Build a server

Posted on 2004-09-10
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
What motherboards and cases do you recommend for building my own server?  It is going to run MS Exchange.  I wonder if I can save money by building it myself versus HP or Dell?
Question by:knottydrd
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Assisted Solution

chumplet earned 50 total points
ID: 12031788
As a long-time "build it myself" kinda guy, I should steer you in that direction.  Truth be told, however, the prices of pre-built servers have come down dramatically -- especially from Dell.  The Dell PowerEdge 400SC is famous for being a low-cost, nice performing server solution (link below).  I also run one of these boxes at home as my workstation!  It has been rock-solid and is very quiet.  I recommend one, if you're in the market for that type of machine.  Many of the deal sites (, will occasionally have links to these boxes starting at $299!  That's hard to beat.

If you really want to build it yourself, however, you should probably lean toward the name-brand manufacturers.  Asus, Intel, Abit, etc. for the motherboard.  Lian Li, Antec, or Enlight for a case.  Of course, recommendations will vary from person to person. is a good place to buy from.  Also, I would *always* spring for a good quality power supply and a battery-backup UPS device.  I cannot stress that enough.

Hope that helps!


LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 12032416
Generally I agree with chumplet.

Building your own server is fine if you aren't doing mission critical stuff, but if you are - and most people consider email/Exchange to be mission critical - you're better off getting something with a manufacturers warranty so that if and when something happens, you have ONE company to call who is responsible for all the hardware in the system.

That said, if you insist on a build-it-yourself box, then I too recommend name brand stuff.  BUT, from personal experience with Abit, I'd stay away from them.  In fact, any Motherboard manufacturer where the Manual states "The manufacturer..." repeatedly instead of identifying WHO the manufacturer is, is a bad thing.  I personally prefer gigabyte, asus, and especially for servers, Super Micro motherboards.

Author Comment

ID: 12035111
Assuming that money was not object and one wanted to build the best server possible, what components do you recommend for motherboards, cases, RAM, RAID and HDD?  I know that doesn't make sense considering my initial statement, but i'm trying to get an idea of my options here.

I would agree that email/exchange is mission critical, but we are a 17 user shop and its very difficult to justify 15K for an email server, but we do like the collaboration features that exchange provides to us.
LVL 96

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 75 total points
ID: 12035430
Who said you need to spend 15K on a server?  I spec'd out a Dell 4600 server, dual CPU capable (only 1 to start) with No OS on it for well under 5K.  If you want Small Business Server (since it includes Exchange, you'd need 1 SBS 2K3 license + 15 additional CALs.  Total Cost - ~2K for OS Licenses.  Grand total - Under $7K - less than half of the amount you feared.  And keep in mind the licenses are going to cost the roughly the same regardless of home built or bought from name brand.

PowerEdge 4600:  $4605 (not including a $200 mail-in rebate)
Intel® Xeon™ Processor at 2.4GHz, 512K Cache (Dual CPU Capable)
$200 Mail- In Rebate
1GB DDR SDRAM 4X256MB (12GB Max)
Tower Orientation
Non-Redundant Power Supply (Redundant Option)
No Keyboard Option
No Mouse Option
No Monitor Option
Electronic Documentation
3Yr BRONZE Support
PERC 3/Di RAID Controller
1X8 Hot-Pluggable Hard Drive Backplane
4x73GB 10K RPM Ultra 320 SCSI Drive (8 Drive, 146GB ea. Max)

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