Or at least I’m getting ready to take the plunge into using Hyper-V. In my machine dilemma, I decided to look at new machines. My first stop, as usual, was Dell. They have a lot of choices, but in terms of desktops, I struggled to find a good machine that would by 64-bit, run Hyper-V and not cost and arm and a leg. Actually my first step was trying to find something to run 8GB of RAM, and there were few choices there.
I went to the Hyper-V and Windows 2008 sites, but it wasn’t completely clear what specs I needed in hardware. They mention hardware virtualization support and trusted execution stuff, but putting this together in terms of the choices out there for CPUs isn’t easy. I wish it were as simple as a Pentium I, Pentium II, etc. Instead there are multiple flavors of dual and quad cores, various AMD chips, etc. Sempron, Xeon, Athlon, Phenom, Q8200, Q6600, it’s nuts.
I quickly decided this was a bad idea. I checked the C|Net Reviews, but they are mainly for people wanting to run Vista, and they don’t have a lot of info to help me. I wanted to wipe a machine, get Hyper-V installed and then do what I want. It seemed in the mainstream world there was a Dell deal for about $900 that had 6GB of RAM and a 64-bit CPU as well as a Gateway that had 8GB for about $800. However I wasn’t sure any of these would run Windows Server 2008. I priced out an HP that might have worked, but it was also up in the $1000 range.
I posted a note on Twitter as well and got a few recommendations, but most of them were “build your own” and that didn’t appeal to me. It’s not worth saving $200 or more if I have to spend hours trying to mix and match the proper components. I found a few more builders online, but none of them wanted to sell me a good systems, but without lots of bells and whistles.
In some searching around for information about the various CPUs I could get, I stumbled on ecollegepc from somewhere. They looked like a reasonable builder, and while they’re not local, they just attracted me as a nice, easy to use site.
I believe in instincts and they struck me as a good place to shop, so I checked out and priced a basic 8GB quad core. No keyboard, no mouse, no speakers, no OS, just a machine. It came in around $700.
Since I wasn’t sure what I needed, and what would match, I emailed them, telling them this story:
“I'm looking to replace my desktop and your company was recommended to me. I haven't purchased a desktop in quite a few years, but here are some things I'm looking to do and was looking for some advice.”
I was pleasantly surprised to get an email back in less than an hour, telling me that I would want to use the Q6600 Quad core, not any of the others, and a Gigabyte motherboard. I had a few more questions, including moving my current nVidia display adapter over and ended up exchanging 3 or 4 emails with their tech. Or maybe the owner, not sure who it was, but he was helpful, and quick to respond.
The whole process and advice just felt good and so I placed an order. I got:
I also got a fancy LED lit case that will impress the kids. It might annoy me enough to put a something over it, but for now it will be in the desk.
Once it comes, I’ll move stuff over to it and then install Windows Home Server on my existing Dimension E521. It’s a 64-bit desktop with AMD chips that should run that fine. I have 2 SATA drives in there and might add another to give me most space for backups.