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Need help with custom server build!

Posted on 2012-12-20
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Last Modified: 2012-12-20
After some research I wanted to ask the experts! I am not new to PC building, but I am navigating in a bit of unknown territory with Server 2012. Knowing its based on Windows 8 architecture, I still feel unsure.

I am looking to build a exchange server/backup AD for a domain.

Utilizing:

WS 2012
Exchange 2013
Min 16 GB RAM
RAID 5 w/ controller card
Single or Dual Core (prob Xeon?)
A decent PS

I have the licenses, the UPC, and the backups. Just need recommendations on these components. I believe the major hurdle is a RAID card. I am trying to stay within the 100-200 range or less. Also I want to make sure it can work with SATA.

All other components can be best suggestion.
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Question by:evc911llc
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 38710868
A $200 dollar RAID controller isn't going to have a battery backup to hold on to the cache so you risk data loss in some drive failure scenarios.   If that is your budget, RAID5 is risky, and you really won't have any significant performance benefit .  In fact, it RAID5 writes will be SLOOOW.

Go native windows host-based software RAID1 and save the money and put it towards SAS disks instead of SATA.  You will get read load balancing so read performance with software based RAID will be twice that if non-RAID (in perfect world).

Get decent disks too, if going SATA, make sure they are enterprise/server class.  It makes a big difference.
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Expert Comment

by:pgm554
ID: 38710975
Agree.

Unless the card has a co processor ,don't bother cause it's just glorified software RAID.
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Author Comment

by:evc911llc
ID: 38710989
So you believe its better to do a software RAID?
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Author Comment

by:evc911llc
ID: 38710992
Just a mirror in Disk Manager to a same disk? 1 to 1?
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Author Comment

by:evc911llc
ID: 38710995
Ok with that recommendation any ideas on decent yet cheaper components for the build?
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dlethe earned 500 total points
ID: 38711064
Yes, just mirror the disks,  (plenty of videos on youtube if you want help, look for mirroring dynamic disk), it can be done in-place.

For HDD, seagate constellation family is what you will find in most data centers. They have enterprise class SAS & SATA.   What is "best" is subjective, as you don't know specifics of your I/O model, but I would buy a pair of SATA disks and then if it isn't good enough, add a pair of small 15KRPM SAS drives and move index files, scratch table space, swap, and the OS to it.  

Don't buy disks until you need them.  Price drops on HDDs is the norm, no need to buy it until you need them.

Get a motherboard with a decent LSI 2008 SAS/SATA controller on it.  Supermicro has some "server class" motherboards with them already on them.  No need to get the RAID_versions get the non-RAID LSI version.  Make sure SAS-2 / SATA-3  (6Gbit), instead of 3Gbit.

This isn't CPU intensive but dual core is much less expensive than having to add another core later on.
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Author Comment

by:evc911llc
ID: 38711100
Thanks for the great info! Would you peronsally recommend a good Supermicro board? I have little familiarity with them.
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 38711119
they have a lot to choose from, different budgets and mounting requirements.  Best you contact them and just say you want a server class board, with the LSI 6-gigabit SAS/SATA non-RAID controller built on the motherboard, and then that narrows it down.

I know companies  (ISPs and cloud providers) that have thousands and thousands of these systems, but part numbers and versions change quarterly and I just don't keep up with them.
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Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 38711222
>Single or Dual Core (prob Xeon?)

Going to be pretty expensive buying anything that's only single core nowadays ;)
Guess you could get a xeon E5-1620 and turn 3 of the cores off in BIOS though.
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