I only really had three requirements for this, all pretty fair for the way I will use this machine.

  1. Quiet, fanless if possible.
  2. Performance, basically >=1GHz, >=512MB ram
  3. Price, as close to $400 as i can get.

Now, the quiet bit really takes us out of the true server class of machines. No worries there, just look at what I consider to be performance. So my current thing is, why is this so hard to find?

I’ve found plenty of sites that build quiet machines, but the only way to get them under $600, is to strip them down to case/cpu/mainboard/ram. Leaning to the other side, plenty of places to get $350 priced machines that met the performance requirement. They just aren’t very quiet, and that was my opinion of them standing in Best Buy. Which is not exactly a quiet environment to begin with.

Wandering around Best Buy, I did see one machine that fit well and I hadn’t really considered. It was the Mac Mini. This for some reason, just seems weird. It very much feels like I am missing something. There is this meme in my head that says that while the mac may have a nice interface, it isn’t the cheapest choice. (That and I am rather guessing that the mini probably on the lower end of bus and hard drive speeds.)

This hardware stuff, it just boggles my mind. Every time. See, I am a software guy, this hardware stuff, its all magic. I mean, they put chips in little black boxes for a reason. I really would rather not think about it at all if I could. I really just want to walk in somewhere and walk out with a working machine that meets my requirements.

This is about where I start looking at colos, web hosting services, and those nifty virtual host companies. Never can quite get what I want for a price I’m comfortable with though. Part of it is being cheep, part of it is that there is a lot of idle time.

Anyways, it took a while, but I finally got a machine together that fits my requirements. It really just took me doing what I probably should have done right from the beginning. I drove down past campus, out to General NanoSystems. I’ve been in there so often with friends and my brothers, I should have thought of it quicker. In any case, I walked in, told them what I wanted. They put it together, did the CPU and memory test, and I walked out with my new system.

So, that part is finished. Now to finish redesigning and figure out how to layer the static stuff onto this. Such fun.