Workstations for SSDR?

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I am searching for desk top computer to run SSDR.  Rather than build a new one, I have been looking for cheaper (but effective) alternatives.  Refurb Intel i7 units are now available in the $250-350 range.  I also ran across refurbed work stations as shown here: http://www.in.tum.de/fileadmin/user_upload/RBG/Datenblaetter/Dell/Workstation/Dell-Precision-T3600.pdf

These are available for $250 and up, have Xeon CPUs, larger than average RAM, lan, usb, sound, and good graphics.  

Only downsides I can think of is more fans = more noise, more power consumption, and getting drivers for later windows versions.

Does any one have experience with work stations?  Any show stoppers here?
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butch alline

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Posted 3 years ago

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KP2L

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I like the Dell Optiplex refurbished computers. They are off lease. They are built for the corporate market and in my opinion they are very reliable.  I bought this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883158003 .  

And I added a mid priced Geoforce video card from Amazon for 2 monitors:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L5GZ8GE?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00

And added another 4 GB of ram.

Plenty of CPU horse power and graphics power. Window 7 64 bit works fine.....And if you are so inclined, you can go to windows 10 at your own risk.

Hope this helps.

Carl KP2L
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Doug Hall

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Butch,

Last year I bought an off-lease HP Z400 workstation from a local refurbisher on Craigslist. This guy buys pallets of off-lease computers, culls the broken ones, and sells the good ones with a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional and MS Office. Mine had 8GB RAM and a dual DVI Nvidia graphics card and runs SmartSDR without breaking a sweat. I supplied him with a brand new 1 TB hard drive which he installed. Total cost (to me) was $275 which included a 1 year warranty! I've had it for a year now with no problems at all. It's quiet (fan-wise and RF-wise) and fast and built like a tank. I have another one here that I use for video editing with Adobe Premiere. Highly recommended.

73,
Doug K4DSP
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Bob- W5TX

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Recently bought Dell refurb (960 I think - not in front if me) i3 4G 250SATA win7pro for $199. Added 240G SSD + nVidia card to run 2 monitors. Works great - swift with SSD. Quiet. Total investment abt $330
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Walt - KZ1F

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Ya know what? If you spend $300 on a Dell and don't like it you can always spend $11,000 on a business class machine you'll never use 1/20th of. But, you wont need to as that $300 Dell will more than suffice.
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Kevin K4VD, Elroy

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Emboldened by the conversation here I decided to try my Dell XPS 410 out with SmartSDR. No go. It's a core 2 with a NVIDIA 7300LE graphics card, 8 GB RAM and 500 GB of drive space.

The problems I noticed, compared to my MSI GT70-2OD laptop (gaming) was a less than responsive spectrum and stuttering receive audio when starting another program like Chrome. Dang. Was hoping it would work out.

I'm interested in the idea of refurbished computers but most that I see that come close to reasonable specs are at $1200+.

Is Xeon appropriate for a Windows desktop intended for use with SmartSDR? I always thought Xeon was found more in servers (where video doesn't matter) and higher-end workstations where a super video card is added if needed. If Xeon is appropriate, what models are a minimum?

I was right at the edge of dropping around $2K on a new Dell but if I can grab something suitable for $500ish i'd be happy to save the money.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Xeon is serious overkill. I use an inspiron 3857 with an I5 chip. It works fb. The nvidia, 8gb, and 500gb are also fine. What else is on it running concurrently?
(Edited)
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Doug Hall

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They're not serious overkill, and there are good reasons for buying a used Xeon workstation, which is what this thread is about. The motherboards tend to be very well engineered and reliable, and the performance is excellent. Best of all the price is right, in my case one tenth of what they cost new. True, they don't have integrated graphics, and they can't be overclocked, but neither of those issues should matter to someone who wants a decent, reliable computer for SmartSDR.

Doug K4DSP
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Walt - KZ1F

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Well Doug, I can't protest too loudly, I run a multi compute node openstack cloud in the basement, but that's what I do professional. So if someone wants to buy a rack and start their own DataCenter who am I to complain? ;-)
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butch alline

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To wrap up this topic, yes workstations work fine per Doug Hall

However, I cheaped out and bought a SHUTTLE XPC SX58J3 INTEL CORE i7-930 2.80GHZ 8GB RAM 1TB HARD DRIVE DESKTOP for $260 delivered.  Has Gigabit LAN x2, GeForce GTX 460 with HDMI, etc., optical drive, and more USB ports than I can count.  Only downside is that I had to install Windoze 7. Case size is 8.5"W x 7.5"H x 13" D - way smaller and lighter than a CAD workstation.  Runs great too.
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Walt - KZ1F

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That'll work fine for you.
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Jim Stone

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Butch, if you don't mind sharing, where did you buy your computer?  I'm waiting for Maestro but still unsure whether to go your route or use a Mac with parallels.  Thanks!
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Kevin K4VD, Elroy

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Looks like the link Butch gave us is for his win on eBay. I'll have to look out for such a deal. I looked into the company and they sell barebones boxes. I think that means a box, power supply and motherboard but no CPU, driver or memory for about the same price as the complete setup on eBay. Looks like a real nice deal.
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Joe, KQ1Q

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Re "unsure whether to go your route or use a Mac with parallels", I use SmartSDR on several different Macs with OS X 10.11.3, Parallels Desktop 11.1.3, and Windows 8.1:
- 2015 iMac 27, 4Ghz i7, 4GB M395X
- 2012 iMac 27, 3.4 Ghz i7, 1GB GTX-675MX
- 2015 MacBook Pro, 2.8Ghz i7, 2GB M370X

In general it runs well, however if using remote PTT via Mox, there can be some Tx lag. This doesn't exist using local hardware PTT to the 6300. 

IMO running remote PTT (ie pressing Mox button in SmartSDR) isn't very practical anyway since there's no persistent SmartSDR assignable shortcut key. This has always been frustrating since even little utilities like Echolink have this.

However running with a local Flex 6000 you can physically reach with PTT switch and headphones, it works very well on a contemporary Mac under Parallels Desktop.  I don't have any experience with older Macs and how they'd perform in this case.
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butch alline

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There are several sources for Shuttle computers, but they come and go, so you will have to be persistent in searching for them.  I got mine from Wealthonics on eBay.  

As Kevin points out, you have to be careful on eBay.  Make sure you are getting what you want and ask questions before bidding.

Larry's link points to a shuttle that looks exactly like mine - same price, same shipping.  I went with Wealthonics because they had less red type and exclamation points !!  ;-)