Building the smallest mITX 14 Core 64gb RAM Virtual Machine Server

We often need students to log into virtual machines during class… and this is one of the servers we built for that purpose. Build log first:

Trying to fit a 14 Core Xeon E5-2683v3 into the smallest form factor (minibox m350) was not easy, but sometimes physical space constraints in the server room make such a build worth it. The hardest part of the build was getting parts to fit around the 2011-3 socket, as most ITX hardware is available for the 1151 socket.

Many mistakes were made, and here are the key takeaways:

  • Use an m.2 SSD: Using a 2.5″ SSD was too large, and ultimately the build used a SATA to m.2 adapter for an even smaller storage footprint
  • Fan Woes: Although the Dynatron R13 fit the build nicely, it’s possibly the loudest fan you have ever heard in an ITX board, and we scrapped it for a Noctua case fan attached to a fanless T318 heatsink.
  • Peak 130 Watt Power: Benchmarked with 28 burnP6 (100% cpu) processes, the machine utilized around 120 – 130 watts, staying stable at 80-85 degrees Celsius peak. The machine idled around 35 watts and 45-55 degrees. Since then, we’ve added more 40mm fans to drive the temperature further down.
  • Power supply woes: This proved to be too much power for the “120W Power Supply” we originally got for the machine, and we ended up picking a 192 watt one from Amazon. However, the 192 watt power supply had the positive and negative leads on the 4 pin connector reversed from what the PicoPSU required, and so the cable needed to be cut and reversed manually.

It’s now comfortably runs several virtual machines (dozens of concurrent users for KTByte computer science classes).
Here is an early picture with the wrong cpu fan (Dynatron R13 is too loud!) and hard drive. Although it is possible to build with the R13 and this SSD, it sounds like a jet taking off. Pen for scale:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Xeon E5-2683 V3 2.0GHz 14-Core Processor Purchased For $472.00
CPU Cooler Dynatron T318 Fanless CPU Cooler Purchased For $32.85
Motherboard ASRock EPC612D4I Mini ITX LGA2011-3 Narrow Motherboard Purchased For $269.99
Storage MyDigitalSSD BP5e Slim 7 240GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive Purchased For $79.99
Case Mini-Box M350 HTPC Case Purchased For $39.95
Case Fan Noctua NF-A9x14 29.7 CFM 92mm Fan Purchased For $15.63
Other picoPSU-160-XT 160W 12V DC-DC Power Converter Module Purchased For $44.50
Other Ubuntu Server $0.00
Other 4x Samsung M471A2K43BB1-CPB 16GB PC4-17000 DDR4-2133 2Rx8 1.2V SODIMM Memory Purchased For $364.88
Other AD905A SATA III 3 to M.2 SSD Connector Converter Adapter Card Purchased For $9.99
Other 2x Dynatron DF124010BM-3G 3pin 40x40x10mm Ball Bearing Case Fan Purchased For $13.90
Other 192W AC-DC Power Adapter 12VDC 16.0A FOR E1276 STD-12160 (MODDED) Purchased For $44.95
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total $1388.63
Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-10-26 13:08 EDT-0400

One Reply to “Building the smallest mITX 14 Core 64gb RAM Virtual Machine Server”

  1. Great Build! The case I use which is slightly larger is a IN WIN Chopin Mini-ITX Tower Case that comes with a 150W Power Supply. The nice thing about it is the top cover has a screen that you can remove or alter which would be perfect for a nice big cooling fan. I’m not currently using the case because the lack of any (PCI-e) expansion slots but after seeing your build, I am thinking about it 🙂

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