Building a Budget Server

Prices are valid as of June 16, 2008

Total cost: $616
Summary: Core 2 Duo 3 Ghz, 4GB Ram, 500Gb HD

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 189
Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-73VM-S2 63
Memory G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 800 70
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s (This one's available in Canada)
90 X 2
Case IN WIN IW-BT611T.300SL 55
UPC APC BE350R 350 VA 200 W 59

I looked at both AMD and Intel for possible options. AMD's products seem to have fallen behind Intel's in terms of performance. They still work with the 65nm technology compared with Intel's 45nm. Also in their latest processor, the Phenom, they had a bug in the initial X3 release having to do with the TLB. I chose a processor that was very close to the cutting edge, but not the newest to increase value without sacrificing too much performance. Comparing the desktop processors to server processors, I noticed that this is mostly a marketing scheme by Intel as the Core 2 Duo E8400 is the same processor as the Xeon E3110.

With this processor we need a motherboard for the LGA 775 socket. I also wanted a motherboard with the appropriate front side bus (1333Mhz) and at least support the processors memory specs (DDR2 800Mhz). I also wanted an integrated graphics card as this will be server and we therefore don't have to buy a graphics card. I also wanted RAID support for data integrity.

I wanted 4GB, which is the motherboard's maximum.

Hard Drive:
Since we want to minimize the risk of ever losing data, I want to set up RAID 1 (Mirroring), which essentially puts identical data on both drives so that if you ever lose one, you have the other one as a back-up copy. I am not very particular in choosing a hard drive, but chose the Barricuda since I had good experiences with it in the past. I also think the 32MB cache, instead of 16MB, is worth an extra $10.

Small case to save space. The motherboard is micro-ATX anways.

It is a good idea to protect the server from power surges or brown outs. It will only last a couple of minutes though once the power is off.

Total Price: $616