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Active Directory Hardware Requirements

I'm going to be upgrading our domain to Server 2008 next month and I'm starting to plan the hardware needed for the upgrade.  So far, here's what I'm thinking

Motherboard      Tyan   S2932WG2NR
Hard Drive      WD 1500AHFD (5)
RAM      Kingston KVR667D2D4P5K2/4G (4)
Raid Controller      Adaptec 2252400-R

Is this acceptable?  We're a small organization with maybe 75 users tops.  

I'm pretty set on everything except the hard drives...I'm pretty sure I can get away with four drives in a Raid 0+1 because I assume the drives are not accessed much.


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Chris Dent
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Hmm model numbers... a bit of an arduous task to look up model numbers to see the sizes / speeds / specifications they give.

Besides, there are much more important items to consider:

What will the server be doing?

For instance, is it just running Active Directory and perhaps DNS?
Or are you intending to load Exchange on there?

Without knowing that part we have no context to judge the hardware.


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Just running AD and DNS...that's it.

16GB of ram
1 AMD Opteron 2220

If that's all it's doing 16Gb of RAM is complete overkill. 2Gb would be more appropriate.

The processor won't exactly be taxed either, not a particularly demanding role.

It's going to be an x64 server, so it'll be able to cache whatever it needs in ram.

Then I'd recommend 4Gb, that gives it a great deal of comfort. There's no way a Windows 2008 DC will use 16Gb for the number of users you have. It's twice the MS recommended value for Server 2008.

Unless you're loading some exceptionally heavy applications on there the remaining 12Gb of RAM is going to be completely wasted.

I suppose that's something to keep in mind.  With the price of ram now, it's only $600 for 16GB.

My biggest question was the hard drive don't see any problem with four 10k RPM drives in RAID0+1 ?
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Chris Dent
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Noted, thanks.

Anyone else?
gotta say, I am with Chris on this one - this is a huuuge overkill on hardware for machine running nothing but AD and DNS...reality is, the load on AD and DNS for even 10x your user base really isnt much....I would listen to above, Chris knows that he is talking about on these things, and i am yet to disagree with him when it comes to anything AD related....
I'm in complete agreement with everyone else in this question.

The only time you would need that amount of RAM and/or hard disk capacity would only be if you were running additional services on the server - a highly used SQL Server or Terminal Services. The very fact it is going to be assigned to Domain Controller duties instantly means it is against all recommendations to run such applications on this server. This is primarily due to the fact of security, but for lots of concurrent database work, it is best on its own server (possibly even clustered...).

Unless you're storing roaming profiles or redirected folders on the server, the hard disk requirement isn't that much at all. At the most I would recommend 2 disks, perhaps configured to mirror each other in RAID. The majority of AD and DNS work is in RAM and network activity though, and even then, a 1Gbps link to the network and 1-2GB of RAM is plenty.

Just my $0.02!

Right...which is why this is only going to be used for an AD server.

At the very least, this server is going to have 4gb of ram..that's only $170 and with it being an X64 machine, it won't go to waste.

Thanks for your input everyone.
The only thing I would add, is why not get a branded machine?  HP/IBM or even *shudder* Dell would be better than a beige box server
No way.

I'm with you, I hate Dell.

I'm able to build better, faster, and cheaper boxes than I can buy in stores/retail.  The specs I outlined above are barely over $4k...there's no way I could buy anything like that for less than $6k
>>I'm able to build better, faster, and cheaper boxes than I can buy in stores/retail.

I started my career building beige boxes, I know exactly what you are talking about - but in a business network, it isn't about speed and price - it is about reliability and servicability.

I could buy a brand new HP server right now, fully loaded and VERY close to the same speed you have there, for maybe $1000 more.  What do I get for that?  The ability to demand new parts in 4 years times within 4 hours.

I still build machines, but only for MY non-work computers.  I don't even build friends machines now - too many calls at midnight because the mouse doesn't work.  And with Dell kicking out their plastic crap for $500 (which will do exactly what my friends and family would ever need) it is simply a better option.

Accept defeat :)  I did, and couldn't be happier with how it worked out :))