Buying second-hand or used computer equipment can be a minefield if your not careful, some sellers are genuine and some are not. Buying normally expensive items like servers can be hit and miss.
Servers to look out for
Dell Poweredge 1600-2450 Range
Dell poweredge pentium 3 based servers are extremly well built and can last for years if treated properly, most for sale only have one processor but can support 2. they also sell very cheaply on ebay if they are missing hard disks or memory and Hard Disk caddies, however most of these items are avalible on ebay for some very good prices, for example, i recently purchased 2 servers for 99p each, wow i hear you say but there was one small problem.
they were a dell poweredge 1650 and a 2450 both had everything but hard disks and the 1650 was missing caddies. After a lot of searching i could not find a Caddie specificly for the 1650 serise, so i took a chance and purchased one that fit and 1500-1550 serise. I got lucky it fit! that just left the hard disks.
Most servers still use SCSI Hard Disks they can reach speeds of upto 10000rpm which makes them great for high-preformance computing however they are usually cheap and small in space or expensive. To complicate matters further there is three diferent version of SCSI with different pin numbers, of course you have to identify this before purchasing anything.
Compaq ProLaint Series
most Compaq servers are extremly well built and many owners keep these for many years due to their great reliability.
The best models to look out for are
1850R- Pentium 2-pentium 3 single or dual cpu rackmountable
1550-R Pentium 2 single or dual cpu rackmountable
Things to avoid
Servers with missing front covers or damaged ones, if they are missing or have damaged front covers that is a good sign of poor matinence and care.
Missing rear blanking plates, used to cover unused PCI-PCIX slots if they are missing it could point to the same as above or it could have let the enviromental conditions of the server fall allowing for excess dust or damage.
most older servers use PC133 or Registered ECC SDRAM, this can be hard to find or extremly expensive. Somtimes it works out cheaper to buy two servers one without memory and one with it. this also means you could sell the spare parts to cover the costs.
CPU upgrades single/dual
If you are going to upgrade from single to Dual cpu you have to be extremly careful, you need to find a "matched pair" this means looking on the cpu to find its markings and find one that excatly matches, otherwise you could permently damage your cpu's and your motherboard.
finding Rackmount cabinets
These can be very expensive in postage costs to buy, they are very heavy and are easily confused with so called "comms" cabinets, usually comms cabinets are for networking equipment such as Switches and Patch Panels.
I hope you have found this guide usefull and happy ebaying!
Guide to second-hand Servers
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19 July 2008
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