About half my fat-desktop fleet are ASUS P5E-VM-DOs, (vPro boards) with C2Qs and 4GB of RAM. Perfect little Photoshop boxes. The other half are ASUS K8N-DLs with dual Opteron 940s and 4-6GB of RAM.
The K8N-DLs were our original fleet of Virtual Servers. They served out their warrantee period in server service, and now we are getting an additional three years from them as desktops for our production staffs. Admittedly, K8N-DLs need to have their Southbridge fan replaced after three or four years, but they seem perfectly capable of working hard even after the fan has died. (I did buy a big ol' bag of fans a while back, and we replace any dead ones we discover.)
I had just enough of these older servers to build all the required production systems, with a cold spare for each province. I know some people would freak out at the concept of running out of warrantee gear...but the K8N-DLs were from the days when ASUS wasn’t a complete [long string of exceptionally vile expletives] and as such I have faith they’ll keep on ticking. I’d go so far as to say that the K8N-DLs may have been one of the very last good ASUS boards ever made. (Though the P5E-VM-DOs come damned close.)
Though my existing fleet of servers and desktops is almost exclusively ASUS everything, it’s the last generation of such. I’ve been screwed over by ASUS enough times that tiny budget or not, it’s time to start stumping up for Tyan and Supermicro. None of this “here’s a BEAUTIFUL server board. Build your fleet on it!” Followed soon thereafter by “oh, by the way, we won’t release a BIOS upgrade for the next generation processor, instead we’ll release a slightly different model name that’s IDENTICAL IN EVERY WAY, except it has a new BIOS!” (Doubly frustrating when Tyan, Supermicro and even GIGABYTE of all companies release BIOS upgrades for their serverboards of the same generation.)
Yeah, ASUS can [something suggestive that makes 4chan blush.]
Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah; old systems. Well, our full-fat clients are naturally tied to the server, not desktop refresh cycle. At the time of the last server refresh the vPro systems were just coming into view, and they cost us about $1750. I think we were able to convert the old servers for about $600. So we saved a pile by going halfers with our fleet. (To put it in perspective, the money saved this way enabled me to buy our very first shiny new UPSes. You pick and choose what to sacrifice when your budget is close to the bone…) The production staffs themselves use the old converted servers, and the “client machines,” (those systems provided for walk-in customer use and abuse) got the vPro systems. Got to make sure the customers see the best we have to offer.
So, yeah. FUN TIMES.
On the other hand, I can legitimately say that my specialities in IT are a) making computers do things they were never designed to do out of sheer necessity and b) discovering new and interesting ways to keep costs down while still providing all the requisite functionality, redundancy and reliability. Gotta be worth something, no?