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Thread: What hardware?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Kent, England

    Default What hardware?

    I'm probably asking a very difficult question, and one that you're maybe unable to answer but....could you possibly advise with regard to hardware requirements in relation to the smooth running of between 10 & 12 systems all networked together via a server? All systems will have Windows7, each system with two, or maybe three sticks of RAM (average two) each stick is 512MB. Processors are approximately (very approximately) 2.8. Does the functionaluty depend on the power of the server? But can each system be upgraded (depending on slots of course)? Sorry I don't have any further immediate information but I'm just looking for an average idea of requirements. I understand the best person to speak with would be an I.T technician but I'm rather hoping you could begin to advise me accordingly? Thank you.....

  2. #2
    Member Digerati's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Nebraska, USA


    Does the functionaluty depend on the power of the server?
    No. The server depends on it's requirements. We don't have near enough information to give you any good answers. There are way too many unanswered questions here.
    To actually network the 12 computers and the server, at the most basic level all you need is 16-port switch. But you rarely see a network that basic, except maybe in a testing environment.

    I think you do need to hire an IT consultant anyway because before doing anything with hardware, you need to define your needs and establish some answers. And by defining your needs, I don't mean computing/networking needs (yet), but your "business" objectives. You need to define exactly the tasks the users of those 12 computers need to accomplish to meet their business objectives (their job!).

    If you hired me, or if you do it all yourself, I would need to know and/or you need to define, for example,
    • Is this network isolated? Or will it be connected to, or isolation from another network, like the Internet?
    • Will the computers be centrally administered over the network by the network administrator (even if that is an "additional duty" for someone)? Or administrated locally by the user?
    • How many employees will be using these 12 computers? One PC per person, or several user accounts on each machine?
    • Is data access/server uptime "mission critical"? That is, MUST, at all costs, the server be available 24/7/365 up to and including "hot-swappable" drives, redundant servers, and extended backup power capabilities?
    • What are the backup and recovery requirements for the server and the PCs?
    • What is the server serving? Email? Applications? Shared files?
    • Are the PCs acting as "workstations" being "served" applications? Or just connected PCs accessing common files.
    • Are there any networked printers or is network printing required? Faxing?
    Those are just a few unanswered areas and note none had to do with security - your paramount concern if you deal with customers' personal/credit information, banking, taxes, business records, etc.

    So back to your question above, YOU need to first determine the functionality your server, your network, and the networked computers all need. Then you build the server that has the functionality to meet those demands (with some alloted headroom for future growth!)

    This I can say, however and that is 1Gb (2 x 512Mb) of RAM will cripple Windows 7. This is especially true on entry level systems with integrated graphics (not separate graphics cards). 1Gb is not near enough for smooth operations and is considered the bare minimum just to run Windows 7. That leaves next to nothing for any applications, let alone the necessary security programs all computers need today. With only 1Gb (or less with integrated motherboards), it forces Windows to bang on the Page File continuously - which greatly affects performance, not to mention increased wear and tear on the hard drive. RAM is cheap.

    If you have not purchased your Windows licenses yet, I highly recommend 64-bit Window 7 and 8Gb of RAM for dual-channel memory architecture motherboards (6Gb if triple channel). As a bare minimum (or if using 32-bit Windows) I recommend 4Gb for dual-channel boards and 3Gb for triple-channel. With RAM being so inexpensive these days (8Gb DDR3 for $35), RAM is NOT the place be cheap in your budget! More RAM is MUCH BETTER than faster RAM - so you don't have to buy the most expensive. In fact, it is hard to find RAM these days not warrantied for life. Just be sure to verify with the RAM maker's site, or your motherboard's website the RAM is compatible.

    Tell whoever holds the purse strings this, and I give you my word, it is true - "Increasing RAM from 1Gb to 8Gb WILL result in significantly increased worker productivity for the life of the computer!" Well, that assumes most of their workday is spent using the computer.

    Yes, each system can be upgraded independently (depending on the system - entry level systems tend to have limited upgrade options).
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!
    MS MVP, 2007 - 2018

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