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HP MS Server or Home Build


ImTheTypeOfGuy
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I currently have a home build out of a Dell Dimension 8400. I plan to upgrade soon and I am having trouble between an HP MS Server versus another home build. The primary problem I am having is between the added WHS functionality of the HP MS server versus the flexibility and primarily the fact that a home build has a head with it. Let me know which you feel is most important HP additional features or a monitor. Especially interested if you have or have had both.

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First off, don't forget that there are other OEM's such as the Acer to look at too, not just HP. That said, I personally would get another OEM given the chance. I had a couple home-builds that just never worked quite right. I never could pinpoint the problem, but my HP ex470 has been rock-solid through its entire life.
I personally don't see the need for a monitor connected, as I use Live Mesh to log in locally for any setup and stuff.

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I recently retired my homebuilt and went with an intel SS4200-e that I got from newegg for 149.99 with free shipping. It was a fun little project to set up. I had to do a headless unattended usb flash drive install of WHS with the needed drivers slip streamed since it doesn't have a vga port, but there are several good how to articles on doing that and it isn't very hard, just kinda time consuming. I upgraded the factory 512MB of DDR2 to a 2GB stick I already had and re-used the 2 1TB harddrives from my old homebuilt server, I plan on getting a couple of 2TB drives soon to fill the other 2 internal bays. It also has 2 esata ports on the back as well as 4 usb 2.0 ports. My only real complaint is the 1.6Ghz celeron cpu. It's just a little weak. I had ran playon on my old server and it did fine serving hulu and netflix to my modded xbox classic as well as my 360, but this new build just can't hack the transcoding without some stuttering everynow and then with the celeron cpu, Good news is there are several dual core chips that will drop right in. Anyway, it was a fun project and I am very satisfied with how it turned out, just need to find dual core chip for it. Its not a project that everyone would want to take on, but if you're the type that doesn't mind getting under the hood a little, its a great little box.

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I had a homebuild, but upgraded to the EX495. It has been flawless, but the thought of integrated video out is comforting.

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Don't get me wrong, my homebuild is working great. The reason I am considering upgrading is due to only 1GB of memory and problems with disk read/write issues. When streaming I peak out both areas in the performance test screen. I also am very interested in all the additional software the HP provides. So my dilemma has nothing to do with errors caused by my home build. It is just that I need to upgrade and can do another home build, but then I wouldn't have the HP software. I guess the question is, "is the HP software worth it?".

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I went the home built way. I didn't do it to save money as I bought everything new off the shelf, rather I wanted the flexibility to do what I wanted with the machine. I didn't want to be limited to the four drives or so that the MSS are capable of.

At the end of the day if you are comfortable with building your own machine I would recommend that route. You probably won't save too much money, but you will have a machine that is to your specs from the beginning. Truthfully, I have been able to do everything with my home built that someone can do with the MSS, just by using third party software.

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I have been running a home build on a surplus Dell Server PIV. The hardware is super solid (I wish it was a little bit quieter and used less electricity). If I was started again and I did not have a suitable surplus machine I would get an OEM machine...HP does offer some nice extra features to their units. The good thing about WHS is that the hardware requirements are modest so you can easily reuse old gear and give it new live.

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My home / frankenbuild works like a charm. I love the extra space for 7-8 hard drives. The VGA out has been very useful and I already had the hardware so it was kind of free to setup. That being said, if I had an HP machine at a really low price, I would consider switching to that just for the convenience factor and the whole HP WHS suite of applications for streaming movies and the like. Either option works.

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My home-build worked relatively well, though it was huge, noisy, ran a little warm, and was more power-hungry than I'd have liked.

The computer, originally built around 2003:

[*]Athlon 2700+ w/ 2 GB RAM
Gigabyte mobo - IDE only, no SATA connectors :(
(2) identical WD 500 GB PATA drives - fairly decent read/write speeds considering they are IDE
ugly green full-tower Alien-wannabe case - prone to vibrating + making noise
gigabit LAN card - I saw crazy good improvements on transfer speeds with this

I knew I had to do something about the excess noise and power consumption. Plus the rig was huge! After looking around and reading a lot of stuff, I decided that a EX495 would be the best solution. It seemed that the cost of a home-build was creeping towards the price of the EX495, anyways, especially if I wanted anything comparable in sleekness, power, and expandability.

The only thing I'm still a little nervous about is lack of video out. I feel like I've given up control, and that makes me a little nervous. I'm used to having full control over my computers, and if this thing has a problem, I'm kinda taking it on faith that between HP, myself and forums like these that I'll be able to straighten it out. But overall, for now, I have to say that I'm really loving the EX495. I wish I could give one to everyone in my family.

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