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PC Build for 10-20 users for Windows 7

Posted on 2010-01-05
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Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I am going to start a beta test process at our company for upgrading to Windows 7 from XP.  I plan on doing all clean installs; however, I would like to keep costs down.

In an effort to keep costs down, I plan on building all the computers.  And, since I will only be building 10-20 or so, it shouldn't take that long.

The environment will be Windows 7 pro with a mix of server 2003 and 2008 (maybe 7 2003, 1 2008 64, one 2008 r2 as PDC)

The primary programs used will be Microsoft Access (currently using Access 97!!!!  that's part of the beta upgrade), web browsing (our company utilizes web browsing for custom reporting and handheld scanners...all are coded by myself in .asp for the majority), and general office applications like Outlook, Word, etc.

Basically, nothing graphic intensive, no 3D rendering, just plain Microsoft Business applications.

So, what would be a good motherboard / cpu combo?  I'm going to stay 32 bit, but may give a couple power users 64 bit; however, I have read mixed reviews of if it is worth it or not, in our scenerio, probably not.

And, 3 or 4 gig of ram?  I might decide that when I get some quotes made up.

One option I could potentially be interested in is dual monitors for everyone, but that is not approved yet...so, options for both would be appreciated.

Gigaport ethernets would be beneficial as all of the database applications ran are on a server.
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Question by:dzirkelb
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by:younghv
ID: 26186490
dzirkelb,
Welcome to EE - it is always great to see a new Member.
Please click on the "Request Attention" link in the bottom right corner of your post and ask the Moderators to add this question to the "Hardware" Zone.
We have several very active Experts over there who build computers for a living and they can offer you some very specific advice.
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by:arixsin
ID: 26186495
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by:arixsin
ID: 26186534
As for memory, get 4GB, but get it on 2 sticks in case you want to upgrade further in the future.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227289

This brings me to an interesting point that needs addressed:

You are building these systems, but to put something decent together w/OS, you are going to spend at LEAST $500 a system. You can get something pretty darn good from Dell for that much AND get some warranty.
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by:dzirkelb
ID: 26190274
Thanks for the posts and welcome!

I have requested it to be added to the hardware section...for some reason I thought I added it there, but, this my first post, so probably messed that up.

As far as Dell systems go...the warranty is nice, but I'm not a warranty kind of guy :)  I have yet to experience a hardware failure in my IT career (knock on wood), and that is pretty much the only issue that I couldn't resolve myself.

I took a quick look over there, and I really couldn't find any comparable systems for the 500 range...each system i had to upgrade the cpu, ram, and OS, at least.  Plus, they always come loaded with junk I never want...it's so nice to have a brand new, clean install on a machine.

For your suggestions, i am looking at around 300 for hardware, toss in a case / power supply and a dvd drive and I'm looking at around 400.  I haven't looked into pricing for OEM versions of windows 7 yet, or volume licensing.

I may be looking into upgrading office also, haven't decided yet.

Does Dell offer bulk pricing on their cpu's?
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by:willcomp
ID: 26192244
Are you building desktops only or a mix of servers and desktops?

I'll be tied up for a while, but will check back later.
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by:rindi
ID: 26192403
If you are going to add 4GB of RAM you should also use the 64bit OS. With a 32bit OS you'll only be able to use something between 3GB and 3.5GB as part of the Address space used for the RAM is also used for other hardware resources. Being able to use more RAM is the main advantage of having a 64Bit OS.

If I were you I'd get servers with plenty of RAM and then install VMware ESXi on these servers. That way you can install multiple OS's as Virtual machines on those boxes and run them at the same time. For a testing environment that is ideal, and even for production that would be good, as you save on hardware. VMware ESXi is free.

http://vmware.com
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by:dzirkelb
ID: 26192473
Building desktops only.

We currently have an ESX environment with a 3 server cluster and a 2 terrabyte SAN...so, the virtual environment is already in place.  The virtual environment has a mix of 2003 32, 2008 64, and 2008 r2.  For my home lab I plan on getting ESXi, but that is down the road.

As for the desktops and ram...I am probably goign to pass on teh 64 bit...I do understand you can have a gigantic amount of ram (limited by motherboard) on your machine, but I am thinking 3-4 gig is plenty sufficient for what we need.

Which is why I'm thinking of going with 3 gig opposed to 4 gig, because it does only register around 3.5 gig.  Although, I will look into the pricing for that.
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by:garycase
ID: 26194380
For an inexpensive desktop I'd use these:

(a)  Motherboard ($70):  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128418

(b)  CPU ($70):  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116074
[or this one for $95, which is a bit faster and adds VT support:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116093

(c)  Memory ($105):  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134810
You do NOT want to install 3GB -- this would either require 3 modules (which won't allow full speed dual channel mode);  or would require 2 x 1GB and 2 x 512MB modules, which would put a much higher load on the memory bus than two modules (thus reducing reliability).

The above totals $245 - $270 for motherboard/CPU/memory.    No graphics adapter is needed for single monitors ... the X4500 graphics is fine for the use you've described.   But the board has a PCIe x16 slot in case you decide to add a graphics card with dual monitor support -- this would be fine for that ($45):  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125250
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by:willcomp
ID: 26195610
I don't have any real quibbles with garycase's recommendations. You could go with an AMD CPU and save a few bucks but I prefer Intel CPUs for business class PCs.

I've used this case for several builds and really like it for an inexpensive case. Inwin (Powerman) power supplies are decent quality and 350 watts should be more than sufficient.  http://www.directron.com/em013ej350sl.html

I also recommend 2 x 2GB memory modules. Many uATX motherboards (including the one garycase recommended) only have 2 memory slots.

If you want some recommendations for an AMD based system, let me know and I'll be glad to provide.




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by:garycase
ID: 26196061
The case willcomp suggested is excellent => I used the same case (on willcomp's recommendation) for a small system I built for my wife last year and it's been great.    Cheapest case I've ever used ... but it's been fine -- and is an amazing value for a case/PSU combination.   I used it for two other systems for friends since.

I agree you could save a few $$ with an AMD-based system, but I think that's a false savings when you consider the rock-solid performance of an Intel CPU/Intel chipset combination ... which is all I use.
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by:younghv
ID: 26196154
dzirkelb,
Comments from my perspective. I have asked similar questions here over the years and have never gone wrong with following the advice of garycase and willcomp. Solid systems at the best price going.

My only complaint is that neither will come by my place and build the damn things.
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Author Comment

by:dzirkelb
ID: 26204583
Ok, I think i would like an intel dual core 2, but those might be too expensive...but, I think I would like to stick with Intel opposed to amd

So, new specs:

intel dual core, dual core 2 preferably
motherboard that has gig ethernet
dual monitor support on motherboard if able, if not, then a card to add

And, now, my boss is looking to implement a video conferencing system throughout the company.  So, I will need web cams for each PC; however, they need to be decent quality ones.  All connections would be internal to our network, and some would go external.

So, does that figure into the on board video at all?  If not, then great and I'll need a recommended web cam.
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garycase earned 2000 total points
ID: 26208382
"... So, new specs:

intel dual core, dual core 2 preferably
motherboard that has gig ethernet
dual monitor support on motherboard if able, if not, then a card to add

..." ==> Nothing new at all. The system I suggested above has all of that, including a card I suggested if you need to add dual monitor support.
A web cam will work perfectly with both the onboard video and the add-in card. I like the Logitech Pro 9000 web cam -- not the cheapest, but an excellent unit.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826104074&cm_re=web_cam_Logitech-_-26-104-074-_-Product The Pro 3000 should be fine if you need to use a less expensive unit: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826104253&cm_re=web_cam_Logitech-_-26-104-253-_-Product Note: I have a 9000 and am very satisfied with it; I have not used a 3000.



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Author Closing Comment

by:dzirkelb
ID: 31673220
Awesome, thanks for all the info guys, I'll get to building soon :)
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