I am thinking about building a machine to use as a linux or Solaris development server (for running a database, application servers, etc.). I would like it to be as portable as possible without it being too expensive. Looking for suggestions on parts to build a small and inexpensive (less than $1000) quad-core machine.
closed as off topic by Journeyman Geek♦, Dave M, wizlog, Dennis, Scott Feb 28 '13 at 19:14
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Don't build one. Subscribe to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) service. Prices start around $20-$30 per month. You can buy a few years of service for $1000. A VPS gets you out of the business of supporting hardware.
I subscribe to a Linux-based VPS and for $30/mo I get a quad-core 2.5GHz CPU, 540MB RAM, and 24GB of disk space -- plenty for web and database hosting. That's not even their cheapest plan.
Unless you are doing some serious number-crunching, CPU isn't going to be your bottleneck. It will be the disk. There's nothing you can do (on the cheap) to give you dramatically better disk throughput on a DIY system. Consequently, you shouldn't be focussing on the number of cores. Even a dual-core or dual-processor system will be quite sufficient.
As an example, for years I ran an audio-streaming server which regularly hosted dozens of simultaneous streams, provided web service, and a database on a dual-processor 700Mhz Pentium III with 1GB of RAM. Typical load average: 0.01. The CPU was 99% idle most of the time.
Ask yourself this: is building and maintaining hardware a core aspect of your business? If it's not, outsource it and focus on what makes you money.
(This thread should probably be migrated to serverfault.com)
there are numerous mini-ITX and micro-ITX motherboards and cases that can take quad-core CPUs.
e.g. the Gigabyte GA-G31M-ES2L (about $70 AUD - 1 AUD is approx $0.80 USD at the moment) is one of many.
for cases, something like the Antec NSK1380 ($159 AUD) or Lian Li PC-Q07 ($85 AUD)might do.
however, i'd be a bit concerned about cooling in such small cases. if the machines are mostly idle (i.e. not constantly running lots of computationally-intensive processes like number-crunching or video transcoding) then they'd probably be OK.
if not, go up to a mini-tower case and an ATX motherboard. you'd have a larger selection of motherboards to choose from, and some come with convenient handles for transporting them.
Check out some bare-bones systems from Shuttle. They make nice and quiet SFF cases that have a lot of bells and whistles usually including Gbe and decently rated PSUs in some models.
protected by JakeGould Jan 6 at 3:06
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