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Which HW System would you recommend for WHS RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello

    I am new to WHS.

    If I buy a new HW System, which Dell HW System would you recommend to install the WHS CPT Release?

    I have 3 PC's (2 Dell Dimension 9200 and one Dell Laptop Inspiron 9100) in my Home Network.

    Thanks for your support.

    ullk

    Friday, April 20, 2007 9:37 PM

All replies

  • If I were going to buy pre-configured hardware, I would probably buy the least expensive Dell PowerEdge, the SC440. I would accept all of the defaults, except I would upgrade the processor by one step. That will run you about $550. Oh, and I would buy (not from Dell, who will bend you over a barrel, maybe from NewEgg) a much larger hard drive.
    Friday, April 20, 2007 10:06 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Ken for your answer.
    Could anyone recommend another HW configuration for WHS (from HP or another)?
    Thanks for your support..


    Saturday, April 21, 2007 5:47 PM
  • I just installed on a "older" Dell PowerEdge 830 (3.0 GHz Pentium D (dual core), 2 Gig RAM, and 2 SATA drives (80 & 320 Gig)), and what I've realized is that while this system is massive overkill for a 10-user file server, it has a few nice features I think you should consider. First Dell hardware has a pretty good reputation (esp. PowerEdge servers), second they run quiet, and are typically quite affordable. The lowest-end PowerEdge (SC440 you are looking at) is good, but has very limited HD configurations. IIRC, the system only takes two 3 1/2 inch HDs... My PE830 has room for 4 SATA drives, allowing for greater storage space before considering external HD options.

    My suggestion would be to really think through your storage needs, 500 Gig SATA drives are very affordable (under $150/each is very common), and while you can get by with minimal CPU (modern Celeron is a very capable CPU), Dell is currently running a promotion (as they always are) that ups the CPU to a dual core Pentium 915 (2.8 GHz, 2x 2 Meg Cache) for $0. The SC440 is now $399 with the free CPU upgrade and one 80 Gig HD (with room for one more). Also note - you'll need a DVD drive to install the WHS OS.

    You may have issues with driver support off the WHS DVD, but if you have another machine to download required drivers, it can be very straight-forward.

    Ken

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 3:48 AM
  • Hello All,

     

    Thanks for the informative posts. I'm in a process of selecting a suitable hardware for WHS just like ULLK.

     

    The server would be used for normal file sharing and media (video) streaming. There are some posts in other threads that suggest faster CPU's and more RAM are required for media streaming. There would be a maximum of five (5) users/PC's and probably not more than two (2) simultaneous video streams. So to cut the long story short I would appreciate your opinions and suggestions in regard to the following systems:

     

    System 1 (cheaper and preferred if adequate)

    Dell PowerEdge SC440 with Xeon 3040 (1.86GHz), 1GB of 533MHz RAM and 2 x 500GB WD hard disks (RE2)

     

    System 2 ( if System 1 is inadequate)

    Dell PowerEdge SC1430 with Xeon Pro 5120 (1.86GHz), 1GB of 667MHz RAM and 2 x 500GB WD hard disks (RE2)

     

    System 3 ( if System 2 is inadequate, forget about the the whole thing and go fishing up North           )

     

    Your opinion, advice and suggestions/alternatives would be appreciated.

     

    Regards

    Zvon,

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 3:02 PM
  • If you have time, BUILD YOUR OWN :-)

    All you need is 1 gig of memory and as much HD space as you need.

    I have a Pentium 4 3.0 GHz on my machine and it runs beautifully. No problems yet.

    All the parts would run you less than $300 on newegg (depending on how much HD you want).

    Second suggestion, indulge yourself by getting yourself a high end computer to replace your 9200 and make the 9200 your server :-)


    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 4:44 PM
  • I vote for the build your own route - especially if you are considering a small Dell server as an alternative.

     

    I had been running WHS on an old system that I had (Nforce 2 - AMD Athlon 1400), but was having some stability problems with the old hardware, so I decided to put together a small form factor box with good cooling, power and enough drive bay space.

     

    After a lot of research, I put the following system together:

     

    • Ultra MicroFly small form factor case. (This is similar to the Aspire X-QPack with 3 important differences: 1) It is an extra inch deeper which allows for more room for drives. 2) it has a regular ATX power supply bay and comes with a very good 400W power supply 3) it adds a front-mounted 80mm intake fan for improved thermal performance) (available for $69.99 after rebate)
    • MSI K9VGM-V Motherboard - AMD Socket AM2 ($54.99 @Newegg) - very good microATX motherboard. I got this at a CompUSA that was closing, but there are surely other comparable AM2 motherboards at this or better pricing.
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (65w)  - ($82.99 @Newegg) This is a great processor - tons of performance, and with the 65w version it is VERY cool running in a server environment
    • 1GB DDR2 5300 RAM (about $50 at multiple places)
    • Gigabit NIC - ($6.99 at newegg) - Lots of Gigabit options available nowadays - the one drawback of the MSI mobo is that it is not Gigabit, but add-in NIC runs fine anyway

    The total for my hardware was under $275.00 and it assembled easily. I temporarily hooked up a DVD-ROM drive to do the install, but after that I have mounted 5 drives internal (there are 3 3.5 inch bays, and I used mounting brackets to put two more 3.5 in drives in the 5.25 inch bays).

     

    At this point, I'm running with 5 internal drives and the system stays below 30 degrees Celcius all the time, even under load - using only the standard OEM heat sink.

     

    Since you are not buying the OS, it is much cheaper to buy components yourself and assemble.

     

    Ted

     

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 5:14 PM
  • Your system is interesting, but a few notes:

    - Where is your optical drive (DVD-ROM in this case)? That's a $30 cost you omitted...

    - Where is the OS HD? Your machine as described has no HD, the Dell server has an 80 Gig HD - that's a $50 cost you omitted...

    - Dell servers are sold without OS, with multiple OS options available (WinServer 2003, Windows SBS, SUSE & Red Hat Enterprise Linux, etc.) so this has no effect on cost

    - What about sales tax (if you are in same state as Newegg)

    - What about shipping costs? Dell almost always has free shipping promotion.

    - Currently Dell is offering a free bump up on the CPU to a Pentium 915 (2.8 GHz Dual Core CPU), I think that is a 65 mm process chip, so it is low-power as well...

     

    I have built machines for many purposes, from cheap and nasty for a kid to high-end servers with 8 hot-swap SATA drives for Digital VIdeo Recording, and honestly, it isn't that much fun, and if any one part fails, you get to play repair technician and work with a mail order retailer for replacement parts. It's not hard to build a PC, but it is an opportunity for problems youcan avoid with low-end Dell servers.

     

    Were I to "buy" a machine for WHS Beta, I would think real hard about buying a low-cost machine from Dell, but probably not a server like the SC440 - they recently had a reasonable AMD-based PC w/Vista Basic, 512 Meg RAM, 80 Gig HD, DVD burner, and a 17" flat panel for $399, repurpose the flat panel elsewhere after the install and swap in a 500 Gig HD for $150 adn you are in good shape...

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 6:24 PM
  • Either system specified is over-kill...

     

    There is no need for a Xeon processor for WHS, but if you have plans for the box after the beta I'd defer to you. Also, I hope you are planning to install your own 500 Gig HDs - they are available for less than half the price Dell sells them for ($150 open market vs. $385 for Dell, last I checked). A Gig of RAM is good, more than is needed for WHS, but make sure you have room to grow with the RAM (open slots remaining).

     

    The SC440 is more than adequate, esp. if you put a P4 CPU in the box instead of the base Celeron, though that is a reasonable chip for very low-end server needs.

     

    Another thing to think about - the SC440 has gigabit Ethernet, consider adding a Gigabit switch to take best advantage of the on-board NIC - each client may only do 100 Mb/sec, but if each 10/100 client hangs on a gigabit switch, they can each get better transfer speed compare dwith throttling down the Gigabit server NIC to 10/100 speeds with slower hardware...

     

    Hope this helps,

     

    Ken

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 6:33 PM
  • Good points. I was a bit rushed to finish up my post, but I'll try to answer your concerns.

     

    -Optical drive: I used one temporarily to do an install. I think if someone is building a machine at all, a spare optical drive is likely to be available (even just temporarily removed from another machine and then returned after the install). I didn't spend any money on an optical drive.

    - OS HD - For windows Home Server, you don't want to just use an 80GB drive as your system drive. I would not pay Dell's pricing for fixed disks, so I didn't include them for comparison. As with any WHS install, add your own drives at whatever price you see fit.

    -Agreed that Dell doesn't charge for OS if you configure it that way.

    -Dell charges sales tax on orders in my state (PA) and any state where they have a retail presence as well - this is more people than newegg for sure. I had left tax off, but for most, I think this point is in favor of Newegg.

    -Shipping is the one point that I think is a valid criticism of my previous post. I would say total shipping on my stuff was about $50.00 so that is a cost that should be added.

     

    Overall, this is the first new machine that I've built in a few years, and I was very surprised at how easy it was. Things have certainly gotten much easier in the build-it-yourself space. Most of my new machines in the last 3 years (bought and configured for friends and family) have been Dell desktops. I just found that the pricing of Dell machines when you needed to buy the OS couldn't be beat by building yourself, but in the case of a WHS box, that's not a factor right now.

     

    I would take the Athlon 64 x2 over a Pentium 915 any day - a Core 2 Duo would be a different story, but you can't touch those processors in this price range. As for the other things in the $399 box - 80GB, DVD Burner, 17" flat panel - I can honestly say there is no place in my home for more of any of those items. I don't buy any hard drive less than 160GB in capacity any more (you can get 160s for under $50 often on sale) - it's not worth taking up a drive bay or external enclosure for that small of a capacity. I only have 1 desktop system remaining for my children (the rest are either laptops or special purpose HTPCs in my LAN) and I already have an 18" LCD. The DVD burner is also useless as I have 5 other burners in my lan already.

     

    I'm not really trying to be contrary - there is certainly a place for buying preconfigured equipment, and usually I do so myself, but I was trying to show that there are alternatives.

     

     

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 6:52 PM
  • Fair response, just a couple quick points:

    - MS "Suggests" an OS HD of 80 Gigs, with additional storage HDs, and at least one HD is required - the Dell comes with one, your sample cost had none.

    - Building a machine is pretty easy, but problems can crop up and frustrate someone without a lot of exp. building machines

    - Dell Small Business doesn't charge tax anywhere but Texas - they are a seperate business from the Home division, which does charge taxes everywhere they have a physical presence.

    - CPU requirements for WHS are so low that a PIII at 1 GHz is all that MS requires, and they suggest "anything current" (as I read the documentation)...

     

    Also not trying to be contrary, I advise friends to buy pre-built systems for their home use unless they have very specific/demanding needs and have a budget to support such a system build (quality costs).

     

    Thanks,

     

    Ken

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 7:42 PM
  •  

    my thoughts on a decent server for WHS and future use

     

    -physical room for minimum 3 HDD and 1 optical drive (external optical is even better, but more $$)

    - 4 sata connectors, 3 for the internal drives and one for external esata type stuff.

    -gigabit ethernet thru a PCIE or PCIX connection.  many motherboard NIC's fit this but NOT all so be careful. 

    -ANY AMD X2 or intel core 2 duo CPU.  lots of power, without consuming very much

    -if it has 4 DIMM then starting with 2x512 is ok, otherwise get 2x1gb

     

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 7:45 PM
  •  n2vip wrote:

    Fair response, just a couple quick points:

    - MS "Suggests" an OS HD of 80 Gigs, with additional storage HDs, and at least one HD is required - the Dell comes with one, your sample cost had none.

    - Building a machine is pretty easy, but problems can crop up and frustrate someone without a lot of exp. building machines

    - Dell Small Business doesn't charge tax anywhere but Texas - they are a seperate business from the Home division, which does charge taxes everywhere they have a physical presence.

    - CPU requirements for WHS are so low that a PIII at 1 GHz is all that MS requires, and they suggest "anything current" (as I read the documentation)...

     

    Also not trying to be contrary, I advise friends to buy pre-built systems for their home use unless they have very specific/demanding needs and have a budget to support such a system build (quality costs).

     

    Thanks,

     

    Ken

     

    Ken,

     

    The suggestion from Microsoft for the 80G drive is something I've always read as a minimum - not something I would personally put in the WHS at all - especially with the recommendation that the largest drive in the system be the first drive.

     

    Building a machine is not nearly as complicated as it used to be. WIth the highly integrated motherboards, the days of worrying if components will work with one another are virtually gone. With the exception of the NIC, I don't have any add-in cards - and that can be eliminated with a different MOBO if you want to have gigabit ethernet.

     

     

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007 10:04 PM
  • Well, I don't know if I'd "recommend" my configuration to someone else... :-) Anyway, my design goal was to have a powerful central server that can handle file and print, handle a LOT of storage, and handle it it's peak capacity, and have some room for future growth in terms of server side stuff.

     

    I built myself a server using parts acquired from newegg, ebay, and my parts bin. Here's my configuration.

     

    - Tyan s5360 Dual Xeon motherboard with 6 PCI-X slots and support for dual Xeons up to 3.2GHz, integrated video and audio.

    - Dual 3.2GHz Xeons. - I acquired this combo (motherboard and CPUs) on ebay for ~450.

    - Seasonic 520w ATX PSU - acquired on ebay. $50.

    - 2GB RAM - $140 from newegg

    - Sil3124 based HBA with 4 eSATA ports, each port supporting a Sil3726 or 4726 based port multiplier for a total of 20 3gbps SATA ports. - $75 from newegg. (My plan is to have 3 of these, and have the capability to connect up to SIXTY drives).

    - 80GB IDE HDD for O/S - had it lying around.

    - Extended ATX rack mountable server case - $90 shipped from ebay.

    - DVD ROM drive - $21 from Newegg

    - various cables etc from my parts bin.

     

    Total - $826.

     

    The drive arrays are housed in separate rack mountable server cases. Each case can hold 10 drives. Each case has 2 of the Sil3726 port multipliers in it. They connect to the server via 2 eSATA cables.

     

    Drive case 1:

    - Case - $80 shipped from ebay

    - Antec 350w PSU - $35 from newegg

    - Ten 250GB drives - $57x10 = $570 from buy.com (have a buddy who works there, got the employee discount).

    - 2 port multipliers = 2x$75 = $150 from Addonics

    - various cables and fans - ~$25.

     

    Total = $860

     

    Drive case 2:

    - Case - $80 shipped from ebay

    - Antec 350w PSU - $35 from newegg

    - 5 500GB drives - $120x5 = $600 from newegg

    - 1 port multipliers = $75 from Addonics

    - various cables and fans from parts bin

     

    Total = $790.

     

    So, for a total of ~$2,500, I have a top of the line server that is running WHS right now, but can certainly run other stuff in the future, offers about 4.5TB of capacity, and reads and writes at blazing speeds. I doubt I could buy this commercially for even 3 times it's cost.

     

    Monday, April 30, 2007 4:00 AM
  • Wombat,

    I've been thinking about building a new SFF machine.  A couple of questions about your system:
    1. Where did you find the MicroFly with power supply for $70?  I quick Pricegrabber search showed only the models without PS in that price range.  The units linked in PG are often the model without PS once you click through to the store.
    2. The MSI motherboard has only two SATA ports.  With high capacity PATA drives getting harder to find, would it be worth it to get a MB with more SATA ports?
    3. Can you set the BIOS to boot off and USB optical drive in case you ever need to reload the OS?
    Thanks for any feedback.
    Monday, April 30, 2007 2:41 PM
  • I got the MicroFly a couple of weeks ago at Microcenter. At the time, it was on-sale with a rebate. Here's their URL, but it looks like the price has gone back up.

    http://www.microcenter.com/byos/byos_single_product_results.phtml?product_id=240494

     

    They often have Ultra products on sale, and I've almost pulled the trigger on the MicroFly in the past because of that, so it's worthwhile to keep an eye on it.

     

    The MSI motherboard is not necessarily the board I would recommend the highest. I got a good deal on one at a CompUSA that was closing near me (40% off CUSA list, which meant about 10% less than Newegg's pricing)

     

    There are other fine MicroATX Socket AM2 motherboards that have gigabit ethernet built in as well as at least 4 SATA ports. I happen to have a bunch of older PATA hard drives for my server already, so I wanted the 2 IDE channels internal. Newegg's advanced search found 17 MicroATX, gigabit ethernet socketAM2 motherboards - I'm sure one of them will have the combination of ports you want and good reviews. The MSI board fit for me, but there are plenty of options that will fit the MicroFly

     

    The BIOS can be set to boot from USB optical drive. I haven't used it yet, but I plan to when I upgrade to the CTP version - hopefully next weekend.


    Ted

    Monday, April 30, 2007 3:12 PM
  •  MASH007 wrote:
    If you have time, BUILD YOUR OWN :-)

    All you need is 1 gig of memory and as much HD space as you need.

    I have a Pentium 4 3.0 GHz on my machine and it runs beautifully. No problems yet.

    All the parts would run you less than $300 on newegg (depending on how much HD you want).

    Second suggestion, indulge yourself by getting yourself a high end computer to replace your 9200 and make the 9200 your server :-)


     

     

    I agree take one of the 9200's and put a pair of new HD's in it and maybe a little more RAM depending on what's in it now.

    Then go out and buy yourself a nice new rig to replace it, if you like you monitor you can keep it for the new rig

    WHS doesn't require a whole lot of computer to do it's magic.

     

    BTW My rig is an older Dell 4700 that I put a pair of 250 Gig SATAs in to replace the 40 gig it came with.
    Processor is a P4 2.8 Ghz. Upped the Ram to 1.5 Gigs from 512MB.
    Works like a charm for less than 250.00

    Monday, April 30, 2007 3:41 PM
  • You know, I was trying to find a fault within your design and was starting to loose hope when it finally hit me.  There are two!  First, you bring down the half the grid every 2 days on reboot.  Second, your electrical cabling inside your walls is overheating and will probably burn soon. HA!

     

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 5:04 AM
  • Hi All,

     

    After careful reading of the comments and suggestions I went with Dell SC440 with Xeon 3040 with 2GB of ECC RAM and one 250GB SATA drive. This drive was supplemented with a pair of WD500YS RE2 drives from a local PC shop at a fraction of the Dell's cost for the similar drives. RE2 drives are apparently designed for 24/7 and covered with a 5yr warranty.

    A word of warning - Dell supplies SATA cables for the supplied drives only and the placement of HD cages requires cables for drives 0 & 1 with 90deg connectors at the HD end (HD cages are placed across PC box width with the connectors very close to PC side wall).

     

    WHS installed without a single hicckup as Dell supplied all required drivers on a CD. The system is very, very quiet, congratulations Dell.

     

    The server is attached to a Netgear 8 port gigabit switch, and while I haven't attempted to measure the server CPU load or network speed everything appears to work without strain. I have streamed a video from the server to a laptop with a gigabit NIC connected to a LCD TV and it worked flawlessly.

     

    Also tried the remote access which worked for a day and then stopped. Will look at this latter.

     

    Regards,

    Zvon

     

     

    Friday, May 18, 2007 2:06 AM
  • They are even designing boards specially for home servers: http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=7286

    Hopefully these will be in the stores at a sensible price before October.

     

    Gordon

    Friday, May 18, 2007 8:46 AM
  • I too have the Microfly..nice case - except:

     

    That front cooling fan is up against the front of the box with nowhere to get air from.

    I drilled about 15 small holes in the front for the fan to suck air through and then pass out the back.

    The little vents under the handle are totally inadequate.

     

     

    Temps have improved dramatically....

     

     

    Just a suggestion to you.....easily done.

    Friday, May 18, 2007 4:28 PM
  • I, too, am new to WHS, and am currently using an HP EX470.  However, that box seems to just cover the minimum hardware requirements and cannot be used for any other O/S.  It will be returned prior to the 21 day return period expiring from HP.  Being something that will run 24x7, I have decided that a WHS box should include at least entry level server grade hardware.  I just ordered a Dell SC440 with a dual core E2160 and dual 250's in it.  Everyone can shoot me, but I splurged for the floppy and the IDE CDRW/DVD Rom drive.  Of course I nabbed the OEM build of WHS on Newegg's $20 off deal.  About $750 out the door for a dual core, 2gb ram, server.  I also ordered (originally for the HP box) the esata Terrabox 4 bay box / esata card combo from Newegg (hoping for no driver issues...).  I plan to stuff my other drives in that, which are a 750gb Maxtor and eventually several 320gb Seagates I am pulling out of my Infrant Readynas, which will be sold to help pay for this whole thing.  I am hoping this gives me good performance, and will give me a box that is not limited to one O/S or purpose.  Any thoughts?

     

    Friday, March 21, 2008 7:22 PM
  • Zvon,

     

    This sounds almost exactly like the setup I will end up with (including the switch).  Glad it's working for you.  What's the drive model Dell shipped with yours?  One of the Seagate ES's or equivalent, or something lesser? 

    Friday, March 21, 2008 8:22 PM
  • As a side note. the SC440 only allows for two HD's.  unless they have changed thier stance since last year when I called them about it. While yes, there are several sata ports, the bios won't let you boot with more than two sata drives.  I even tried and ide and two sata, still no go.
    However, I did get past this hurdle with a pci sata raid card.  Added 3 750Gb drives into riad 5, and the bios knows no better, just let windows configure the drive, and viola, now I have 5 drives, (the three 750's as storage, and two for os mirror).
    Currently I just installed WHS in a virtual drive with vmware server, which is installed on MS Server 2008.  Once I get WHS updated and play around with, I might actually try to switch to WMS as Main OS, and run vmware to launch server08.
    currently has 4Gb ram, and dual 2.0Gb processor. Also with that many drives, I've had to use twist ties to add in some extra fans.
    Tuesday, July 14, 2009 6:58 AM
  • if your into building PCs then I think it is a bit silly to buy a pre-configured WHS granted when buying you get the support etc. and with OEM you dont. Since I started using WHS I have had 2 setups

    AM2 AMD Sempron single core 2.xxGHZ, 1GB RAM I had 6x 500 gb hdds running on it ( I had to sell the processor, RAM and Motherboard on this one.

    This is the computer I use at the moment

    An old eMachines 270 which consists of a single core Socket 478 Intel Celeron 1.70GHz, 512mb DDR1 RAM and Imperial TriGem Motherboad 3 PCI SATA Controllers and 5x 500gb hdds

    Granted the one I am using so far is a little slow, it allows me to run a movie off the server, my other 2 PC and my 360 at the same time without loosing any performace and I was using the same movie on each of the devices.

    So really a Xeon processor or a quad core will be massivly overkill, get a single core or dual core processor for this. I originally had a AMD Sempron 2.xxghz which costed me roughly £30.00GBP
    HMG
    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 9:37 AM