best server bang for the buck

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best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:58 pm

I need a server for a possible new client. The software runs on SQL and on a three year old Xeon running windows 2003 with 4GB - it is somewhat slow. I would like to make it go as fast as possible, but I'm competing for the business. The other guy is quoting a HP Quad Core Xeon, 8gb ram, Raid 10 with 4 146 sas hard drives. I tried configuring something similar on HP's web site and come close to his numbers, but without making any money on the deal. Then I saw this: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... CatId=2683 which looks very tempting, but I don't know what the motherboard is, what the hard drives are, and how well Systemax systems hold up. I've installed servers for years, but over the last 4 to 5 years only 1 or 2 a year, so I'm falling a little behind on what is current and what is good without being bleeding edge. Anyone have any suggestions? I'm trying to compete hardware wise to come under $3500 for the server (without the Windows server 2008 r2)
bigjohn888jb
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Re: best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:07 pm

Look at Dell and Lenovo, HP's low end servers have gotten kind of absurd recently, especially considering the quality of support. I'm guessing the other guy is quoting a custom build with Super Micro or Tyan parts. You could go the same route, or you could push the quality of warranty from a larger company, with your own support to ensure quality of service. Either way, if the other guy is low balling, I'd push quality over possible downtime risks.
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Re: best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:09 am

I'd look at Dell if you want a name brand. If you get in contact with a sales rep, probably a SMB rep, they can cut you some deals over the prices on the website.

You could build a white box from Serversdirect.com and sell them service.

I haven't seen Systemax either. I usually see a name brand (Dell, HP, Sun, IBM) or whitebox servers. There's not a lot of inbetween outside of appliances.
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Re: best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:25 am

Systemax is Tigerdirect's house brand.

If you decide to go the custom build route, something Opteron based is likely your best bang for the buck. Don't forget to use ECC RAM (and a motherboard that properly supports it), and some form of RAID (with a backup and disaster recovery plan) for your storage.
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Re: best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:55 am

I guess you want a tower and not a rack-mount?

Know anything about the workload? Is it HDD-limited or RAM-limited or CPU-limited?

This looks nice: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... 5&csid=_61

Only 2.13GHz CPU, though. It really depends on what you want to do, too. Probably half your costs will be on storage. Do you want RAID 5? Do the hard drives need to be hot-swap? Do you want to have redundant power supplies? How many hard drives? How much space? You can probably spec out a second quad-core CPU as well.

The benefit of something like the HP is you can offload the warranty to HP if you get that option:

HP Care Pack Services
Extended Care - HP 3 year Next business day ProLiant ML150 Hardware Support -U8184E
Committed Care - HP 3 year 4 hour 13x5 ProLiant ML150 Hardware Support - U8192E
Deployment Services - HP Install ProLiant ML150 Service - U8195E

Smart Buy Care Pack Services
HP S-Buy 4-Hour Onsite Response, 13-Hour x 5-Day Coverage, 3 years - UE897E
HP S-Buy 4-Hour Onsite Response, 24-Hour x 7-Day Coverage, 3 years - UE898E
HP SBuy3y24x7 24hCTRProliant ML150HW Sup - HZ753E
NOTE: Smart Buy Care Packs can only be attached to Smart Buy SKUs
NOTE: For more information, customer/resellers can contact: http://www.hp.com/services/carepack.

One trick with the hard drives is you can try calling or contacting CDW and seeing if they have any backstock hard drives available--especially for HPs, they often have a bunch for pretty good prices. Customers configure stuff and then decide to not get it and the drives are already used and tested, just put back into the warehouse. You might also get some decent prices on eBay.

If you dink around with HP server stuff at all, I recommend http://h18006.www1.hp.com/products/quic ... l#CD_Files which is handy for looking up certain models, finding some SKUs to look up elsewhere like at http://partsurfer.hp.com/Search.aspx
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Re: best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:50 am

Personally, I would not want to support a server that's purchased on the basis of price alone. It says something about the customer's priorities; will they try to nickel and dime you on support?

I agree that an Opteron system is the best bang for the buck, but I'd probably run it by the customer first. Some customers may feel that Intel = Quality, and your competition might say as much.

As others have suggested, I'd focus on uptime/quality. When you ask customers how much one day of non-productive downtime will cost their business, it usually pales in comparison to the difference in server prices between "decent" and rock-solid.
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Re: best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:41 am

You're talking a server here.... Buy from "one of the big guys". Dell will most likely be cheapest.

Think "warranty" and happy customer. Stuff can break.

You can always "cut corners" on the config to some extent (slower CPU, etc).
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Re: best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:30 am

And that's a good point. Some people are very anti-AMD.
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Re: best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:57 am

Scrotos wrote:And that's a good point. Some people are very anti-AMD.

Yup, I still encounter that from time to time too. Much less so now than in the past though; their strong presence in the HPC market, design wins from big OEMs like HP, and the fact that Supermicro makes AMD motherboards now have given them a lot of credibility in the server space.
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Re: best server bang for the buck

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:33 am

I'm curious, what did you end up quoting?
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