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Server, an i7 home built server or a traditional server?

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February 2, 2012 2:57:42 PM

I'm curious, with today's super powerful mainstream pcs. Do you think it's worth it to get something like an ML350 G6 which is pretty dated. (Sata 2 with an x5650 chip and only 1333MHZ) ram (it goes to 144gb) or something like a z68 mobo with an i7 2700k with say 32gb of 1600 or 2100 mhz ram
Lets say the function of this machine would be a domain controller, handle the everyday things that a DC does. AD/DNS/DHCP handling the data.
Would an i7 cut it or is the $1000 x5650 chip justified?
I'm just curious because todays "gaming" machines seem to blow servers out of the water on paper. I know that the x5650 has 6 cores 12 threads and the i7 has 4 cores 8 threads but does it really make that much of a difference in the performance. Would someone using a home built server be disappointed with their machine over a traditional ibm/hp/dell server?


I'm just curious because todays "gaming" machines seem to blow servers out of the water on paper <--I don't mean to offend any of the server GURUs with this. Just number for number it just looks better than what a traditional server has to offer.

February 2, 2012 3:13:19 PM

If it's for home use, then go with the gaming system. For a corporate environment, use a real server as it's designed for stability.
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February 2, 2012 3:21:25 PM

I understand the stability part I understand that a server is made to be on 24/7 and take on a load. I'm not talking about an environment with 1000 people I'd say something like 50 people. Most users with regular "gaming" PCs leave their PC on 24/7 anyways so how stable is a server over a workstation anyways? Do you really think a home built one would fail more often than a server?
A home built one can have a $200 1000W power supply whereas a server is say a 500W $400 power supply. I can only think they work the same way?

I can see it from the point of view of warranty and support, but even at that. Does such a big difference in price justify getting next day support? (For sure if you are a company that every minute down costs you $10000 then yes it does, but your regular day start up guys, do you guys think it's worth it?)

(BTW this is just a random topic of conversation, just a question i was asking myself and just thought I'd ask it to a community, don't want to start a flame war :)  )
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February 2, 2012 3:37:45 PM

You are right, in that quality desktop components are often an adequate solution for most home & small business uses.
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February 2, 2012 3:49:53 PM

An i7 is pointless for the use you want it for, an i3 or even a phenom II x4 with plenty of ram would suffice.
If its for home use i mean.
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February 2, 2012 3:51:26 PM

Well yes I'm not talking about random no name products, I'm talking about getting genuine reputable parts that would be "overkill" for a gaming rig (i.e 32gb ram or an i7 2700k///or an ivy bridge when it comes out///or a chip that runs on the x79 platform) and run them on a server over getting a very expensive server that for the most part uses older technology.
For fun I was looking at an ML350 G6 and it uses SATA2. As far as I know (and I am by no means all knowing in this department) SATA 2 is rather dated. All boards that I have seen today come with SATA 3. As well as USB 2.0 I think every board now comes with at least 2x USB 3 connectors. Cases as well, from what I can tell most cases come with USB 3.0 connectors.
I know onboard RAID usually isn't the best but most of the mainstream boards now come with an onboard RAID so even that wouldn't be a "selling point" to a server.

Would it be ignorant of me to say that traditional servers are not as good as they are hyped up to be?

The only "selling point" a server has right now (for me) is robustness. Being on 24/7 at 100% load is what they are meant to do, I don't know how well a home built one would handle 100% load all day every day but at the same time I don't think any machine would last very long 24/7 100% load.

TO mauller07: I think that any build can run as a server i3/i5/i7 but it is more a question of equivalency. Would an i7 (or i3 for that matter) measure up to what a server cpu can do. Would a high end gaming built measure up to what a server build can do. Is the major price difference justifiable on a server. I believe i3/i5 don't have hyper threading whereas an i7 does. I think an x5650 also has it (I was just trying to compare 2 cpus that are more or less the same)
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February 2, 2012 4:14:30 PM

The answer is simple. An i7, with plenty of memory would suffice for a small office by virtually any measure of server effectiveness. Of course, servers all about reliability and stability. Any server should be built from quality components, with plenty of memory and adequate storage for the server mission. OCing, awesome video, etc, are not part of the equation.
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February 2, 2012 4:19:51 PM

To COLGeek: I agree with that 100%. From what I see though pre built servers say from Dell/HP that use quality components are rather dated. And the ones that do have components such as SATA 3 (I know I keep using that as an example) seem to be 4-5 times the price of what you can build by yourself. I guess the answer to the question I am asking is:
A home built system would be more than enough for what a startup company needs. It is better than most prebuilt servers.

(I know the server gurus are probably reading this thread in complete disarray now though)
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February 2, 2012 4:22:07 PM

audi911 said:
To COLGeek: I agree with that 100%. From what I see though pre built servers say from Dell/HP that use quality components are rather dated. And the ones that do have components such as SATA 3 (I know I keep using that as an example) seem to be 4-5 times the price of what you can build by yourself. I guess the answer to the question I am asking is:
A home built system would be more than enough for what a startup company needs. It is better than most prebuilt servers.

(I know the server gurus are probably reading this thread in complete disarray now though)

Yes, A home built system would be more than enough for what a startup company needs. If you outgrow such a solution, when the company is up and running, you buy/build a bigger, leaner, meaner, greener, server rig. Have fun and good luck!
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February 2, 2012 4:33:34 PM

The robustness of server grade hardware is often worth the price difference. As for the additional support of of server grade hardware for a small shop/start-up it may not be of the utmost importance however as you grow this will become a pressing issue. One of the most overlooked components of a good server is its storage subsystem(s). I would never use the built-in raid for anything other than a raid 1 boot drive. An add-in raid controller/HBA is a necessity for any server that needs directly attached storage, built-in raid cards do not have the performance or reliability necessary for server work.

As for the hardware you listed for a 50 person domain controller, it's overkill if it will only be used as a domain controller. My core2 duo with 2gb ram could easily handle 50 domain user logons ( assuming it is its sole usage ). If this server would be used as more than just the PDC role then your hardware specs start becoming more reasonable.

One of the biggest problems with using consumer grade hardware in a production environment is the lack of support for server grade additions such as raid cards/HBAs and NICs. Often a raid card my fail to work due to the restrictions of the consumer hardware.
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February 2, 2012 5:53:37 PM

I've always used the parts left over from my last upgrade cycle, except for storage and video, for my server. I keep lots of storage and go as low power for my video card as I can. Currently, mine is running on a Core i7 950, 12GB of memory, 4X750GB drives in RAID 5, and a Geforce G210. The Core i7 really isn't needed, as a Core 2 Duo would do just fine for most home server tasks, but I'm working on getting MCITP-VA certified, so I'm doing a lot of things with Hyper-V on it. I have 6 virtual machines running on it, with Linux and Windows.
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February 2, 2012 6:01:36 PM

dgingeri said:
I've always used the parts left over from my last upgrade cycle, except for storage and video, for my server. I keep lots of storage and go as low power for my video card as I can. Currently, mine is running on a Core i7 950, 12GB of memory, 4X750GB drives in RAID 5, and a Geforce G210. The Core i7 really isn't needed, as a Core 2 Duo would do just fine for most home server tasks, but I'm working on getting MCITP-VA certified, so I'm doing a lot of things with Hyper-V on it. I have 6 virtual machines running on it, with Linux and Windows.

I do something similar at home on a 16 GB system. It's quite stable (a couple crash a year), but not as much as the servers we use for production. In production environments I prefer real servers with caching RAID controllers mainly because database servers usually don't like system failures. I wouldn't be as concerned in an environment where some downtime is acceptable.
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January 9, 2013 4:41:07 PM

Yes a core2duo and about 8gb ram would be enough for a home server an i7 i5 and even an i3 is over kill my home server is a core2duo 4600 2.40ghz 8gb corsair dominator and 3tb hard drive on raid and its fine for what ever i dump on it.
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