spec a server to build

Posted on 2012-12-20
Last Modified: 2012-12-22
I recently built desktop using i7 core processor and a Corsair SSD and am amazed how fast it is.  Now would like to try building a server to replace our old one. The old one uses a Xeon X3210 and 8GB ram and a RAID 5.  I would like to scale up in speed and also in the ability to handle outside web page hits where the max user or max hit to the web page is 25 simultaneous different users (not open to public).  What would be a good board, processor and setup and I would like to do it with SSD's, where possible, to help the speed in SQL and tasks.

I am a biz owner with a little understanding, so keep that in mind as you answer.  I do have a remote IT guy that helps, but I like to decide this stuff with input from EE folks.

I plan to use SBS 2008 and will plan to run Exchange and SQL and would appreciate input on how to use old server in the mix with the new server.
Question by:wfcrr
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LVL 16

Accepted Solution

choward16980 earned 334 total points
ID: 38711362
This is the last one I built.  (About 6 mths ago)

What's your budget?  Also, have you considered VMWare ESXi?  It's free and there are many live backup scripts available.

EDIT:  I used 2x on the memory (32GB), 4x on both HD types (2 separated RAID 5's -- OS's on SSDs and Data on Physicals)

Also, that case is beyond EPIC.  You can get away with one of the many supermicro 2u and 3u server chasis.

Author Comment

ID: 38711653
Wow, or, as Gomer Pile would have said, Gooollee! That is sick!

Maybe scale that down to tiny little biz there a less expensive board and processor combination?

Also, regarding use of SSD, should SBS 2008 go onto the SSD and the apps as well, or just the OS?
LVL 55

Expert Comment

ID: 38712307
You're really not going to save much by building it yourself over buying one from IBM/HP/Dell.
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LVL 16

Assisted Solution

choward16980 earned 334 total points
ID: 38713116
For SBS, I do the core installation on the ssd's, then move the sql/exchange databases to the physical drives.  

And about the not saving, like Andy said, this server above would cost you well over 10k$ from Dell or HP with the equivalent horse power, memory and storage.

Best of all, when something dies, you just go down to Fry's to replace.

Expert Comment

ID: 38713537
If this is a production server that will cost you money when it is down I would recommend going with IBM/HP/Dell as well.   You can get all kinds of service plans from NBD to Parts on Site.    If you are okay with being down for a couple of business days then I would recommend purchasing a used enterprise level server from a place like geeks.   Google Benchmark CPUs and then you can get a feel for the performance of the processors.  SAS drives will run plenty fast.   The more heads in a RAID configuration the higher IOPs you will get.  25 users is nothing for any server you will find out there running SAS drives.   The advantage you will have running IBM\HP\Dell is they have already done all the homework on drive failures, heat, driver capability, RAID card performance.  They maintain the drivers and firmware.  Plus in a year or two from now if the MB dies, back plain goes out, it will be easier to find parts for an IBM/HP/Dell.
LVL 55

Expert Comment

ID: 38714567
Of course if you're a computer expert and feel confident in maintaining it yourself including talking your staff through doing repairs when you're on vacation then by all means build your own server. As choward16980 says it will be faster and cheaper than a standard build from a major player.

Author Comment

ID: 38714774
I like Chowards approach, have built my own stuff for years, would like help selecting the right parts . A while back Callandor helped me spec an i7 core machine that has been amazing for about 800.00 in parts. Would like to repeat that with the server, for a bit more money, but same effect. Chowars spec above just seemed like overkill for what we need?  Also, and this seems the stupid question, but would that perform as fast as my i7 core with SSD? This i7 pc is so fast, everythign I do is instantly processed....
LVL 55

Assisted Solution

andyalder earned 166 total points
ID: 38715425
Windows server won't perform as fast as the workstation if it's on the same hardware since workstation OS is tweaked for speed, e.g disk write cache is turned on whereas server OS is tweaked for data security, e.g. disk write cache turned off to preserve data integrity (not that that matters so much when using SSDs).

Author Closing Comment

ID: 38715558
I opened a new question to get into more specifics of board selection and setup configuration.

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