommend something a bit cheaper. I would like it to be ESXi installable, if that means you can install ESXi…

    Thanks,

    Reply
  5. Chuck Reid
    Chuck Reid at |

    I don’t think this will work either, I need at last 8 cores for the voice VM’s to run what I need at the same time. I need a dual CPU motherboard is there a retail server that does this? This is getting complicated….

    Reply
  6. The New Haswell Fueled ESXi 5.5 Home Lab Build

    […] in 2013 I posted an article about upgrading the SuperMicro box to the max amount of memory. A full set of 4 sticks of 8 GB memory cost about $250 US. Unfortunately, the price of memory has […]

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