Converting from Server Form Factor to a Workstation/Tower

HalfEatenPie

The Irrational One
Retired Staff
Howdy folks!

So just going to put this out there (might as well ask!).  I've had a supermicro Dual L5420 1U 1/2 depth server sitting in my room for a while now and I've finally decided to do something with it.  

I'm going to be moving it from the 1U server case to a desktop/tower ITX case.  Any issues I should look out for?

My motherboard is the Supermicro X7DCA-L

I mean my general idea was to grab the motherboard manual and make sure I plug the pins right to the case.  Only other issue I could think of is that this server currently has two passive heatsinks.  I'll probably have to get a few fans on those or just completely switch them out for a heatsink with fans... correct?  (I mean come on, this thing was designed to be in a well air-conditioned room and I'll be moving it to a... well...  definitely a bit hotter room).  

Tell me what you think!

Also totally unrelated, if anyone has 2x 8 GB Buffered (Registered) ECC DDR2 667/533 RAM or 4x 4 GB Buffered ECC DDR2 667/533 RAM (or just any RAM for this baby) that you're willing to part with, let me know!  I might be interested!  
 

rmlhhd

New Member
Verified Provider
It's a simple ATX motherboard so any ATX case should do the job, I'd recommend using desktop heat sinks (built-in fan's) so make sure the server get's cooled properly instead of the slimline server heat sinks that have small fans pushing air over them.
 

HalfEatenPie

The Irrational One
Retired Staff
It's a simple ATX motherboard so any ATX case should do the job, I'd recommend using desktop heat sinks (built-in fan's) so make sure the server get's cooled properly instead of the slimline server heat sinks that have small fans pushing air over them.
That's exactly what I thought I'd need to do.

I'll probably need to buy the heatsinks and the brackets for them and all that jazz.  

So theoretically I shouldn't end up hitting a wall or anything correct?  
 

rmlhhd

New Member
Verified Provider
That's exactly what I thought I'd need to do.

I'll probably need to buy the heatsinks and the brackets for them and all that jazz.  

So theoretically I shouldn't end up hitting a wall or anything correct?  
Theoretically yes, there should be no problems at all. 
 

pcan

New Member
The motherboard form factor is ATX. Regular desktop boards have a 4 pin 12V CPU power connector; server boards like this one requires a PSU with 8 pin cable. Check your power supply connectors.
 

devonblzx

New Member
Verified Provider
I'm going to be moving it from the 1U server case to a desktop/tower ITX case.  Any issues I should look out for?

My motherboard is the Supermicro X7DCA-L
That's your first issue.  ITX cases are for ITX motherboards,  You won't find many server boards in ITX form factor and definitely not a dual processor one.

A second issue would be cooling.  You need to account for the passive cooling of the processors.  Rackmounts typically use passive heatsinks with case fans and guided airflow.
 
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HalfEatenPie

The Irrational One
Retired Staff
That's your first issue.  ITX cases are for ITX motherboards,  You won't find many server boards in ITX form factor and definitely not a dual processor one.

A second issue would be cooling.  You need to account for the passive cooling of the processors.  Rackmounts typically use passive heatsinks with case fans and guided airflow.
Yeah so my general assumption was that I'd have to switch out the passive heatsinks with active ones (the ones with fans).  

The motherboard form factor is ATX. Regular desktop boards have a 4 pin 12V CPU power connector; server boards like this one requires a PSU with 8 pin cable. Check your power supply connectors.
Good call.  I'll make sure I'll find a power supply connector with 8 pins.  
 

Jonathan

Woohoo
Administrator
Verified Provider
I have tons of ECC registered DDR2. Been sellong it on ebay for $20 for 4x 2GB sticks.
 
Monitor those temps closely when you power it on for the first time. I know a buddy who tried to do this with a half-depth Supermicro -- started smelling ozone and by then it was too late :)
 

HalfEatenPie

The Irrational One
Retired Staff
No :( Just hundreds of sticks of 2GB.
Well...  maybe we can work something out.

I recent went to find some ram at the local electronics market.  Turns out they don't sell the proper ones I need (Korea uses the F-series RAM or something).  Also another seller quoted me a ton.  

So...  any chance we can talk about packaging some of that up for Korea? :)
 

devonblzx

New Member
Verified Provider
Yeah so my general assumption was that I'd have to switch out the passive heatsinks with active ones (the ones with fans).  
My fault for skimming, I missed that in your OP.

So you're in Korea?  I was going to say that after all the expenses, it would probably be best for you to sell the Dual L5420 and buy a used tower on eBay but I'm not sure if the market for servers/workstations is as largely available in Korea as it is in the US.  I know in the US, you'd be able to get a better system if you used the proceed from selling this system and the money you were going to put towards converting (heatsinks, case, power supply, memory).

It all depends on what you do.  A dual L5420 is nice for some but the single threaded performance of even a 1st gen i5 or i7 would outperform it by a long shot which, for desktop computing, can be pretty important.
 

pcan

New Member
Be sure to order the right RAM sticks. Many E54xx motherboards needs DDR2 ECC Fully Buffered DIMMs (FBDIMM, or -F series), the regular DDR2 ECC memory modules won't fit on the sockets. High capacity FBDIMMs have always been expensive. Check markings on the current memory modules to see the actual installed and required type. Don't trust the motherboard datasheet only.
 

devonblzx

New Member
Verified Provider
Be sure to order the right RAM sticks. Many E54xx motherboards needs DDR2 ECC Fully Buffered DIMMs (FBDIMM, or -F series), the regular DDR2 ECC memory modules won't fit on the sockets. High capacity FBDIMMs have always been expensive. Check markings on the current memory modules to see the actual installed and required type. Don't trust the motherboard datasheet only.
All of the Dual L5420 we have used have been PC2-5300P.  So just the standard ECC registered DDR2-667, not fully buffered.

Edit:  This includes 3 different MFGs: Supermicro, HP, and Dell.
 
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pcan

New Member
So, the Fully Buffered requirement is mainly a Fujitsu thing, I guess. I used to have many Fujitsu 54xx and 51xx servers and workstations, all of them accepted FB DIMMs only. 
 

Jonathan

Woohoo
Administrator
Verified Provider
Well...  maybe we can work something out.

I recent went to find some ram at the local electronics market.  Turns out they don't sell the proper ones I need (Korea uses the F-series RAM or something).  Also another seller quoted me a ton.  

So...  any chance we can talk about packaging some of that up for Korea? :)
Looks like it will cost about $20-23 to ship it USPS flat rate international.  So basically around $45 total.  Your call.  It will be coming from Birmingham,AL if you want to check for alternative shipping options.  I can ship USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.
 

HalfEatenPie

The Irrational One
Retired Staff
Be sure to order the right RAM sticks. Many E54xx motherboards needs DDR2 ECC Fully Buffered DIMMs (FBDIMM, or -F series), the regular DDR2 ECC memory modules won't fit on the sockets. High capacity FBDIMMs have always been expensive. Check markings on the current memory modules to see the actual installed and required type. Don't trust the motherboard datasheet only.
Haha double checked it.  This DDR2 667/533 ECC Memory module uses the P series.  From my understanding the -F series are more commonly used in the Asian countries.  

My fault for skimming, I missed that in your OP.

So you're in Korea?  I was going to say that after all the expenses, it would probably be best for you to sell the Dual L5420 and buy a used tower on eBay but I'm not sure if the market for servers/workstations is as largely available in Korea as it is in the US.  I know in the US, you'd be able to get a better system if you used the proceed from selling this system and the money you were going to put towards converting (heatsinks, case, power supply, memory).

It all depends on what you do.  A dual L5420 is nice for some but the single threaded performance of even a 1st gen i5 or i7 would outperform it by a long shot which, for desktop computing, can be pretty important.
Haha I brought this Dual L5420 with me from the States when I moved here.  Where I am now, there really isn't a second-hand server market.  Even if there was, it's almost the same price as the new hardware.  Hell I went to a server hardware reseller earlier today and all the prices were similar to buying an entirely new system.  I know the limitations of the older Dual L5420 models (I've had my fair share of use with them don't you worry ;) ) and my use is used with Computational Fluid Dynamics calculations.  Granted it'd be better to use DDR3 servers since they provide more bandwidth but being an underfunded graduate student means I have to work with what I have.  I do have a few servers running CFD models at the moment (and then downloading the outputs locally) but since I already had this hardware here I thought might as well put it to use (instead of it gathering dust in the corner)

Anyways the case comes in tomorrow.  Besides that I bought the power supply today and should be ready to go soon!  
 

HalfEatenPie

The Irrational One
Retired Staff
Looks like it will cost about $20-23 to ship it USPS flat rate international.  So basically around $45 total.  Your call.  It will be coming from Birmingham,AL if you want to check for alternative shipping options.  I can ship USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.
Ehh... that's probably the cheapest it'll ever be.  

Give me a bit of time to sort out a few other issues (aka actually try and get this up and running tomorrow without issue) and then I'll hit you up again for that extra RAM. 

Thanks a ton man!  
 
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