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What should get to upgrade?

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I got a free Dell T310 from work with Xeon CPU x3430 @2.4ghz.  My main hobby is home automation so right now its running a bunch of docker containers and running the quiet well. The most intensive one is the Zoneminder container with object detection. I track the usage in influxdb/grafana with telegraf and my 24 average total CPU usage is about 70% so not bad for a 2009 hardware.  In addition to the docker I have a Ubuntu VM that is uses to do cloud backup.

I am fine on storage, I have SSD for cache, 2Tb parity, as well  2Tb+1Tb+320gb+320gb storage. I plan to move the drives over as is .I do not store videos and use plex and don't plan to so storage has not been an ssue.  Its mainly CPU Power. What I want to do is put in a graphics card and crankup  up Ubuntu Desktop VM as a workstation . Maybe do face detection with zoneminder docker and I need more CPU power for that.

 

if my budget is $400 max, what can i get used to give me most upgrade for the price that will hold 6 drives.

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Hello fellow T310 user !

 

I am considering some of the same pathways as you, and am often out looking for used server hardware. I did shoehorn in multiple drives (Up to 7 SATA/SAS drives and a 1TB SSD) and a GT1030 into my T310 that I am running a NAS on, but struggling to get either a Win7/64 or Win10/64 in a VM to address the 1030 card correctly. (You can find my thread on my T310 build in the forum) I picked the 1030 video card as it is relatively low power, which is important for the T310. And I like the T310 Xeon X34XX 4 core/8 thread design for CPU utilization. But if I had it to do over again, I'd pick up the "low profile" version over the ASUS GT 1030 OC version I currently have. The 1030 does work in the T310, but it's "finicky" - so I might try an Unbuntu VM to see if that helps based on your comment. (Thanks!)

 

With that in mind, I think you could look at two or three strategies:

 

1) Get a GT1030 low profile card for about $100, and install in the T310 and "hope" it works better than my experience. Or you could look at an AMD or other graphics card. Problem is that nVidia really is a leader in GPU performance and in utilization in computational heavy codes for transcoding and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications. And the T310 just doesn't have the power (No PCIe 6/8 pin power cords) to drive higher end cards like the RTX 2080 or GTX 1080Ti. You could back down to a low power card, like a GT610 - but it really depends on the application and GPU power you want/need. (And I need to remind myself to look at Zoneminder, thanks for that tip!) But an upgraded GPU could greatly reduce your CPU load on things like feature recognition.

 

2) Surf Craigslist/eBay/LetGo and come up with a nice (used) dual Xeon server in a 1U or 2U rack with very little investment ($100-200). That approach would still leave you a fair bit of funding for a decent GPU card (GTX 1050 or GTX 1070 @ $100-$200?) And you'd  probably want to update the SAS/SATA card ($50-$100), and/or max out on ECC server RAM which will run a few more $. Given that both DELL and HP seem to be very proprietary in their motherbaord designs - (which drives me crazy at times,) I would tend to recommend the SuperMicro or similar "open architecture" server pathway with at least DDR3 ECC RAM - if you want a server grade, reliable build.

 

[For example, I just picked up a SuperMicro system (sans drives or power supply, but with 32GB DDR2 RAM) for $20 - which included a "bitcoin" brand 8x riser - so I am guessing was a failed bitcoin mining rig attempt. But for another $25, I can upgrade the dual CPUs to 3+Ghz, and I can probably find an ATX power supply for around $40. That pathway has significant performance potential over the T310.]

 

3) Consider just upgrading the Xeon CPU x3430 @2.4ghz in the T310 to something like a Intel Xeon X3480 @ 3.06 GHz which are selling on eBay for $25. That's a 25% performance bump for not a lot of money. (And allow for buying a better SAS/SATA controller, more drives, and a good low end graphics card like a GT610 or GT 1030.) That upgrade might drop CPU usage from 70% to around 50%, and allow a little more headroom in feature recognition. Also if you've not got the Dell H200 SAS controller, I would highly recommend that upgrade in the T310 so you can push past the 2TB barrier that the H700 controllers have. But, this approach also "max's out" the T310 and leaves nowhere else to go. (This is about where I am, so I am out shopping for the next box for me.)

 

4) Look for something like a used Dell Poweredge T610 2x Intel Xeon, which run around $350 on eBay, move everything else over, grab a cheap nVidia GT610 ($40) or GTX 970 ($80) and then call it "Done for now".

 

Hope this helps... feel free to check back with me.

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