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Strong but cost efficient office horse build

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August 7, 2012 7:16:47 PM

Hi all. I've been going back and forth on a build for my office that will serve as a peer to peer server for a total of 2 peer clients until we get a full on server solution in 2013 or 2014, and which will need to be able to also run a decent amount of software on it's own during the day.

The server component is based on running an office management software package that does scheduling, customer information, billing and similar.

The stand-alone component will run MS office and Adobe creative suite, along with some simple web apps.

Our internet connection stinks something awful and will until fiber is run (pending the beginning of the year) and so this machine will need wireless networking built in.

I am looking to run an intel i5 system, packed with RAM, unless anyone else has a better idea.


Approximate Purchase Date: e.g.: this week (the closer the better)

Budget Range: (e.g.: 300-400) Before / After Rebates; Before / After Shipping

System Usage from Most to Least Important: (e.g.: Folding@Home, gaming, surfing the internet, watching movies)

Are you buying a monitor: Yes / No



Parts: Everything except mouse and keyboard

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, microcenter, amazon... doesn't really matter.

Location: Toledo, OH

Parts Preferences: Intel i5 processor. I do favor g.skill RAM

Overclocking: NO

SLI or Crossfire: NO

Your Monitor Resolution: Would be purchasing new. No real preference for office environment

Additional Comments: No gaming ... only one monitor for the time being. Was planning on using the on-chip video of the i5 for the time being. Would likely want to upgrade to dual-monitor solution after a year or two.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: Because the old, unprotected, silver 200GB HP celeron using an external USB wireless device just won't cut it anymore.
August 7, 2012 7:22:43 PM

sounds like you need a basic NAS, but you want to run it wireless? Why not an inexpensive local gigabit LAN? How many clients will you be feeding data at one time?
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August 7, 2012 7:40:57 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
sounds like you need a basic NAS, but you want to run it wireless? Why not an inexpensive local gigabit LAN? How many clients will you be feeding data at one time?



I'm not opposed to NAS, but yes I do need to run this unit wirelessly for the time being. The biggest reason is, right now and until we get this office re-wired and set up for a true server next year, there are no additional ports on our wireless router and no wiring at all run to the location where this system will be. It's a strange deal.

This office currently has two PC's networked peer to peer. The two PCs are pretty good (i3 units) that are more than capable of running the software they need to (just the office management suite and occasional MS office apps). The third machine is supposed to be the peer to peer server and it's a joke. It's also using a USB wireless adapter for network connectivity (which is also a joke). This old HP used to work fine. It's just not up to the task and probably hasn't been for the last two updates of this management software.

So, bottom line. Over the next two years we will be getting to where we need to be (we took this business over from a guy who wasn't into running the show for many years). Right now what I need to do is add a strong horse system into the mix to upgrade us, and then eventually build the proper network and server to take us where we need to be at.
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August 8, 2012 4:21:13 AM

ok, so its just two systems. what sort of budget do you have?

how much data are you serving?

do you need Windows Server 2008? or can you manage with just Windows 7 Pro? or even Win 7 home premium and 'homegroup' sharing?

could a bank of 4 500 GB drives in RAID 10 suffice for your data needs? (It would be 1 TB, mirrored) or do you need more?

a 60 GB SSD as a boot drive plus the RAID array, in an inexpensive mid tower should do the trick.


My first thoughts are a i5-2300 plus a Z68 motherboard, 8 gb ram, with the SSD and the RAID array in something like a Rosewill Blackbone case with a corsair 500W PSU, plus a d-link PCIe X1 wireless N card, and a cheap DVD burner.

I'd figure $750ish before operating system, just off the cuff
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August 8, 2012 6:11:26 AM

Wow sorry... I totally forgot to include some key details there, huh?

I would love to keep the machine under $1,000 USD.

I have no idea what kind of data volume I'm serving, but I promise you it's not a ton as this software isn't serving images or streaming anything - which is why I am plenty comfortable using this in a peer to peer environment at this point. Next year, we'll be upgrading some I/O hardware which will be allowing us to serve more data - and at that point we will be bringing in a good small business server and re-wiring the office properly.

Windows 7 pro has been working great for the system we have been using as our peer server right now, so I don't really want to change. However, the software recommendations from the office management software provider lists Windows Server 2008.

The provider also recommends either a single drive, or RAID 1 or RAID 5 only. So I think I'd prefer the simpler RAID 1 in that case.

I have been itching to get into SSD, so I'd be fine going that route for this machine.

With Newegg at $199.99 for a 2500K right now, I think I'd just stick with her.
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August 8, 2012 9:59:54 AM

here's my suggested build:

i5-3550 + H77 mobo: $266.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
you won't need overclocking for this, and the motherboard will handle RAID 0/1/5/10 and 2 monitors.

G.Skill Ares 8 GB DDR3-1600: $43.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Samsung F3 1TB SATA II harddive (x2): $179.98 (89.99 ea)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
mechanical drives are fine as SATA II, put these together in RAID 1

Mushkin Enhanced Chronos 60 GB Sata III SSD: $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Samsung 22x DVD burner: $14.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
cheap & simple

Rosewill R-218 case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
again simple and reliable. if you don't like it there is plentty of budget left for a different case. pick one you like.

Rosewill PCI Wireless N card (up to 300 Mbps): $19.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Corsair CX 430 v2
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
enough PSU for this build. can handle a basic video card if you want to add it later

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit: $139.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
should suffice.

below this is stuff you might need/want for the new PC, but may not be necessary:

Acer 1366x768 18.5" monitor: $79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Microsoft Keyboard & Mouse: $19.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Logitech 2.3w speakers: $12.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

total: $918.86

Shipping: $15.76

grand total: $934.62
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