New Host for my Lab!

I recently picked up a new host to add to my home lab.  For years, I’ve been running VMWare ESXi/VSphere on a single node. Recently the RAM utilization was starting to creep up to the point where I couldn’t squeeze any more VMs on it. I started out on a month long deal-hunt to find something that would work for me.

My requirements were:

  • Cheap (like real cheap!) <$300 preferred
  • Relatively modern CPU architecture (at least 4-cores, 8 logical)
  • Power Bill Friendly (Energy Efficiency for performance)
  • Preferably rack mounted
  • At least  32GB of RAM
  • Quiet if possible!
  • Some type of remote management
  • Support for remote monitoring (SNMP/iDRAC/etc).
  • Dual GB NIC with room to add a NIC card

I ended up scoring a used Dell R210ii.  This ticked off nearly everything on the list.  Here are the specs!

  • Intel Xeon Quad Core E3-1240 v2 3.4GHz
  • 32GB DDR3 1600MHz (Maxed out)
  • 240GB SSD
  • Dell iDRAC 6
  • Dual GB NIC + Management port

All in shipped price of $285

Read more… Pictures included!

Packaging from an eBay seller is always nerve wracking, but I was pleasantly surprised by this seller’s packing!  Better than most things I buy from Amazon.

Picture of the Box

Packing Materials

Safe and Sound


The server itself looks fantastic, great condition, no excess dust, dings dents or anything out of the ordinary!

Front Bezel

Inside is Clean!

Look at all that RAM

I really wanted this to get something that wasn’t a total power hog. I was not disappointed by this at all. At idle, the R210ii is using around 30W, and full blast around 100W of power. In my lab environment it usually idles around 40W.

As for noise, well that’s something else entirely. I read a ton of posts where people were claiming that these R210ii’s were “silent”. When you power this thing on, the 12000RPM fans really show you what’s up. It sounds like a jet taking off. After things settle down a bit, it hovers around 50dBm on the chassis. The fans periodically revv up when it’s in use, which if it’s in earshot you’ll hear it “take-off” from time to time for 10 seconds or so. Not as silent as I had hoped, but generally it’s only slightly above ambient in my closet. I’m still working on a project to enclose the space for these servers, which should made the whole rack silent. Small tradeoff for power efficiency and size.

Noise running Memtest

And here it is all “racked” up in my closet. The fit is perfect, and overall the performance of this little guy has been stellar. After about a month of use with the internal SSD, the drive decided to kick the bucket. If you’re looking into buying a used server, definitely take into account that there is a good chance the drives may have been thrashed in the environment it was in. Not a huge loss, but still a bit disappointing. I moved all my VMs to my NAS, and I’ll eventually get around to buying a SSD to upgrade it.

All "racked" up

Overall extremely pleased with the product!

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