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Which dedicated server should I choose?

 3:17 am on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been debating whether to go with a dedicated server or colocation and I think the dedicated server is for me. I'm open to your opinions on that, but what I really need is advice on which server to go with. I don't know much about servers, so I don't know what priority to put on HD/RAM/BW.

I need good response times to pull data from the DB and I'll be adding various sites (probably a dozen or more) to the server over the next year or two. I've decided on a hosting company and their servers within my current price range (though I'll be looking to upgrade later) are:

Pentium G6950 - SATA
BW: 2000GB

Pentium G6950 - SATA - Plus
HD: 2 x 250GB IDE/SATA
BW: 2000GB

R2G - Xeon 3040 - SATA
BW: 1500GB

Xeon 3040 - SATA
BW: 2000GB

R2G - Xeon 3360 - SATA
BW: 2000GB

Xeon 3360 - SATA
BW: 2000GB

Xeon 3060 - SATA
BW: 2000GB

Of course I'd like to keep it as cheap as I can but I also want good performance. That $125 option looks like a good deal but I'm not sure how those inexpensive Pentiums rate against the more expensive Xeons.

Any advice would be much appreciated!



 12:37 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Your main request is response times for a database. Without knowing the architecture of your database or your site it is difficult to give a definite answer, but this is how I would approach it:

  1. The RAM size should be sufficient to cache all, or at least a large part from the database.
  2. If there are many writes compared to reads, I would opt for fast SAS disks instead of SATA (there is a significant price difference though)
  3. If your site is heavy on scripting, opt for at least 2 cores. In that case you can better load balance the http queries and database access.

For me the Xeon 3360 seems to be overkill. Not all databases scale well over 4 cores (MySQL has problems with internal load balancing for example) and if you need 4 cores because of site load, you will certainly also need a number of SAS disks to keep data flowing in and out.

Personally I would think the Xeon 3040 would be good enough for a webserver with heavy scripts. It has two cores at 1.86GHz which you won't saturate. But available RAM is more important because it can be used for database caching and postpones the moment when swapping starts. If your budget is limited, I would go for the Pentium with 4GB RAM.


 2:58 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

do they have anymore info on the RAM? DDR? DDR2? ECC?
you can have a nice processor but toss in some cheap slow ram and kill performance.

same reason I would also want to know how much cache the HDs have as well.

10,000 foot specs don't tell the whole story.


 2:55 am on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for sharing that approach. The info on the RAM, SAS and cores is helpful. I may be able to use a promo code to double the RAM, HDD or BW, so it's good to know that I should spend that on the RAM. Also, they added an SAS server within my range, so that could be a good option.

Thanks for pointing that out. It's true, not all hardware is created equal. My host of choice doesn't list specifics unfortunately. However, they are one of the better hosts on the planet, so I'm pretty confident they're using good quality stuff. I'll send them an e-mail, though, and ask for more info on the brand/type of RAM.

Well thank you both for your input. I'll post what ever I end up getting incase anyone's curious.


 4:59 am on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Update: The RAM is DDR2 ECC.


 3:27 pm on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

cool, then im with lammert go for the pentium with 4GB ram.


 8:23 am on Feb 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi guys,

In case you're curious, and just to close the loop, I thought I'd let you know what I got.

The hosting company I went with actually has a program to help people get started with new projects, so I applied and was accepted. Which means I got the following server for free for one year:

SC Dual Xeon 2.8 - SCSI

server | 2x Intel Xeon 2.8 GHz Processors
secondary_proc | Second Intel Xeon 2.8 GHz Processor
ram | 1 GB RAM
drive_controller | SCSI
primary_hdd | 73 GB 10K RPM SCSI/SAS HDD
secondary_hdd | 73 GB 10K RPM SCSI/SAS HDD
control | Remote Reboot - Remote Console
os | CentOS Enterprise Linux - 5.x - 32 bit
ip_addresses | 5 IPs
bandwidth | 10 Mbps Unmetered
uplink | 10 Mbps Uplink

Ideally I'd like more RAM but I'm perfectly happy with free :). If anyone wants info about the program then sticky me and I'll give you details.

Thanks again for the input!


 2:23 pm on Feb 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

yea im not sure why they are so stingy with ram!

but can't go wrong with dual Xeons and 10,000RPM SCSI drives! AND FREE NO LESS!

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