SQL Server Home Lab (Part #1 – Hardware)

For about two years I’ve been using a HP Microserver G7 N54L server. This small server is energetically efficient and allowed me to test VMWare vShere Hypervisor  (all the its hardware is compatible) with multiple virtual machines connected simultaneously (Active Directory, DNS, Webserver, 6 SQL Server instances, …), worked as Media Streaming Server (with Servioo),… it was a server for all the hard work!

HP Microserver G7 N54L CPU

As it was increasingly overloaded, his CPU, an AMD Turion II Neo N54L with 2 cores with 2,2GHz, was allways at high temperatures (even after changing the thermal paste) and the system fan in a big effort to try to cool him down. It was time for an upgrade to the CPU but the Microserver have a big problem: the CPU is soldered to the motherboard…

I would have to buy a new machine with multiple goals::

  • allow testing several high-availability environments (clusterin with SQL Server and try all the new features of SQL Server 2016, implying multiple virtual machines connected simultaneously;
  • be quiet and have a low energy consumption as it would be on 24/7;
  • possible future upgrade.


With only a budget of 450€ I started searching the various options on the market.

I also put into question the purchase of the “new” HP Microserver G8 but, after reading some blog post and some fóruns about its performance, I was afraid that the noise problem of the system fan persisted because the processor has no dedicated fan.

So I decided to buy the various components to create a personalized computer:


Inside the machine

Inside the machine

The total cost of the components was below the initial budget and met all the initial requirements.

It is much quieter than the Microserver N54L even when operating with three fans (CPU fan, PSU fan and then fan from the back of the case).

The consumption is approximately the same as the Microserver (about 35 W idle) but can process more information than the AMD N54L. However, it is not a high-end CPU… on the contrary. It’s a low-end processor that costs only about 65€.

This motherboard allows me to upgrade de CPU (if needed in the future) as well as the upgrade of RAM because I still have 2 more free slots (for example, I can add another kit of 16GB RAM and have a total 32GB).

Now that all the hardware is set up and working … it’s time to get to work with the software!!