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Convert HP Proliant ML370 G4 Server to Gaming PC?

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June 10, 2010 4:12:35 AM

When I mentioned to my boss today that I am in researching the components for my new gaming PC, he said if I'm interested I can have the 2 recently decommissioned HP Proliant ML370 G4 servers if I want.

Here's a brief list of the specs as I haven't really dug into these things yet:

(1) Intel Xeon 3.4 GHz/800MHz -2MB L2 (2 supported)
Chipset Intel E7520
2GB PC2-3200R 400MHz (16GB Max)
(3) hot-plug Ultra320 SCSI drives 10,000 rpm 75GB (6 supported)
(4) PCI-X and (2) PCI-Express
Redundant 775W Hot Plug PSU
6 hot plug fans
5U Form Factor

Now my questions:

1. What's the best way to wipe all the data off these drives (it's currently Windows Server 2003)

2. Can I install XP or Win7 and use it like a normal PC?

3. Should I put both Xeon processors in one machine?

4. Is this all just a huge waste of time cause I'll never be satisfied with the gaming performance when compared to a new $2,000 - $2,500 build?
June 10, 2010 8:24:50 PM

Hmph. No replies. Guess I posted in the wrong section . . . or the wrong forum.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 10, 2010 9:16:57 PM

I'm not that familiar with server hardware, but I'll venture a guess that you should probably just kick out for a new gaming build. $2,500 is more than enough to get you the absolute best gaming build out there (outlined below). I'm also not sure that the motherboard has the right slots for a top of the line GPU.

Here's what I would build:

CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $484
RAM: Mushkin Enahnced Redline 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 6 $185 after rebate
GPU: HD 5970 $700
SSD: OCZ Agility 2 100 GB $350 after rebate. Or an Intel 80 GB ($220) if you don't need that much space. Or 2x Intel 80 GB in RAID 0 ($440) if you need more.
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $70
PSU: Cosair 850W Modular 80+ Silver $170
Case: HAF 922 $90
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $20
HSF: Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B $92 (with 2 fans and a Y splitter)

Total: $2,161
Related resources
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 12, 2010 2:08:34 PM

The 5970 is a lot of money, but the GTX cards aren't a good deal. The 470 is about $350-370, but performs like the HD 5850 ($300). The 5970 (at stock) is TWO 5850s. The 480 is $450-470, but performs like the HD 5870 ($400). The 5970 is technically TWO 5970s once you undo a factory underclock.

Also, if you noticed, I included a SSD with the 5970. The 10,000 RPM drives aren't a good buy. The 500 GB platter drives, such as the Samsung Spinpoint F3 and Seagate 7200.12, are faster at a third of the price (comparing a 150 GB 10,000 RPM to a 500 GB regular drive). For that extra money, the 5970 becomes reasonable.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 12, 2010 2:29:53 PM

Quote:
4. Is this all just a huge waste of time cause I'll never be satisfied with the gaming performance when compared to a new $2,000 - $2,500 build?
It is. Not only that, but those servers are rather noisy and the PCI-Express x4 slots are a serious bottleneck for video cards (though they're fine for RAID controllers).
June 13, 2010 4:20:41 AM

I'll likely pass on the servers (2 more PCs hanging around the house is really the last thing I need. I think I still have my first 1990 build around here somewhere.) I have to say the HP server cases are truly works of art. Not from external appearance, but everything inside is attached via well engineered injection molded latching mechanisms and all sheetmetal edges are rolled (no band-aids required).

Thanks for posting the "new build" specs MadAdmiral.
MadAdmiral said:
Here's what I would build:
CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $484
RAM: Mushkin Enahnced Redline 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 6 $185 after rebate
GPU: HD 5970 $700
SSD: OCZ Agility 2 100 GB $350 after rebate. Or an Intel 80 GB ($220) if you don't need that much space. Or 2x Intel 80 GB in RAID 0 ($440) if you need more.
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $70
PSU: Cosair 850W Modular 80+ Silver $170
Case: HAF 922 $90
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $20
HSF: Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B $92 (with 2 fans and a Y splitter)

Total: $2,161

I've been doing lots of research and most of it agrees with your recommendations.

Except:

GPU: Though I will get the HD 5970, I'm a bit concerned with the issues some newegg reviewers seem to be having with it.

PSU: I'm waiting for the Corsair Professional Series Gold AX1200 or AX850 to hit the streets.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 13, 2010 2:53:23 PM

You don't have to get that specific model. It's just the one I had a link to already. Also, I don't put much weight behind user reviews. The typical Newegg reviewer shouldn't be allowed around a pointy stick, much less expensive hardware. Most problems are likely caused by the user or unrealistic expectations.

The only thing I'll add about the PSU is that anything above 850W isn't needed.
June 14, 2010 3:23:06 AM

For now, I think I'll allow the the Samsung drive to be the bottleneck of this build. I'll use it as the boot drive until the SSD frenzy settles down. As so often happens with new technology, it seems the customer is being used to beta test these things at premium prices. Even without an SSD, I'm sure this build will far surpass my current 3.0Ghz Pentium 4. Enough to keep me happy for the next 8 to 12 months anyway.

I've decided not to wait for Corsair's next generation AX series PSU so I can move forward with this build.

I had considered using a WD VelociRaptor 600GB for the OS, but hey, they're comparatively overpriced and unavailable also.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 14, 2010 12:19:29 PM

The HDD will be the bottleneck, but it's only really noticeable if you're copying huge files a lot. It won't really affect gaming that much. The VRs are a complete waste of money. They're not that much faster than the 500 GB platter drives, but cost closer to the SSDs.

I definitely think you'll be perfectly happy without the SSD.
June 14, 2010 3:05:10 PM

The only reason I was considering a 1200W PSU was in anticipation of running two HD 5970 GPUs in Crossfire a few years from now when they will be substantially cheaper.

You recommended 1600 mhz memory, but the MoBo appears only to provide support for 2200/1333/1066/800 mhz memory.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 14, 2010 4:08:53 PM

Then get 1333 RAM, since anything faster is really just overclocked anyway.

You could always grab those servers to sell on ebay or something.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 14, 2010 4:46:38 PM

A quality 850W PSU would run dual 5970s. A 1.2kW unit would be able to run 4 5970s, possibly 5.

The listed memory doesn't mean that's the only speeds that are supported. It just shows the defaults (1333, 1066 and 800 depending on the sticks) and the maximum (2200). Anything between the two would work, but may require the settings to be specified manually in the BIOS.

If you plan on overclocking, you should get the 1600 mhz sticks, as they'll maintain their speed and latencies better as you overclock.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 15, 2010 4:51:21 AM

Instead of a single massive monitor, I'd go with three 1920x1080 monitors for half that and use Eyefinity. That'd be a resolution of 5760x1080 and a screen size that's a lot bigger than 27".
June 19, 2010 12:47:09 AM

As I'm sure you're aware, there's much more to monitor technology than size. Having experienced the incredible clarity of other IPS monitors, there's really no comparison. I'm sure the Asus and other TN panels provide very good image quality at 16.7M display colors, but they do not match the excellent image of an IPS panel displaying 1.07B colors. I prefer quality over quantity. Plus I really don't want to give up my entire desk to a 3-monitor eyefinity setup.

I'm currently waiting for all the PC components to arrive. The monitor hasn't been purchased yet. Here's the final build:

Antec Nine Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W Power Supply

Intel Core i7-930 2.8GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Save $10 more until 6/20 by entering promo code "EMCYWZW28" (I missed out on that one)

GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R ATX Intel Motherboard

Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B CPU Cooler

1ST PC CORP. 12" Black Sleeved Fan Splitter Cable

Mushkin Enhanced Redline 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory

GIGABYTE GV-R597D5-2GD-B Radeon HD 5970 (Hemlock) 2GB 512 (256 x 2)-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Dual GPU Onboard CrossFire Video Card w/ Eyefinity

Rosewill RCR-IC001 40-in-1 USB 2.0 3.5" Internal Card Reader w/ USB port / Extra silver face plate

ASUS 24X DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Total Price including shipping: $1855 ($1805 after mail-in rebates)
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 19, 2010 4:52:27 PM

The 5970 is a tight squeeze in the 902. The card is around 12" long. You're going to need to do some modding on the HDD cages to get it to fit...

Other than that, it looks good.
June 21, 2010 12:09:16 AM

Dang, I should have consulted with you prior to purchasing the Antec 902. Oh well, hopefully the mods won't be too destructive . . .time to get out the dremel tool. I'll post pics of the results in this thread.

I took the plunge on the Dell UltraSharp U2711 27" monitor as it's currently on sale for $999 with free shipping (though I did have to pay sales tax). I hope the graphics card can handle it.

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 21, 2010 12:21:21 PM

The 5970 can certainly handle it. There is nothing the card can't.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 21, 2010 5:33:35 PM

I wouldn't call paying a lot more for lower powered cards with features that when (IF) they get used would require another massive investment a "futureproofing win". Don't forget that to run dual 480s (which is only when it would compete with the 5970) you'd need a massive PSU (like 1000W at least) and a much cooler/larger case. To get dual 480s in a workable build, you'd need to spend $300 more on the cards, likely $100 on the PSU and likely $60 on the case. $460 is a lot to spend to not really get anything tangible...
June 25, 2010 8:04:51 PM

MadAdmiral said:
A quality 850W PSU would run dual 5970s. A 1.2kW unit would be able to run 4 5970s, possibly 5.


I don't know if it's a matter of PSU quality or not, but I do want to note that the HD 5970 manual states: "If you are planning on using this graphics card as part of a CrossFireX system, the following is required: A power supply that provides at least 1000-watt ..."
a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 25, 2010 8:11:01 PM

That's because they don't know if people will buy a quality PSU or some crappy unit that delivers nowhere near 1000W. A quality 850W PSU should deliver over 900W without problems while a cheap 1000W PSU might have difficulties delivered stable voltages when used over 70% of its rated capacity.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 25, 2010 8:13:59 PM

That's interesting, as ATI's site states that a 850W is required. And they're usually on the conservative side.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 25, 2010 9:13:23 PM

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5970,2474... A second 5970 GPU can't add much more than 300W.

Tom's last $2,000 build required over 850W when overclocked and it ran fine with a 750W quality PSU. I wouldn't recommend it, but an 850W quality PSU for the OP's build with a single 5970 definitely exceeds the requirements.
June 25, 2010 9:21:35 PM

GhislainG said:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5970,2474... A second 5970 GPU can't add much more than 300W.

Tom's last $2,000 build required over 850W when overclocked and it ran fine with a 750W quality PSU. I wouldn't recommend it, but an 850W quality PSU for the OP's build with a single 5970 definitely exceeds the requirements.
I wanted a PSU that would cover the CrossFireX option when I inevitably upgrade in the future.
June 25, 2010 9:24:27 PM

MadAdmiral said:
That's interesting, as ATI's site states that a 850W is required. And they're usually on the conservative side.
Cool, that's good enough for me. I have to add that the Corsair PSU certainly wins the "Best First Impression" award of all the components that I've purchased. From the completely plastic sealed box, to the PSU in a velvet-like drawstring bag, the Velcro'd vinyl modular cable bag, and full printed manual. They really know how to impress.

The Antec case, on the other hand, so far earns the "Worst First Impression" award. The case arrived with one HD bay section not fully inserted. I figured I could just press it back in - NOT. I look at the manual - oh wait, there is none (sorry, a piece of paper doesn't qualify as a manual). I look at the online manual - it doesn't cover this issue (and is only slightly more informative than the piece of paper in the box). I almost broke the plastic snappy things trying to force it in. So I completely disassemble the removable drive bays and carefully study the manufacturing method. I finally discover that the factory did not properly rout the fan wires. These wires have to fit through a tiny molded slot or the bays will not fit in the case. The case did come with lots of screws in various head styles, threads and lengths - naturally it lacked the 9 correct thread style screws to match the MoBo case standoffs. Fortunately I have lots of screws left over from previous builds, but still - I shouldn't have to do that.

I haven't checked to see how much I have to modify the HD bay to permit the 5970 GPU to fit yet. I'm saving that joyous project for last. Antec calls this their "Ultimate Gaming Case" - HA! - It's old school screw-in design with user-unfriendly features.

Bottom line MadAdmiral, I should have followed your advice on the HAF 922
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 25, 2010 11:04:05 PM

I didn't have that much trouble with the 902. If you dig through their bag of screws, you will find the right ones for the motherboard. There are two that are virtually identical to the eye, but one is the correct size.

I will say that I ended up snapping one of the front fan's standoffs because the screw wasn't all the way in, which caused one of the slot to look like it didn't fit right.
June 26, 2010 12:27:16 AM

In all fairness, there were 6 of the correct threaded screws. Being an engineer, I know more about screws than a person has the right to. I've also discovered that I can resolve the 5970 fit problem by switching one of the single filler panels from the top to in between the 2 removable drive bays. So no dremel required.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2010 4:21:13 AM

I have found that I generally like cooler master cases.

I don't know what antec case my dad has but it's terrible. I don't think his is on the market anymore though, so I'm not sure how it is in comparison to these (since I haven't seen them).
June 27, 2010 7:18:54 PM

OK, I'm almost done installing everything in the Antec 902 case. Seems I'm faced with a choice on where to connect the 200mm top and 120mm rear exhaust fans:

1. Connect both fans to the one available 4 pin system fan connection on the Gigabyte MoBo - I assume this will permit me to adjust the speed of these two fans via software or bios.

2. Connect both fans to the PSU and manually adjust the speed via the tiny dip switches inconveniently located on the back of the case.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 27, 2010 7:51:37 PM

I will tell you that even at high speeds, the top fan is basically inaudible. I would just plug that one into the PSU and run it on high all the time.
June 30, 2010 3:06:17 PM

Any recommendations for reasonably priced, effective power conditioning and surge protection would be appreciated. Battery backup is not required.
September 20, 2012 2:51:12 PM

I have the option of buying one of these for £60 but with hard drives removes for data protection....

My brother in law wants a gaming PC but only has a budget of £300 (I KNOW!! NOT A LOT)
Would this be a good option for a gaming computer considering his tiny budget? or is it just too impractical?
July 3, 2013 5:42:25 AM

thesinger313 said:
I have the option of buying one of these for £60 but with hard drives removes for data protection....

My brother in law wants a gaming PC but only has a budget of £300 (I KNOW!! NOT A LOT)
Would this be a good option for a gaming computer considering his tiny budget? or is it just too impractical?


This is one hell of a late reply. Though Just get a second hand pc. There are so many on so many websites. Search it on that budget I am sure you will get something decent. Just make sure you measure it against the current specs.
!