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Certainly this is a subjective question which depends primarily on one's finances, but perhaps I can receive some feedback. We all know that most computers become obsolete after a few years. Although, this isn't really an issue for those of us who can build our own computer.

But, is it a better financial investment to build a home server, then create virtual workstations, and simply have the typical peripherals like monitor, keyboard, and mouse at each user location? I know most businesses are starting to use the virtualization model instead of having actual desktops at every desk or cubcile since they can just buy more processors or RAM or Hard Drives and install them in the server whenever they need to (e.g., if they need to add another user to the network). However, would this be ideal for a home?

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Not likely. I just don't see the advantage of doing this, but that could just be me. You don't have the same issues large businesses have. Also, have fun explaining to the kids why they can't run the game they bought 4 years ago. – Daniel Beck May 20 '11 at 18:29
I'd certainly love to be able to turn everything into a thin client, but games and video are the sticking point. – Seth Robertson May 20 '11 at 19:03
True! I forgot to consider gaming. Never heard of a server that you could install a nice graphics card in. =) – H3br3wHamm3r81 May 20 '11 at 20:00
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Not yet. Most home machines are used for tasks that aren't "office" applications. Playing games and watching video are low latency tasks that need a local CPU/GPU. I can see that day rapidly approaching, but in it's current state you'll WAY overpay for that functionality.

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Like Chris has pointed out, no not yet. But there may also be another reason to skip this as well. The day is coming when computers will be the size of cell phones. Everywhere you go there will be a monitor and keyboard and when you place the phone/PC near them they can be used. This way you won't need to use the phone/PC onboard small screen and virtual keyboard.

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But then your apps and desktop OS are likely to be virtualised and in the cloud, when that occurs. You can see the possibilities of desktop and application virtualisation changing the way we do things, by looking at Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp. – paradroid May 20 '11 at 22:18
@paradroid, you're absolutely correct except for one thing ... People want control, privacy, and complete access on the go, which an iPhone type device will provide. I really think most people and businesses will reject the cloud, but I could be wrong. It is technically possible to go either way, we'll have to see how people vote with their wallets. – pcunite May 22 '11 at 2:12

The period of time when that made sense from a hardware cost/performance perspective started the day the first i7 shipped and ended the day the iPad shipped.

From a complexity/maintenance ROI perspective the day never came, and now it never will. Virtualized desktops if they do happen will skip right to the cloud, but the more realistic scenario is the client goes 'thin' and the heavy lifting goes to the cloud. We're right on the cusp of it this year, and over the edge within 18 months.

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