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Where Do You Shop for Server Components?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the most-value-for-your-<insert-currency-here> dept.

The Almighty Buck 447

Devi0s asks: "Along with many other Slashdot readers, I have been building my own PCs for years. I use hardware review sites such as Ars Technica, Tech Report, and Tom's Hardware Guide to research the components and pick out the best, and I use PriceWatch and ResellerRatings to find the best deals and to make sure I am dealing with a reputable vendor. I work in a small consulting firm where money is tight, and I'd like to test the waters with a few ideas of my own. In each case, various servers and external storage enclosures are needed on the cheap that will be pushed to their limits. Are Slashdot readers building their own servers and storage enclosures? What web sites provide the latest news, research, and and comparisons for server hardware? Where do you go to buy server components and vet your vendor?"

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Cost analysis (5, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301564)

Time is money. Lots of it and as any person who has done any hiring (especially in small to mid size businesses) will tell you, personnel costs are among the largest financial obligations you will have bar none. Therefore, I actually find it more cost effective to 1) perform an analysis to best determine needs based on anticipated traffic (Slashdottings aside) [GRIN], and 2) purchase a complete system from a vendor based upon the outcomes of the analysis. Spending time rolling your own hardware can be cost effective in some circumstances, but do not overlook the time you are spending on this project. A simple cost analysis should suffice.

Also, if needs are low, common desktop hardware (even outdated hardware) can meet needs sufficiently without the need for a Server OS. (I have an old G3 iMac running a desktop OS X serving up one of the oldest online textbooks available on the Internet, Webvision [utah.edu] which routinely serves up about 45,000 hits/day of graphics intensive webpages). For larger needs or e-commerce for medium to large businesses, you obviously need something more substantial. After looking at solutions from Dell, Sun and SGI, and a local whitebox builder, believe it or not, Apple [apple.com] makes some pretty nice servers [apple.com] servers at very cost competitive points. We will likely be picking up a couple in the near future for some very heavy data intensive work we are embarking on. The nice thing about these solutions is that we can develop the code cross platform from some Linux workstations and fairly simply deploy on the Xserves.

Re:Cost analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301625)

Let me get this straight: you just posted a link to a graphics-intensive website you maintain? Worse, you're shilling for Apple? On slashdot?

I hope that a) you aren't responsible for the bandwidth costs at the University of Utah and b) your server survives.

Either you're gunning for a free stress test or just silly.

Re:Cost analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301645)

And by the way, that page is a fucking affront to the human visual system!

Re:Cost analysis (4, Funny)

IO ERROR (128968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301741)

Webvision which routinely serves up about 45,000 hits/day

You're about to get 45,000 hits in the next hour. Are you ready?

Re:Cost analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301773)

Looks like its already down, or at least very slow.

Re:Cost analysis (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301808)

No, it is definately up. It has just slowed down probably because of the 10/100 ethernet connection on the old iMacs and the relatively slower hard drives in those machines. But it is still accepting connections and delivering the proper pages it appears. This guy was crazy for putting an iMac up for a Slashdotting, but I must say I am impressed with it so far.

Re:Cost analysis (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301783)

Correction, You used to have an old G3 iMac serving that page.

Re:Cost analysis (3, Interesting)

magefile (776388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301837)

also, if needs are low, common desktop hardware (even outdated hardware) can meet needs sufficiently without the need for a Server OS

Absolutely. The company I'm at right now does benefits-explanation and healthcare-education sites that firms can present to their employees as if it's their own. We have maybe 2 dozen small clients and two or three big ones (think Fortune 500), but until recently we've used 2 eMacs and 3 old iMacs to do it all. We've upgraded, but we probably didn't need to ... the boss just likes shiny things.

Re:Cost analysis (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301839)

Time is money. Lots of it and as any person who has done any hiring (especially in small to mid size businesses) will tell you, personnel costs are among the largest financial obligations you will have bar none.
A sound business principle, in general -- and one some of my former employers didn't pay enough attention too. On the other hand, suppose you're running a small business, either alone or with a few partners. And suppose you're just starting up, so you (and maybe those partners) are your technical staff. Then time is just about the only resource you don't have to pay for.

Of course, lots of people take the roll-your-own approach just because that's the only way they know. The last regular job I had was for an internet services company that had started out in the owner's garage ten years earlier. For our virtual web host business, we still used the RYO server management software the owner had written back in that garage! And even though we were now managing a data center with thousands of systems, everything in sight -- the phone system, the customer support database, the procedures we used to checkin hands-on customers, even the tests used to screen potential employees -- everything was very do-it-yourself. Not the most cost-effective way to run a business, but the owner simply knew no other way to get things done.

After all we wouldn't be techies if we didn't enjoy playing with technology.

Re:Cost analysis (1)

andalay (710978) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301850)

I have an old G3 iMac running a desktop OS X serving up one of the oldest online textbooks available on the Internet, Webvision [LINK_TO_SERVER!!!!]
Are you studying the slashdot effect or do you need help.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301568)

first post

Newegg (5, Informative)

thegoogler (792786) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301569)

Seriously, for everything. That, or ive had lots of luck with small local shops, if i need the parts NOW. there always nice about returning stuff, even if its your fault you broke it -_-;;

Re:Newegg (2)

carninja (792514) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301580)

Seconded.

Re:Newegg (1)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301599)

Thirded. They've been fast and I've never had a problem with something I've bought from them. Even got a nice rebate on a WD Raptor not too long ago.

Re:Newegg (3, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301652)

I guess I gotta make that fourthed (is that a word?) The only problem I've ever had with anything I've bought from NewEgg was a D-Link DI-624 wireless router. The router worked fine (shipped fast as usual) but D-Link reneged on the rebate. That pissed me off but I can't hardly blame NewEgg for it ... they were up front that it was a manufacturer's rebate, not theirs.

Taking a cue from one of my friends who'd suffered a similar problem with a printer rebate, I re-sent the rebate, this time in a big manila envelope with the words "To the thieves at D-Link" on the cover. I didn't think that would actually work (I was just very irritated), but I got my rebate a week later.

Re:Newegg (1)

sp0rk173 (609022) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301735)

Fifted. I buy everything through new egg. Since i'm in southern california i usually get what i want within 2 business days. Never had a problem with new egg. Ever.

Re:Newegg (2, Informative)

happyemoticon (543015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301860)

I sextuple that. Newegg has parts from reputable manufacturers at rock-bottom prices. I especially like the wide availability of OEM hardware, as I have little time to deal with gigantic pretty $20 boxes. Ever since I worked in retail, I learned to hate big boxes, and I still do.

Re:Newegg (1)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301864)

Sixthed? Yes, I'm making up words. Can I be President now?

Actually, not only do I buy nearly all of my computer needs from Newegg, I use them as a comparison when dealing the wholesalers in the local area. If they can't beat Newegg, I have no need to deal with them. Newegg.com redefines what an online reseller should be. 99% of the time, they get my money. And as a small business owner on the east coast, I get somehow get my parts in 2 or 3 days. That's amazing.

Aero

Re:Newegg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301627)

I guess I have the opposite experience. I was going to a local shop today for the first time just to check it out and boy are they pretty scarce on what they carry. I wanted a CPU cooler for an Athlon... expecting to choose between maybe at least 3 or 4 I was pointed to the only one they carried for $20 that worked with Athlons up to 1.2 GHz. Sheesh. I left and decided to just order it online for $6 for the Athlon 3200+ rated cooler.

Re:Newegg (-1, Flamebait)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301692)

However, they did recently have it exposed they sold refurbished motherboards as new ones.

Google it if you want to know more.

Re:Newegg (1)

David Greene (463) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301757)

Yep, Newegg. I bought ~$1500 in parts a year ago to build a mythtv/development server box. After selecting from the Newegg stock, I went to pricewatch and tallied that total cost of getting each part from the least expensive supplier.

Had I gone the pricewatch route, I would have bought from at least six different suppliers. I would have saved $50.

Re:Newegg (1)

WMD_88 (843388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301813)

Sixthed! Hehe. I bought my current workstation from them (in parts of course) for $800. And nothing has broke in the 10 months since.

well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301571)

I shop at Newegg.com they have pretty much everything I need.

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301828)

fag fuck mods, I was first to post about newegg.com

anon coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301575)

first

Newegg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301577)

I pretty much buy everything there. Yeah, I might save a couple dollars here or there hunting down some new source, but they're usually close to cheapest on everything. Plus, they use a cheap FedEx which gets me my stuff within a few days.

Only Newegg (2, Informative)

Voxxel (147404) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301579)

Exclusively from Newegg [newegg.com] . They are unmatched.

Ditto on Newegg (1)

TheGrayArea (632781) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301622)

They are the best I have ever deal with.

Re:Only Newegg (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301640)

I second Newegg. Their prices are great, and they have been rock-solid dependable.

Which for a business, is more important than the price.

newegg! (0, Redundant)

becauseiamgod (559722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301586)

newegg [newegg.com] is always my first choice for anything I buy. If newegg is out of stock on something, mwave [mwave.com] is the second place I go.

Re:newegg! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301617)

mwave used to be the newegg of the late 90's.In fact, if when newegg first started up, newegg's webpage used to look almost identical to mwave's

I used to buy all my stuff my stuff from mwave back then, but now newegg has better prices and shows you how much stuff costs to ship.

Anyways, www.mwave.com and www.newegg.com are both wonderful places to buy hardware from.

Dell and Apple (1)

tfiedler (732589) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301589)

I'm using a mix of Apple gear, Xserves and XRAID, and so I guess you know where those come from. I also use Netapp gear for storage and Dell servers, mostly 2650 and 1750 models. I had a few whitebox systems left last year but I have got them all decommissioned and replaced with Dell gear. The reason? reliability AND support.

Why Big Blue, of course. (4, Funny)

signingis (158683) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301603)


ibm.com [ibm.com]

Of course, you can go to an IBM reseller and get a year old solution for about 25% of the original cost for a machine. Why mess around when you're building a server. Ostensibly a company will be using this to either make money directly or support the making of money in some other area of the business, so why mess around?

Re:Why Big Blue, of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301696)

If money is tight and you don't need something new, ebay is actually worth looking at (depending upon who's selling of course). It's not too hard to find servers over 1Ghz and 1-3 years old if that's all you need. They'll probably run easily for another 8-10. Just look for sellers selling a pile at a time, and buy a couple. You can buy 2 for half the price of a new server (so you have a backup as well).

Re:Why Big Blue, of course. (1)

SlashingComments (702709) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301734)

You are 100% correct. If I buy servers for customers who don't want to mess with IT and want to be smart about it--I always give them IBM. Other customers who really picky and try to be smart ass--I tell them go to compusa and why pay me when you can build it yourself--if they can fine, good for them, if they can't then there is IBM.

small OEM suppliers (4, Informative)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301605)

There are lots of companies that supply OEMs in my area. Companies like Minta, ZT Group, Stars Micro, and Eastern Data. These companies will gladly set you up with a Net 30 terms account.

Companies like this are great for commodity parts like hard drives, CPUs, and memory.

Building mission critical systems from motherboards that won't be available next year is NOT a good idea.

For systems like that, I either use Intel boards (3 year warranty), or I buy complete systems from Dell. I've even bought stripped down Dell NAS boxes and upgraded the CPU, memory, and hard drives to save some money.

Rolling your own systems makes sense for workstations, but for mission critical servers, i'd only buy from a vendor that can guarantee that parts will be available for the service life of the machine.

-ted

COMPUSA BABY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301642)

its like makin love in the gravy

Re:small OEM suppliers (1)

urlgrey (798089) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301701)

Indeedily. In my experience (I've bought literally hundreds of servers, workstations, and other machines) the best combination of price, service, flexibility, and reliability generally comes from the smaller OEMs like you mention. Sure, there are exceptions like HUGE servers where buying a branded solution makes sense, but usually something from an OEM is just right.

I myself feel like I was lucky to have found one seven or eight years ago in Orange County (45 min south of Los Angeles) that I've stuck with through a couple of different companies now. Area Electronics [areasys.com]

No matter where you are though, there are companies like this one where you can pick up the phone, talk to someone about your needs, and get a system configured, quoted, and built, and feel like you're NOT just a number in your sales person's sales quota in making his/her company's Q3 numbers for The Street.

Dude... eBay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301618)

Just do it...

What is going to get pushed to the limits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301635)

on the cheap that will be pushed to their limits

Is that the the hardware, or you when it breaks down? Seriously do you want the headache of supporting crap?

Insert joke about "In Soviet Russia the cheap hardware pushes you to the limit"

my supplier... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301637)

ebay.

Re:my supplier... (1)

SupremeTaco (844794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301712)

I second the opinion. For really small companies like mine, ebay, http://www.govdeals.com/ [govdeals.com] , and http://www.governmentliquidation.com/ [government...dation.com] can fit the bill. Even networking with some of the other businesses in town, who are moving on up, and will even donate or barter unused equipment, can work.

Servercase.com (1)

Siderite (591841) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301639)

While I agree with many of the previous post regarding Newegg, I would also have to add in that http://www.servercase.com/ [servercase.com] has a much better selection of cases, especially for things like disk arrays and specialized accessories associated with rackmount hardware.

CDW (1)

alen (225700) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301643)

My company is big enough to get good pricing on HP servers from CDW. We have our personal sales rep that also helps out with support issues and since we are big enough we get a nice return policy.

HP's are good servers and rock solid. The ilo lights out capability is nice too since it allows us to do a cold boot remotely over the LAN if the OS locks up to where access over pc anywhere, terminal services or the raritan kvn is no good.

there is one point of contact for tech support which makes things easier. Parts are shipped next day air most times with pre-paid return shipping.

Re:CDW (1)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301862)

out of curiosity ... were you a CDW customer before they acquired MW, or were you a MW customer that became a CDW customer post acquisition?

Don't mess around with OEM junk (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301644)

You might think the stuff you buy off of Newegg or ebay or whatever for your own machines works fine and saves you money, but for enterprise-grade server solutions you don't want to mess around with that junk. This isn't a toy; it has to work. The Quake 3 framerate is a lot less important now than whether you can get 24/7 support and service. So just call up Dell or another reputable server vendor; when it comes down to it you save money, no matter what it sounds like now.

the usuals (1)

forevermore (582201) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301654)

Personally, I tend to use pricegrabber for comparing prices, but usually end up going to newegg or zipzoomfly (with occasional bits from buy.com). But when in the market for a full machine, I would just pick the parts up from work.

On the note of full machines (and yes, this is somewhat of a shameless plug for silicon mechanics [siliconmechanics.com] ), most of our customers come back because of the quality of service. Our prices tend to be reasonable, but every one of our customers (especially the small ones like wikimedia and livejournal) will tell you that customer service and support is what keeps them coming back. If you're not building machines in-house, no matter where you buy your machines, as a business, a large part of the equation must include the quality of support you get if/when something goes wrong (because something will always eventually go wrong if you have enough hardware).

As someone else said earlier, smaller companies tend to be willing to go the extra mile to keep their customers happy, and that's worth a lot.

Newegg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301661)

Newegg is the bestest online and offline computer store!!!

Newegg and MonitorsDirect (4, Informative)

Theovon (109752) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301665)

I'm going to add my name to the list of many who say "only newegg". It's true. Their return policy is stellar, and it's a snap to return something under warranty on their web site. Sometime you pay a little more (although not much), but it's always worth it.

There is one exception. Newegg is a stickler to the rules for LCD monitors which say the monitor is not defective unless their is some minimum number of dead pixels. The best place to buy monitors is "MonitorsDirect" who will take a monitor for return within 30 days for any reason. (And I took advantage of that to return a monitor with a single dead subpixel!)

Re:Newegg and MonitorsDirect (2, Informative)

cosmicpossum (554246) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301766)

Monitorsdirect.com WAS a great place to buy LCD monitors. I had 5 on order from them in December when I received an email saying that my orders had been canceled with no charge to me. Subsequently it appears that they are Out Of Business. Sigh...

Re:Newegg and MonitorsDirect (1)

jamesgomez (808411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301771)

MonitorsDirect reliable? Try going to their website http://www.monitorsdirect.com Our servers are currently down. Please check back later. Thank you. Great!

eBay (1)

gnetwerker (526997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301671)

My approach is to put together rock-solid RAID arrays, and consider the servers to be more or less disposable -- I buy whatever I can get four or more of at a time cheap, then set one or more up as a hot spares. Their lifetime for most purposes is 2 years and then you just throw them away. IMHO, for most purposes, high-end servers are a waste of money, and build the fault-tolerance into the level above that with hot spares, fail-over, etc. This is not the solution for time-is-money folks, but you said you wanted to do this on the cheap.

Dell corporate (2, Informative)

LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301677)

We have a Dell corporate account and the deals you can get there are amazing provided you're willing to wheel and deal and threaten a bit. Usually you can get upgrades to the server or a nice switch thrown in. I don't buy Dell on the desktop but their servers are good gear and priced right. Plus haggling is fun and I don't have the time to build my own servers.

Personal Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301678)

The post above was very correct. Often overlooked hardware can be put even under the most gruling of tasks. My employer, a medium sized digital animation firm, runs about 100 computers all needing various levels of access throughout the network. Some of our designers run quad boxes with gigs ontop of gigs of ram. Yet our Firewall (Openbsd), IDS (Openbsd, different box), and web server (Freebsd, quite graphics intensive with 20,000+ hits a day. All of our customer contact is done through a custom CMS.) All of these machines are Pentium II's 233-300 mhz. We're quite happy with the security and speed and power of our servers. Also, during the company's startup we had what most would call a bootlegged render-farm consisting of any machine we could find and run our software on, ranging from P3's to 486's. Like for our purposes, running an IDS on a 3.0 Xeon with 4 megs of cache would be quite useless because the attack serverity of our network ranges from script kiddies trying to exploit php to port scans from our isp. But the question at hand. Newegg. If newegg doesnt have it, you're gonna have better luck going to the vendor direct. Newegg owns.

Fry's and Best Buy (4, Funny)

kinema (630983) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301682)

I go to the local Fry's and Best Buy and and get what their very knowledgeable staffs recommend.

Re:Fry's and Best Buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301717)

LOL

MOD +20 FUNNY!!!! (1)

sp0rk173 (609022) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301748)

bhahahahaha. Good delivery, too.

Re:Fry's and Best Buy (-1, Flamebait)

jamesgomez (808411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301754)

You go to Best Buy for servers? Haha! Knowledgeable staff? I beg to differ my friend.

Re:Fry's and Best Buy (3, Insightful)

LetterJ (3524) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301869)

Might I recommend a few evenings spent watching the products found in the "comedy" section of your local video rental store? Choosing those with a "laugh track" may help you to build your discernment of humar and learn to distinguish between sincerity, stupidity and humor.

Re:Fry's and Best Buy - Funny? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301819)

Was the parent being funny? I just got back from Best Buy. I can't wait to try my UPS with my laptop. I just can't afford to lose anything I'm working on if the power goes off.

IT "Pro's" dont build servers and storage devices (5, Insightful)

FlyingSpank (589824) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301686)

Quote:

"...various servers and external storage enclosures are needed on the cheap that will be pushed to their limits."

You are about to discover why server vendors are still in business, even though commodity parts just reach new lows in pricing.

I wont bust your balls, or tits(?) over trying to do IT on the cheap.

However, you will need to make some choices.

Cheaper hardware will only buy you hardware designed for consumers ( do you recall the IBM Deskstar models that had a monthly hour limit of usage ? ).

If you need to buy hardware that wont blow up under load, and you can get replacement parts for ( especially outside of business hours ) you should stop and go back and review products from IBM, Dell, and Compaq.

Recognize these vendors call it a server since they do test these things under load, test compatibility under cirumstances that your describing, and provide service so that your consulting shop wont be twiddling their thumbs waiting for you to run down to the local swap shop to get a new motherboard.

Those of us responsible for maintaining services ( DB, Email, etc ) dont build servers unless our backs are against the wall. Even then, we buy HW from the same vendors who make the servers.

Why ? Our job isnt to build hardware. Its to make email flow reliably, keep end users data available whenever management is willing to pay for it, hopefully you get the drift.

Since your in a small consulting shop, the big goals for the shop is growing clientele. They money will be well spent, when you and whomever else is responsible for the backoffice equipment ( in a small group everyone wears lots of hats ) spends your time building the customer base.

There will be lots of folks here who will say, sure go do this, this and this.

Hopefuly, a few will try to influence you as I have, and suggest you use a Cisco grade product, versus Linksys.

HP + 3yr lease == happy clients. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301883)

Why ? Our job isnt to build hardware. Its to make email flow reliably, keep end users data available whenever management is willing to pay for it, hopefully you get the drift.
Focus on that.

Our job is to keep the services serving.

So we get equipment that is designed for that purpose, with overnight delivery of replacement parts and 24 hour tech support.

I prefer leasing servers for 3 years because that's usually how long the various fans, power supplies and disks will last.

Losing a server in the middle of the day is just about one of the worst things that can happen for a consultant.

Your client loses all their work/data since their last backup.

So, you take every precaution you can to ensure that that will not happen. And leasing the machines means a small monthly payment and brand new machines in 3 years (which you will be paid to install/migrate to).

Don't ever risk your client's work or data.

Canadian sources? (4, Interesting)

fpp (614761) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301690)

I see mostly American sources for parts. Anyone know of good Canadian suppliers?

NCIX (3, Informative)

Senjutsu (614542) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301765)

ncix [ncix.com] is probably the best Canadian online store for this sort of thing.

pricescan.com (1)

cyber_rigger (527103) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301695)

Not bad on finding some stuff

http://pricescan.com/ [pricescan.com]

Kinda depends... (4, Interesting)

KC7GR (473279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301697)

...on what you're looking for. I'm no expert on putting together big systems for enterprise environments, so I'll leave that type of reply to others.

However, I do know a great deal about digging around on the surplus market. If you're looking to put together your own servers, perhaps for self-hosting of your Internet presence, you can save tons of $$ by hitting up used-computer stores and electronic surplus places.

As just one example: My former employer (Boeing) retired a number of enterprise-class servers a few years back. Among these was a Compaq ProLiant 6500, tricked out with triple Pentium Pro 200 CPU's, twin redundant power supplies, a RAID controller, two-port Ethernet card, and the front-panel diagnostic display.

That system probably had a five-figure price tag when it was first sold. I picked it up for about $150, and spent another $100 or so on enough nine-gigger drives to create a RAID-5 stack. I added on another external RAID bay, with drives, for about another $100, and had one heck of a reliable FTP archive and database system for less than $400.

At the risk of Slashdotting my own site, I've got listings of electronic and computer surplus places in California, Oregon, and Washington up at this link. [bluefeathertech.com]

Keep the peace(es).

Toys 'R Us (5, Funny)

xlark (689369) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301702)

No, seriously.

Ever since I saw a story here about Lego case mods, I've been building my RAID array enclosures completely out of them. Now, I swear by them: cheap and modular.

Duplo will due in a pinch, but they really only work well with larger 5.25" half-height or full-height drives.

HTH

Re:Toys 'R Us (1)

legality (702336) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301809)

Evidently you haven't checked the price of legos recently...

Re:Toys 'R Us (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301831)

Ha ... I'd give you a funny point if I had any right now.

this is great (1, Interesting)

ubiquitin (28396) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301709)

I'm getting such a kick out of this thread. With the exception of drives (always buy those new from whoever pricewatch recommends that day), I basically get all my stuff from bottom-feeding off of eBay. So basically, the rest of you suckers are covering my hardware depreciation for me. Hey, thanks guys. And before you give me shit about what's server class and what's low end, know that I've saturated T3's with performance-tuned celerons funning *bsd. Last year's hardware on OpenBSD trumps next year's hardware on Microsloth. Like they said in Austin Powers, it ain't the size, mate, it's how you USE it!

Re:this is great (1)

bulkmailforyou (847513) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301788)

I first check our lab junkpile. Sometimes there is even stuff still in the original box that was never opened. The time it takes to scrap together a few systems is probably not as cheap as buying new, but not knowing what happens to equipment at its end of life keeps me squeezing the last bit of performance out of 3-5 year old hardware. For most of the work I need them for, they will suffice. However, I don't know if they end up using more resources in terms of power and cooling than the newer faster stuff.

THEN WHY...? (1)

Glove d'OJ (227281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301861)

Then why does www.phpconsulting.com appear covered with ads for rackspace? If I recall correctly, they are managed hosting... that is, the provide the box and either you or they provide the OS.

The key point of the above being: they provide the box.

eh?

--
wwjd? jwrtfm!

New or used? Depends on your future needs. (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301888)

As the parent post implies, hardware that could manage your workload a year ago will still be able to manage the same load next year. Most servers are far overpowered for their workloads in various respects.

However, if the demands on your system increase, you may find that buying yesteryear's hardware on eBay to replace the used hardware you bought a year ago can be more costly in both time and money than buying new kit and keeping it for a few years.

Newegg (1)

Gherald (682277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301711)

Yet another vote for Newegg.

electroseller.com (2, Informative)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301725)

I just recently bought some rack mount equipment from electroseller.com and had a really good experience. The prices were really good and the service was great.

Plus, they have a nice way of showing you what power supplies and rail kits will work with the case that you are looking at.

I called their customer service to ask a question and someone (a real person) picked up the phone on the first ring. Now that's service.

How About ZipZoomFly? (5, Informative)

selfish (230525) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301726)

I used ZipZoomFly [zipzoomfly.com] almost exclusively to build my PC this summer. There's free two day FedEx shipping on tons of stuff, and their prices always seem to be very near or at the top of the list of best-price vendors.

I've never had to return anything to them, so I can't comment there, but do at least check them out next time you're buying PC gear.

Re:How About ZipZoomFly? (1)

magefile (776388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301848)

Better prices than NewEgg, although NewEgg has more selection. And free 2 day shipping on most items they have is awesome.

duh.. (1)

Lxy (80823) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301727)

I build my hardware from LEGO [slashdot.org] .

Dell & Newegg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301739)

Personal stuff - Newegg.

Work - Dell. I have an ancient Poweredge and it was nice to hit the web and find some more scsi drive racks for it. If I had a no-name brand that would have been unlikely.

Also as someone pointed out - remember to factor in your time when considering cost. One phone call to Dell or a trip in the car here, mail order there, oops they sent the wrong part, gotta RMA and return it, plus you gotta work late putting it all together. That adds up quick.

Five Finger Discount! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301742)

With a large enough trench coat you can fit an entire ATX motherboard!

Re:Five Finger Discount! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301844)

Yes, but I've found that a windbreaker works fine for Mini-ITX.

Directron.com & RackmountPro.com (1)

ButtNutt (846086) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301760)

They are awesome and have a massive supply of cases and components. For server cases: RackMountPro.com rocks pretty hard also.

Students (1)

SirDrinksAlot (226001) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301764)

This is actually a pretty good question for students. When I was in school for Computer Networking and Administration the price tracking websites were always useful but it was a pain in the butt some times getting reasonable prices with details on hardware. Sure I could have listed the cheapest website but (if) you want to keep some credibility you can't, you have to pick a credible resource.

souces (1)

kcim (621662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301776)

fry's they have a new one in Downers Grove ILL.(Chicago land area),Outpost.com is the online store.Also I seen some old but decent hardware at http://www.greatmidwestcomputershow.com/ [greatmidwe...ershow.com] , this event is cool,hosted at collage of DuPage. Now you my not live in midwest U.S.A., if you live near/in a big city check the shows,also check for auctions,gov. surplus for deals. One last thing, the true first post has a good answer I was adout to give a mod point, posted instead.

monarch (3, Informative)

z-pak (820037) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301778)

Two part answer. First, I really think its a bad idea to hand build a server that you expect to push. I'm not even in IT but I know just from home systems how much downtime can result from one bad part needing an RMA. Even worse is having to do tech support for your friends or family. I highly reccomend you get your server from a reputable vendor. Time = Money and I wouldn't risk all the time that could be lost if something goes wrong.

That said, I was a long time user of Newegg, but I recently started using www.monarchcomputer.com on reccomendation from a friend as they beat Newegg on price in many cases. They've proven reliable so far. Check both sites and see where the best deal is to be hand if you insist on going the DIY route.

Re:monarch (3, Interesting)

bulkmailforyou (847513) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301826)

I agree the support burden for building systems for family and friends is difficult, but it can be just as bad when you recommend they buy from one of the well known PC vendors and they get poor service from them and you end up supporting the system anyway. I have found that this will take up more time than when I have built systems. At least when something goes bad, I know what it is exactly already and can order a suitable replacement for them quickly rather than deal with the red tape and untrained outsourced support. I have a few horror stories but I will spare you the gory details. Not to say support from the big PC vendors is uniformly bad, I don't think it is, but I couldn't tell you what the best ones would be. Even if they have good support today, they might not in a month or two.

Monarch rocks... (1)

Glove d'OJ (227281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301876)

I have shopped with them for years and, being in the ATL area, I love their retail offering: you can actually *go* there and get things.

Now, I have "called ahead" to get things picked from the warehouse and have arrived before they were picked and had to wait a few (30?) minutes, but it still beats the daylights out of even next-day shipping.

This is for personal purchases, friends / family. For work-related purchases, we are a Dell shop from laptops to server. 'Nuff said.

Pricewatch (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301785)

I use Pricewatch to find the vendor but I don't deal with everyone I find through them.

Nice to know there are others building their own servers. I wouldn't trust hardware put together by anyone else. It's rare I ever have any problems with my boxen.

Strictly cash and carry for me... (3, Interesting)

bechthros (714240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301793)

Well, I'll probably be in the minority here, but since I don't have a bank account or a credit card, there's a couple local shops I go to for almost everything, component-wise (though I think I did get my last CD burner from WalFart). It's instant retail gratification, they carry most of what I need for a marginal markup, and they can be bargained with in ways WalMart and Office Depot can't. Plus I get to feel all warm and tingly about supporting local merchants.

Re:Strictly cash and carry for me... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301889)

No bank account or credit card? This is not the middle ages! You must be some kind of weird man who is obsessively afraid of getting identity theft or credit/bank fraud.

rackmountpro.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11301794)

I recently built a rack for my home business that stores a few servers and some networking equipment. I used some of the low-end cases as well as their 36U rack on wheels and it has all worked out great. I might have been able to find a better price for the cases, but the rack on wheels seemed great at the time, and I wasn't able to find anywhere else that had the same deal that this place had. My main concern was that I didn't want to be forced to mount the rack into the ground/wall, so getting a nice and sturdy rack on wheels was a priority. Anyways, maybe worth checking out for their racks, or possibly for cases if they have anything specific to your needs.

newegg! (4, Informative)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301802)

they're not always the cheapest, but they are almost always near the cheapest.

their shipping is almost always excellent (order friday morning, get it monday afternoon) and inexpensive shipping compared to most other vendors. they must have some sweet deal with their shippers. newegg's return policy is stellar. they always have a good selection of parts in stock.

their online catalogue is really, really good. instead of just regurgitating vendor material, they take the stuff out of the box and photograph it all over so you see exactly what youre getting. afaik the only vendor who does this.

their catalogue browsing is excellent, they let you browse/search by everthing a DIY'er would want to know. chipset, memory speed, form factor, manufacturer, etc.

a lot of products have user comments and ratings, which can be helpful. a lot of other online vendors ripoff newegg's user comments/ratings, which is amusing.

newegg is one of the best online retailers, if not the best period. highly recommended [resellerratings.com] . online vendors could learn a lot from newegg. it's sad that companies as excellent as newegg are very rare. :-(

Penguin Computing (2, Interesting)

ThogScully (589935) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301811)

I've setup a couple servers from Penguin Computing [penguincomputing.com] and have been ecstatic with the results. Pricing out server-specific components really doesn't save money and you get a nice warranty with a system. And the racks I bought from Penguin were top-notch. When I did have a hardware problem (which wasn't their fault), they replaced the hardware instantaneously and we never even had downtime.

Time is money and they saved me a bunch of both.
-N

Re:Penguin Computing (1)

Burdell (228580) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301885)

I'll give a big second to Penguin; they rock. They have high quality, reliable servers designed to run Linux (so no compatibility issues). We have had a couple of failures (we've bought around 35 Penguin servers over the last 3 or so years), but they are right on top of them and ship replacement parts ASAP (we haven't paid for the on-site service). Plus, servers from Penguin come with a cool Penguin t-shirt and a stuffed Tux (another local company with dozens of Penguins has combined their Tuxes with wire coat hangers to form Tux-mobiles - penguins can fly!).

For desktops, we typically go on-line and build one or just push a cart full of parts around CompUSA. We don't have a lot of desktops, and they aren't as critical (if there's a problem, there is usually another system someone can use for a while).

Monarch computer (1)

N4DMX (614024) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301822)

I buy the bulk of my parts from monarch computer [monarchcomputer.com] , since they are located in my home state [local pickup for unpatient folks like me] and have pretty good prices, and the rest from newegg. :-)

Virtual Server 2005 (1)

professorfalcon (713985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301847)

If you're just trying to experiment, maybe Virtual Server 2005 (or Virtual PC 2004) might reduce the number of boxes that you need.

I buy it with the money I got... (2, Funny)

FusionDragon2099 (799857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301858)

...from my Slashdotting insurance.

eBay / Dell (2, Informative)

NextAdvantage (561512) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301863)

I used to build machines from price watch, but replacement costs and price made me switch to buying used dells on eBay. I always replace the drives throught price watch though...and sell the original drives.

ZipZoomFly.com has a lot (1)

WoodstockJeff (568111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301874)

We've been buying our "medium-end" hardware, such as dual-processor Athlons. Liked it better before Google made them change their name from GOOGLEGEAR...

"Cheap" is relative (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 9 years ago | (#11301880)

As a young IT professional in a new business, I had lots of time and very little money. Thus, getting a used P2 on E-bay and coaxing it into a reliable system (this is a few years ago) was worth it. Any problems would affect only the few clients I had, and I had plenty of time to look for problems.

However, things change. Now, with a quite successful business, I don't have time to spend coaxing the last bit of performance out of an old AMD K6-2 system. Now, I'm looking for something to work quickly, and well. If I have to come back to it very often, it gets replaced. Quickly.

Now that hundreds of users' time is on the line, paying a bit extra is money well spent.

So, don't ask about the hardware, ask about your actual needs? If you are small/new, get cheap equipment and get valuable experience keeping it running. If you are successful/established, get the more expensive, high-quality stuff that will preserve the good name you've worked hard to earn.

Personally, I refuse to work without an N*2 arrangement, with a redundant network. In other words, if *EVERYTHING* were to fail, I could STILL restore full service in a few hours. That includes the city of San Francisco being leveled by a thermonuclar device, which would shut me down for about 4-6 hours. In most cases, I have THREE degrees of "fallback" before things are truly "dead".

What's cheaper? Downtime for your clients, or server equipment? It's a simple value equation.
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