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Help upgrading my ASUS P5LD2-VM motherboard

Posted on 2009-05-05
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I have a computer I use as a server in a small office. It's main use is to hold hard drives for network file sharing. It's running Windows Server 2003 and does have Active Directory enables for logins. It does not have DHCP enabled I have a router handle that function.

The box is fine but I want more speed out of it if possible. File sharing seem slower now. How much upgrade can I get out of it?


When it was purchased this is how it came:
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ASUS P5LD2-VM BUNDLE W/ RETAILED =PENTIUM 4 651 3.4G (800MHz)= MWAVE 2GB DDR2 533=(1GB x 2)= ASSEMBLE/TEST BUNDLE
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I am GREEN to determining what hardware to buy for this motherboard but I have the knowledge to swap the hardware. I need to know SPECIFICALLY  what items I can buy for the board to get a fast/solid upgrade.

1. CPU (I would like a Core Duo)
     a. How much cache? 6, 8, 12mb (I would like more)
2. Memory
     a. What speed? Can I do 1066 based on the a newer CPU
3. CPU cooler
4. (BIOS - did not I will need an update from ASUS, v 1401 I think)
5. Faster hard drives ????? (I'm green)
6. etc. (you add whatever I missed)


Specs for MB
http://usa.asus.com/products.aspx?modelmenu=2&model=536&l1=3&l2=11&l3=194&l4=0


List of processors from ASUS (So many I need help with a specific choice):
http://support.asus.com/cpusupport/cpusupport.aspx?SLanguage=en-us&model=P5LD2-VM&product=1&os=17


---
So again what do I need? My goal is for faster FILE SHARING speed over a domain network...?

1. CPU (I would like a Core Duo)
     a. How much cache? 6, 8, 12mb (I would like more)
2. Memory
     a. What speed? Can I do 1066 based on the a newer CPU
3. CPU cooler
4. (BIOS - did not I will need an update from ASUS, v 1401 I think)
5. Faster hard drives ????? (I'm green)
6. etc. (you add whatever I missed)

Thx
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Question by:parcou
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by:Wardy_01
ID: 24304892
As it's purely just a file server you want a motherboard that can pull data from hard drives fast and deliver that to your computer fast, which may mean that the performance issue you are experiencing may be down to the spedd of your network also.

I would recommend a portable hard drive unit for archiving older data and install a motherboard that supports RAID for readily available data, preferably something that has an onboard gigabit network ethernet adapter.

The hard disks you use will also have a big impact on the rate atwhich you can pull data from the computer, it sounds like you are using old drives generally but buying a pair of 7200 rpm SATA II drives ofa reasonable size may be what you need as the old drives could also be your current performance problem.
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by:Wardy_01
ID: 24304975
It might be worth noting that I didn't actually recommend any specific hardware as the actual usage is a little vague from your description above.

Also,
Processing power is not really a major issue these days for something like this as your average desktop / server processor is designed to multitask multimedia applications, the only thing you may need to ensure you have a little extra juice for is if you intend to stream hi def video across your network or if you think that your network speed is fast enough to support a lot of users accessing the system at the same time as each operation will ultimately have an overhead in cpu cycles.

I think you still need to put your focus on the drives rather than cpu / ram though assuming you have at least the following ...
   1 GB of DDR2 or better
   1.8 GHZ or faster Core 2 Duo processor

Beyond those cpu and ram specs you are easily going to outrun even the fastest RAID configurations for standard 7200 rpm drives.
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by:parcou
ID: 24305392
Wardy_01

You have given me a lot to think about.So it this what you are saying...

1. I can get a better CPU but my focus needs to be:
2. Hard Drives
    a. Raid (new to me but will look into that)
    b. I am assuming my share drives are the Raid drives. What about the OS disk c:

3. Faster network
    a. Looking for a gigabit network ethernet adapter MB style
    b. 99% of the network access is wireless to the router then to the file server box. How will that help me? Or, what would you recommend?
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by:Callandor
ID: 24306428
Your current motherboard will not support Core2 Duo processors.  To see if you will benefit from a faster processor, monitor the cpu usage during the times when the load seems the heaviest.  If you're not going above 80%, you probably won't benefit from a faster processor/motherboard.  That being said, if you need a faster processor, it will be very easy to fill because a P4 651 is fairly old by today's standards.  An inexpensive Core2 Duo or a quad cpu will add a lot more power if needed.

More RAM might benefit - 2GB is usually more than enough for a file server, but you may have other tasks running periodically that require more memory.  Again, check task manager to see how much RAM is being used.  If you need more, it is better for that motherboard to use 2 x 2GB, instead of adding 2 x 1GB to what exists.  The reason is unbuffered RAM presents a large electrical load to the motherboard and may require a slowdown of the timings in order for the signals to be clearly recognized.

RAID will speed up your access, but in order to be effective, you will need a discrete RAID controller, as your current motherboard doesn't have one and motherboard RAID tends to be slower.  Good RAID controller cards are not cheap, running upwards of $400, due to the separate processor for RAID-5 parity calculations.  The OS does not need to be on a RAID, but for safety most people will put an OS on a mirror (RAID-1) if keeping the server up continuously is important.

Gigabit is a good option, as it will speed up transfers from the other machines on the network and the NICs and switches are not expensive.  Even if all of the access is wireless to the router, enough connections simultaneously will use up all the bandwidth of 100Mbit hardware.  At the very least, replace the router and add a gigabit NIC to the server.
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by:garycase
ID: 24307730
Your motherboard does support several Core 2 Duo's (as noted in the CPU Support list you posted), but will not support the newer 45nm CPUs.   If you want to upgrade the CPU, be sure to update the BIOS FIRST -- BEFORE you swap CPUs.   An E6700 would be a good choice, and is often available on ebay [e.g. http://cgi.ebay.com/Intel-E6700-CPU-2-66-GHz-used-with-Intel-Cooler-new_W0QQitemZ130303694803QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item1e56b497d3&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50 ]

Your memory configuration is fine ... for the use you're making of the system, you don't need more.

The stock cooler for a Core 2 Duo is fine => if you're having heat issues, those will be much less of a problem with a Core 2 Duo [it runs much cooler than an old 3.4G Pentium-IV].

I already commented on your BIOS => Be sure you update BEFORE you swap the CPUs.   You don't want to put in a CPU that requires a newer BIOS until you have that BIOS already on the board :-)

Faster hard drives;  a RAID array; and/or a faster network adapter could all help, depending on exactly what your current bottleneck is.   How many users are typically accessing the server at the same time??
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by:Callandor
ID: 24308075
I didn't type what I was thinking - I meant "Your motherboard will not support current Core2 Duo processors."  It's a good thing Gary caught that. :-)
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by:parcou
ID: 24309690
Callandor

Great info and I am truly learning. Keep teaching...

A co-worker who owed me a big favor gave me this new in the box: ASUS P5B
http://usa.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=11&l3=307&l4=0&model=1178&modelmenu=2

He bought a ASUS P5Q. So I will use this motherboard the P5B. I would love your opinion on it. It does have the JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller on this P5B which I think is a raid controller...??

Memory. He also gave me Corsair Dominator 4GB 2x2GB DDR2 1066 mHZ

So...
1. Drop the ASUS P5LD2-VM for the P5B
2. This will get me Raid 0...correct???
3. Memory....looks like the above Corsair may work???
4. Can anyone confirm those for the P5B

-Raid 0. From what I read I need two identical SATA drives right?
-I currently have 3 hard drive and one is the OS c: drive other 2 are share drives. Is the c: part of the raid or can I have it separate and raid the other 2 drive? I am asking because I do not know the best way to raid it for the file server.

Thx
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by:parcou
ID: 24309780
garycase

Thx for the reply....

If you saw above I was generously given a newer motherboard the ASUS P5B still older but leaps ahead of what I have:

1. Do you still recommend the E6700 with the newer P5B board??
2. The current process has heat issues and I was going to get an aftermarket PC cooler. Looks like from what you stated above your answer to #1 will still be a no to another cpu cooler?

At the most 4-5 people at one time. This was not the main problem the problem came in when the file server began to run network backups, virus scans on the share drives, defrags, etc. the background processes hurt us when they are running. When they stop all is OK or normal...but this new idea of raid seems to be what I want...
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garycase earned 300 total points
ID: 24310124
No, the P5B supports many newer Core 2's.  
http://support.asus.com/cpusupport/cpusupport.aspx?SLanguage=en-us&model=P5B&product=1&os=17

An E8500 would be an excellent choice, or a Q9550 if you want a quad core.   The E8500 is a huge leap ahead of your current CPU, and is probably all you need for this (and will run cooler than a Q9550).

In either case, you'll likely need to update the BIOS to support these CPUs => so you may need to temporarily install an older CPU to update the BIOS ... and then add the Core 2 CPU.

Virus scans will always slow down disk access, as they are both CPU and disk intensive.   The best thing to do is schedule them for hours when the systems aren't likely to be in use (typically the wee hours of the morning).   Defrags and backups aren't CPU intensive, but are very disk intensive, so they will also slow down disk access.    ... sounds like you may be able to mitigate your issues without any hardware changes at all -- just a change in the scheduling of those other activities.

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by:Callandor
Callandor earned 200 total points
ID: 24310712
The Asus P5B says it supports "SATA RAID 0, 1 and JBOD (by 1x External SATA & 1x Internal SATA)".  For RAID-0, you need two drives of the same size and speed, but not necessarily identical.  Keep in mind that since your data will be spread across two drives, it doubles the chance that a disk failure will result in data loss, so don't put anything on it that isn't backed up.  You can have the system disk C separate from the RAID and it is probably better that way, so you can create image backups easily.

The Corsair RAM should work on that motherboard.
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Author Comment

by:parcou
ID: 24316427
Callandor

what does this mean in terms I understand: (by 1x External SATA & 1x Internal SATA)

I assume it means I can use only one SATA slot internally in the PC for raid although I will need to physically connect two hard drives??

Last question and I think I am on my way.
-processor...ok
-memory...ok
-hard drive...???

Anybody....What recommendation of SATA drives should I look for RAID0:
5400 rpm (avoid ???)
7200 rpm (standard)
10,000 rpm seems fast

How much hard drive buffer memory/cache is best for RAID0?
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by:Callandor
ID: 24317037
>what does this mean in terms I understand: (by 1x External SATA & 1x Internal SATA)

I was not able to see a picture of what was meant by that, but somehow you will need to connect at least two drives to the JMicron controller for RAID.  If you have done it right, they will be visible in the RAID setup utility.

You should use at least 7200 rpm drives.  For best performance, the 10000 rpm Velociraptor drives are the ones to get, but they are much more expensive per gigabyte.  The more cache, the better, but for sustained throughput, they do not play a big role, because they will empty out in a fraction of a second.
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