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Server Vs Router

Last response: in Networking
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February 15, 2013 10:28:12 AM

Hi Guys,


I've had this thought for a while and just wondered:


Why spend £2000+ on a router when I can just grab a decent Quad / Hex core PC (i7 etc:)  and run Linux or a OS capable of routing and save myself loads of money? Or even a beefy server (price relevant of course)?



Basically, what makes a router so special over a normal CPU running routing protocols, NAT, etc?


More about : server router

February 15, 2013 1:04:18 PM

The difference is in the support and features. Many of those very expensive routers have many enterprise features that you won't find in many standard OS flavors. Also, many of those routers come with the capability of supporting specific modules or expansions such as integrated gigabit fiber ports, T1 or other WAN interfaces, etc. This isn't something you can just plug into your desktop computer system.

If you want to do routing on a computer, yes, it's possible, but generally it's going to perform more on the level of a SOHO router than an enterprise class router, and you're going to have to support it yourself instead of having a full company support behind the product.
February 15, 2013 1:15:07 PM

Cool, thanks for the answer.

Ignoring your first paragraph though, which are all valid points and reasons. Which would be the most powerful. I.e: Which could perform more NAT translations and handle more connections for the same money? I'm not worried about support or expansion capabilities, more about raw processing capabilities. :D 
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February 15, 2013 1:21:02 PM

I guess what I'm asking is shall I buy a Ferrari with blue-tooth and Sat nav, alloy wheels, leather seats.... when all I care about is speed and could get the same 0-60 results from a 2nd hand Caterham 7?
February 15, 2013 1:28:47 PM

See I shouldn't take a call in the middle of post...pretty much what I had written
February 15, 2013 1:46:21 PM

bill001g said:
See I shouldn't take a call in the middle of post...pretty much what I had written



It's Friday, sod the call, they'll figure it out. If not they'll give up and go home.

Toms Hardware for the rest of the afternoon!!!! :pt1cable: 
February 15, 2013 4:18:24 PM

Honestly I just don't have enough experience and skill with configuring routers or building my own routers to answer your question fairly. While yes obviously the computer system is going to have more performance in raw CPU computational capabilities, that doesn't mean it's necessarily going to be faster. After all, the router hardware is completely optimized, along with the software running on that hardware, for performing the specific tasks while your desktop hardware might not be nearly as fine tuned and efficient at doing so.

In the end, your comparison of using a computer to do enterprise routing might be more like using a dump truck to move one bag of sand. Yes, it's going to get from point A to point B, and sure it has plenty of power to do so. However, that's not the type of load the dump truck is really designed for and might not be near as efficient to move it as a wheel barrel.
February 15, 2013 4:47:19 PM

Why so much for a router? Look up the fabric to see what the capabilities can handle such as packets per second. BTW look at Microtik's selection http://routerboard.com/ there is the learning curve, but well below the cost of some overpriced EQ. ....Just my $.02.......
February 15, 2013 4:56:57 PM

I forgot to add: The small WISP I worked at had 2500+ email users and hosted 193 domains and FTP storage sites. Our connections were 2 x 100 M CIDR, from AT&T and Quest. Our router was the Cisco 3800 series and never had a problem. The business model wasn't working out so the owner sold out to a new company that hated Cisco and it's prices. They used the Microtik solution and had a 1G connection router thru Brighthouse and another 500 M at another location router thru AT&T both connections used a $1000 Microtik router at both of their demarks, They never had a hiccup, I know I stayed till the transition was completed. BTW they had 10 times the amount of customers we had.....Our router brand new was over $15K new, theirs? $995 and it could smoke the Cisco box any day!
February 15, 2013 5:05:46 PM

But if you go back to the second post and part of the post I deleted the key reason most the larger commercial routers cost so much is not how much traffic they can pass.

How do I hook a 45m DS3 circuit to your board.
How do I run 3 e1 circuits bonded together and running ATM.
How do I terminate a voice PRI and convert it to SIP IP phone calls.

Most "routers" are not routers they are gateways. They cannot run anything even close to a routing protocols like BGP or OSPF. They seldom have a concept of running multiple networks.

The key is if you do not know WHY you need to pay the money for commercial routers it is unlikely you actually NEED a commercial router

February 15, 2013 6:32:01 PM

Microtik can run BGP and much much more, heck their $35 router can run BGP....but the fabric isn't as robust as the bigguns.
May 21, 2013 6:14:52 AM

Just go look at the MicroTik routers with an open mind. If you need a router because of the name on it and not the performance then you must be in sales.
!