I need to buy a laptop to use as a server - I can't find one with the right specs!

  Fustbariclation 06:09 28 Oct 2013

I need a machine to use as a pilot test machine for a new green-field set-up. I'll use the laptop as one of the main servers when the site starts - a laptop as a server makes sense, for a small <50 people site, as it's cheaper & smaller than most servers & has a battery.

The specs I'm looking for are:

  • 802.11ac - I need the speed & coverage area to share images (a big part of the work)
  • 1000base-T LAN connection
  • 16Gb main memory - I need multiple virtual machines for different software
  • 1TB disc 7200RPM or greater or.. 1TB disc + 128GB internal SSD or.. 1TB disc + Thunderbolt for an external SSD

Screen, keyboard etc don't matter, of course. I expect it to cost around £1500.

I've been hunting all over the place, but this combination seems hard to find. I can find 1TB discs, but they're slow, at ~5000RPM, which will cause a peformance bottleneck.

I could have an external router for the 802.11ac, but I'd rather use the machine as the main network server - if we had three laptops with 802.11ac strategically placed, we should be able to provide complete coverage of the space - one floor 50m x 40m.

I could have less than 16Gb of main memory, but then a multiple virtual machine will be slow with all the swopping.

I could have a USB 3.0 connection to external SSD, but that'd be half as fast, which seems pointless when you go to the trouble of having SSD.

Any suggestions would be gratefully received!

  BT 07:52 28 Oct 2013

Can't you find a shorter user name. Your current one destroys the formatting on the forum.

  Fustbariclation 08:05 28 Oct 2013

I've shortened it. I didn't select the user name, it was selected when I registered the account. I'm quite happy with the shorter one though...

  Ian in Northampton 09:17 28 Oct 2013

It's not clear to me why this needs to be a laptop. The kind of spec you're looking for will be much easier to find in a desktop - and will be cheaper than a comparable laptop. Laptops just aren't built, I don't think, for this kind of heavy duty server application - which is why you're struggling to find one. What am I missing?

  Fustbariclation 09:45 28 Oct 2013

Well, there's the battery, which means I wouldn't need a UPS.

There's another reason for using a laptop. I'll be doing the set-up and testing in the UK, but the actual project is in Abu Dhabi. I think it'd be easier for somebody to take the laptop there with their hand-luggage than to lug a tower server along.

In Abu Dhabi, I'd be quite happy to have two more conventional servers to keep it company, but it should work as a server reasonably well.

I'm not sure why it's difficult to find laptops with thunderbolt - I have a macbook with SSD, so I don't need an external SSD, but my iMac at home only has a 7200 internal drive, so I have my OS and apps on a thunderbolt attached SSD (La Cie's 256Gb drive) which makes it nicely nifty.

If I had to have a PC, I'd see the need of a fast boot as even more important, so thunderbolt would make sense for builds with only ~5000 RPM drives.

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