Sometimes past memories happen to drop in when a question gets asked or something happens to trigger them.
One of those moments came when looking at a question we answered for someone going way back where they asked how to build a beer budget lab box.
At the time, server based hardware was significantly more expensive than the entry grade server equipment that we can get today.
So, in answering this question, the memory that popped up was one of the first lab boxes that we ever had. It was a server board that was a few generations prior to current, a pair of Intel CPUs running at what speed we are not sure of (not Tualatin CPUs), 32MB or 64MB RAM, and a pair of IDE or SCSI hard drives. Everything was sitting essentially out in the open.
Eventually they were mounted to the lid of an old desktop case much like our current Data Mule system was.
MPECS’ Data Mule system
Keep in mind that there is a need to know how to use a Tap & Die set to create the threaded bores the motherboard standoffs will need to be set into if custom mounting the server board to an old case shell.
Otherwise, an old Styrofoam hard drive shipping container will work fine for setting the server board and drives into for protection but minimal initial cost.
So, here is the beer budget server setup that will allow for Hyper-V to run with hardware virtualization with prices showing in Canadian dollars.
- Intel S3420GPLC $232
- Intel Xeon X3430 $209
- RAM configuration options
- 8GB (2x 4GB) Kingston $290
- 16GB (4x 4GB) Kingston $580
- 2 SATA drives RAID 0 $120
- no redundancy but gives performance.
- Decent three rail 550 Watt PSU $80
- Intel PRO series dual gigabit NIC $200
- Intel SC5650UP server chassis $250
- 16GB (2x 8GB) Hynix $840
- 32GB (4x 8GB) Hynix $1,680
- Intel RS2BL040 PCI-E RAID $350
Using the above guide, we can have the bare minimum lab box up and running with 8GB of RAM for $931 plus applicable taxes and/or shipping charges if needed.
We all have USB keyboards and mice kicking around or can be had for pennies. Plus, a local system builder would probably be more than happy to part with a few bags of system screws, standoffs, and the like for a couple of bucks.
A DVD optical drive can be had very easily though newer OS installs can be done via USB flash drive thus eliminating the cost there.
As the budget allows, speed up those installs by purchasing faster 8GB USB flash drives with the best speeds being a real-world 35MB/Sec read and 30MB/Sec write. OCZ makes some great ones in the Rally2 Turbo and the ATV Turbo.
Note that USB 2.0 flash drives will become harder and harder to find as USB 3.0 drives come in. So far, the USB 3.0 drives are _a lot_ more expensive than their older USB 2.0 siblings.
BTW, a couple of LED fans would provide stylish cooling for that extra touch . :D
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book