can a 6 year old p4 celeron with 2gb of ram

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HangOver
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can a 6 year old p4 celeron with 2gb of ram

Postby HangOver on Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:31 pm

run as a decent file server? i just need some place to store all my files and stream my movies/tv shows and i have these spare parts lying around. is it worth building? win7?

zel
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Re: can a 6 year old p4 celeron with 2gb of ram

Postby zel on Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:24 pm

Define "decent" ... :)

Kidding aside, as long as you're not expecting to transfer at gigabit speeds, it should handle 100m connections just fine. Since 100mbit translates to about 12MB/s, a relatively tame speed, you should be alright. I used to run a 1.4Ghz athlon with 256m of ram running win server 2k as a file server and it did just fine as far as serving stuff over the LAN.

As far as streaming movies, that depends. If the client handles the codec natively and there is no transcoding necessary than it should do fine. This again comes done to simple file serving and considering most movie rips run at under 100mbit, usually more like a max of 5mbit, you're talking about 625kbyte/s. I've done this before using a weak "server" and it worked without much of a problem. The real problem was my wireless access, it worked fine for browsing but sucked for streaming because even though the strength of the signal was "great" it still dropped out every so often and the video would stall. When I got a new wifi/router everything started streaming smoother but still not perfect so the quality of your wireless access point and client card are really key.

On the flip side, if you'll be running something like TVersity to automatically transcode to your client (I use it for watching divx files on PS3/xbox) then you might need a beefier CPU. TVersity is a great server, I use divx files with multiple subtitles/audio streams and it allows me to switch between them on my PS3. If your CPU cant handle it you can reduce the max transcode resolution in the options to reduce CPU usage.

all in all if you have the parts already,it should be worth doing but i wouldn't throw an extra 100 bucks into it to make it work. if i had to put more than 100 bucks into it i would simply buy something like this. Just add a 3.5" sata drive and some sodimm modules and you're good to go. There is no optical drive so you'll need some other way to get win7 on the HD but if you're going to spend cash, you may as well bring it into 2011 on the cheap.There is also this other case that has room for an optical drive and hdmi output if you want a full-on HTPC but i wouldn't go that route.

HangOver
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it will basically just serve up the files. i have a wdtv live hooked up to my tv and it handles all the heavy lifting. everything will be wired to the network as well. no wireless. if i put a gigabit nic in there will it work?

so from the sounds of it, i should be ok! it's just if i'm gonna spend money on parts, i'll just go ahead and build a new gaming rig and use my old one for the server, but that's a minimum of 7-800 bucks and i don't want to blow that much of my tax return lol.

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Re: can a 6 year old p4 celeron with 2gb of ram

Postby zel on Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:47 pm

It'll work even with a 100mbit nic, the 1g nic is only going to help with moving bulk files really. even streaming HD movies encoded at lets say, 20mbit, you could stream 4 at a time before you start to have to worry. If you're planning on running backups, then I would say a 1gbit nic is worth it since you could get upwards 125M/s. Just keep in mind that if you're running a parallel ata drive you most likely won't get much past 40M sustained, unless you raid in which case you might get 60-80M/s.

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hell yea it should do more than fine, I use an ancient Pentium 3 800Mhz as my 'movies and music' server and it kept up with 3 other PC's on the network all watching movies, or listening to music at the same time streaming off of it, and I had it hooked through a linux based switch hosting the old Creep website and various files I hosted.

File serving alone isn't particularly demanding, almost any old POS can do the trick, I used a Pentium 2 350Mhz before that and it did fine as well, but it didn't host a website, just the movies and music. I think as long your drives are at least ATA 100 minimum and the network card is 100 Mbps minimum you should be stoked with it. I have had issues with either of those parts being less than specified above, you gotta have that throughput, the processor doesn't really do shit the whole time anyway, nor does the memory (maybe some minor caching) in fact the P3 only had 256 Mb of PC-133. The drives and NIC's are more important in this case.

HangOver
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awesome. thanks fellas.

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follow up question. lets say, hypothetically, that i had only 512mb of ram. ok it's not hypothetical, i do only have 512mb of ram. i was going to buy 2gb off newegg. but then i started thinking ... what if i ran ubuntu instead of win7? doesn't it require less ram? will my win7 machines (and my wdtv) be able to see files hosted on a linux server? is it tricky? should i just spend the $ and get the 2gb of ram?

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Re: can a 6 year old p4 celeron with 2gb of ram

Postby zel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:01 pm

Long story short, Win7 will run fine on 512m of ram. Win7 is pretty flexible, I wouldn't spend the cash since you don't need it for your purposes.

Keep in mind that requirements are setup to today's standards and to provide a good experience but seeing as how this thing is just going to serve, having gobs of ram isn't going to help you.

Here is a nifty article about a guy who installed win7 on a VM and accidentally left it configured for only 512M of ram and the results; pretty interesting.

People who love to bash windows for its requirements often bend the truth to suit their arguement, for instance will claim how horribly it runs on low ram but turn on every performance sucking optional feature. Now vista was a hog in many respects but even vista could be whittled down to run acceptably on reduced ram, was it awesome? no, but it could run. You can really whittle down the UI if you want to. Considering you're just gonna serve stuff, you can actually leave it logged out, so there is no UI running, using even LESS ram.

Man, i just might buy that PSU I need to resurrect some old parts i have just to tinker around with win7 some more hehe.

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may have some old ram to send you for it, what does it take?

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Ram is not going to play much of a role on a rig that is just serving files, I ran mine with 256 Mb of PC-133 and I said above it served movies and/or music to at least 3 other PC's (sometimes 4 or 5) regularly without any problems. Basically if you got enough ram to run the OS you should be in good enough shape.

Not sure about Ubuntu entirely, but I have also used a box with Linux to do this same job and it was fine, though a bit tricky at first getting it so the Windows boxes could see it, but I was also running Red Hat 6 with no GUI and no fancy features, everything had to be done through a telnet connection which I am sure made the task more difficult, but I did manage my way through. For sake of ease I would think using Windows will be easier for you, if you are that worried about Ram usage you can always shut down explorer and save a ton of ram right there since it's just gonna sit and share folders, should you actually find the need to use explorer to do something just ctrl-alt-del > new task > explorer.exe and you got your GUI back again while you need it for whatever it is you feel you needed to do. I've used this trick many times in the past to play games on sub-par or underrated systems to save precious ram and CPU tim, works like a charm, even better if you take the time to go through and turn off all the ridiculous services you''l never need for such an application. It's quite amazing how incredibly much faster an old PC can be when you 'cut the fat' out of Windows.

HangOver
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-PC-Taishar wrote:may have some old ram to send you for it, what does it take?


DDR400/333/266. if you have some that would be awesome!

i was also thinking i might want to run php on this box and use it for a dev server as well. that would probably require a bit more ram than 512. do you think that would hurt the file server performance?

HangOver
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i just realized the motherboard only has 2 sata ports (sata 1) and i'm gonna need more than that. can anyone recommend a good (affordable) pci sata 2 controller card? the reviews i'm reading on newegg are making me scared.

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Re: can a 6 year old p4 celeron with 2gb of ram

Postby zel on Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:31 pm

cheap controllers are cheap unfortunately no matter who makes them. you'd have to spend a decent amount of money to get a quality controller otherwise it's hit and miss, you'd be better off just getting a bigger HD if thats your problem. sata 1 is 1.5gbps which equates to about 150m/s or faster than a 1g nic. otherwise, highpoint, promise and SIIG are established controller card manufacturers and I would go with them. Rosewill i don't trust too much mainly because they make a little bit of everything.

This one on newegg has pretty good reviews so far but 29 reviews isn't really enough to base a good decision on.

Before you spend 40 bucks on a new controller tho I would check out hard drives in the same price range and see if you can solve the problem without buying something you're not really going to re-use in another system. Otherwise you can just try your luck on a sub-20 dollar controller and hope its not a dud and end up losing cash on the shipping back. Otherwise just grab a 1T drive and call it good since the 1T drive could be used in the future for a new server build.

HangOver
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i have four 1tb drives already! hehe. that's the problem. i considered just grabbing a couple 2tb drives and selling these others. i guess that could work. heh.

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Re: can a 6 year old p4 celeron with 2gb of ram

Postby zel on Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:14 am

lol damn man, they full?

Well if you really need 4tb worth of storage right now then I guess a cheap controller is your best bet, just get the cheapest and hope for the best, or maybe get some USB enclosures. They can be had for as cheap as 14 bucks a piece. Like I already said before i wouldn't spend more than 100 bucks total on this thing, might as well just custom build a new one. If you aren't using up all that space yet, just do it with 2 drives for now and worry about the 2nd two later.

If you're going to spend more than 90 bucks you can just get:
Motherboard - 49.99
CPU - 37.99
Memory 1G - 12.99

You already have the case, HD, optical drive, and PSU so for a grand total of 100.97 you have 4 sata2 3.0gbs ports with raid 0/1/5/10/JBOD, a 1G ethernet port, 1PATA port (hopefully your optical drive is parallel) and it's upgradeable to 4G of RAM and up to a 95w TDP CPU such as the X3 3.3Ghz Rana or the X4 3.1Ghz Propus.

Power is 24 pin so make sure your psu has either 24 pin or 20+4 pin main connector, otherwise you're in for another 30 bucks or so.
(I only use brand names, you could actually do cheaper than this using a Zotac or JetWay MB and a 10 dollar PSU, up to you)

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