Single or Dual Quad Core Xeon

Hi All, we are "spec'ing" up a new server for a new smallish client and would just like some advice on 2 configurations we have narrowed it down to.

Firstly the intended OS: MS Server 2003 Std (32 Bit) running as domian controller, terminal server, application server, dhcp, dns (pretty much running everything) for 20-25 concurrent users.

Apps: MS Office, couple very small parts databases, MYOB and some other in house management software.

Config 1:
Supermicro MBX7SBE Single Xeon m/b
Intel Xeon X3350 2.66GHZ 1333MHZ 12MB Quad Active
4GB DDR2 800 ECC 240pin RAM

Config 2:
Supermicro X7DVL-E Dual Xeon m/b
Intel Xeon E5405 2.0GHz 1333MHZ 12MB Quad Active
4GB DDR2 667 Full Buffered ECC

Both configs will have RAIDed hard drives and all the other "normal" bits and pieces.

Even though Config 2 looks like a much faster and better solution on the face of it, the cost increase is quite significant. So our question is will Config 1 be able to handle our intended setup, given that it is only a 32 bit OS, and still have some in reserve or do we have to convince our client to spend the extra dollars to go to Config 2 (with slow CPU's and RAM).

Any advice will be appreciated.

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Gary CaseConnect With a Mentor RetiredCommented:
For the relatively modest user load I think config #1 is fine, especially with the same disk configuration (which I gather will be the same on both systems).

From a pure CPU "horsepower" perspective, the dual-CPU configuration has about 60% more power ... a PassMark CPU Mark of 5770 vs. about 3579 (I couldn't find the rating for an  X3350, but the very-similar Q9450 is rated at 3579).    But as you noted in your "... Ferrari vs. Ute ..." analogy, you don't always need the additional horsepower => and in this case I think that's very true.

One question I'd ask your client is what their expected future growth in users might be => if it's a fairly stable situation where they're not going to be doubling the users over the life of the server, I think Config #1 is just fine.
Bird DogConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I myself would try to convince then to go with the config 2 since future apps are always getting bigger and require more from your servers.Also config 2 is better equiped to even handle a os upgrade once required. But yes I have one site on a config which is close to config 1 and they are very happy with it.
I'm actually quite surprised that the cost is so different... I've got hundreds of quotes for servers in my time, and the price differential between having a dual core and a single core was at most £150...

Is it really that bigger difference??
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OzPro2Author Commented:
We agree that Config 2 would provide better future proofing however trying to get the client to part with the extra cash might be somewhat troublesome considering their budgetery constraints.

I must admit we were surprised too; here in Australia the difference is about $1000 AUD (just under GBP500) which realistically isn't much in the scheme of things but this client is pretty tight.

I guess we have this theory that "Why buy a Ferrari when all you need is a Ute (SUV)". We are prepared to try and push the client if you feel Config 1 is not up to the task. According to welmore it should be but any further comments will be taken on board.

Thanks again for your comments so far.
Well the only part that worries is me is where you say "application server". The rest could run on config 1 with no problems whatsoever, but this statement leaves a '?'...

i.e. What type of application? If we're talking about potentially running MS Exchange then I'd push for config 2 with all my might. Or even an intensive database application... And how many concurrent users might be using this application?

Unfortunately this is probably the key point to which config to go for, as config 1 would eat up all the other roles you mentioned with no problems... :)

Pete, it's not the difference between single and dual core, both are quad-core but config 1 has 1 CPU and config 2 has 2 CPUs. (or at least config 2 is capable of supporting 2 CPUs) the chipset costs more for a dual socket server.
PeteJThomasConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Oh lol, my bad - I didn't read the question properly! Nice save Andy!

In that case, in my opinion, it's probably ok to use config 1 - Again with MS Exchange, you can never have too much processing power, but if it's a relatively small application that will be running, a 2.66 Quad core should be ample really for the amount of users...

It still kind depends on the app I suppose, but for only those 20 odd users I think that would be fine! :)

superizConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Under many application loads, you will find that config 1 out-performs config 2 due to the faster processor clock speed and the faster ram. However, I would not even venture a guess in your particular case based on the sparse information provided. As other have indicated, you will need to provide as much detail as possible about any custom applications running as well as the number of concurent terminal server users and the applications they use while connected.
OzPro2Author Commented:
We really appreciate all the responses so far. Pete and garry: we echo your thoughts regarding the client being reasonably small at the moment however as gary has hinted, this client is predicting quite a steep growth path over the next 24-48 months. Perhaps adding another 15 odd users in that time. So just a quick supplementry question: Can a dual CPU motherboard (in this case the Supermicro) run with 1 CPU installed and then add another CPU at a later date.

superiz: you raise a valid point. we are checking with the software vendors to ascertain the expected load on the server for each app.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Yes, a dual CPU board will work fine with only one CPU installed ... and you can add a 2nd CPU at a later time.   I almost suggested that earlier :-)
OzPro2Author Commented:
Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. We have decided to go with Config 2 but with 1 CPU to start with then add the second CPU down the track (assuming of course we can still get the same CPU). This will future proof the client more so than if we used Config 1 and using 1 CPU now doesn't hit the finances as hard as as 2 CPU's.

Thanks again

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Good choice.   And the single E5405 isn't far behind the X3350 in performance -- Passmark of 3182 vs. the estimated 3579 I noted earlier => i.e. it's got 89% of the "horsepower" of Config #1, with a simple upgrade possibility (just add a CPU) that will provide substantially more power.
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