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Help building a Dedicated Desktop Server

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November 10, 2008 5:19:00 PM

Hey guys!

So I have rented numerous dedicated servers over the years for various tasks. I usually wind up running game servers, FTP servers, etc off of them. They are just a bit to expensive for me to constantly keep up at generally 250-300$ a month. So I have decided to just build one to go along side my workstation to keep things nice and organized and seperated. I am a software junkie at heart, focusing mainly on coding and what not, and in the scheme of things I know jack about hardware. I know enough to put it all together, and set it up (I built my workstation) but for example, I have never used nor read anything about RAID.

Anyways!
So when I built this workstation last year, Newegg managed to send me two of every part. I still have a...

Standard ATX tower -> http://www.apevia.com/images/products/X-CRUISER-BK-1_50...
Thermaltake 500w PSU -> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

These are the parts I have leftover. I already know I want to go with the Q6600 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) for the processor. Thats about all I have decided though, so I am hoping you guys can help.

Motherboard: I am clueless. I have an Asus P5B-E in my workstation which is great, but for a desktop server I really have no idea what I need on it. If you guys can throw me some ideas or links for some 1-200$ boards that would be excellent.

RAM: Ive never really looked too much into ram. I usually just get something that will work, install it, and im done with it. I dont want to cut corners as I want this box to be my baby for a long time, so if you guys can let me know what kind of RAM I am going to want to get.

Hard Drive: Sadly I have two very old 40GB Hard Drives in my Workstation from my old Dell computers that I bought back in 2003. When I built it, I totally forgot to pickup a new hard drive, and just installed these and never got around to getting a new one. I will probably wind up storing a large bit of stuff on it, so I was thinking something along the lines of this maybe? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As far as other stuff goes, I assume if the mobo doesnt have an onboard video card I can just throw an old piece of junk in there. Also assume I dont need a sound card or anything. Im sure I am forgetting something, but you guys will probably point that out. Anyways, thank you SO MUCH ahead of time, and I cant wait to start building :) 
November 10, 2008 5:26:08 PM

what kind of server tasks are you going to be doing?

for a general purpose home server:

for a mobo you could go with something like this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASUS P5Q-EM LGA 775 Intel G45 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

comes with onboard video, onboard audio, can take upto 16GB of ram, 6 sata ports, basic raid capabilities, gigabit ethernet

RAM is DIRT CHEAP right now, i would get as much ram as possible within budget
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
get two of those, that will give you 8GB

hard drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
couple of those depending on storage needs and what not


OS: i personally use windows 2003 standard server on server box
but if you know how to use linux well then i would go with that instead

you have got a case and PSU already so good to go there and you are going to get a q6600 which is a good CPU, and i think it supports some sort of virtualization if im not mistaken so should be able to run multiple OSes on the server if you ever wanted to


RAID is "redundant array of independent disks"
means you can setup two identical hard drives in some sort of an array to give you either
1) better performance
2) better data integrity
3) or both

RAID mode 0 is probably the simplest type
it takes at least two hard drives that are identical and creates one drive out of them
so two 500gb hds become one 1TB
the advantage is that when you are writing files to the drive, it splits them as evenly as it can across the two drives and during read time, it accesses both hard drives at once to get each half of the file, which results in a speed up since it is pulling the data from two independent drives
bad part is that if one drive dies, all of your data is lost

RAID 1 is called mirroring
it takes two drives and mirrors the data on them
so this provides integrity in case one drive chokes
doesnt really provide a speed up though

there are other modes like raid 5 and what not that provide both speed ups and data integrity but it also requires more drives

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

i personally dont use raid at all, i have one 250gb hd for the os and apps on teh server and two 500gb for files, seems to work fine for my needs and i backup all the important files on the server every couple of weeks or so
November 10, 2008 5:28:25 PM

Will you be running games and FTP off of it like the rented ones?

What is your budget?
Related resources
November 10, 2008 5:41:54 PM

I really dont have a budget persay. I am a (usually) broke college student, but I have an endless amount of paid scripting jobs I can do to cover the cost of whatever I need. So the less the cost, the faster I can build it, but like I said I dont want to half ass it, but I also dont need a monster machine either.

I will probably be using it primarily for game servers, and as secondary tasks data storage and an FTP server. I run mostly SRCDS (valve games) which are more processor dependant than they are RAM, but I will be running the free version of Windows Standard edition (either 2003 or 2008 for students) so I will probably go with 4GB of ram since that is the max it supports. That shouldnt be a problem though, since my rented boxes never had more than 2GB and I never had a problem with that.
November 10, 2008 7:02:22 PM

CrimsonGT said:
I really dont have a budget persay. I am a (usually) broke college student, but I have an endless amount of paid scripting jobs I can do to cover the cost of whatever I need. So the less the cost, the faster I can build it, but like I said I dont want to half ass it, but I also dont need a monster machine either.

I will probably be using it primarily for game servers, and as secondary tasks data storage and an FTP server. I run mostly SRCDS (valve games) which are more processor dependant than they are RAM, but I will be running the free version of Windows Standard edition (either 2003 or 2008 for students) so I will probably go with 4GB of ram since that is the max it supports. That shouldnt be a problem though, since my rented boxes never had more than 2GB and I never had a problem with that.


you should be able to run both ftp server and source server on the box i made up in previous post

it's mostly your internet connection that will limit u in running both at the same time with reasonable success

a source client pulls about 10-25k off of the server (not including voice chat) at any given time

so if you got 8 players only thats minimum 80k upload you need on your internet connection, more players u add, the more each player starts to pull from your server, if you are playing tf2 playload maps, the amount increases by a bit as well

source client uploads about 5-10k to the server (not including voice) at any given time as well but that isnt the big issue since most internet connections are skewed in that they give you a big download pipe but limited upload


and this is not even taking into account the bandwidth that your FTP server would be using up if you plan on running both at the same time

now if you are using the server on a LAN you should have better luck hehe
November 10, 2008 7:28:20 PM


alternatively you may also want to look at an AMD solution,
should save you some money without sacrificing that much performance for what you are going to use the server for

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
78.99
onboard vid, onboard sound, gigabit ethernet, 5 sata ports, basic raid, etc etc

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
AMD Phenom 8450 Toliman 2.1GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 2MB L3 Cache Socket AM2+ 95W Triple-Core Processor - Retail
99.99
keep everything else the same

i have an amd based server with an X2 cpu, runs well, can run source ds and ftp and so on at the same time on the lan
November 10, 2008 8:07:35 PM

Oh wow, thank you for the awesome responses!

I am definitely sticking with the Q6600 as I have never been a fan of AMD for various reasons. Very nice cost alternative though. I am curious what the difference is between a server motherboard and a normal mobo. (I found some regular ATX server boards so I was just curious what the difference would be).

I really liked your explanation of RAID, that is the first time I actually understood what it is. I think I will just go with that SATA drive you linked, as that looks perfect. Is there anything as far as RAM/Hard Drive that differentiates "cheap" from good. All I know with HDs is that 7200rpm is the norm, and 10,000rpm is fast as hell, but not cost efficient. I have no idea what else to look for aside from that and size.

As far RAM that is amazing how cheap it is now. I think it was like 90 bucks for 2GB when I built my desktop. What exactly makes RAM different aside from DDR2/DDR3? I just noticed on the RAM that you linked it was referred to as "cheap" ram, but gets the job done type of thing.
November 10, 2008 9:04:32 PM

CrimsonGT said:
Oh wow, thank you for the awesome responses!

I am definitely sticking with the Q6600 as I have never been a fan of AMD for various reasons. Very nice cost alternative though. I am curious what the difference is between a server motherboard and a normal mobo. (I found some regular ATX server boards so I was just curious what the difference would be).

I really liked your explanation of RAID, that is the first time I actually understood what it is. I think I will just go with that SATA drive you linked, as that looks perfect. Is there anything as far as RAM/Hard Drive that differentiates "cheap" from good. All I know with HDs is that 7200rpm is the norm, and 10,000rpm is fast as hell, but not cost efficient. I have no idea what else to look for aside from that and size.

As far RAM that is amazing how cheap it is now. I think it was like 90 bucks for 2GB when I built my desktop. What exactly makes RAM different aside from DDR2/DDR3? I just noticed on the RAM that you linked it was referred to as "cheap" ram, but gets the job done type of thing.


Some server boards take diff memory such as ECC and/or FB-DIMM, ECC memory is error correcting while FB is ECC and fully buffered, mostly for super critical servers such as in big corps, not really required for the average joe home server hehe and the price is astronomical when compared to regular DDR2

Some server boards are multisocket, but then u can only get Xeons and they are expensive, once again not really required for home servers

7200RPM is basically the standard, the 10k rpm hard drives are faster but more expensive and not really required for running game servers, if you were runnign some huge website with a lot of I/O then yea but once again the 10K rpm hard drives are more expensive per GB than the 7200rpm ones

the 640GB i linked is one of the fastest 7200rpm hds out there right now and is priced well, i mean source isnt a taxing game so either way it will load fast on a modern hd, on my ancient 80GB sata drive it loads fast lol
it has 16MB cache which is good as well

hard drive space is like RAM now, dirt cheap for good drives and a lot of space
there arent really any no name HD brands out there but there are no name ram brands which are pretty bad, the Gskill ram i linked isnt no name and works well

more expensive ram allows you to overclock and things like that, mostly useless for intel systems though, more of a requirement for amd systems

the biggest advantage to more expensive memory is the timings, you can run the mem with tighter timings to get some more performance out of them, but only really useful in gaming rigs and newer games

!