Ok so a buddy of mine just came to me. He and his brother are taking over their dads company(he passed, RIP). Now he tells me that they have 5 PC's and the last update they went through was 98. He asked if i would build said machines and setup a server for centralized storage.
I have not seen said PC's or existing network. However here is what i was thinking.
Since the price of of the Athlon 64 CPU's on the AM2 socket are so low i would build 5 dual core machines. All with matching hardware.
Now depending on the server for the storage im more concerned about the drives and setup. The network does not see the outside world so no firewall/internet connection will be involved. Since no network i figured i would just set up mapped drives to the shared resources on the storage server. Updates will be handled via CD and running XP 32 bit.
As far as those Excelstor hard drives, I've never heard of that brand before, I'd recommend spending the extra $5 and going with a more reputable brand such as WD or Seagate.
Now for your last question, yes, almost any modern board has onboard RAID, however the performance with RAID 5 usually isn't that good, especially with writes. In your case, with only 5 computers, it should do just fine though, unless the drives will be heavily accessed, then I'd recommend going with a seperate RAID controller. One good thing about a seperate controller is, they usually support migration, so say you wanted to add more storage to your current setup, pop in another of those drives and go from 640GB to 960, the card handles everything, no reinstall needed. Onboard controllers don't support migration(they might nowdays, someone correct me if I'm wrong here)
Also, make sure to implement a backup strategy, RAID is no substitute for a backup. If someone accidentally deletes a file, virus wipes out the drives, file system corrupts, or the RAID just plain goes haywire(very rare, but it's happened to me), you're screwed.
I've been out of the loop on CPU's for quite a while, so unfortunately I can't help you much in that department, storage is more my area.
no thanks alot for the advice on the storage. I will know tomorrow when i talk to my buddy again. He is going to take me so i can see the current setup and network. I will know much more then.
As for a back up system i would think a weekly DVD backup would be just fine. I dont think the company has enough critical data to justify a tape back up and off site delivery. Like i said i will know more soon and will post the info i get.