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server vs i7?

I have a server for my small business. The CPU is Intel Xeon X3210. I am thinking of building a new computer and have been looking at the i7 3770.  Would that be faster than my Xeon, or is there something about the Xeon that makes it better suited to be used as a server?  What am I missing here?   We use SBS 2008 and have an app that queries SQL all day. The server also runs our email and is a file server, but there are only 3 of us, so it is fine, as is. I would like to have more speed in the queries, though, as some of them take 30-60 seconds.

I have also thought of simply changing the Xeon's hd to and SSD.  So, I guess it is 2 questions.  Is an i7 3770 a good choice to use as a server?  And, if I simply swap the hd to an SSD, will that make my queries run faster?
Windows Server 2008Email Servers

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8/22/2022 - Mon
Lee W, MVP

Run a query that typically takes 30-60 seconds and WHILE IT IS RUNNING, look at the server and determine WHAT is being used?  Is it the CPU?  RAM?  Hard Disk?  It's PROBABLY CPU in which case an SSD does you little good.  And when I say look at the server, I mean use performance monitor / resource monitor / task manager at least to see what's going on.

Then I suggest you review the performance metrics at www.cpubenchmark.net but keep in mind that server class CPUs likely have caches better suited to server class tasks, such as databases.

Finally, if you want a RELIABLE system, you should be buying a name brand server with an appropriate warranty and consider a dedicated SQL server for the best performance.
Randy Downs

The biggest difference I notice is the L2 cache. Cache can make a huge difference.


This should give you an idea of where it stands:


SSD's do offer higher performance in these scenarios as well, that is if the database is stored on that drive.
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Does this mean the SSD would cause the queries to run faster or does this mean only a faster CPU is going to speed things up?  I see RAM isn't maxing out at at any time and the processor isn't maxing out, but the disk access hits 100% and stays pegged much of the time.  Not sure what that means, though.

Screen shot of the highest performance reading during the most demanding query:


Screen shot of resource monitor after a demanding query:


Xeon X3210 with 8GB ram and SBS 2008 64bit OS
Randy Downs

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Lee W, MVP

It's FOOLISH to throw money at a problem without knowing where the problem is.  If you're just going to guess, you're wasting time and your money.  ANALYZE things.  Or live with what you have.

Switching to a SSD sounds like it will help the speed considerably. I have a couple of desktops, one with and one without a SSD. The SSD is stupidly faster than the other and is what gave me the idea for the server..

But if the SSD fails, a disk failure wipes out the days data, right?  So, my most likely worst case is sometime during the day if the SSD fails, I have to go back to the last good backup.

As of now the server uses a RAID 5 using 3 500GB drives and the RAID controller is the Intel on board controller.

May need to start another question to talk about the impact of using one hard drive in a server and what my most practical backup and restore option would be.  First thought is a mirror image, second thought is just a daily backup like I have now and grin and bear it while the reinstall takes place.
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the SQL query that is slow loading is pulling 4 years of invoicing history for a client that has a lot of invoices.  Takes about 60 seconds, typically and it is accessing alot of stuff in SQL as well as other things, so I think it is basically jsut the HD seek time taking alot of that query time.
Randy Downs

You could also try RAID 0 if your main concern is performance. If nothing else it would tell you if the drives are the real issue.

As likely as not the SQL query could be improved and save a lot of disk activity. You might also consider doing smaller intervals than 4 years.


well, the issue is the app is a custom app and the question is whether I want to spent a zillion reworking it, a nano zillion tweeking it , or just put in an SSD as a quick fix for the next year or two. I think SSD would solve the query time issue, but, unsure about running server on a single HD. I am not very concerned about loss of data as long as my backups are good. I use two different backup methods daily. One is Acronis mirror image and one is Windows backup, both run daily at night.  

I know I can pay a company to re-write some of our code so that one a portion loads at one time, but, I think I would rather explore the SSD idea. I have two of these servers, so thinking of trying this on the extra server.
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Randy Downs

You could always swap in the SSD from your other PC if you are OK with wiping it.

Likewise reconfiguring your RAID 5 to RAID 0 won't cost you anything but time since you have good backups.

You can always put SSD's in a Raid array...

RAID 0 would offer better performance, however the failure aspect would keep me away from that in your case. If one drive fails, you've lost all of the data on both.

If you want the performance of RAID 0 go with RAID 10, which would be RAID 0 and 1 together. This would take 4 drives, 2 in RAID 0 and then a Mirror (RAID 1) of those drives.