I have an old Athlon 64 X2 3600+ which I am currently working on upgrading into a modern system for a home server. I have Fedora 15 installed on a new 1TB hard drive, so I can set things up, copy files, etc. while I acquire the components which will eventually make this system do what I want. Today I found out that an expense for which I had budgeted went away, so I have a few hundred dollars burning a hole in my pocket. I see both a problem and a solution here
My goal: I want a system that can serve two purposes. First, a Linux development desktop. I want to be able to write and compile OSS Linux software. Second, a home server. Samba, databases, Subversion, maybe a build server. The load would, of course, be very low, since I would be the only one using it. 3D gaming is not on the menu.
The server aspect of the system doesn't drive much of the potential cost of the system, since the current CPU could do that just fine. I am more concerned about the software development and compiling aspect, so I definitely want to go quad core. I was looking at the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition since it seems to provide good performance at a good price point. I am not dead-set on the Phenom II, but the quad core Intel chips are $80 at a minimum.
My questions are more about the motherboard, though:
1. Since the socket AM3 chips have integrated graphics, why do the AM3 motherboards not have video outputs unless the board itself has integrated graphics? Have I been looking at the wrong boards?
2. I want to upgrade the RAM as well, but I have a few sticks of PC2-5300/6400 laying around to tide me over for a paycheck or two. Will this work in a AM3 system, where the architecture is designed for PC3?
3. Finally, any motherboard recommendations? I have been looking through the list on Newegg and googling as I have questions, but it seems like I am not getting anywhere. Most of the motherboards seem to be of marginal quality, with odd quirks.
Ok, a couple of things.
AM3 chips do not have integrated graphics. The A series processors are called APUs and have integrated graphics in the processor core. They are a good option for HTPC and the like. I wouldn't recommend the investment for your server.
The AM2 chip you have would more than sufficient for a server. I had one with a single core sempron that did just fine.
The X4 965 is an unlocked processor that is used for overclocking. You can get a cheaper quad core that would do just fine, the 965 is overkill and more expensive than you need. If you insist on getting a quad core, which you don't need, take a look at this one:
I've used this board for 3 builds and I find it reliable and perfect for low power systems. This board includes onboard video that will be plenty for your needs. You can drop your am2 dual core in there and the ddr2 ram and you're off and running. It will also run AM3 CPU's with DDR3 ram.
For a server, I would invest in networking and hard drive space. If you've any thoughts about media serving, def make sure you have a good wired connection or for wifi a good N router capable of 300Mbps, dual band would be ideal. Typically having media streaming dedicated to one band and everything else on the other. GL
I did a little more research and reevaluated what I'm looking for. Apparently I misread the specs on the Phenom II, it really does not have an integrated GPU. It looks like only lower-end CPUs have that.
Anyway, I figure if I go with a dual core instead, I can save some money. Quad core would spend less time compiling, but seeing as how I have two other quad core systems, I can always flip to a different system and do something else. So I decided a dual core Athlon II CPU would suffice.
For motherboards, I looked at the Asus board, but for $5 more, I can get its big brother that is better equipped. Browsing for other options, I found a Gigabyte board with better specs (e.g. more USB ports, no wasted PATA port, DVI/HDMI, etc).
Anyway, here is my current list, which totals $207.97:
Remember, this is not for gaming: I want to have a Linux software development desktop which I can plug a few hard drives into to serve files too. I can spend another $75 or so but would rather not unless there is a compelling reason.
When I add it to my cart, there is a combo deal for $283.00. Only 4 GB of RAM, but that shouldn't be a big deal. I can always add more later if I find I need it.
So I get a better CPU, a 1.5 TB hard drive, but less RAM for an amount that is pretty much the max for my budget. The hard drive isn't all that fast, but wouldn't be the OS/programs drive, so it's not a big deal. I need another drive anyway at this point. I know I probably don't need the performance of that CPU, but it's almost a free upgrade with that hard drive thrown in.
Unless anyone sees any major issues, I think I'm going with the combo deal.
And thanks again for your guys' help. I haven't home built a system in over 12 years. While I have been reading articles on this site and googling to learn what I can, nothing beats experience when it comes to building a system.