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Need a server build, cant afford xeon

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January 13, 2012 12:25:04 AM

Hi, me and some friends were thinking of setting up a minecraft server, i didnt want to pay someone else to host it so i though of building a server for it myself, the problem is cash. There is probably no way in hell we can afford a server using a xeon CPU/Mobo. Is there any alternative systems that we could use as a server? one of my friends tried it on his alienware laptop but it couldnt handle it well enough and when he was running the server stuff he could barely do anything else from lag to the computer. And that is one of the high end alienwares. (yes i know ur thinking, oh he has alienware he can afford xeon, blah blah whine) but we cant, and xeon hardware i sjust too expecive, is there any cheaper alternatives?
January 13, 2012 1:33:35 AM

For your purposes a dedicated fast PC would do the trick. What type of network are you using (wired or wireless) and how many clients do you expect to have?
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January 13, 2012 10:45:02 AM

well, im pretty sure one of my friends connections at their house could do the trick, it is probably twice as fast as my other friends, and mine is slower than dial up (i got stuck with satelite internet) but im pretty sure he will be using an ethernet connection, ill make sure i get a 10/100/1000 ethernet card for it if the mobo doesnt already have one. But a fast deticated computer for a 10-15 person minecraft server? his alienware laptop with an i7 in it could barely do anything else when the server was unning, i need expancion ability'

I also looked into AMD opteron, the cheapest CPU in that series was 100$, but the motherboards are very expencive even for a micro atx, single cpu motherboard. would a very stripped down, high end gaming rig style computer do the trick for it? like maybe an phenom II x6 overclocked or someting? i would have to skimp on hard drives and use old optical drives and whatever i can scrounge to afford that.
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Related resources
January 13, 2012 10:47:35 AM

we want to start off small but have enough upgrade opportunities for when the advertisements and maybe people donating makes enough money to do so. the first upgrade if we can get a usable set of hardware at first would probably be RAM or SSD's
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January 13, 2012 12:14:21 PM

When your friend was using his Alienware AND acting as a server, he was adding a lot of processing overhead to the system that a client would not be doing. A dedicated system, with plenty of main memory and fast HDDs would not be drawing screens and processing game commands in the same manner.

An Opteron based rig would be nice, but probably overkill. The Phenom route (no need to OC) would be fine, but the x6 isn't necessary. Try an x4, 16GB of RAM, a decent HDD, stick with the on-board video, etc.

Also, check out this Minecraft Wiki for detailed advice:

http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Server
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January 13, 2012 12:27:07 PM

well, i would probably overclock the phenom anyway, maybe get a 680 x4 or something and see if it unlocks, just to add more upgrade options later, video cards wouldnt be nessisary anyway would they? i dotn think you run minecraft servers off the GPU, doesnt make sence to me, but i figured i would ask.
Also, you can basicly set up an MC server off any computer that can handle it right? most servers use special hardware and OS's so is that actually needed for minecraft? also i have heard linux or ubuntu is good for servers because they are very low impact, free, and will open up storage and processing power space since they arent as complicated as windows?
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January 13, 2012 1:53:20 PM

Check the link I sent you for details. I would recommend the Linux option if it exists. Also, you are correct, you don't need a dedicated video card. Just one good enough to set up the system and the on-board video most motherboards have is good enough.

A good 4-core rig with plenty of memory will do the trick. For a server, you want stability and tweaking the speed really does no good in most regards, from a server perspective.
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January 13, 2012 6:37:39 PM

well it needs to send out rendering and chat data to multiple/many people at once wouldnt more processing power help? and ill probably go with 16gb memry at 1333 or 1600 if i can, it is still a ways off, we dont have any money for it right now really.
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January 13, 2012 6:52:23 PM

16gb is very expencive, would 8gb do thr trick? the wiki link u showed me says u need a minimum of 2gb... thats still a lot less than 8gb, and 16gb is 90$-120$, 8gb is 45$-60$ upgrades can com later when we get a good playerbase and some advertisemsnts n t5he forums we need to get and from the donators we need to attract. ill get a full atx mainboard so when we need it i can just drop another 8gb into the two cpare slots. also what power supply do you think i would need? theres a pretty good deal on the Fatal1ty gamer series OCZ 500W, would i need that much since i wont be using a video card and just a phenom II x4? what about hard drives? do we need a lot of storage? im new to server hardware so im not sure what they need and what they dont yet.
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January 13, 2012 6:58:12 PM

Guys, if you are using this JUST for the server, 8GB should be enough for 100-200 people. I suggest using a low wattage CPU, like a Pentium or a lower-end Phenom X4. MAke sure your RAM is very good quality. Also, what is your budget? I may be able to come ub with a build :D 
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January 13, 2012 8:33:41 PM

8GB will meet the need as well and you can expand later if you add more users. Don't go with the minimum memory per the Wiki page. Heck, even 4GB would probably be enough for your initial 10-15 users. Just get a mobo with 4 memory slots like this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here is some RAM, a CPU, and a HDD as well. This will get you started:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 13, 2012 10:57:44 PM

yea, obviously i wasnt going to get 2gb memory, my laptop uses about 1gb when at idle (only background programs, no internet or itunes or anything) so im not goin gto do the minimum. and also, what about power usage?dont video cards and hard drives usually use the most power? i usually kinda guestimate the amount i think i need and add 1-200 W so i can have future upgrades, but without a video card or at least a low end one, what should i get for the parts u suggested?

looking at those links right now COL, i like the memory, but ill probably get the 8gb version just so i know for sure ill have plenty. the motherboard isnt what i would have chosen, nice features for a micro atx, but anywhere i can sav emoney helps and as long as its got a lot of usb ports, 10/100/1000 ethernet, and good bios/connectors for harddrives/etc, i dont mind what it is, if there is a cheaper one with fairly good reviews that has those similar features, ill find it myself. You sure i should get FM1 cpu/mobo though? they are kinda dead end and FM1 boards are more expencive than AM3 ones generally, also, i forgot to check, does the board have the graphics on it? the cpu doesnt.

what do you think about getting an AM3 athlon II x4 and using that? then if i need we can get a phenom II x4 later on or something? i just keep thinking of my friends laptop, that was a very high end alienware, it did the job, but lagged a lot for everything else when the server was up, even with a deticated computer with ubuntu, are you sure it can handle it? athlons arent really high performance based..

i hate to keep bashing on the suggestions, but of course there isnt going to be anything perfect so, i do just out of habit i guess to try to get the absolute best bang for my buck. But about that hard drive, i havent heard ANY opinions really on hitachis, no bad and no good either, i made a post a long time ago but no one really gave any good answers. also do i need 500gb? would anything less be usable? or even cheap enough in comparison to bother with? the ram and hard drives would probably be the first upgrades anyway, but a hard druve that was 60$ last year that i bookmarked on my laptop is now 100$ instead, same exact one.

hard drives will probably be the biggest issue, i know this going in, its why i am dreading buying parts for my gaming pc in a year or so, (need a job first, not many work places around where i live) and they are going to be a nightmare because of the rediculous prices now. anyway, the main thing is would an am3 athlon x4 with a good clockrate be a better idea? same with the fm1 board, i want upgradability, that is probably the second most important thing, next to being ABLE to do the job well enough for as little as possible.
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January 13, 2012 11:19:04 PM

mildgamer001 said:
yea, obviously i wasnt going to get 2gb memory, my laptop uses about 1gb when at idle (only background programs, no internet or itunes or anything) so im not goin gto do the minimum. and also, what about power usage?dont video cards and hard drives usually use the most power? i usually kinda guestimate the amount i think i need and add 1-200 W so i can have future upgrades, but without a video card or at least a low end one, what should i get for the parts u suggested?

COLGeek says: Get a solid PSU so you expand later. I use Seasonics, but you can go with Antec or Corsair. Up to you and your overall budget. My home server, with 7 HDDs and a 4-core AMD (with 4GB) runs 24/7 with a 450w PSU. I recommend you get one at least that rating.

looking at those links right now COL, i like the memory, but ill probably get the 8gb version just so i know for sure ill have plenty. the motherboard isnt what i would have chosen, nice features for a micro atx, but anywhere i can sav emoney helps and as long as its got a lot of usb ports, 10/100/1000 ethernet, and good bios/connectors for harddrives/etc, i dont mind what it is, if there is a cheaper one with fairly good reviews that has those similar features, ill find it myself. You sure i should get FM1 cpu/mobo though? they are kinda dead end and FM1 boards are more expencive than AM3 ones generally, also, i forgot to check, does the board have the graphics on it? the cpu doesnt.

COLGeek says: Servers don't need lots of USB ports. What are you thinking here? There was another 4 slot mATX AM3 socket mobo on Newegg for $20 less. You really should go there and play with combos and such a bit.

what do you think about getting an AM3 athlon II x4 and using that? then if i need we can get a phenom II x4 later on or something? i just keep thinking of my friends laptop, that was a very high end alienware, it did the job, but lagged a lot for everything else when the server was up, even with a deticated computer with ubuntu, are you sure it can handle it? athlons arent really high performance based..

COLGeek says: Go with an x4 Athlon or x4 Phenom. Either will be fine. I beg to differ on AMD performance. I have many and they all perform quite well. As a server, you really can't measure against a laptop doubling as a client and a server. Kind of like comparing apples to hamburgers. Both food, but completely different.

i hate to keep bashing on the suggestions, but of course there isnt going to be anything perfect so, i do just out of habit i guess to try to get the absolute best bang for my buck. But about that hard drive, i havent heard ANY opinions really on hitachis, no bad and no good either, i made a post a long time ago but no one really gave any good answers. also do i need 500gb? would anything less be usable? or even cheap enough in comparison to bother with? the ram and hard drives would probably be the first upgrades anyway, but a hard druve that was 60$ last year that i bookmarked on my laptop is now 100$ instead, same exact one.

COLGeek says: HDD prices have gone up due to floods in Taiwan (seriously) and there are some shortages. I use Samsung HDDs in my rigs and stand by them as some of the best in the business. I was looking for cheap and some level of capacity. Of course, you can go with a smaller HDD. That is really up to you. Once again, cruise on over to Newegg to spec what you want.

hard drives will probably be the biggest issue, i know this going in, its why i am dreading buying parts for my gaming pc in a year or so, (need a job first, not many work places around where i live) and they are going to be a nightmare because of the rediculous prices now. anyway, the main thing is would an am3 athlon x4 with a good clockrate be a better idea? same with the fm1 board, i want upgradability, that is probably the second most important thing, next to being ABLE to do the job well enough for as little as possible.


Stay away from the FM1 board as a server. You won't gain anything from a server perspective and can get more for your money via the AM3 route. I have a FM1 system and it makes a decent general purpose desktop, but I would rather have my server config than it for my server.
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January 13, 2012 11:36:50 PM

1. 450W sounds reasonable, and really? 7 har ddrives? windows 7 can only handle 2TB of storage at this point what do you use for an operating system? and what kind of server is this? cloud storage or something?

2. usb ports for prehiperals, usb keyboards, external hard drives, usb mice, everything uses usb ports, i like to make sure i always have enough, my laptop has 3 ports and it sucks lol.

3. i know thats why hard drives are expencive now, it still sucks either way, and what i was wondering, how much is needed for a minecraft server? and sinc ethe mobo im going to ask about in a minute has IDE ports so if i could find an older use dhard drive would it still work ok?

4. you were the one who suggested an FM1 board AND a Llano athlon for an fm1 socket... thats why i asked about am3

5. what about:

CPU- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... more expencive, but only by about 20$, and the motherboard should be cheaper.

MOBO- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
it only has 2 memory slots but that allows 16gb so it should be fine shouldnt it?

RAM- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or i migh tjust start off with that set of 4gb that you suggested to save some more money, still hoping the school doesnt want that server anymore lol *crosses fingers*
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January 14, 2012 12:44:50 AM

Nope, I suggested an AM3+ mobo. But I did paste the wrong CPU. Sorry about that. Get whatever you can afford.

I run Windows Home Server and have 11TB of storage (lots of video and pictures and documents). Daughter is a film student. Wife is a writer. Both have TONs of pictures and documents.

A server will usually only have a keyboard, mouse, and maybe a printer connected via USB. Don't think of a server in the same terms as a desktop PC. In fact, my server runs "headless". I have no monitor, keyboard, or mouse attached directly to it. I access remotely over the network. Those devices only have to be attached when you initially set up the system.

Also, Win 7 can handle way more than 2TB of storage. You are thinking of BIOS limitations as it relates to the 2TB barrier. Not the same issue.

All 3 of your choices will be fine. Once again, sorry about posting the wrong CPU earlier.

Last, any HDDs are going to be okay to get you started. Have fun!
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January 14, 2012 10:57:52 AM

oh, okay i see what happened, i looked at the cpu and just guessed you posted a compatible mobo because i didnt look at the name of the moard etc. and also kinda off track, how many pictures do you need?? 11TB?! thats crazy it doesnt seem like 3 people could ever possibly use 11TB. And by windows 7 i meant windows 7 home premium, which i dont see why they call it premium, as there is no just windows 7 home, but i digress.

i dont think we will be doing a headless server, as it will have all teh server software, and minecraft servers have to change and fix lugin issues and stuff all teh time, i dont think its practical for my friend who will have it at their house to have to connect a monitor to it every time we need something fixed, which since two of us havent actually hosted a server before, we will probably be doing a lot of.

how exactly do you change stuff on your server through the network? remote assistance? Ive never had a server before of any kind but i think it would be a good thing to learn about here since i learn at a much faster rate on these forums than at school etc from what i have noticed. (tigonometry ratios-week to learn, how to build and diagnose computers and learn about company reliability-couple hours)
If you could kind of explain a ittle bit of how they are set up and how they work it would be great, as i plan on trying to get a part time job somewhere nearby in computer technician type jobs, and knowing a little about servers would really help me stand out from the other people in the area.
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January 14, 2012 2:15:01 PM

As WHS is Windows Server 2003 based, I just use Remote Desktop Connection to manage it. All changes can be made remotely without a local monitor, keyboard, or mouse. You can do the same things with VNC with a Linux server, even from a Windows PC. For more info, go here:

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

Do you or your friends have a spare decent PC that isn't being use? If so, converting it to your dedicated server would be a great way to learn about setting all of this up BEFORE you spend money on an effort you may decide isn't worth it.

A dual core PC with 4GB of RAM should do the trick as a dedicated server for 10-15 users. Talk it over with your friends to see what is possible.
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January 14, 2012 6:50:12 PM

haha, the only spare pc i have ar ea windows 98 era machine with crappy amd k6 something, with no hard drive, an old windows 2000 era hp desktop with no hard drive and a celeron cpu, and a ibm thinkcentre with 3ghz pentium 4, no ram, no hard drive, and no optical drive, the desktop i have (similar to teh ibm but with allthe parts it a mini itx compaq) is used by my dad and sister, and my laptop is for my use i use it almost every day, one of my friends has only a desktop his parents use, and the other one i dotn know but i doubt he has any spares.
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January 14, 2012 7:14:06 PM

Btw, 4GB is enough for 60-100 people
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January 14, 2012 11:36:17 PM

mildgamer001 said:
haha, the only spare pc i have ar ea windows 98 era machine with crappy amd k6 something, with no hard drive, an old windows 2000 era hp desktop with no hard drive and a celeron cpu, and a ibm thinkcentre with 3ghz pentium 4, no ram, no hard drive, and no optical drive, the desktop i have (similar to teh ibm but with allthe parts it a mini itx compaq) is used by my dad and sister, and my laptop is for my use i use it almost every day, one of my friends has only a desktop his parents use, and the other one i dotn know but i doubt he has any spares.

The IBM might actually work. Worth stuffing some guts in and playing with it. I would imagine you have enough parts to put a working system together from all of those rigs.
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January 14, 2012 11:37:34 PM

angaddev said:
Btw, 4GB is enough for 60-100 people

Measured how and on what type of network and server? It is not enough to say what you did without defining the environment. That is the trick of building a server to meet your needs. Understand?
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January 15, 2012 10:10:56 PM

Well, the ibm might be usable for a test computer, if i had parts from all those rigs, i got like 8 computers in my room right now, 2 are just a bunch of parts lieing around, 4 of the old ones i have have either a broken hard drive, (years of storage in a cold back room at my grandparents office building isnt very nice to computer hardware i suppose) or corrupted windows, so none of those are usable, the ibm as i said has no har drive, i stole one of the case/heatsink fans (fanless heatsink but 2 small fans in the front pulling air throught the heatsink fins), and no thermal compound to reattach the heatsink to it, and no optical drive, no RAM, missing the wires for most of it too, the school jsut kinda dumped it on me because they didnt need the other parts on it i guess. so i dont know about that/

But, my school may still be selling the compaqs (that is where i got mine) for 25 bucks and they have all teh parts, i could get one of those and drop the cpu (3 ghz P4 from the IBM, the compaq has a 1.8/1.9 ghz P4 in it) and see how t5hat goes. do you really think if it was deticated it would work well enough so we could actually use it until we got cash for the athlon II x4 build?

Im still going to ask the school about that server they gave the art teacher for whatever reason, shes a mac fan and hates it, not sure why, miybe it is actually being used still, but im going to ask anyway and hope they might want to sell it. but i still need something to fall back on, would the crap compaq work to test with just me and my two friends that are doing this with me? it only has 1gb RAM, 120GB hard drive, windows XP SP3, i could drop in the P4 3ghz if it still works, (never extected to use it so i handled it poorly when i had it and teh motherboard on my wall, should still work, never dropped it or anything)
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January 15, 2012 10:25:40 PM

Get any working system up and running and figure how how to set up the server, OS, and software. Download Ubuntu Linux and use it for your OS. Use the Wiki as a guide to download, install, and configure the server. Learn.

Then save and check out the server you mentioned at the school.
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January 16, 2012 12:19:26 AM

yea, i really doubt they would let us buy it off them ,especially if we make too low an offer, its a dell desktop fulltower with a xeon and windows xp, probably darn expencive when they got it, but it is worth a try. also, i was reading about hosting your own server, and there seemed like the drawbacks, whch there a quite a few, not a lot, but enough to make someone wary of them, and they were mpstly all related, mostly to internet speed, internet connection stability, main reason why it isnt going to be at my house, satelite cuts out every 5 minutes it is rediculous, and you basicly have to have good enough cooling for it to be on 24-7, which is obvious.

I will look at articles etc about how to do all the server software stuff as well, but the hard drives i may be able to get, they already have windows XP pro on them, could i just use that? and delete all the sofware that we wouldnt need?, (music players and bloatware and crap like that left over from the schools use) im talking about the 25$ compaq desktops, 25 bucks for optical drive, hard drive, maybe ram, and i could use the cpu from the IBM in it? or should i maybe get a pentium d to test it out?
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January 16, 2012 12:33:11 AM

A PC "server" runs no hotter than a "regular" PC. Mine sits in a closet (seriously) with my uniforms hanging right above it.

I would not use XP for the OS. It may work for a couple users, but not more than 10. For the type of server you want to get up and running, you need good connectivity and a decent amount of memory (as previously discussed).

I am going to PM you.
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January 16, 2012 1:01:22 AM

okay, also it was talking about people hosting deticated servers, you know, the expancive ones you have to pay monthly for, and how you get about half a gb of ram for 5-6 players, some other said 10 or so players on half a gig, dont know why, but im deffinitly not going to run more than a test server from the compaq, the max ram they can have is 2gb i think, not totally sure, maybe it was three, and it is either ddr or ddr2, not very high end,. and also, i have never uninstalled an operating system before, if i got the hard drives/computer and had to get rid of the XP on it for ubuntu or linux, how exactly would i do that? and also, why exactly is XP so bad for servers? wait this is probably the type of stuff you were going to PM me isnt it...
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January 16, 2012 1:47:12 AM

XP can only handle so many connections at a time. Also, it is optimized differently than a server OS. That is a subject well beyond what we can cover in this thread.
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January 16, 2012 2:09:21 AM

okay, how do you uninstall it? it is what runs the delete and uninstall functions, not like i can just delete all the files before i install new OS, is there some simple procedure or am i just being stupid right now in not knowing it?
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January 16, 2012 2:41:20 AM

When you install Linux, you will reformat the HDD. That will take care of that.
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January 16, 2012 12:39:18 PM

it does it automaticly then? how do people run linux and win 7 on the same systems like i hear people talk about a lot?
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January 16, 2012 1:28:23 PM

You are talking about setting up a dual boot system. This means you have 2 operating systems installed, but use only one at a time. Search on Tom's and you'll find lots of advice how to do that.

On the formatting questions, when you install Ubuntu, you come to a portion of the setup that asks what disk to use. Select your HDD (answer yes to any overwrite questions) and the install program will format the drive for you.
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January 16, 2012 2:27:21 PM

i see, thanks, that makes thigs easier when i plan on building my gaming PC, (long time from now) i will try to save money by installing windows XP first, i know it has DX9, then when i get more money and/or need it, ill get a copy of windows 7 Home Predium for it, i use the same technique with lots of the hardware, starting of with a few good expencive parts and some low end ones, like video cards, then later on as i need more performance, i can upgrade individual parts.more expencive over the long run but saving money in the initial purchases means i can buy the parts sooner so ill have a good pc sooner.
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