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Server or Workstation : Refurbished Budget Powerhouse

December454

38 months ago

Hello again PCPP community. I am in the market for a budget system($100-$350) that can still perform well in demanding tasks. I had long advocated building your own computer with the notion that it was cheaper, but it now dawned on me that only if you are buying new is this true because I am staggered at both the amount and cost of used and refurbished machines. I was amazed when I realized $300 was average for a quadruple quad core Xeon sever with 128GB of RAM and am now very interested in the used market. So, I am wondering, where should I be looking, or am actually looking at this completely wrong?

What I want this machine to do is become both my main workstation and a test bed for hardware. I repair computers in my free time and currently am limited by the fact that I do not have a proper desktop. My main computer is a five year old Sony VAIO which is capable enough and great for burning Linux ISOs and what not, but I really can't test any hardware in it. My other computer though is a thirteen year old Dell Dimension 2400, a Pentium 4 rig which is not at all capable performance wise, and given its legacy hardware, it can't test anything either. I definitely need something and have narrowed down my search to two niche but sizable computer markets, used servers and used workstations.

Here are some things I would like to have in a new machine:

-A CPU that is preferably quad core or above and clocked at 2GHZ or higher. I would be rather weary to drift below that mark for single threaded performance, and would definitely be interested in a dual/multi CPU setup.

-Preferably 8 RAM slots, I could manage with less and really don't care how much comes come pre-installed; I just want the ability to slot in a good bit and be able to put in more memory without taking out any when testing. (This point should not completely discount a machine)

-A fair number of expansion slots, once again I would like the ability to slot things in without removing anything. I would definitely want PCI Express, preferably more than one, but I would also not mind having perhaps conventional PCI or Mini PCI in case I would ever need it. I also would like to avoid AGP for video cards.

-I could care less about graphical performance. Whether integrated or discrete, it will probably be the first thing replaced, so it really doesn't matter what it has. However it never hurts to have some video cards on hand.

-I really don't care about I/O. A fair bit of USB ports and some audio out would be nice, but that's really it. USB 3.0 would be a nice touch, but it really doesn't matter.

-A fair bit of SATA is a must. It doesn't have to be the latest revision, but I NEED SATA. Currently I have no way of reading any 3.5in hard drive made in the last decade which is quite the hindrance.

-Multiple hard drive bays would be helpful. This may very well be a multi-drive system, so this would be a great help. 2.5in drive mounting options would also be great. I do not need a pre-installed drive, but it would be good selling point. Hot-swapping is not necessary.

-Wireless is not needed, but it may be helpful to have it integrated.

-No operating system is needed. I am big Linux guy, so this is not something that really matters. Having Windows may be helpful if I ever need it, but it would be anything but necessary.

-An optical drive would be helpful but not necessary. I have a few laying around if needed.

So, knowing this, where should I go from here? Should I look into Used Servers, Workstations, or should I perhaps build something from scratch, using pre-owned? I am aware of the challenges that each present, and am prepared to go any way. Leave your suggestions, or if you have anything in particular that you think would be a good option, please tell.

I am egar to hear what you all have to say.

Thank you.

Here is an example of a server I would consider: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-PowerEdge-R900-4x-Quad-Core-Xeon-X7460-2-66GHz-32GB-RAM-No-HDD/371681422316?_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D38530%26meid%3D8470b573a82c44f6ba3c9f8ab65bce28%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D351767341485

Here is a workstation I would consider: http://www.ebay.com/itm/DELL-PRECISION-T5500-TOWER-PC-DUAL-XEON-QUAD-CORE-2-27GHz-16GB-250GB-FEDEX-SHIP/282178374613?_trksid=p2141725.c100337.m3725&_trkparms=aid%3D777000%26algo%3DABA.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D37108%26meid%3Dea50afa9619f4b68be10f3eb0a4aeca4%26pid%3D100337%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D1%26mehot%3Dlo%26sd%3D161197581574

Comments

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Any suggestions?

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point
  1. I'm not sure how you did this, but your text is not auto-wrapped. Makes it hard to read.
  2. If you want to test components, what you need is a test bench...
  3. Your link to the server is pretty old, DDR2... You wouldn't be able to test later RAMs with it.
  4. The workstation is better as it can test DDR3 RAMS, but it's so packed up, that it would be a nightmare putting anything in it for testing. Again, test bench...
  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Okay well there are definitely plenty of other workstations out there, but couldn't I turn something such as that Precision into a test bench? Being dual CPU and all it may be a bit odd of a form factor, but what if I stripped it down and mounted everything on a test bench? Also, would I run into any CPU bandwidth issues since the are older processors?

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

couldn't I turn something such as that Precision into a test bench

I've never had a test bench myself. If that motherboard comes off a standard size factor, it should be OK to fit into a test bench.

Also, would I run into any CPU bandwidth issues since the are older processors?

Do you mean new GPUs having bandwidth issues with these old motherboards? Not anything that would impair their operation. Maybe they'd perform somewhat weaker, but they would definitely operate. I have an 8 years old socket 775 motherboard and a GTX 970 is happy to work with it just fine.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey again, thanks for the advice with my budget rig. Now I thought about what you said with the cramped case and all, and I may have found something. It's larger and I believe newer as well, compared to that last Precision, and I was wondering what you thought about it.

Here it is on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-Precision-T7500-Workstation-SIX-CORE-E5645-2-4GHz-24GB-RAM-NO-HDD-/351594969341?hash=item51dcb178fd:g:IAgAAOSwARZXlzJd

Here is a better image: http://www.ithov.com/uploads/allimg/200908/20090806125106730.jpg

Here it is next to one of the smaller form factor: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/OZevOk8zZfI/maxresdefault.jpg

Thanks again.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

It's gone now (auction). It supports DDR3 RAM, but I'm not sure about if XMP is allowed as the CPU on Inte's website lists DDR3 800/1066 support only, which is not much.

I've found the HP Z600 on their official website so you can see the specification.

It could be fun playing around with such a PC/workstation (whatever we call it), but I am not sure if you would like to use such a machine for testing hardware you're about to fix. (You said you're fixing hardware, right?)

It is quite old, meaning DDR3 ram above 1333 wouldn't run at maximum speed. So you could test them if they work, but wouldn't be able to test them as the customers would normally use them (1600 Mhz). And absolutely no test for DDR4.

I suppose it has SATA, though I couldn't find it in the specs, so you could test storage drives.

It has PCIe, so you could test PCIe expansion cards (including graphics cards).

I am not sure though how much space is inside, and if it is convenient to work with or not. Worst case you could always remove unnecessary components and leave only the most needed one to make it easier to test new components.

[comment deleted]

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