Home Lab on the Cheap: HP Z420 from eBay

Many technical individuals want to continually build their skills and learn new technologies. Sometimes this requires a hardware lab setup in order to run additional desktop or server operating system instances in virtual machines. This can be done in a number of ways:

1) Using an existing desktop or laptop with Client Hyper-V on either Windows 10 or Windows 8.1
2) Purchase new desktop or server hardware ($$$)
3) Purchase used server hardware (loud, power hungry)
4) Purchase used workstation hardware

When thinking about upgrading my home lab, initially I was dead set on buying server hardware, but decided against it when I considered power draw, space requirements, and the fact that my office is right off of my bedroom. I don’t think the wife would appreciate the loud fans of a 1U or 2U server running loudly all night, and I’d probably get tired of it as well. I don’t have another place to put it, so that solution was out.

I decided to go with a used HP Z420 workstation from eBay. I did quite a bit of research and found that this model should be able to run both Hyper-V and VMware ESXi very well. Additionally, it wouldn’t run too loud, nor would it be too terrible on the power bill. I was able to purchase one for $180 that had the following specs:   Continue reading “Home Lab on the Cheap: HP Z420 from eBay”

Intel Launches Sweepstakes for Core i7-8086K and Processor Details

Intel is running a sweepstakes, which began today and runs through tomorrow to win one of their new Core i7-8086K processors. The contest is celebrating 40 years of x86 computing since the initial 8086 release. It began today, June 7, at 5:00 PST and runs for only 24 hours, so hurry and enter if you are interested. Intel is giving away 8,086 of the processors, 2,086 in the United States, and the rest in other regions around the globe. Winners are being chosen on June 11. The processor is described as a limited-edition, available through the sweepstakes, and unknown if it will be available at retail later.

The processor is part of their 8th generation Core family, using the Coffee Lake architecture. Like other Coffee Lake products, it is built on a 14nm process. It is similar to the existing i7-8700K, but slightly faster.

Core i7-8700K Core i7-8086K
Cores/Threads 6/12 6/12
Base Frequency 3.7 GHz 4.0 GHz
Turbo Frequency (single core) 4.7 GHz 5.0 GHz
L3 cache 12MB 12MB
TDP 95W 95W
Graphics UHD Graphics 630 UHD Graphics 630
GPU Frequency 350-1200 MHz 350-1200 MHz
Price $359 Sweepstakes value listed as $425

The other differences are that the 8086K does not have vPro support and is not part of Intel’s Stable Image Platform Program. Neither is surprising given that it is a limited edition processor.

China will have 2000 8086K’s awarded, Germany 1000, and 500 each in Canada, U.K., France, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Threadripper 2 With 32 Cores, 64 Threads Announced by AMD at Computex

AMD introduced Threadripper 2, the next version of their high-end desktop platform, during their press conference at Computex in Taipei. Not many details were shared, as the CPUs will not be released until sometime in Q3 2018. Most importantly, AMD said that Threadripper 2 will have a 32-core, 64-thread model, as well as a 24-core, 48-thread model. There was no mention of clock speeds, though AMD’s demonstration showed both the 24-core and 32-core model running with an air cooler, possibly a bit of shade being thrown at Intel over their 5GHz 28-core demo, which appeared to be using a chilled water cooler according to Tom’s Hardware.

Other details that AMD did share were that Threadripper 2 will contain the same enhancements as the 2nd generation Ryzen desktop processors released in April. These include being built on a 12nm process, and the Zen+ architecture. It was specifically mentioned that the 32-core version uses four active Ryzen 2nd-gen die in one CPU package, tied together with AMD’s Infinity Fabric. The first version of Threadripper with 16 cores, used 2 active die, though four were present in the CPU package. Threadripper 2 is also a drop-in replacement in existing X399 motherboards (likely with a BIOS update).

AMD’s demonstration showed the 24-core Threadripper outperforming an 18-core Intel i9 in a rendering test in Blender by a fair amount. The 32-core was also demoed, though not directly against an Intel product.

The replay of the press conference is available on Youtube here.

Update: Anandtech has posted slides from AMD’s presentation which show that both the 24-core and 32-core Threadripper 2 CPUs had a 3.0 GHz base frequency, and 3.4GHz (all-core) Turbo frequency, along with a 250W TDP. The turbo speed is noted as WIP. The slide also showed that the 24-core was using DDR4-2666, while the 32-core used DDR4-3200 RAM. That appears to have put the 24-core TR2 at a disadvantage in it’s head-to-head rendering test compared to the Intel i9, which was using DDR4-3200, and as Ryzen based systems are impacted more by memory speeds.