- Feb 8, 2015
I learned that lesson the hard way, myself.Okay, I figured that it was time for me to finally make a post about my preferred system along with reasons, justifications, pro and cons, etc. I have mentioned the Dell C2100/FS12-TY countless times and figured that it would be easier to simply have a single thread to point to. So without further ado here we go...
*** Disclaimer: These are just my opinion(s) and should be taken as such. This is not an "end all" definitive guide, but more along the lines of personal praise for a specific Make/Model. Consider it more of a "brain dump" and will/may be updated as I try to "fill in the gaps" :p
Okay, so like pretty much everyone else my journey began searching for a machine that pretty much "did it all"; but wasn't looking to mortgage my house for it. However, I wanted the ability to be able to "run with the big dogs" (well perhaps jog a distance behind them at least). In my endeavors I started out with a Dell C1100 (1U model) that was pretty cheap. Once I fired the unit up, I had an "oh crap" moment since it basically sounded like a jet engine at full blast constantly. In trying to find a way to quiet this beast down, I discovered that the main reason for the fans running so high was due to crappy BMC Firmware. So, luckily I was able to downgrade that to <= v1.7 and things were a lot better. Being a 1U it still would have trouble dissipating heat and the fans would have to spin up often (its way of reminding me that "psst.. I'm still here"). For that reason, along with the fact that it could only house 4 drives led me to look at the C2100/FS12-TY. Here is where my love affair began...
Before even considering this model there are a couple things you need to know right off the bat. Take these into consideration:
- While Dell itself did sell the actual "C2100" model to the public, 99% of the ones you will see are the "FS12-TY" models
- The "FS12-TY" were customized models sold under DCS "Dell Cloud Services" directly to specific customers who purchased a large amounts of them (think minimal order was like 10,000 units?)
- There is also even more confusion since other names were thrown in like "Quanta" and "Sequoia"
- I not had any issues with any of them thus far (maybe I am just lucky?)
- You will not get any Official Dell Support for anyof these
- These puppies are way out of any possible warranty
- Again 99% of the one for sale are the FS12-TY which were sold directly to large customers
- Well aside from the way older drivers, firmware that you can download for the C2100 from Dell
- Documentation is limited/scattered
- Not everything is clearly laid out and described thoroughly
- While there is an official manual (from Dell) it lacks information on some stuff like what each jumper does on the backplane
- While a bit annoying, I have pretty much been able to find out what I needed via forums and searches though
- There is NO EFI/UEFI BIOS for this unit
- What this means is that the MB does not do GPT so if you were thinking of having a 3TB Boot disk directly attached to the MB forget about using/seeing the full space (you will see ~1.9 TB)
- Don't freak out... This does not stop you from using larger drives that are going through a HBA for FreeNas (I currently do and it sees all the drive space)
- This does make it a bit tricky for VM Guest where you want a single drive over 2TB, but there are "creative" ways to get around that if needed
- Yes, you can still run modern OSes like Win 10
- I actually prefer this since it simplifies things for me
- Watch your backplane
- While most of the models come with a SAS2 backplane there is the chance you will get caught off guard and get one with a older SAS backplane with SFF-8484 connectors
- Usually a tell-tale of this is that they are selling the unit with a Perc 6/i card
- While I do have one of these backplanes, I never tried to see if it fully supports > 2TB drives (on my list to check out)
- This is not the most environmental friendly unit; but it won't kill Bambi either
- You can make it very very quite (more on that later) by ensuring the BMC Firmware is <=v1.7; so "Noise Pollution" is not an issue
- As far a power goes, well it does have two 750W PSUs (can just use a singe if needed; but not recommended)
- CPUs are available in a wide variety of TDPs (from 40 to 130) so that plays a big part on wattage
- Average for 3 of my units (all fully populated w/12 HGST Drives) is ~211 watts each (post #29) YMMV
- Certain "desirable" parts are gonna cost ya
- 2.5" Hard Drive Trays, yes there is a variant that will take 24 x 2.5" drives
- Fun fact, if you don't get the unit with the trays, expect to sell a kidney to pay for them
- The real 2.5" trays are EXPENSIVE; like ~$26.00 each (yeah EACH)
- I ended up paying about twice as much just for the trays ($700.00) as I did the for two barebone units I bought, but was initially looking at ~$1,500.00 for just empty trays.. (See story Here)
- 3.5" Hard Drive Trays, are pretty cheap; while not dirt cheap they should not be considered a "show stopper"
- Bonus, the 3.5" trays will take a 2.5" drive without any modifications or additional hardware needed
- Hard Drive Tray Screws (Really?... Um yeah...)
- Being a Dell, they of course made this a PITA; while not a major cost you can't just use any standard screw in the trays
- Always a good idea to ask the seller to include the screws
- I personally use just two screws in each tray (diagonally) to save on them
Worst case you can buy them online for ~$10.00/24 pcs (I believe those are the correct ones; will have to double check to be 100% sure)
- Update (thanks to @kngpwr): You can get 100 screws from Amazon for a little over $8.00.
- This model offers two specialized "mezzanine" ports that can accommodate certain hardware
- One is for a "Perc H200" that will run you about ~$130.00on average
- It is a "nice to have" since it frees up a PCIe Slot (which are 2 x 8 PCI Express Gen2)
- Yes it can be cross-flashed just like the normal H200 (I use the "mezzanine" model mainly)
- The other port is for an Intel Dual 10GB LAN
1U systems are loud af.
Unless super low power, I find anything under 3U runs too hot at an acceptable SPL to be reasonable for home use. It's my own rule of thumb I earned through painful trial and error.
My CSE-825TQ is the only exception I've seen to this rule, but Supermicro delivers pure engineering magic.