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Help with equipment for indie gaming company

Last response: in Business Computing
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July 18, 2014 11:25:47 PM

Hello

Thanks for reading this and any help provided is truly appreciated so thanks in advance

I'm planning on starting a small indie games company and I would like help on selecting the right computer equipment for my business

Requirements/set-up

Initially there will be 2 employees and myself, but hopefully this number will grow within the first 12 months, so any set-up needs to be scalable

I have build my own pc's before and have a basic technical knowledge of computer components, but no knowledge or experience of servers or multiple user computer rigs.

I would like to run everything off a central storage that I have complete control of and that the other 2 employees have limited access to 1 of the employees will be doing graphics and the other will be doing coding.

My budget is $3,000, but I could stretch to $5,000 if it will make a big difference

I was thinking about a high end graphics server with 250-500gb ssd and 2 tb regular storage running an i7 cpu, 16gb ram(or 32?) maybe a nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti gpu so i can go SLI in future but I'm not an expert so any help would be great.

Thanks again for any help

Best solution

July 20, 2014 1:44:30 PM

Why do you need to do graphics off your server? This doesn't really make sense for your scenario. Leave your server for data management and user account control, leave the graphics performance to your workstation. It's going to be much more effective this way.

So lets look at this from three categories:

1) Server system. What all do you need to actually have on your server? I'm not familiar with game development needs specifically but generally the concept is you want to store saved files on your server, plus other necessary network roles. This would include active directory (if you needed, but with this few employees to start I'd probably suggest skipping it until you get larger.) If all you are needing on your server right now is storage, you may choose instead to just go with a NAS which is a specialized storage server made just for file sharing. It has a very customized operating system so you can't go installing a bunch of other software or roles on it like a standard desktop, but it is easy to set up shared files for your network. It can also cost less for a NAS, but you have to be careful as well as they are less powerful than your standard desktop or server.

2) Workstations: For your size of network and for the type of work you are doing, this is probably where the majority of your budget will go. Put your computing resources here. There are many ways you can go here, but a lot of it comes down to the software that you are utilizing. Again, I'm not familiar with anything, but I do know that many software options for this sort of thing has support only for specific configurations or systems such as requiring that you use a list of verified trusted platforms like the Dell Precision or HP Z workstations. You can get some really nice systems this way, but it can be more expensive to get a pre-built workstation like this than building your own. Keep in mind that an i7 processor and GTX 780 graphics cards are desktop cards for gaming. Those are NOT workstation hardware and thus they may not work right for your needs. Granted, it can get you by, but it's kind of like saying, "Well my Ford Mustang has an engine and four wheels, so I'm sure it can haul my camper to the mountains." No, it may be fast, but they are designed for completely different needs. My best recommendation here is find out what your software support requires/recommends and start from there.

3) Network Infrastructure. You can go spending tens of thousands on your computers and server, but if you are working off a cheap 10/100 switch it's all for moot. A lot of this is going to depend upon what you are doing with your computers. If you find that you need high speed throughput for your network as you start having multiple computers simultaneously passing large files back and forth with the server, then you want a nice quality switch. I'd definitely recommend going ahead and getting a gigabit switch. To begin with, just about any gigabit switch will do as you probably don't need any sort of management features. However, as things get bigger you may consider additional features like link aggregation (LACP) which allows you to utilize multiple gigabit connections between computers to further increase your bandwidth. This will require a managed switch and compatible network adapters, so it's probably a future expense to look at, not necessary immediately. You also will need a router, and while any basic home wireless router will get you started, keep in mind limiting factors such as the internet connection speed you have. If you have a really fast internet connection your router may not be capable of handling that throughput and you make yourself a bottleneck right there.
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July 20, 2014 7:24:50 PM

Thanks for the reply, I think you've pointed me in the right direction.

Somehow i envisioned all 3 people using the one uber desktop/server, I see now that I'm going to have to go study networking a bit to make this work.

Thanks again for your informative response.
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