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Building Home Office Server 1st time

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June 26, 2006 9:37:05 PM

I'm a bit confused, so I reach out for help.

I'm looking to build a machine to act as a home/office server (MS Small Business Server 2003) that will keep email and shared documents.

It's not for gaming, so no top-notch video and audio required, but data speed (hard drive, RAM) should be fast. Also it should be upgradable, and rather it should be a few months old.

Also, I don't want to overclock it, (maybe a little, not too much). And since this will work 24/7, some cooling wouldn't be bad, especially since it'll be my first machine with added cooling.

Here are my initial thoughts:

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-G1975X $192.10 ZipZoomFly (Pros: upgradeable, 1000MB Lan, Lotsa RAM. Too much: 7.1 Audio)
CPU: Intel Pentium D 820 LGA 775 Dual Core $166.00 NewEgg
Cooling: ? Something in the $100 range
Video Card: eVGA GeForce 6200 LE 128MB $29.99 after rebate TigerDirect (Pros: Both Analog VGA and DVI, cheap)
RAM: 2GB TWIN2X2048-6400C4 $270.00 ZipZoomFly (Fast, but not the $450 fastest)
Hard Disks: 2 x Western Digital Raptor WD740ADFD 74GB Serial ATA 10,000RPM Hard Drive w/16MB Buffer $168 each ZipZoomFly (Pros: FAST, Raid).
Case: $40 Mid Tower case
Power Supply: Antec TruePower 550W $99
DVD Burner: Samsung 16X, 9 format +LightScribe $40

Is something out of place, or am I missing something? Is the balance right?

Here's my Excel List:
[code:1:7d2d7cde95]$166.00 13.03% CPU
$192.10 15.08% Motherboard
$270.00 21.19% RAM
$ 30.00 2.35% Video Card
$336.00 26.37% Hard Disks
$100.00 7.85% Cooling
$ 40.00 3.14% DVD Burner
$100.00 7.85% PowerSupply
$ 40.00 3.14% Case
[/code:1:7d2d7cde95]

Total $1274.10 (plus some shipping). It's a little over what I promised my boss, but I'll tell him that you told me to buy that :) 
June 26, 2006 10:27:20 PM

For a home server, what you've got sounds way overkill. I like the Proc/Mobo but you may consider going for the 805 even. The RAM I don't know that you need TwinX for a server. I'd personally find something a bit cheaper from OCZ or Corsair if possible. The Ammount is good

Hard Disks is where I think you're wasting a bit of money on the raptors. While it is true that they are fast, I think you'd be better off purchasing 2 300GB Seagate/WD drives and RAID-1ing them. Still speedy, and capacity is nice for file serving.

Power supply is nice... Though 550W is a tad overkill perhaps and will generate some extra heat. Perhaps look into 480W/430W models

IS this just going to be you using the server?

AT my home here is what I have setup for my home server

Tasks:
- File Server
- MP3 Server
- Web Server/DB server (Apache, PHP, MySQL)
- Email Server

Hardware:
- Athlon XP 2500+ @ stock
- 1GB PC2700 DDR RAM
- 2x 80GB Seagate SATA drives in RAID-1 for OS/App/DB drive
- 160GB & 120GB Supplemental Data & backup drives.
- 40X CDRW Drive
- Vantec Ion2 460W Power Supply
- Intel 1000/100/10 PCI Network Adapter
- Cheap MSI Socket A Motherboard

The setup I have above never even comes close to pusing the limits of its hardware even with the web serving and database, and all that other jazz I do on it. In fact I even use it as a 3D rendering node from time to time. I was leary of the motherboard I initially put in it (The MSI) so I bought another better one (Soyo Dragon) in case this one failed on me, but it has suprised me and is still going strong powered on 24x7.
June 26, 2006 11:08:38 PM

phaxmohdem Thanks for the input, I've quick searched and came up with the prices:

[code:1:56dc3e24c3] phaxmohdem suggests:
$ 99.95 11.52% AMD Athlon XP-2500 CPU OEM
$ 75.00 8.64% MSI Socket A Motherboard
$198.00 22.81% PC2700 DDR (333MHz) 2x1GB
$ 40.00 4.61% Video Card
$100.00 11.52% 80GB Seagate SATA drives in RAID-1 (should be enough for what we need)
$215.00 24.77% Seagate PushButton 300GB Ext (for external backup)
$ 0.00 0.00% Cooling
$ 40.00 4.61% DVD Burner
$ 60.00 6.91% Vantec Ion2 460W Power Supply
$ 40.00 4.61% Case
$ 53.00 6.11% Intel 10/100/1000 NIC
$867.95 100.00%
[/code:1:56dc3e24c3]

Looks better?

The reason I went with the better, is because it'll run Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 and will have a few (4 to 5) computers connected using QuickBooks and Microsoft Outlook (the email will be on the server using MS Exchange Server). It'll not be used as a firewall or proxy.

Any other thoughts?

Thanks
Related resources
June 26, 2006 11:45:01 PM

why don't you get a 1xx opteron for socket 939. this is a server processor so it obviously is better for your tasks. this processor is also very good to overclock. hardcore gamers also use this processor. if I were you I would probably go for this processor - AMD Opteron 165 with maybe a DFI or MSI motherboard (don't know if asus motherboards support opteron)
June 27, 2006 12:39:42 AM

I was just throwing out what I personally am using at home as a server.

You could actually pick up a Socket 754 mobo and Sempron 3100+ or so that would kick my 2500+'s butt all over town, for at least the same price or cheaper. I would also get DDR 400 RAM which is cheaper than PC2700 these days. (retail at least)

I would honestly stick with a PentiumD 805/920 over the Athlon 2500+ I've got. Also would probably be close to the same price depending on the motherboard & RAM you choose to accompany it.

Also if this is a server, I'd look for a motherboard with integrated video. Saves you some $, heat output, and electricity usage that way.

And in reply to mjdranzer's post. For the love of God please don't overclock a server machine. Stability is paramount in serving, and any overclocking no matter how extreme or minute jeopardizes that.

EDIT: For 4-5 concurrent users, you're not really taxing the server too bad at all. Especially just with tasks like Quickbooks, and Exchange/Outlook. Any modern single core processor would handle this task with great ease. I highly recommend the Athlon64 series, or Opteron series of Processors as they are great at such server tasks. For what it sounds like you're wanting to do here is what I would recommend:

ASUS A8N-E Motherboard -- $97
Athlon64 3500+ SKT 939 -- $109
2GB DDR400 RAM -- $172
Video Card -- $40
80GB Seagate Drives in RAID-1 -- $100
Seagate PushButton 300GB Ext (for external backup) -- $215 (Maxtor OneTouch is a good alternative)
DVD Burner -- $40
Case -- $40
Antec TruePower II 480W Power Supply -- $76
Extra PCI NIC if wanted (Mobo has GB Ethernet Built in) -- $~50
--- Total $939 w/ NIC ---

If that solution starts getting bogged down somehow in the future you can always upgrade to a dual core Athlon X2 chip or Dual Core Opteron 1xx series chip.
June 27, 2006 1:02:05 AM

For A Server Id Reccomend A Good Non-SLI Nforce4 Ultra Board And Run A Opteron 165 Dual-Core Rather Than That Hot Running Intel. If You Want A 24/7 System You Dont Want A "Preshott"
June 27, 2006 3:40:49 PM

Quote:
Id Reccomend A Good Non-SLI Nforce4 Ultra Board And Run A Opteron 165 Dual-Core Rather Than That Hot Running Intel. If You Want A 24/7 System You Dont Want A "Preshott"

I'm embarrassed to ask, but I will anyway:

What is "Non-SLI" or "SLI" motherboard? (I understand it's something with the video card?)

What is "Prescott"? (a type of motherboard? why do I see people say it's not good?)

Quote:
Also if this is a server, I'd look for a motherboard with integrated video. Saves you some $, heat output, and electricity usage that way.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that it's better NOT to have the motherboard and CPU process and share memory with the video, and that having a separate video card is better (for the motherboard). I didn't think of the heat output. As far as the $40, I think it's not bad especially that that card has VGA and DVI and TV Output (since a server might not always have it's own screen, it should have the options). Am I wrong?

Also, as I looked at the ASUS site, I saw that they also have A8N-VM CSM/NBP board (not much more $), and it has on-board video and 1394 firewire.

Quote:
ASUS A8N-E Motherboard -- $97
Athlon64 3500+ SKT 939 -- $109

I understand that this motherboard (and the A8N-VM CSM/NBP) can be upgradable to a dual core Athlon X2 chip or Dual Core Opteron 1xx series chip. Correct?

Thanks so much
June 27, 2006 4:20:04 PM

SLI means that two graphics cards can be connected toghether thus an SLI motherboard has two PCI Express slots. NON SLI is for motherboards who only can suppost one gfx card.
Prescott is the codename for the pentium 4 (the pentuim 4s core). It is not good because altough it has high clockspeeds it still isn't fast. Not to mention that it runs very HOT.
For server tasks such as yours I would highly reccomend the Opteron
June 27, 2006 4:36:45 PM

Quote:
I was just throwing out what I personally am using at home as a server.

You could actually pick up a Socket 754 mobo and Sempron 3100+ or so that would kick my 2500+'s butt all over town, for at least the same price or cheaper. I would also get DDR 400 RAM which is cheaper than PC2700 these days. (retail at least)

I would honestly stick with a PentiumD 805/920 over the Athlon 2500+ I've got. Also would probably be close to the same price depending on the motherboard & RAM you choose to accompany it.

Also if this is a server, I'd look for a motherboard with integrated video. Saves you some $, heat output, and electricity usage that way.

And in reply to mjdranzer's post. For the love of God please don't overclock a server machine. Stability is paramount in serving, and any overclocking no matter how extreme or minute jeopardizes that.

EDIT: For 4-5 concurrent users, you're not really taxing the server too bad at all. Especially just with tasks like Quickbooks, and Exchange/Outlook. Any modern single core processor would handle this task with great ease. I highly recommend the Athlon64 series, or Opteron series of Processors as they are great at such server tasks. For what it sounds like you're wanting to do here is what I would recommend:

ASUS A8N-E Motherboard -- $97
Athlon64 3500+ SKT 939 -- $109
2GB DDR400 RAM -- $172
Video Card -- $40
80GB Seagate Drives in RAID-1 -- $100
Seagate PushButton 300GB Ext (for external backup) -- $215 (Maxtor OneTouch is a good alternative)
DVD Burner -- $40
Case -- $40
Antec TruePower II 480W Power Supply -- $76
Extra PCI NIC if wanted (Mobo has GB Ethernet Built in) -- $~50
--- Total $939 w/ NIC ---

If that solution starts getting bogged down somehow in the future you can always upgrade to a dual core Athlon X2 chip or Dual Core Opteron 1xx series chip.



Hey,
Try to look at what your going to build for the standpoint of how many people the business has now and how many you want say two years from now. Running Windows SBS just to front exchange and Peachtreequick books isn't going to take a lot of resources. I would reccomend you fixate on your bandwidth needs and storage needs. If you have Outlook your are going to need to archive data that may or may not be important, but client specific. And best practice says you should not have any client do that locally on a system. So just with that, you should use roaming profiles that allow remote access via homeWYSE terminals using Citrix PE4. It's not hard and it works with windows AD to support it's users. It may seem that its not needed, but for expandability and low costs on hardware youll see the bennifits. What I was getting at, even if you dont want the ICA Citrix solution, as far as hardware goes, get any thing as far as CPU's and mobo, then stack up the ram and drive space. I suggest, becuase gigabit cards are cheep, to buy a SAN or NAS that will support the file server, QuickBook back ups, as well as roaming profiles in a safe raid 5 or 10. Small or not, the bits of data your company may create or hold need to be secure, two large drives in one serve wont supply much.


PS.
Wanna buy an old 1U DL360?
June 27, 2006 4:46:03 PM

I'm not sure what kind of business you are running, how many employees, or what kind of data capacity you will need. The term "server" is a catch-all phrase that can mean lots of different things: file server, print server, application server, web server, etc.

It sounds like all you need is a file server to store files that can be shared by several computers. Are you storing digital video? Audio? Form letters to clients? Spread sheets w/ financial data? How big is a typical file? How many will you create in a day, a month, and a year?

What would happen in the worst case scenario, if all the data disapeared? How much would that cost you?

Why is the speed of the server so important? If your talking about opening a 3 page Word document, does 0.8 seconds make a difference instead of 1.2 seconds?

Those raptor drives are nice and fast, but cost a lot and don't hold very much for the price. You mention RAID, but you didn't say what type of RAID you are thinking about using? For ultimate data security, use mirroring. It wastes an entire hard drive, but the data is very secure. Double check that your mother board has a RAID controller built in. If it does, it will probably support mirroring (RAID level 1) and you won't need to buy an additional (and expensive) RAID controller.
RAID info

Two important issues that are a MUST if you call this thing a server.
1) seperate your OS from your data. Use one drive (or even a pair of mirrored drives) as your boot drive, and use a RAID to store your data. This means you will need a minimum of 3 drives.

2) back up your data regularly. That means either a tape drive, or a whole bunch of recordable DVDs.

Or, forget the whole PC server and look at something like this instead:
Storage Solution


SLI is for people who want to use two video cards to get a tiny bit of increased graphics capacity when playing games so they can pretend that they are cool. It has no place in a server, or anywhere else really.

Prescott is a line of Pentium 4 CPUs that ran pretty hot and burned a lot of electricity to opperate.

As far as video and firewire and all that, I think you got the wrong idea. You don't build a server loaded with extras, you build it stripped down to do it's job.

Honestly, if all you plan on doing is file sharing, a low end CPU in a Mother Board w/ integrated graphics, a good power supply (I like that Antec), a raptor for a boot drive, and a couple of 200GB+ Western Digitals for data, and a DVD burner for backup should do you just fine.
June 27, 2006 7:39:27 PM

Quote:
I'm not sure what kind of business you are running, how many employees, or what kind of data capacity you will need. The term "server" is a catch-all phrase that can mean lots of different things: file server, print server, application server, web server, etc.

It sounds like all you need is a file server to store files that can be shared by several computers. Are you storing digital video? Audio? Form letters to clients? Spread sheets w/ financial data? How big is a typical file? How many will you create in a day, a month, and a year?

It's 4 people, all accessing QuickBooks at the same time, and all using Outlook at the same time. That's basically it, maybe another few GB for some Word and Excel Files, but the QuickBooks and Outlook must be as fast as possible (when customers call and want to place an order or ask a question, they don't like to wait...)

Quote:
Those raptor drives are nice and fast, but cost a lot and don't hold very much for the price.

I think that 74GB is more than enough for the above uses.

Quote:
You mention RAID, but you didn't say what type of RAID you are thinking about using? For ultimate data security, use mirroring. It wastes an entire hard drive, but the data is very secure.


Quote:
Two important issues that are a MUST if you call this thing a server.
1) separate your OS from your data. Use one drive (or even a pair of mirrored drives) as your boot drive, and use a RAID to store your data. This means you will need a minimum of 3 drives.

2) back up your data regularly. That means either a tape drive, or a whole bunch of recordable DVDs.

I'll do daily backups onto an external drive, and weekly snapshots.

Quote:
As far as video and firewire and all that, I think you got the wrong idea. You don't build a server loaded with extras, you build it stripped down to do it's job.

The reason for firewire is because some external drives that I had worked with firewire.
The reason for video is to save some $ and heat.

Thanks for the links about the RAID. I think that I meant RAID 1.
June 27, 2006 7:45:40 PM

Quote:
PS.
Wanna buy an old 1U DL360?

How much? or how little? :lol: 

I would use something like that for a NAS or a firewall/spam (ipcop) solution.
June 28, 2006 12:43:01 AM

If I Were To Build A Server, It Would Have The Following Specs...

Motherboard: Chaintech ZenithVE Nforce4 Ultra = $65.00 - $75.00 (It What I Have Its A Good Reliable Board With Good Overclocking Capabilities And Its Cheap!)

CPU: AMD Opteron 165 Dual-Core (1.8GHz) Or An Athlon 64 X2 3800+
Memory:2GB Of Good, Name Brand DDR400 RAM (Low Latency If Possible) Video Card:The Cheapest PCI-E Nvidia Graphics Card You Can Find
Hard Drives: A Couple Of 76GB Raptors In RAID-0 + A 200GB Drive For Backup
Powersupply: Any Good Quality Name Brand 500Watt Or Higher
Case: Any Good Solid Case With Good Ventalation

Theres A Good Low-Price Reliable Home Server That Will Run Cool And Stable For A Long Time.
June 28, 2006 6:22:43 AM

Is noise an issue for this server? Will it be seperated from the other workstations? This may be an issue when deciding on components.

As for the dedicated video card, I'd say screw it. You won't be doing anything taxing (video-wise) on this machine anyway so onboard will suffice quite nicely. Unless you get a mobo w/o onboard video. If that's the case, go as cheap as you can, you don't need the processing power.

I'd recommend an Opteron, but that's purely personal preference. With the 940 socket you can get some blazing fast DDR1 RAM if you are really looking to have that in your system. Also you lose the heat associated with Prescotts.

Two raptors on RAID 1 might be overkill, but I can't tell you not to because I own one. My only gripe with mine is the read/write noise. I'm with SciPunk, get a third drive for the OS, and seperate the data on the RAID.

And completely off topic but
Quote:
SLI is for people who want to use two video cards to get a tiny bit of increased graphics capacity when playing games so they can pretend that they are cool. It has no place in a server, or anywhere else really.

Those that use SLI at very high resolutions are not pretending that we are cool, we are getting good framerates on 24"+ widescreen monitors. SLI is not for normal resolutions, it simply doesn't help. However try running any modern game at extreme resolutions, with very-high image settings, on a huge monitor, with a single vid-card, and you will see why there are such things as SLI and CrossFire.
!