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What is the Ideal SQL Server Test Box?

I’m thinking about setting up a SQL Server test box in my home office for doing some extensive, real-world SQL Server performance testing. So far, here is what I am thinking about getting:

–Because I have limited space, the test box will need to be a tower. I will also be limited to one physical test box because of a lack of room (and budget).

–CPU: 2 sockets with a total of at least 8 cores. Haven’t decided on the specific chips yet.

–RAM: At least 36GB. I want to have the ability to set up multiple virtual servers in the test box.

–RAID Controller: Must support RAID 1, 5, & 10, and any mixture of these RAID levels.

–Drives: I am looking at getting 8-16, 15K SAS drives, with a minimum capacity of 450GB each. The number of  drives will depend on what I can fit into my budget, and how many can fit in a tower.

I am still very much in the research stage, so my question to you is, if you could spec out your own SQL Server home test system, and you had $10,000 to spend, what you buy, and why?

PS: If you are a hardware vendor and would be interesting in letting me borrow such a test box from you for the next year or so, I would be very interested in talking with you.  :-)


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