One thing I have learned in networking, security, and really IT in general is that you take any opportunity given to pick up some decent hardware. While I sometimes pick up really crappy hardware, there are always times when you get something decent for very little. And nothing is more frustrating than being inspired to do some tinkering only to find no spare boxes that I want to risk messing around on.
So tonight I picked up a motherboard and CPU for $40. The motherboard is an ECS K8T890-A which has dual DDR400 RAM and a Socket 939 which is for AMD 64-bit processors. This ECS may not necessarily be a gaming rig foundation, however it should suit my purposes just fine, as I have a gaming rig already (although the specs are getting really dated). This mobo has an older BIOS which does not really allow overclocking (quite ok, I don’t overclock). The AGP slot is also not really a true AGP slot and instead is a modded PCI bus connection. This means pretty much only older video cards are supported (3.3V), and I’d never get the full power of an AGP card anyway. Good info here for my own future reference. The board does support SATA and RAID.
The processor is an AMD 64 3500+. This translates into a 2.2Ghz CPU. The CPU is already mounted with heatsink attached, and I’ve not had a chance to boot it up yet. I don’t think I have a proper PSU to support this board right now, but will be collecting some parts over this winter and spring.
This mobo/CPU may make a great foundation for another always-on server that runs Linux as a vmware host and contains a few VM images of my choosing. The board still has great specs for a non-gaming machine. I just need to load it up with RAM and disk space. Unfortunately, the max RAM will be 2GB, which should only run me roughly $200-$250. And I should be able to pull 350GB+ with two disks for under $200. Another $100 for a 500W PSU. And then look into whether I can use this all in a current old chassis or buy up a new one with fans for roughly another $100 and a non-exciting graphics card (or just use on-board) for $60.
Overall, that’s still not really all that bad. About $800 for a good solid box that I can utilize in multiple ways. I could even go a bit cheaper in my parts and do Kingston memory instead of Corsair and still be just fine.