hello there,
I have 3 desktop PC.. one is my personal computer and the other two are running as servers on Linux.
I would like to upgrade these old servers but I was thinking of a custom build again but with server case and motherboard..
whats the difference between Desktop and Server motherboard and whats the advantages of it?
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Gary CaseConnect With a Mentor RetiredCommented:
As Callandor noted, server motherboards are generally NOT "... way more powerful than the desktop ..."

They ARE more RELIABLE (although beware of low-cost "server" boards that use desktop chipsets -- these are basically just desktop boards marketed for low-end servers).      The key area where they are MUCH more reliable is in the memory subsystem => they support buffered memory modules (either registered or FBDIMMS), which result in FAR more reliable memory with virtually no limits on how much you can install (the limit is the # of slots, since bus loading issues aren't a factor).    Note that many low-cost (~ $200) "server" boards still use unbuffered RAM, so you do NOT get this advantage with those boards.    If you buy a low-cost server board, be sure it at least supports ECC RAM -- unbuffered modules with ECC at least provide protection against the most common memory errors (single-bit errors).

In addition, they generally have better "manageability" -- which makes it easier to operate them "headless" (no monitor/keyboard/mouse).    That may or may not matter in your application.

They CAN be "way more powerful than the desktop" in terms of CPU power if you buy a dual-processor capable board and put two high-end CPU's in it [i.e. a pair of quad-core Xeons] along with a prodigious amount of memory ... but that's not generally the reason you buy server class boards.

Finally, yes, they'll run just fine with high-end graphics cards as long as the board has a PCIe x16 slot (most modern server boards do).
Benjamin MOREAUProject ManagerCommented:
Generally Server motherboard can :
- have more than 1 processor.. and generally design for Xeon processor
- had more RAM
- had a SAS controler (more efficiency than SATA) sometimes the RAID function is include on the card
-  support ECC RAM (ram with error control for fiability).

So, Server motherboard is more expensive but you can buy this if you want to have a very stable config. Don't buy it if you only want to play or to have a fun server.
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Server motherboards can have multiple cpu sockets, more RAM slots, use ECC RAM, have fewer bells and whistles like BIOS features and USB/eSATA ports, and typically have onboard video.  They can also have PCI-X slots and a layout which allows better cooling by case fans.  The multiple sockets can only be used with Xeon cpus, though they are not as important with the advent of multicore cpus which give you greater processing power.

Desktop motherboards are typically cheaper, must use consumer cpus like the i7, i5, i3 or AMD Phenoms, are limited to 4 RAM slots, use non-ECC RAM and can include onboard RAID controllers.  They also may have multiple PCI-e x16 slots to allow Crossfire or SLI video cards.
XK8ERAuthor Commented:
can these server motherboard support gamer video cards?
Stelian StanNetwork AdministratorCommented:
It depends if have PCI-e x16 slots or not. If you want to install a video card for games I would recommend a desktop motherboard.
XK8ERAuthor Commented:
if the server motherboard are way more powerful than the desktop then why not setup a super server for gaming?
If you want to run gaming cards you want workstation class boards not server. Workstation boards are similiar to server boards but support high end graphics cards.
Server motherboards are not way more powerful than desktop motherboards; they are designed for different purposes.  Servers have to be up 24 hours a day, maybe 7 days a week, provide computation and I/O for hundreds of clients, and be robust enough to not crash in the middle of the day - these are not the same goals that a gamer has.  A gamer can't make use of more than a certain amount of memory, wants performance more than long lasting reliability, and can be down between days.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
One other comment r.e. your question "... why not setup a super server for gaming "  ==>  Two reasons:  

(1)  While FAR more reliable, buffered RAM operates slightly slower than unbuffered modules, since there's a clock cycle for the buffer chip on the module => gamers want the highest possible memory bandwidth.

(2)   No server board that I'm aware of supports multiple high-end PCIe x16 slots, so you can't run Crossfire or SLI configurations.    In addition, many server board x16 slots run at x8.    You can still have SUPERB video performance with a high-end card in one of these slots;  but gaming purists like to have 2 (or even 3) high-end cards in SLI configurations.

Bottom line:   While a high-end dual-CPU server could indeed have far more CPU "horsepower" than any desktop board, the video performance would be much lower than a high-end desktop board could provide -- and most games are more sensitive to video "horsepower" than the CPU.
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