A Look at the Lenovo ThinkServer RS160
When I started looking to purchase a server for my lab I originally looked at Dell and Lenovo. In the end I decided to go with Lenovo mainly because I used to be a partner with them, knew their products, and most importantly I knew I would not be locked to using only licensed Lenovo hardware.
The pair of ThinkServer RS160s and RAM were the first package to arrive. Powered with Intel’s E3-1230 v6 CPU it should be able to handle almost anything I want to throw at it from a processing standpoint.
I was only able to acquire 8GB RAM modules giving each host a total of 32 gigabytes which I know is where my real pain point in this setup will be. I did find one vendor that offered a version of the RS160 with 64GB of ram however their cost was well over double of what I have now. I felt having multiple hosts will be the better route to go as it will make maintenance and upgrades a lot easier. Ideally I look at this setup as the equivalence of having just 1 server with 2 CPUs and a total of 64GB of ram with the exception that I can just vMotion my VMs to one host when I need to do my upgrades versus requiring a swing box.
Trying to buy two hard drive cages online cost about $70 dollars for the set shipped. This is where that M.2 slot comes in, for now. At the moment I have installed a 1TB Samsung EVO and will use that as my primary storage until I get around to adding a RAID card or get a dedicated SAN/NAS.
In the end most hardware all comes from the same place, the major differentiators are design and support. Lenovo is a Chinese company with their support center located in GA with easy to understand technicians, the latter being a huge win for me. While Dell and Lenovo shared a very similar design, I wish I would have looked at HP before I made my purchase. For the exact same price, the HPE ProLiant DL20 seems to offer dual power supplies, includes a riser kit, and has hot swappable hard drive bays.