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Best Micro-ATX Quad Server Spec for running virtual servers ??

Posted on 2008-10-07
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Hi All,

I need a portable and powerful server for running virtual servers for my professional work. From my current research I believe a Micro-ATX case will be best with a handle, something like the "Silverstone Sugo SG01B" or "Ultra Microfly". I intend to run Hyper-V on Windows 2008 or Vista Ultimate running on a Quad Q66 processor with 8GB RAM. I have picked up that I should split the HDDs to spread the load. So my current approximate spec is:

MOTHERBOARD:
ASUS : P5E-VM HDMI Intel G35 Micro-ATX (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2
or
Gigabyte: GA-G33M-DS2R Micro ATX (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2
or
??

PROCESSOR
Intel Core 2 Quad Pro Q6600 "Energy Efficient SLACR 95W Edition" 2.40GHz (1066FSB) - Retail
or
??

RAM(8GB):
Corsair 4GB DDR2 XMS2 Dominator PC2-8500C5 TwinX (2x2GB) Supplied with Airflow Fan (TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF) X 2 = 8GB so 4 X 2GB sticks in total.

CASE:
Apevia X-Qpack II Black Micro ATX 500W No Windows
or
Silverstone Sugo SG01B Evolution Aluminium Micro-ATX Case  Black
or
Thermaltake VF1000BNS Lanbox  Black
or
X- Cube Micro Atx Cube Case, 650 Watt Psu, 120mm Fan, Lcd Black No Window (UltraMicroFly)
I quite like this one since it includes the PSU and looks straight forward with handle etc.
or
??

HDD:
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 500GB SATA-II 32MB Cache - OEM (ST3500320AS) X 2
I may have a problem in getting 2 5.25" HDDs in  with a CDROM so may have to either use one 1TB HDD or 1 500GB 5.25" HDD and 1 HDD for the 3.5" enclosure (2.5" HDD unit??) which may still be quicker than one drive.
or
??

CDROM:
Pioneer DVR-216DBK 20x DVD±RW SATA Dual Layer ReWriter (Black) - OEM
or
??

PSU:
Corsair TX 650W ATX2.2 SLi Compliant PSU
If needed....
or
??

I decided to go for the Intel Mobo since it runs cooler and folks have advised that it will be my best option for my virtual work. I am also trying to do this to a budget so the above hardware will probably work out at about £500.

Any comments really appreciated.

Thanks,

Sam
 
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Question by:SamJolly
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by:sandybridge
sandybridge earned 50 total points
ID: 22661285
Intel® G35 is a good choice for Micro ATX. I think you already know that it does not support either Windows 2003 or 2008. So you would require VMware on either XP or Vista. One more fact it does not support PC2-8500 (1066MHz) DIMMs. Check supported DIMMs here:
http://support.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/dp35dp/sb/CS-026645.htm

For more powerful supported processor for 35 series you can check this out:
http://processormatch.intel.com/CompDB/SearchResult.aspx?Boardname=dp35dp
Hope this helps. Thanks
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by:Callandor
ID: 22663124
Although quad cores are good for certain applications like rendering, dual cores running faster can be better in other areas, depending on how compute-intensive the tasks are.  The alternative cpu in this case is the E8400 or E8500, which run on a faster FSB, use a 45nm process and are clocked above 3.0GHz.
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22664287
Sandy,

Thanks for the comment. Really interesting point about non support for windows 2003/2008. Not I did not know this and actually do not understand why it should since I am running Window 2003 on my old P4 at present and would assume W2K8 would do the same especially as I will run it on a 64bit quad core Q66. So please enlighten me.

Callandor,

Thanks also. With regard to the CPU, I chose the Q66 since I can could get good parallel processing particularly when using virtual machine as I am planning to do with this machine. So again I am a little foxed as to why the Q66 would not be the most suitable CPU. OK I could go quicker with the Q93 and Q95, but I want to maintain a reasonable budget !!

I would also be interested in a recommendation for a good/robust "jobby" board, probably by ASUS, possibly gigabyte. I do not need all the media stuff that my proposed board has, but at present I do need the Q66 and 8GB RAM unless I am told different. Also I want tit to run as cool as possible cos of the micro-ATX case..

Thanks...

Sam
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by:
Callandor earned 450 total points
ID: 22668500
>why the Q66 would not be the most suitable CPU

It depends on what is going to run in your virtual servers - if they were given heavy compute tasks that could not be spread out across processors, you may end up having one or two processors pegged at 100% utilization for a while, whereas a faster dual core may finish sooner and free up the resources.  The quad core is a better general purpose cpu, but faster dual cores can be more suitable for heavy computation bound tasks that are not multithreaded.

The G35 chipset is a good choice for the Core2 Duo processors and the Asus model has been well received.
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22668661
Callandor,

Thanks for your comments. I have just had a seperate recommendation for the gigabyte board ie Gigabyte: GA-G33M-DS2R Micro ATX (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2.

Have you any comments on this?

Sam
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22668872
By the way, what is the difference between the Xeon CPUs and the Q66 Quad Core CPUs ? In the past and probably still Xeon CPUs get used for production servers.

Thanks,

Sam
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by:Callandor
ID: 22669426
The main difference between the G33 and G35 chipsets is the DX10 support built-in for video http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=10775278&&#post10775278 and the Southbridge support (ICH8 or ICH9) http://compare.intel.com/pcc/showchart.aspx?mmID=29002,29000&familyID=10.  Either one is good.

The fundamental difference between Xeons and Core2Duos (and quad versions) is that Xeons are multi-cpu capable.  You can only have a single Core2Duo on a motherboard, but now that they are multicore, the Xeon advantage is not that great.  They perform similarly, as they are based on the same architecture, and as you noted, Xeons are only used in workstations and servers and require more expensive RAM and motherboards.
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22669593
Callandor,

Thanks for this. My gut instinct is to use the slighly older G33 MOBO, but may be better supported etc as I do not really need leading edge 3D performance for virtual servers, just robust speed !!!

Sam
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22669623
and it supports DDR3 RAM when and if I fit this in the future !!

Sam
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by:Callandor
ID: 22671131
You want a motherboard that will support both DDR2 and DDR3?  Gigabyte has one, but it's not mATX: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128048
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22673752
Callandor,

Actually your Intel link on the gigabyte G33 board indicated that it DID support DDR3 and DDR2 while the G35 DID NOT which was strange. So I thought that was good, although I was not highlighting this wish. So based on the Intel G33 specs and Gigabyte board spec it seems that the "GA-G33M-DS2R Micro ATX (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2" is the ideal solution....

Sam
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by:Callandor
ID: 22674290
While the G33 chipset may support either one, DDR2 and DDR3 slots are physically different (http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=2989&p=3) and it's up to the motherboard manufacturer to decide which slots to implement.  The Gigabyte board you want only has DDR2 slots: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128053
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22676718
Callandor,

I think I have done a "Doh...!" here. I did not read your comment correctly, of course we are talking about motherboards. No since I want a good robust board then I still think this is the one. I also notice that the G33 does not run Vista's Aero due to its older graphics engine, although I suspect if I really wanted this I could add a graphics card !!

Sam
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22676738
... and finally as you alluded to, I do not need DDR3 and DDR2 only DDR2 !!!

Sam
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Author Closing Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 31503758
Thanks for all the comments...Really appreciated. Sam
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Expert Comment

by:evilbrew
ID: 24375041
SamJolly,

I am looking to accomplish the same thing you set out to do (also on a MicroFly).  Any lessons learned you could share over here?

Thx,
Evilbrew
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 24442166
Evilbrew,

I abandoned the microfly and went with the Silverstone MicroATX Sugo case, see:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-013-SV

It does not have the handle, but it is a high quality commercial case which I wanted with the extra fan, and also plenty of space for components. Also you could add a full grpagics card if desired. However my first board had SATA sockets which pointed outwards and thus collided nicely with the HD bay. So I did some careful engineering to make it all fit, only to find that the board needed replacing due to a memory problem and the newer replacement board had upwards facing SATA sockets... Oh well that is the fun of building your own !!

Anyway I have a Quad Core systems which has 8GM memory which can take 16GB RAM with 1 TB of SATA HD. It hums along !!! I use it mainly for running virtual PCs. Not bad for my first attempt at building a PC :)

Good luck,

Sam

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