I’ve had a lot of friends ask me over time, “Correnzo, how did you get so many servers”? I buy them lightly used off Amazon & eBay, often at a heavy discount from MSRP.

Many datacenters replace their brand new servers after only a few years. It reduces the likelihood of unplanned downtime and maintenance, which is far more difficult to manage than having planned for it. Middleman companies clean, maintain and refurbish the hardware before reselling it, typically on e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay.

I’m going to find the best servers at 3 price points, $300, $600 & $1500 Let’s go browse amazon and see what shows up for a Dell R710 to try and fill in the low end of that spectrum. I’ll also stick with Dell & find an R720 for the mid-end of the spectrum, though there are several other server models that would fill that niche too. And for the highest price point, I don’t have anything specific.

Under $300

There’s a ton of listings. After perusing for a little bit I found a decent R710 that (less an OS) would be ready to rock right out of the box for only $187.

  • 2x Xeon L5520 processors (4cores/8threads each, 8c/16t total)

  • 32gb off DDR3 ECC RAM.

  • 2× 300GB 10kRPM SAS HDDs

  • Perc6i Raid controller

It’s by no means a dream but for under $200 it’s a fantastic addition to the beginnings of any home lab.

Under $600

For this one, I stuck with dell and went up a tier, looking for a Dell R720 & I found one that I wish I could buy for myself. Nearly every component is worth more than the listed value of the entire machine. Let’s look at this beast!!

  • 2x 2.60GHz E5-2670 16-Cores / 32 Threads Total

  • 192GB RAM

  • 8x 2TB 7.2K SATA 3.5″ HDD

  • H710P w/ 512MB, iDRAC7


  • Redundant 750W PSU

That RAM alone makes me excited. Wooof!! With resources like that you’re ready to host some intensive workloads, or divide your workloads between your favorite flavor of VM or containerization.

Under $1500

For this one, I found another dell and I bet you can guess its model number. It’s a Dell R730, and if the last one was a beast, this one’s absolutely monstrous for its price. I’d love it as a virtualization platform for my VMware cloud. With 48 threads it’s an absolute workhorse, and with 128GB of RAM out of the box, you’ve got plenty to work with and room for about 3x more if you stick with 16GB DIMMs.  Full specs below.

  • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2680 v3 – 2.50GHz 24/48threads total

  • 128GB – 8x16GB PC4-1700R DDR4 Registered

  • 2x 750W R3 PSU

  • iDRAC 8 Express

  • 8x Enterprise 3TB 7.2k 3.5″ SAS Hard Drive