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 Post subject: Folding Farm
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 1:31 pm 
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Okay, I'm seriously considering building a Folding Farm. Except I'm not even in college yet so beleive it or not my budget isn't huge. I figure I'd start out with 2 nodes and see how they do, probably buy the processors right after the 400mhz FSB athlons come out.

So, here's what I'm thinking of for each near-silent node-
$55 Motherboard-MATSONIC MS8157E,VIA KM266 chipset
-cheapest mobo with integrated video I found. Question here is... do I need integrated video? I remember reading that most motherboards require a video card to boot, but I don't know if thats still true. And memory won't be great on this, how important is that to folding?

$100 Athlon XP 2400+
The highest clocked processor before the switch to 333 FSB, calcs clearly show this is the best Mhz/$ per system.

$20 128mb of cheap generic PC2100 ram

$30 Fotron 120mm PSU
Quiet on a budget

$25 AX-7/SK-7 + Panaflo L1A

I add this up to being $230 a node. To host this all I have an old POS laptop running linux (it won't fold waste of effort) that with a second network card can be the server.

So, I'd like peoples thoughts on this, and suggestions to get 2 nodes below $450. Two things I've considered is ducting the fortron to be the HS fan, maybe with a cheaper heat sink, and second, a Y splitter for the Mobo power and powering both comps off one PSU. Dunno if thats possible though, but considering how bare bones these nodes are, its a thought. Also, a better plan than an order from newegg + SVC. one vendor, preferably at a lower price would be nice. And also, I accept paypal, all major credit cards, and even personal checks! :)


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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 2:06 pm 
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Dude, you are either seriously committed to protein folding research or really, really want SPCR's team to keep climbing up the stats or really, really like having a reason to buy & build new hardware. :D In any case, fun hobby, wish I was able to throw more money at hardware.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 2:16 pm 
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its the last one.

Aside from that, I have a strong interest in biology. And an even stronger interest in computers.

My family thinks going to college with 3 computers is crazily excessive... sounded like a challenge to me, this is an easy way to at least get to 6, and setting up my very own cluster would be so much fun. Combined with modding my current computer and my next water cooled computer, I should have no problem spending a billion dollars a month, and have all the fun I could want! :)

Oh yeah and did I mention I'm about to fall below the top 20? :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 2:27 pm 
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Ah! I had the same plan! :)

The mobo I had in mind was the ECS KVMM7+ (which happens to be the same as in that article linked somewhere in one of the other threads). It was the cheapest I have found so far, the MSI KM2COMBO is an alternative. Both have the VIA KM266 chipset. I think that's the best choice cause they have both LAN and VGA onboard. I don't know if you need VGA, but I think it sure is handy to be able to actually see what the thing is doing or not.

For HS I was thinking about going for the cheap spire falconrock. It's a cheap HS (about 10$ here), doesn't cool too bad, not too noisy from what I read (26 db at full speed), and it can hold a 8 cm fan. I was planning on slowing down the fan a bit and if that would still be too noisy, put a papst ngl/ngm fan on it, but only when really needed.

For the PSU I still need to dig into some articles here on this site to see what would be the best choice in terms of efficiency (power drain). Let's say that 1 node sucks 100 W, 10 nodes suck 1 Kw. That alone would cost me $350 a year on electricity already. An inefficient PSU can easily multiply that with 2-3-4? Now I need to dig into this first, but the efficiency of PSU's change I think depending on the load. So the question is, would it be better to run each node with it's own PSU, which would only run on say 25-30% of their max power. Or put as many nodes as possible on 1 PSU to make it run close to it's max. And would it be better to have say 3 nodes on 1 300W PSU, or 5 on 1 500 W PSU?
If anyone can already tell me more about this, please do. :)
Btw, haven't found a place that sells mobo connectors yet. Might be that a solution is needed that involves a soldering iron and voiding warranty.

The price I calculated is about $200 per node, that is with 1 $60-$70 PSU for 3 nodes. Also with a XP2000+, which gives me the most Mhz/$ with prices over here.

Some shops are still offering Durons and for about half the price of an XP. Is using Durons a viable option? 5 nodes with XP's cost the same as 6 nodes with Durons. Which would produce more points? I tend to think the XP's but I'm not sure.. need to look into this too.

I'm first going to make myself accustomed with linux which I have no experience with at all. I first wanna see f@h running stable in linux before I go out and buy stuff. Things might be cheaper next week! :)

Edit: the spire falconrock is actually 25 db

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Last edited by Wrah on Sat May 10, 2003 3:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 3:28 pm 
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Look at Mhz, though I'm not sure how many IPCs durons get compared to XPs. I do know however that Athlons get 2 flop in 1 cycle, while P4s only get 1; The Athlons are clearly superior for this use.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 3:51 pm 
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Yeah, durons aren't a good choice. Here and here are interesting threads on the f@h forum. Also answers my question in the other thread a bit about memory speeds.
Also the KM266 chipset needs some more investigation. It seems the KT266 is a very slow performer, and the KM266 is probly derived from that (only added VGA+LAN).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 4:20 pm 
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[Edit: I figured answer to this question. :oops: ]



Good luck with the folding farm Zhentar.

I too was thinking about setting up a folding farm. I had this plan about buying all these components off of ebay, maybe enough to build 5 nodes, and then immediately turning around and selling them again as soon as I got them. And during those 7 days of the auction, these PC components would be folding away 24/7.

And then next week, I would repeat the whole process all over again. Where I would switch out the old components I sold last week, for the newer ones I bought this week.

So basically, as long as I avoided get caught on the wrong side of a major price drop, every week I would be breaking even, with my only real costs being power and labor and those ebay/paypal fees.

I don't know if it would work out as well in practice as it does in theory. But it was just an idea and I'm not going to do it though. I just don't think I have the room or the energy to keep something like this going for too long.


Last edited by glassjoe on Sun May 11, 2003 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 4:44 pm 
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Oh, and for the Power supplies- I don't think each node will break 80w and I don't have to pay for electricity :) (Parents do right now, but soon it will be my dorm room- I'm hoping to break the fuses there at least once a month! :) ) The concern however is what rails that power draw is on. I could get a pretty good idea from my current mobo if anyone could tell my how I should measure it. I do have a multimeter, but not sure how to use it in this case. I might try the SVC GC 69, thats a good deal cheaper...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 4:47 pm 
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Oh and wrah- the question is how much of an affect does the lower speed KM266 memory controller actually cause? There are Nforce2 boards that at twice the price offer a far superior memory controller- but this has to result in a 25% increase in folding power to outweigh the cost!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 7:15 pm 
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Zhentar wrote:
Look at Mhz, though I'm not sure how many IPCs durons get compared to XPs. I do know however that Athlons get 2 flop in 1 cycle, while P4s only get 1; The Athlons are clearly superior for this use.


Duron, Athlon Xp - 9 IPC's.
P4, P4 celeron - 6
P3, P3 celeron - 5.

so naturally durons and athlons are better, but they produce more heat = more noise and are cheaper.

linkie: http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewto ... ght=#16464

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 Post subject: This is a myth -- that Athlons are hotter; they are not.
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 7:35 pm 
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Hello:

riff wrote:
so naturally durons and athlons are better, but they produce more heat = more noise and are cheaper.


Athlons are not neccesarily hotter! The Thoroughbred and especially the Thoroughbred 'B' are a lot cooler than the Palomino, and have you looked at the heat production of a Hyperthreaded P4? This is a "urban myth" and it needs to be squashed!

Besides, if a slower Athlon gets as much work done as a faster P4, then which one puts out more heat/work? :shock:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 8:07 pm 
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I agree Neil- that was once very true. But on the latest and greatest processors from Intel and AMD, the P4s can even surpass the AthlonXPs for heat. My palomino 1800+ is decently cooled (mid 50s) by a $5 aluminum heat sink and a Vantec Stealth (12v). It puts out just as much heat as a T-bred 2400+, so I'm very confident they can be quietly cooled, especially without any other components heating things up.

I think a GC 69 + NMB fan will be more than adequate cooling for $15 less than what I had above, at very acceptable levels.

That should drop it to $430 + shipping, and if I can get away with 1 PSU, its $400... not gonna beat that without a slower processor, and prices should drop (I hope) with the 400mhz FSB coming out soon...

I'd like to get the materials for the farm by the end of the month.... Schools out in 5 days, I'll probably do some work for my parents after that to pay for everything. Either that or I'll take it out of my bank account and buy it sooner and work for the money later :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 8:09 pm 
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Oh yeah, anyone with an unlocked processor want to see how long each frame (on the same unit) takes the gromacs core for two identical clock speeds but very different FSB speeds? it should help determine how important memory bandwidth is, and whether or not an Nforce2 board is worth $40 extra.


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 Post subject: Here's the farm node I would build:
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 8:56 pm 
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Hello:

Here's a node that I would build, priced mostly from NewEgg.com:

EVERCASE E4252W005A(Black) 10-bay Case -- $23.00

Lite On 52x Black Cd Rom - Model LTN-526 -- $26.00 -- buy just one and share it on the network

ALPHA PAL8045T. Heat Sink ONLY. -- $34.99 (no lapping required! :shock: )

Seagate 40GB 7200rpm EIDE Hard Drive OEM Barracuda 7200.7 ST340014A -- $67.00

CRUCIAL MICRON 256MB 32x64 PC 2700 DDR RAM - OEM
184-Pin, CL=2.5-Unbuffered $37.00 x 2 = $74.00
This will very likely run at CL2...

Asus A7N266-VM AA (AMD Assured Version) NVIDIA nFORCE 220 Chipset 266/200MHz FSB Motherboard Micro ATX- Retail -- $71.99

Fortron - P300XFPN 300W Power Supply RET -- $27.00

AMD Athlon XP 2100+/266 FSB Thoroughbred Processor CPU 2100+/ 1.73 GHz
Type: 2100 XP Thoroughbred (revision B) -- $75.00

Subtotal » $398.98
Shipping and Handling Charge (to Massachusetts)» $ 21.00

Grand Total » $ 419.98

Add a NMB 18dBA/18CFM fan = $2.50 + shipping

Clip the jumper, and and use a conductive pen to unlock the FSB speed, and overclock it to 2.16gHz (166mHz FSB/333DDR) = 2700+ !!! All for about $430 8)

Run SuSE 8.2

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 1:17 am 
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Zhentar wrote:
Oh and wrah- the question is how much of an affect does the lower speed KM266 memory controller actually cause? There are Nforce2 boards that at twice the price offer a far superior memory controller- but this has to result in a 25% increase in folding power to outweigh the cost!


Well, there are also cheap SIS chipset based mobos with everything onboard. Not sure if they would be faster though. :roll: And there is the nForce based Asus A7N266-VM that Neil mentions.

On the Duron/AthlonXP matter, a few usefull quotes from the f@h forum:
(somebody tested out which is faster by underclocking his Athlon)

Quote:
18minutes/frame on the t-bird system running at 7.5x124=930mhz vs. 44minutes/frame on the duron system running at 8x133=1066mhz.


Quite a difference. Though he used an older Duron (spitfire core) that didn't have SSE. Durons > 1 Ghz do have SSE.

Quote:
p537_BBA5_N_in water folds 6.5x faster on a T'Bred 2.4GHz@192FSB DDR SDRAM than on Spitfire 910MHz@140FSB SDRAM.

That means that T'Bred crunches this particular gromac WU 2.5x faster than Duron (MHz per MHz)

My conclusion: Gromacs eather like great mem. throughoutput (2.6GB/sec T'bred - 1.1GB/sec Duron platform) and/or more on-die cache (384kB T'Bred - 192kB Duron).


But it could also be caused by the much lower bandwidth of the Duron. The fahcore does run faster with a higher bandwith:

Quote:
Downclocked my T'Bred to 1.25GHz.... folding a Gromac unit using optimizations

12.5x100MHz - 1.25GHz(Mem bandwith - 1.4GB/sec) - time per frame 5:41sec

7.5x166MHz - 1.25GHz (Mem bandwith - 2.4GB/sec) - time per frame 5:17sec

My Duron machine has about 1Gb/sec mem. bandwith, and onboard VGA uses maybe 20-30Mb/sec (2-3%).

So, the only logical explanation is that Gromacs LOVE more on-die cache, or the SSE unit found on T'Bred crunches WUs a lot faster than 3DNow! unit on Duron.


Which also answers your question about fsb, Zhentar.
So fsb/memory bandwidth does matter a bit, but only boosts the speed about 7%.

Quote:
The bandwidth is an issue with Gromacs but only makes about a 5-10% difference that I have tested from 133-200-266 fsb.
Cache also makes about a 10% difference between 128-256 on the Durons/Athlons.


15-20% difference, but at equal Mhz's. So this answers my question, 6 Durons are about as fast as 5 Athlons. I would go for Athlons then.

NeilBlanchard wrote:
Run SuSE 8.2

Right now I'm going for Redhat 8.0, since they used that in that how-to article about building a farm. The question has been asked a few times on the f@h forum which linux would be better, and there was allways a different answer, which never sounded very objective :D. Would SuSe be better then Redhat and if so, why?


Time for breakfast now. :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 7:44 am 
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Isn't the point of Linux that you can recompile the kernel and take any junk you don't need out of any distribution? Do some research and strip the kernel down to the bare essentials that you'll need for folding. When you've got a task specific machine such as the ones you're building you can get rid of an awful lot of stuff that would be neccessary for an everyday average user but doesn't really apply to what you're doing. Then it won't really matter which "flavor" you use.

... although mint chocolate chip is my personal favorite.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 7:57 am 
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I have mandrake 9 on my laptop I beleive. suse/red hat installers didn't work right.

But neil brings up an interesting question... would buying a better mobo thats faster, and allows overclocking/higher FSB allow higher performance from a slower processor? If so, it could easily work out to be a much cheaper option...

Neil, what can you tell me about OCing the athlon there, would it need better cooling than the GC69+NMB? I do have a conductive pen around here, what do you need to do for the OC?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 8:24 am 
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um... okay, i maybe behind times there when it comes heat production/dissipation of processors. you guys are right, a hyperthreaded p4 can dissipate upto 110W at 3Ghz. while the xp 3000+ barton tops out at 75W. in comparison with my p4, an xp 2000+ dissipates the same amount, around 55W typically.

:shock:

thanks guys - NeilBlanchard and Zhentar. :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 3:45 pm 
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I'm starting to lean towards towards a shuttle mobo for $95 that has integrated graphics/lan on an Nforce2 chipset; combined with a 2100+ Tbred-B, it will be $15 more than my previous price... but thats only 7% more price, and with overclocking+memory controller, it should provide more than a 7% performance increase. The matsonic doesn't seem to be overclockable, though it is hard to tell on their poorly translated manuals... Shuttle's is much more professionally done.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 6:43 pm 
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Seriously, though, the whole point of distributed computing projects like folding or seti@home are that they use up extra CPU power. Building a farm defeats the purpose.

But, it does sound like an interesting hobby.

Did you ever think about how your dorm mates feel about having so many computers on 24/7? They aren't exactly silent. (Just trying to point out how I would feel -- not too happy)


Last edited by Destron on Sat May 10, 2003 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 6:51 pm 
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Hello:

Zhentar wrote:
Neil, what can you tell me about OCing the athlon there, would it need better cooling than the GC69+NMB? I do have a conductive pen around here, what do you need to do for the OC?


If the GC69 is similar to my GC68, as far as the flatness/smoothness of the bottom, it would only work (probably) if you lapped it. My GC68's were anything but smooth and they were not very flat either. I spent at least a hour on each one to get them reasonable. That's why I suggested the Alpha 8045 -- it is a LOT more effective and the copper bottom will not require any lapping... :P

And I really like the sound of that Shuttle nForce2 mobo -- is the northbridge passively cooled? :wink: I'll bet it has FSB control without voiding the warranty with snipped jumpers and conductive pens -- like the Asus A7N266-VM/AA do... the extra $25 also buys much better performance, too. 8)

As for the SuSE vs the rest, I have only used two versions of Linux: SuSE 8.1 Personal and 8.2 Professional. It works very well, and installs well, though I have heard that the nVidia LAN can be sticky -- you might end up needing a cheapo NIC. SuSE 8.2 Pro comes with an absolutely astounding amount of software -- 2 DVD's/5 CD's worth. And it has lots of convenient things that us Windows users want, like auto updating, hardware P&P, etc. It even reconized my dual video cards & monitors! :shock:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 6:58 am 
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Didnt you forget a case?!

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 Post subject: No...
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 7:05 am 
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Hello:

I put a case in my list, because I think it's easier if not bulkier way to go. Lots of the farms, though, use "naked" mobo's stacked on threaded rods or something similar: really cheap, conserves space and well cooled...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 7:09 am 
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Second question, are you having your "nodes" do a network boot from the laptop? That would save money.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 7:27 am 
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Ok, here's what my farm would be like:

F@H Server
Chaintech nForce2 IGP MicroATX $97.00
AMD AthlonXP 2100 $75.00
512MB PC2700 HyperX Kingston $76.50
Antec Solution Series Case w/ 300w $54.99
Thermalright SK-7 $24.99
CoolerMaster 80mm 32CFM fan $5.99
Maxtor 20GB 5400RPM ATA133 HDD $55.00
MSI Black 52x CDROM $17.00
Netgear GA302T 1000TX NIC $46.00
Windows Server 2003 w/ 4 Client Liscences $192.00
Total with Shipping: $643.97

F@H Processing-Node
Asus A7N-266 Micro-ATX nForce 420D $71.99
AMD AthlonXP 2400 $98.00
128MB PC2100 ValueRAM Kingston $24.00
AOpen MicroATX Case w/ 200w $35.00
Speeze Cheapo 24CFM 30DB fan $5.00
Total with Shipping: $248.99

NOTES: Netgear GA302T NIC with load processor
Windows Server 2003 with Academic Discount at NewEgg.Com
Nodes will network-boot with Windows Server 2003

Take that! :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 8:07 am 
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Destron wrote:
Seriously, though, the whole point of distributed computing projects like folding or seti@home are that they use up extra CPU power. Building a farm defeats the purpose.

But, it does sound like an interesting hobby.


/me continues to let his one lonely computer fold when he's not gaming. :)

It's amazing how much progress toward a WU a computer can make while you sleep!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 8:13 am 
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Quote:
Windows Server 2003 w/ 4 Client Liscences $192.00


Where did you source a copy of this for $192.00? Windows 2000 Professional by itself is $150!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 9:01 am 
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AtomicDude512 wrote:
Windows Server 2003 with Academic Discount at NewEgg.Com


that's where :shock:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 9:05 am 
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LOL! Here you go:

http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduct.asp?DEPA=&submit=Go&description=2003+Server+Academic

NewEgg.Com is very tricky, they dont give you the academic prices unless you search for "academic", then the academic priced products will come up.

It's not acutually there yet... :oops:

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