As companies grow and spend on the latest and greatest technology, they are basically giving their old servers away. This is great for those of us who don’t have a big budget but still like to tinker with enterprise class hardware. Old servers are the best deal going for those who need a little extra computing power but don’t have a lot of extra cash. Some servers that cost thousands of dollars just a few years ago can be purchased for under $20 today.
Some features of these old servers are:
- Redundant power supplies.
- Hot swap hard drives.
- Remote management such as power-on and off.
- Hardware RAID controllers with battery backup.
- Multiple processors
Two major drawbacks of running a home rack server are the noise and power consumption. Rack servers are built to be in a server room and the designers did not pay much attention to reducing fan noise. If you are OK with storing the server in a closet, attic, or garage, the noise is not such a deal breaker.
Here are the specs and costs of my 2 latest cheap servers:
HP Proliant DL380 G4
Purchsed on ebay for $60 including shipping.
- Form factor: 2U Rack server
- Processors: 2 64-bit Intel Xeon 3.6 GHz, 800 MHz Front Side Bus and 2 MB of L2 cache
- Memory: 6GB 3200R Single Rank
- Power Supplies: 2 575 watt hot-plug redundant power supplies
- Hard Drives: Up to 8 2.5″ SAS Hot Swap drives (Server initially came with 2 73 GB drives , but purchased 2 additional for $12 each).
- RAID Controller: HP Smart Array P600
- Operating System: Ubuntu 14.04
- LOTS of storage capacity with 8 hot-swap drive bays.
- Built like a tank.
- Easy processor change-out.
- Single core processors. There are dual core processors available but make sure the model you have supports multiple-core processors. Mine doesn’t.
- Fans are very loud even when running in dynamic power-savings mode.
HP Proliant DL360 G5
Purchased on ebay for $62 including shipping. This is the one I use as my everyday home server since the fan noise is comparably low and the dynamic power savings mode is very effective. The processors also support the latest virtual machine technology.
- Form factor: 1U Rack server
- Processors: 2 64-bit Intel Xeon 2.33 GHz Quad Core , 12 MB cache, 1333 MHZ FSB (Purchased 2nd processor and heat sink for an additional $25)
- Memory: 4GB PC2-5300F (Purchased an additional 4 GB for $10).
- Power Supplies: 2 700 watt hot-plug redundant power supplies
- Hard Drives: Up to 6 2.5″ SAS Hot Swap drives (Purchased 4 for $12 each).
- RAID Controller: HP Smart Array P400i
- Operating Systems: Ubuntu 14.04 (Host) and Windows Server 2012 R2 Evaluation VM (Guest)
- Relatively low fan noise
- Dynamic Power Savings mode works well
- 8 cores of computing power along with 12MB of cache.
- Processors support Virtual Machines.
- Still too loud to run in the living room or office.