Category: In Stock

Dell T105 Server

The Dell T105 ServerA few months ago I decided to retire my SN41GV2 Shuttle Box PC. The Shuttle Box, which is named Titan, has served me well as a home server, but I had grown tired of the noise level associated with its power supply fans. I worried too that after being upgraded to an Athlon XP 3200, it would one day overheat and take my data with it. Considering price as the most limiting factor, I set out to setup a new Windows Server and found some interesting choices along the way. For example new Intel based Shuttle Box models were intriguing, but the small form factor is limiting and not all that cheap. Intel based servers are fast and reliable, but their price ranges are high for all but entry level Celeron based systems. I have had good experiences with AMD’s Athlons, so I decided to give AMD another chance and looked for Opteron based servers.

The Flavors of AMD Opteron

Seems like AMD is quite popular in the small business server market. You have choices, like the HP ProLiant ML115 Server and at the time I was able to find a lowend Opteron based IBM System X server as well. Almost all of the Opteron servers used an NVidia based chipset and featured similar motherboard specs, so the only decision came down to price and extras. The HP ProLiant had one major difference on the Dell PowerEdge T105, it came with built-in SATA RAID. In end, I waited for Dell to have a sale and the price range ended up being significant. The T105 on sale goes for $349, while everyone else had a $500 or more price tag. At this price it is hard not to buy a Dell. Note that this does not include an operating system or any hardware upgrades like more memory and bigger hard drives. Do not forget to add $20 for shipping, so we are now at around $380.

Server Upgrades

For computer upgrades, you really cannot beat Newegg.com. They have great service and their site has pretty much everything you could ever want when it comes to components. I ended up ordering a 500GB Western Digital SATA hard drive for around $105. The only problem with buying an Opteron based machine is that it uses ECC memory and not regular DDR memory. This ended up costing me twice as much. Instead of the $40 or so for 2x1GB DIMMs, I had to pay around $80 for the same memory and only Kingston has DD2 800 memory ECC DIMMs. The same ECC DIMMs now cost around $50, so they have gotten cheaper in the last six months.

Eventually I will upgrade the DVD Drive and add another internal hard drive. I am still waiting for 2GB ECC DIMMs to become cheaper. The T105 can take up to 8GB of RAM.

Windows2003 Server Performance

At first I had a lot of problems with Windows2003 stability on the new server. Hard drive access especially was slower than expected. The fix ended up being to go into Device Manager and for disk drive, choose Optimize for Performance. This ended fixing the weird pauses I saw in Explorer. Comparing the system to the old Athon XP 3200, which ran at 2.2GHz, the dual core Opteron 1210 18GHz is more stable and application wise feels faster. Some apps do perform better than others, so performance is always relative to the application and if both cores are being utilized. Since this is a server, other than terminal server RDP, I really do not run much in the way of desktop applications. Apache 2 is definitely better on dual cores.

Overall the new server was a good bargain. It is quiet enough for the home office and while the size factor is that of a normal tower, it is very expandable compared to a small form factor PC. I guess it is true, you can’t beat Dell on price.

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iMac RAM

Transcend 2GB 200-Pin DDR2 SO-DIMM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Notebook MemoryI recently got a new 2007 Intel Mac, which I have yet to review, but which I already updated. Apple has a reputation for gouging customers on extra memory configurations, (much like every other computer maker), and even though Apple now sells their computers with at least 1GB of RAM, this proves to be insufficient for Mac OS X 10.5 at least. However with today’s memory prices, you can easily find a good deal on DDR2 667MHz SO-DIMMS. The best deal I found was from NewEgg: 2GB Transcend DDR2 667MHz SO-DIMM for $36.99. When purchased there was also a $10 Mail-In Rebate that cut the price to $26.99, (with $4.99 extra for shipping). The aluminum Intel iMacs can handle up to 4GB of RAM, so if you do not mind throwing away the original 1GB DIMM, you can max out your iMac for less than $80.

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Lexmark E240N Laser Printer

Lexmark E1240N PrinterI gave up on inkjet printers a long time ago, and have been using an Epson 5700i Laser printer for years now. It finally ran out of toner a month ago and I was without a printer for the first time.

A printer is one of those things you never really think about. While printer makers have tried to market printers as multi-function devices, photograph printers, and anything else they can think of, in reality you just really need an affordable monochrome laser printer that works with your current computer setup. Color laser printers are actually now hitting the $400 range, but toner refills are quite expensive and having to replace multiple toner colors, makes color printing three times more expensive than monochrome.

In my case, the Epson 5700i was due for replacement. My home network had grown to encompass multiple Macintosh and Windows machines, so I needed a printer that could reside on the network and accept print jobs from both Mac OS X and Windows machines. While there are many brands to choose from: Brother, Samsung, HP, and Epson to name a few, I decided on the Lexmark E240N, as the most appropriate solution for a small multi-platform home network.

Quality

In the printer world, HP is the number one printer company. If you absolutely want great quality, you need not look elsewhere. However if you have price concerns and are trying to get the most for your dollar, HP printers cost more and have less features. This becomes rather obvious when you try to find an HP printer with network capability in the $300 range. This made me consider Lexmark, because they are known for their printers and not much else, and even Dell sells Lexmark printers exclusively.

Features

The feature that makes the E240N stand out is the built-in print server. Just connect the printer via Ethernet to your router or hub, and you have an instant network printer. For Windows, you can print in PCL6 and for Mac OS X, you can print in emulated Postscript Level 3 or Level 2. The print server is accessible via a web-page interface, but you really will not need to access the print server interface at all. The IP address of the printer is DHCP enabled, but you can install an IP setup utility and change the printer to a specific static IP address.

Performance

The E240N prints 1200 DPI x 1200 DPI and can print about 27 pages per minutes. The DPI is defaulted to 600 to save toner, but you can set it to 1200. There is a manual feed tray that you can use to print envelopes and transparencies. When printing envelopes it is best to use a high quality envelope, as thinner quality envelopes will tend to curl with the heat of the printer. To use the manual feed option, you print in your application and then the indicator light on the printer will notify you it is ready to accept via the manual feed tray.

Upgrades

The printer comes standard with 32MB of memory, but it will accept a 64MB printer SO-DIMM for a total of 96MB of memory. Printer drivers are available for Windows98 thru WindowsXP, Linux, and Mac OS X. Lexmark does not include any USB cables or Ethernet cables. The included toner is only a starter unit that is rated for half of what the standard toner cartridge is rated for.

Conclusions

The only annoyance I have experienced with the E240N is that every now and then it will wake itself up and adjust itself. The noise is not unusually load, it is just that it is a bit alarming when working at night or in a quiet office. Space can be a problem too, seeing how all network printers tend to be quite large. In comparison the E240N is a bit smaller than a comparable HP network printer, but it does take up some space. If space is a concern the Lexmark E120N is a small compact laser printer with more conservative features. When I was comparing prices, the E120N is actually cheaper if you purchase it from Lexmark directly, but the E240N is a better bargain if bought through an online store such as Newegg.com.

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