Server Hardware: xServe vs. G5 Tower?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Makosuke, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I've been trying to Google this and reading through older posts in the forums here, but I've come up with surprisingly little. Maybe I just suck at searching.

    Anyway, I'm wondering what the downsides of using a G5 tower for a light-duty server would be. The most obvious question is whether you can boot the tower headless--I remember that being something of an issue back when, but perhaps it's not a problem now?

    I also know the xServe will have beefier components (ECC RAM in particular), but considering how much cheaper the Applecare is for a tower, and if the hot-swapability of the drives isn't an issue, a PowerMac would come out a lot cheaper than the Xserve, it would seem. Given that my total budget is around $4000 (and that has to include switches and other hardware), I'm having a tough time deciding.

    Edu price of single G5 xServe w/512MB RAM, 2X250GB HD, graphics card (just to get it set up) = $3,309

    Single 1.8G5 w/same stats, OSX Server Unlimited = $2,271 (and I could save another $150 by buying the drives myself from ZipZoomFly)

    Add in 3 years of maintenance and the xServe is $560 more (though that service is onsite).

    So, if density isn't a huge issue, and I'm not dealing with anything that requires a lot of power (office fileserver, maybe distributed home folders) is it really worth spending $1000 more and probably having to forgo the extended warranty for the xServe?
  2. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    I think a G5 tower would be best suited as a light-duty server for the reasons you list yourself, basically.

    The Xserve is better if downtime would cost you lots of money. The quality and type of components, onsite service and the hotswappable drives would help reduce the risk of downtime.

    The second advantage of the Xserve is space requirements. If you need lots and lots of servers then Xserves are easier to make room for and are easier to maintain in numbers.

    So, if uptime isn't extremely important and you don't plan on buying lots and lots of the servers, then a tower seems like the way to go.
  3. AdamZ macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2004
    Apple needs to get more information out there

    I too not long ago attemted to search for all things xserve and came up surprisingly empty. I am looking to start my own design firm and found nothing from Apple catering directly to small bussiness in implementing a server. XServe software is pretty easy to use I think from what I can tell. I am not trained in IT, but I want to set it up and run it myself. Where is the Help from Apple? For instance, a few web pages dedicated to seting up your own network using a server and how a small bussiness could benifit, different possible configurations. My office is only three computers. How can xServe serve us. The only benifits I see is the rack mountable form factor.
  4. jeremy.king macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    No offense, but the XServe isn't marketed toward non-techy people. Usually when one ventures into the server market, someone on staff is informed and understands the technology.

    You can start here

    Heres a little something that talks about File Serving.
  5. bluedalmatian macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2003
    Great Britain
    If I remember correctly when the G5 tower first came out it would not boot OS X Server in order to force people to buy XServes instead.

    If you were planning on using OS X Server thats something to consider.

    As a side note, does anyone know whether the XServe can run the 10 Client version of OS X Server. Its the sort of sneaky thing Apple would do to force ppl to buy the unlimited client version! - I know XServe comes with the unlimited, but I'm thinknig of when you buy an OS upgrade.
  6. csubear macrumors 6502a


    Aug 22, 2003
    Yes the xServe can run the 10 client.
    No, I never heard any rumor about the G5 not being able to run OS 10 Server. Infact OS X Server IS OS X Client + pre installed, pre configured services. Everything that OS X Server does OS X Client can do. It just takes a lot more work getting all the services run in the Client, and there is no nice remote GUI, like the one that comes with the server.

    Your best bet is, Dual 2.0 G5 + 3 party ram + PC Raid Server. If you are trying to save money. Xraid if you are not, but either way Raid is very, very, very important if you data is worth something. Hard drives crash, its a fact of life, and the PC Raid server doesn't have to be anything big. A 1 Ghz P3 or AMD is way more than enough, even slower is okay. Im running one with a 600 Mhz P3. Software RAID is also fine, linux does this very well, and you can use nfs to mount the Raid server on the G5. If your concerned about speed you can get a PCI-X NIC and have a dedicated connection to the Raid server. you could build a 1TB (750GB usable, RAID 5) raid server for around 1k.

    one more thing, if you are really trying to save money, then you can do RAID 1 with the two drives in the G5.

    Well any way g/l
  7. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    You can buy repair kits for the XServe ahead of time, and keep the machine up and running yourself -- while the tower would need to be shipped off for repair.
  8. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Well, since the CTO page for the G5 towers specifically lists Panther Server (either 10 or unlimited flavor) preinstalled as an option, I'd be rather surprised if it wouldn't run on it.

    Incidentally, I'm aware that 10.3 client can do pretty much everything the server version can (I've used SharePoints to set up things in the past), and that a DIY Windows or Linux-based server is by far the cheapest option. That said, my time is valuable as well and IT isn't my top priority anyway, plus I would much rather work with a piece of Apple hardware and the nice, easy tools Apple includes with the Server OS, so I'm mainly interested in that area.

    Oh, and a server without RAID (I'm assuming a simple, mirrored 250GB pair of disks, probably using SoftRAID) is like a race car without a seatbelt--it'll work great for a while, but the day will inevitiably come when you really wish you had it.

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