Home lab upgrade log April 11, 2019

Last year, I bought a few new used HP computers via eBay to build-out my VMware lab setup

-A EliteDesk 800 G3 SFF – which has a Intel core i5 6500 CPU, non-hyper threaded!
-A HP Prodesk 400 G3 mini – which has a Intel core i5 6500T CPU, non-hyper threaded! This is the 2nd of these models I’ve bought

I had chosen the HP EliteDesk 800 G3 as it featured the right combination of PCIe, drive slots to support use as a replacement for my existing full-size ATX file server.

The unit itself came with no RAM/HDD, or add-in cards, which suited me fine, as it kept the price low on eBay

I added the following:
-Seagate 12 TB EXOS 3.5 7200 RPM HDD
-32 GB (2 x 16) DDR4 RAM
-Intel Server Adapter I350-T4 V2 Quad- Port gigabit card

The HP ProDesk 400 G3 Mini got a Samsung 256 GB NVM SD and 32 GB RAM, for the OS, I installed ESXi 6.5, ESXi 6.7 is not possible with this particular model of HP , as it’s got the dreaded Realtek NIC, which has been blacklisted in recent ESXi 6.7 builds. I didn’t actually know this when I purchased the unit, so I will eventually be selling it, as i’m keen to level-set my vSphere setup on 6.7

With OS installs completed on the 2 new HP units, physical keyboard/mouse/video connections were removed.

Low-level remote mgmt (aka lights out/IPMI) on my remote lab has always been a challenge for me, as I never had “server grade” systems / motherboards. However, as luck would have it, the HP EliteDesk 800 G3 was vPro enabled, which means Intel AMT ! I’ve seen the vPro sticker on a 1000 Dell/Lenovo/HP desktops I’ve worked on over the years, but never considered it suitable for “lights out” mgmt, as everywhere i’ve worked has used another facility – or none at all – for lights-out mgmt of desktops.

Anyway, I enabled AMT on my HP EliteDesk 800 G3, and it’s been working great for remote mgmt I need to do that can’t be done over RDP, OS re-install, BIOS changes, force reboots, etc

I’m so happy with it, that i’ve already started building the replacement for my HP Prodesk 400 G3 mini around a vPro enabled motherboard!

This one, here: https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/Q370M-D3H-GSM-PLUS-rev-10#kf

Which features a Q370 chipset. Q? Q? No, not that “Q”

Q series chipsets go into PC’s destined for use in business, so feature vPro / AMT for remote management

As such, they are much less common than the Z series: Z390 for instance, each of the “big 4” mobo makers (Asus, Asrock, Gigabye, MSI) have dozens of iterations for ITX/MATX/ATX

Where as, for the Q370 line, you’ve just got 3 models (1 each from Asus, Asrock, Gigabyte)
Asrock Q370M
Asus Prime Q370M
Gigabyte Q370M (which I bought)

Sourcing the Gigabyte Q370M here in Canada was a chore! I ended up buying it from a store/drop-shipper I’ve never used before called SoftwareCity. They’ve let me know the item is on back order, with 3-4 weeks typical processing time. Fingers crossed it arrives, as i’m keen to buy the other pieces, which are as follows

-Intel Core i7 8700 (6 core / 12 threads)
-32 GB DDR4 RAM (2x 16) – I will more than likely expand this to 64 at a late date
-Intel Server Adapter I350-T4 V2 Quad- Port gigabit card (on it’s way from Chinese eBay seller)
-Jonsbo UMX3 case
-TBD Modular ATX PSU
-TBD CPU cooler
-TBD 10 GBe NIC (either SFP or RJ45 based)

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