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Anybody bother collecting G4/G5 Xserves?

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As the title says, anybody bother collecting old G4/G5 Xserve gear? Are they any more reliable then the same generation G4 MDD and G5 Powermacs? Louder or hotter running?

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They are loud as hell, but when they ran in the racks, they were pretty solid. Looking back, they were more reliable for sure than the workstations I managed. 

 

The video card was crap tho.

 

I saved a few from the scrap heap back in 2010, but they ended up in the back of storage. I know some people who still are running their 2009 Intels still, mostly for legacy systems.

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I would, if I had the space, and if I could find any that weren't priced at something like $500.

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Anonymous Freak: how much of a hurry are you in? I'm currently in the process of decommissioning my Xserve G4 (it has outgrown its usefulness for me) so when that process is done, you can have it for the price of shipping. Works great. :)

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The Xserve G5 was probably the best incarnation of the G5 ever made; its cooling system was if anything overbuilt and it let the CPUs fly in a way the desktop versions never did. (I had a dual 2.0 for a few months to play with and it was untouchable on floating-point heavy work, easily faster than contemporary Netburst Xeon systems which I also had direct access to compare it to. Only thing that could beat it was an AMD Opteron.) Of course, it's probably no coincidence that the G5 is also the Apple machine most indistinguishable from the POWER systems IBM was selling at the time.

 

That said, I sort of question its desirability as a collector's item. They really are supposed to live in a proper server room, out of sight *and* earshot. Frankly I'd consider running one just stuffed in a residential closet a dangerous fire hazard. They're really supposed to be used "headless" and while it's technically possible to cram a video card into one and sort of use it as a desktop that's simply not what they're for.

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The first gen Intel Xserves are pretty cheap right now AFAIK. A friend just got one and pressed it into service.

 

Edit: said it was $80 shipped on eBay.

Edited by TheWhiteFalcon

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I would get a server... If they were cheap on the 'Bay.

 

My current laptop works fine after running 24 hours with the screen on, fan running, and other problems. So sooner or later, I will take the board out, put it in a fake case, and stick it in my closet as a "server". Better then spending money on a real server, right? :p

Edited by Carboy7

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I was just wondering if the G4 xserve was more reliable then a MDD and if the power supply was a standard or Apple monstrocity.

 

If I ever bothered to get one it would be running in the basement anyway.

 

The G5 models seem to be $100+ still.

Edited by Unknown_K

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I remember a little mouse in a position to know whispering in my ear once that the G4 xServe was drastically inferior to the G5 version, but I've never had my hands on one so I can't say. Are you intending to use it as a desktop instead of an MDD? It'll be intolerable to sit in the same room with after half an hour, I can guarantee you that.

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Keep in mind the Xserves have the Apple Drive Modules you have to work with, or hack new drives in. It's not like a Power Mac where you can just slap in any drive with a couple screws. 

Edited by TheWhiteFalcon

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Well, if there's something you really want OS X server versions 10.2 through 10.5 for then I suppose it will do as well as anything, but I still question their suitability for any environment outside of a server room. I mean, really, keep in mind that though they may only be 1.75" tall they require 19" by almost *three feet* of horizontal space and you're not supposed to stack anything on top of them. (The upper skin really is just that, a skin, to keep foreign objects from falling into it and direct airflow properly when it's not snuggled in a rack. You also *genuinely* need to keep both the inlet and outlet vents clear of foreign objects.) If you've already got a rack in said basement you're set, I guess, but if not you'll really need to buy one. If all you want is a file server or whatnot you'd probably be better off with a more modern and power-saving solution.

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The G5 model was far more refined than the G4. The USB was 2.0, it had FireWire 800, PCI-X slots instead of PCI/AGP, most importantly it used SATA.

 

The drivers are easy to upgrade, just unscrew the drives out of the module and pop in a new one. I did that many times. 

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I got a prototype G5 Xserve, and it's definitely interesting.

 

One thing I'll say about it, though, is since it's a prototype, it's not as well refined as a production model might be (the heatsink shield, which is metal with one or two"G5"s embossed on top on a production model, is a simple piece of heavy paper on mine). There are other things, but that difference stands out most.

 

c

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finding a video card that supports QE/CI for it.

 

Best I can imagine you'll find is a PCI Nvidia 5200FX card. There are BIOS flashes out there for PC ones that supposedly will do CI even on a B&W G3.

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I could have sworn the G5 xserves had built in video, but I was apparently thinking of the INtel versions, which had ATi X1300, followed by nVidia GT120.

 

I'm like 99% that Apple let you configure a GPU in the xserves G4 and G5. Not a particularly powerful one, but something that would give you "good enough" desktop functionality on pro apps (in particular, for things like log/capture in final cut, capturing audio in Logic, or controlling renders in 3d apps) so that you could pretty much use the thing as a rackmount workstation.

 

The Xserve G5 was probably the best incarnation of the G5 ever made; its cooling system was if anything overbuilt and it let the CPUs fly in a way the desktop versions never did. 

 

I'd be interested in seeing numbers showing that an xserve at a particular speed was actually any faster than a Power Mac. The Power Macintoshes generally shipped at higher frequencies (dual 2.7GHz, dual/quad 2.5GHz) and I haven't heard reports of those systems throttling due to heat concerns, which would be interesting to see/hear because Apple made having those cooling channels/chambers a pretty big priority with the Power Macintosh G5, so unless it is actually better for the air to scream by in a small space than for it to scream by in a large space, I would think that the PMac would "win" or that they'd be equals.

 

Back in the day, I always wanted Apple to build something basically akin to the PowerEdge T610/620/630. Dual socket G5s or Xeons, several disk bays, several expansion slots, into a system that can be ordered as or potentially converted into either a particularly large tower, or a 5u server. I always thought that the potential for a server with its own real built in raid using an enclosure like this was going to be better for the Mac community, and that a a workstation for people who needed even more expansion than the regular G5/Mac Pro it could prove popular. 

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We had 2 of them and 4 Xraid arrays at work years ago. Dual 1.25ghz an 2gb each and the storage had 4 drives in each "half".

 

Ran Panther server and then Leopard finally before they were decommissioned and replaced with a pair of Dell servers running Centos and a small SSD San array.

 

They show up on fleabay from time to time. I'd rather run a QS g4 with dual 1ghz instead.

 

I think the iscsi stack for tiger and leopard is still free if you want a different storage option.

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I have an Xserve G5 stuffed back in a closet, although I don't run it all that often.

 

Mine is a dual 2ghz, and it definitely seems to finish jobs faster than my dual core 2.0, although my dual 2.7 and of course my quad beat both of them.

 

It's a LOUD beast, though, and also throws out a lot of heat. The closet it's in has no ductwork running to it and is on an outside wall(it's a big walk-in that's in the upstairs hallway). In the winter, I'd guess it hovers in the lower 60º range if not the upper 50ºs with the house in the mid to high 60s. If I turn on the Xserve and have it actually doing something, I've actually opened the closet door to help heat the rest of the upstairs.

 

One other thing-when I first got it, I initially couldn't get it to even read my Leopard server DVD. I ended up doing a TDM install, and listened to the fans blast for about two hours. In Open Firmware-which is where TDM operates-there are no fan controls so they just run at full speed all the time. I had it out installing while I was watching TV, and had to crank the TV up pretty high to be able hear over it. It turns out that-as was typical of Xserves-it simply had a CD-RW drive and not a Superdrive. The drive is the same as that used in aluminum PowerBooks, so I just robbed a drive from the Powerbook box. Mine came with a retail-boxed copy of Tiger Server on CD-ROM in the box with the server.

 

I have an Xserve RAID that I want to get going, although I don't have the hard drives for it and haven't bought a set yet. One of these days, I'll probably call MicroCenter and ask if they can hold back 14 more-or-less matching refurbished 250gb drives for me, although that's still a painful amount of money. I say that I'll call them since I don't think I've ever seen anywhere near that many similar refurb drives on the shelves, and doubt I could walk in at all and buy 14 ATA drives of the same capacity. 

 

I have the PCI-X fiber channel card for the RAID. I'd use it with my G5 were it not for the fact that I have indeed been warned about how loud they really are.

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I would love to have one but the electricity requirements and heat/cooling needs make it kind of a pipe dream... all my networking stuff is in my furnace room, which is cool enough in the summer but gets pretty warm in the winter.

 

A more ideal scenario for a server setup for me is going to be a short rack that will hold my switch, patch panel, KVM, a few small things, one of my beige G3's and my PC file server (dual 1GHz P3 box with 4GB RAM - Win2k absolutely SCREAMS on that thing!)

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I have an Xserve G5 stuffed back in a closet, although I don't run it all that often.

 

It's a LOUD beast, though, and also throws out a lot of heat. The closet it's in has no ductwork running to it and is on an outside wall(it's a big walk-in that's in the upstairs hallway). In the winter, I'd guess it hovers in the lower 60º range if not the upper 50ºs with the house in the mid to high 60s. If I turn on the Xserve and have it actually doing something, I've actually opened the closet door to help heat the rest of the upstairs.

 

LOL! I haven't checked (fiduciary discretion re the 68k collection's needs) but if the early G4 ran a version of X that supported Faux9 and had center mounts for my TelCo rack I'd be all over one. I miss using the QS'02 under the desk to keep my own feets warm in the winter. I still run slide shows on it to keep it awake and running as a white noise generator/space heater unit overnight in the bedroom. Working on setting the MDD'03 Native9 special edition as an eventual replacement for more efficient production of noise and heat.

 

An X-Serve in that role would be beyond cool! :lol:

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