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So i just had to buy a PC....
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Jun 28, 2013, 07:51 PM
 
So i just had to buy a PC....


One of my client's QBE server died yesterday, and a new one needed to go up today. No problem, I said to the world. They only have five workstations and rarely use more then three at a time - all it needs to do is run QBE and perform the nightly backups to Intuit's data protect. Shouldn't be hard at all! There are a myriad of options, and I only have four requirements.

A) > 6gb ram
B) > 1TB @ 7200 rpm or SSD > 400gb
C) Windows 7 professional
D) Intel 2nd, 3rd, or 4th gen core proc (dualcore and above).

Not a single damn big name brick and mortar store in the entirety of Maryland could meet those requirements without blowing 2500 on a "business" tower with a whole bunch of shit we frankly didn't need just as a video editors graphics card or a 37 core Xeon. After three hours of scouring the web and trying to find a store that I could order online and pick up on my way to client site, no luck. Some gaming machines came close, but they were much more expensive then they should have been and there's no way I was lugging in a gaming PC to an office to use as a server - with all their LEDs and whatnot.

I really wish I had an extra day to scout the parts and just build the damn thing myself - it would have been much easier then trying to shop a big name store with very basic requirements.

Whatever, I told myself. Just get one with 4gb ram and throw another 4-8 in yourself. No dice. Not. A. Single. Damn. Desktop. for a reasonable price.


I left the PC market in 2005 to begin a long relationship with Apple directly....My how much easier that is! I very nearly just went to the apple store to pick up a mini and on to best buy to get a windows license just because the pc buying experience is so damn difficult.

I ended up getting one off amazon for about 700 bucks that barely met those requirements, although I would have loved to see any desktops have an SSD option. I'm satisfied with the mixture of price/performance but it should not have taken me 3 hours to buy because it was the only option I could find.

Oh yeah, and so much for them being up and running today. Rescheduled for next friday (they are on my terminal server until then). Next Friday, which was supposed to be a company wide long weekend.



/rant

Thank God it's the weekend.
     
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Jun 28, 2013, 09:29 PM
 
It doesn't have the Win7 included, but ironically a $700 Mac Mini hits all the other targets.
     
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Jun 28, 2013, 11:44 PM
 
It sounds like it would have been easier to have bought the parts to build your own PC.
     
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Jun 28, 2013, 11:48 PM
 
He said he didn't have time.
     
Snow-i  (op)
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Jun 28, 2013, 11:58 PM
 
Yeah I got the call today at 9:30 to be an hour away at 3pm, with about 4 other projects that needed my attention before i left.
     
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Jun 28, 2013, 11:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
He said he didn't have time.

I know, but he also said that what he did buy took him more than 3 hours.

Then again, I don't really understand his problem I guess, because I found 93 possible options here:

Desktop Computers, All-in-One PCs - Newegg.com

and, of course, being a Desktop PC installing your own HD is trivial
     
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Jun 29, 2013, 12:03 AM
 
I also would have thought about getting a Mac mini Server with 8+ GB RAM: plenty fast, enough storage and you can install Windows on it.
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Jun 29, 2013, 12:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I also would have thought about getting a Mac mini Server with 8+ GB RAM: plenty fast, enough storage and you can install Windows on it.

I guess that would be fine for a company or something if somebody else is footing the bill, but if it for myself, if I was going to buy myself some sort of desktop upgradability is a must.
     
Snow-i  (op)
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Jun 29, 2013, 12:08 AM
 
You gotta understand bess, I can't take a day off to run around town shopping parts, licenses, and installing windows. This was unexpected and impacted all other 11 active projects I have. My schedule for next week is ****ed because of this emergency call. Messing around with trying to find the right solution only compounded the problem and frustrated me more then just about anything in recent memory.

The problem is that buying a PC with basic, common requirements is incredibly more difficult and time consuming then it should be, especially when compared to buying from Apple.
     
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Jun 29, 2013, 12:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by Snow-i View Post
You gotta understand bess, I can't take a day off to run around town shopping parts, licenses, and installing windows. This was unexpected and impacted all other 11 active projects I have. My schedule for next week is ****ed because of this emergency call. Messing around with trying to find the right solution only compounded the problem and frustrated me more then just about anything in recent memory.

The problem is that buying a PC with basic, common requirements is incredibly more difficult and time consuming then it should be, especially when compared to buying from Apple.

Ahhh, when you said that you bought it off of Amazon I didn't think that a local purchase was your first choice. I totally understand a local purchase for when you need something immediately, but yeah, I'm sure it would suck finding anything that a store couldn't sell a ton of to your layperson.

Then again, as far as buying locally from a Mac store, it's certainly easy when you are familiar with the specs of the gear and you can walk in and get anything from their entire product line.
     
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Jun 29, 2013, 12:15 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I guess that would be fine for a company or something if somebody else is footing the bill, but if it for myself, if I was going to buy myself some sort of desktop upgradability is a must.
Sure, but the requirements were rather specific and the Mac mini fit the bill. Quite a few friends of mine who are developers use a Mac mini server and are very happy with it. It's not as if they need plenty of CPU horsepower or so.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
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Jun 29, 2013, 12:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Ahhh, when you said that you bought it off of Amazon I didn't think that a local purchase was your first choice. I totally understand a local purchase for when you need something immediately, but yeah, I'm sure it would suck finding anything that a store couldn't sell a ton of to your layperson.
I don't think it's just that: PC makers don't make it easy for you to configure a PC. E. g. when you want a laptop, you have to »classify« yourself as a user. And if you have special requirements (e. g. good Linux compatibility), it's even more difficult.
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Snow-i  (op)
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Jun 29, 2013, 01:03 AM
 
This computer would never be upgraded beyond maybe memory in a few years. It has a single, dedicated purpose to run as a headless server for a single application. At my billing rate, it would cost them as much to upgrade as it would to replace. I'm in consulting, and we're more expensive then an IT company because well, IT is a secondary purpose for us and not what we base our pricing on.

Intuit is so far behind the cutting edge that there is no point in planning for the future with hardware purchases. Hell, Quickbooks 2012 doesn't even run on windows 8 yet (hence my w7 requirement). MS says it does, but Intuit says it is not supported. When there are contracts involved, even if it works with no issues I cannot use w8 because any issues would ultimately fall on us as opposed to Intuit. Considering the state of Intuit's development cycle it's easier and cheaper for our smaller clients to plan hardware for 3 years as opposed to the 6-7 they could get with a more robust platform. They don't have anyone on site with an ounce of IT background.

If I were interested in their upgradeability, I would put them in our datacenter on a terminal server. We have quite a few clients with that setup and it works beautifully for Quickbooks Enterprise and FileMaker/Quickbooks integrations (and as an added plus, I can support them remotely with my own credentials greatly reducing travel time and expense). They can use whatever clientside computer they want; Windows, Mac, hell even iPads and just remotely log into a system I manage for them. This way I can track updates and resolve issues within minutes as opposed to days - I spend more time consulting and less time in a tech support capacity.



I'm still dealing with Quickbooks Enterprises's 2013 R7 update royally screwing up half our Quickbooks client list, considering most of our QBE solutions rely on the SDK in some form or another. Don't get me started on that - at least it wasn't our fault .
     
Snow-i  (op)
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Jun 29, 2013, 01:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Sure, but the requirements were rather specific and the Mac mini fit the bill. Quite a few friends of mine who are developers use a Mac mini server and are very happy with it. It's not as if they need plenty of CPU horsepower or so.
I'd love to put a Mini in there but unfortunately the client is stubborn and isn't comfortable running windows on mac hardware, no matter how much I try to explain that it would make no difference other then better support, smaller footprint and cheaper. You pick your battles with your clients and I respect their choice even if it's uninformed and ultimately more difficult - you give the client what they want.

My own database server is a latest rev maxed our mini (quad, 16gb, 512 SSD, etc). When the new Mac Pros launch we will move to one of those because I/O is the single biggest issue for database performance sensitivity and having an SSD on the PCI lanes will pretty much allow me to run anything and everything on it for the foreseeable future. The Mini right now works WONDERFULLY and the Mac Pro will surely do even better. What's so funny about our company is that Quickbooks Enterprise (windows only) is a fair portion of our business, and we don't even own a single PC. We all use Macbook Pros as our workstation computers and log into our terminal server for windows work, and use Mac Minis in a datacenter for fileshares, database hosting, webhosting, etc. Much better flexibility and the best of all worlds and none of the issues or system resource problems trying to run a VM locally.
     
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Jun 29, 2013, 01:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by Snow-i View Post
I'd love to put a Mini in there but unfortunately the client is stubborn and isn't comfortable running windows on mac hardware, no matter how much I try to explain that it would make no difference other then better support, smaller footprint and cheaper. You pick your battles with your clients and I respect their choice even if it's uninformed and ultimately more difficult - you give the client what they want.

My own database server is a latest rev maxed our mini (quad, 16gb, 512 SSD, etc). When the new Mac Pros launch we will move to one of those because I/O is the single biggest issue for database performance sensitivity and having an SSD on the PCI lanes will pretty much allow me to run anything and everything on it for the foreseeable future. The Mini right now works WONDERFULLY and the Mac Pro will surely do even better. What's so funny about our company is that Quickbooks Enterprise (windows only) is a fair portion of our business, and we don't even own a single PC. We all use Macbook Pros as our workstation computers and log into our terminal server for windows work, and use Mac Minis in a datacenter for fileshares, database hosting, webhosting, etc. Much better flexibility and the best of all worlds and none of the issues or system resource problems trying to run a VM locally.

What sort of database and webhosting do you run on your Minis? Are you guys threatened by the various Quickbooks hosting services?

What made you guys decide not to go the VM route?


I'm not grilling you, I'm just trying to learn more about your business and what you do
     
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Jun 29, 2013, 02:00 PM
 
I think that the Win 7 requirement is what is making it hard. For many years, MS basically strongarmed OEMs into not offering it with new purchases.

In an emergency, I would buy a Win 8 model and pray that it works, and then do a Win 7 install (possibly in a VM) if it didn't.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jun 29, 2013, 11:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What sort of database and webhosting do you run on your Minis? Are you guys threatened by the various Quickbooks hosting services?

What made you guys decide not to go the VM route?


I'm not grilling you, I'm just trying to learn more about your business and what you do
We do alot of filemaker development. The Mini hosts all the databases we're working on and all of our internal databases (time and billing, CRM, asset management, etc).

VMs are difficult to foster teamwork in because it is essentially a local second machine that must be maintained, licensed, etc etc. Our terminal server is actually a virtual machine, but we have a partner company that maintains (but does little in the way of management). Generally speaking, we're looking for the easiest end-user experience to deploy. Most of our clients are small to medium business though we do have a few clients that are 2500+ users.

To give you a little more background, most of the work we do involves integrating systems that were before very limited in their integrations. Usually this involves a rigid ERP/accounting software (such as quickbooks or MS Dynamics GP). I, for example, do quite a bit of coding for FMbooks connector by Productive Computing.

We do a lot of custom reports, custom front ends for the users, integrations between multiple systems, or supplements to features that their systems don't provide out of the box.
     
Snow-i  (op)
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Jun 29, 2013, 11:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
I think that the Win 7 requirement is what is making it hard. For many years, MS basically strongarmed OEMs into not offering it with new purchases.

In an emergency, I would buy a Win 8 model and pray that it works, and then do a Win 7 install (possibly in a VM) if it didn't.
I was briefly considering doing that, but again per our contract that could open us up to all sorts of liability (and end up being a gross loss in revenue, let alone a net loss).
     
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Jun 29, 2013, 11:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by Snow-i View Post
We do alot of filemaker development. The Mini hosts all the databases we're working on and all of our internal databases (time and billing, CRM, asset management, etc).

VMs are difficult to foster teamwork in because it is essentially a local second machine that must be maintained, licensed, etc etc. Our terminal server is actually a virtual machine, but we have a partner company that maintains (but does little in the way of management). Generally speaking, we're looking for the easiest end-user experience to deploy. Most of our clients are small to medium business though we do have a few clients that are 2500+ users.

To give you a little more background, most of the work we do involves integrating systems that were before very limited in their integrations. Usually this involves a rigid ERP/accounting software (such as quickbooks or MS Dynamics GP). I, for example, do quite a bit of coding for FMbooks connector by Productive Computing.

We do a lot of custom reports, custom front ends for the users, integrations between multiple systems, or supplements to features that their systems don't provide out of the box.

Interesting. Are there other companies like yours? This sounds pretty unique!

As far as your point about VMs do you mean that it is easier to put all services on a single machine so that a separate OS/build doesn't have to be maintained?
     
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Jun 30, 2013, 03:11 AM
 
Where, exactly, did you look?

Both Maryland Micro Centers (beltway and Baltimore) have this for $500:
8GB
1TB
Win 7 Pro
3rd gen Core

In fact they have 13 options under $1000 meeting all 4 of your requirements.

edit: If "> 1TB" means over and not equal to, they still have 5 options under $1000.
     
Snow-i  (op)
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Jun 30, 2013, 12:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Where, exactly, did you look?

Both Maryland Micro Centers (beltway and Baltimore) have this for $500:
8GB
1TB
Win 7 Pro
3rd gen Core

In fact they have 13 options under $1000 meeting all 4 of your requirements.

edit: If "> 1TB" means over and not equal to, they still have 5 options under $1000.
You know, i didn't even look at micro center because towson and rockville were too far out of the way. Now that i know they have a better range of options, I will look there first if/when this happens again.
     
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Jun 30, 2013, 04:46 PM
 
Micro Center rawks.
     
   
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