I have two quotes from hosting providers for a web/db setup, which one is offering me better hardware? (I know there is a lot of other things to consider besides hardware, I just don't know enough to determine which host's gear is better)

Host A


  • 1x Cisco Pix 506

Fully Managed Server #1

  • HP DL360 G5
  • 1x Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor E5420 (2.50 GHz, 80 Watts, 1333 FSB)
  • 8GB RAM
  • 2x 146GB SFF SAS 15k Hard Drives RAID 1

Fully Managed Server #2

  • HP DL320 G5
  • Intel Xeon 3050 Dual-Core Processor 2.13Ghz
  • 4GB RAM
  • 2x 146GB SAS 15k Hard Drive RAID 1

Host B


  • Cisco ASA 5505 Standard

Fully Managed Server #1

  • Dell PowerEdge R410
  • Quad Core Intel Xeon E5504
  • 4GB RAM
  • 2 x 250GB 7K hot swappable SATA drives in RAID 1

Fully Managed Server #2

  • Dell PowerEdge R410
  • Quad Core Intel Xeon E5502
  • 4GB RAM
  • 1 x 250GB 7K SATA drive

Some clarifications...

Not a lot of traffic, hopefully some day :)

No VMWare

Don't need lots of disk space


5 Answers 5


If you are going to be running any virtualization software, the Xeon 5500 series has a much better MMU that shows a 30-100% performance gain in memory intensive applications.

That aside --

HP List Pro's

  • 15k HD's (about 75% more IOPS than 7.2k rpm drives)
  • 15k drives are almost twice as reliable as 7.2k rpm drives (MTBF is much higher on enterprise level SAS 15k drives than 'consumer' level SATA 7.2k drives).
  • More Ram (shouldnt be a decision maker though)
  • Proven architecture

HP Con's

  • Older CPU's (10% slower)
  • Upgrades will tend to be pricier

Dell pro's

  • Better firewall (whoopty do in most cases -- the 506 should be able to push through 100mbit and 25k concurrent connections according to Cisco)
  • Better CPU's

Dell Con's

  • Single drive !! That would be a deal breaker.
  • Slower drives
  • Less memory (but realistically, it shouldn't cost you more than $10/m extra to up the Dell server to 8GB. So lets ignore that.
  • The R series is first generation newer Dell equipment

If you are going to run VMWare/Xen/etc on these machines, the faster CPU would help, but the slower drives would hurt you -- making it likely a net-loss. This is almost a no brainer (unless you need more storage) - if you need fast access (database, etc), space isnt a huge concern, faster drives, more memory, proven hardware, more reliable disks. Win for Compaq.

If you need to be able to scale out storage cheaply -- Dell looks like more of a winner. The Compaq will be much more expensive to scale out with those fancy SAS drives.

If speed is important and the higher cost of upgrades isnt an issue - choose HP

If storage is more important and you need more economical upgrades choose Dell

  • 1
    I agree the single drive should be changed to RAID. For a database server, would the 7K SATA be a guaranteed bottleneck considering the rest of the hardware?
    – jayrdub
    Aug 14, 2009 at 17:09
  • No -- the hard drive wouldn't be guaranteed the bottleneck, but in a large number of cases it is -- especially for simple schema websites. Its very likely -- but not always the case.
    – SirStan
    Aug 14, 2009 at 17:28
  • +1 detailed analysis! I would have answered it depends Aug 15, 2009 at 17:14

What do you plan on running on these servers? A has more RAM on one box but smaller drives than B. If you need disk space I'd take B, if memory A.


From what you tell us about your requirements, or lack of them, what difference do you think it might make? Either is massive overkill for you. If you're concenred about getting value for money you should be focusing on the support provided, rather than the physical specs if both will do the job.


Host A: More RAM in Server A RAID in both systems SAS drives instead of SATA

Overall, they are much better servers. But, I'm sure you can request the same hardware for both and compare apples to apples.


The ASA is MUCH better than the PIX but the HP servers are much better than the Dell (in those configs anyway). It depends on how much traffic you're looking at, if it's high then go for the ASA-based solution, if it's not that high and more computational then go for the HP-based solution.

  • "HP servers are much better than the Dell" - Can you quantify your answer? 'Better' in specifically what ways, besides the drivespeed?
    – SirStan
    Aug 14, 2009 at 14:54
  • 2
    There are lots of reasons, but foremost for me is that Dell support reminds me of getting my teeth drilled. Aug 14, 2009 at 15:03
  • well in this configuration they have more memory and much better disks/controllers - that said I've only just spotted that the dells have newer 55xx series chips which will stomp over the 54xx series in the HPs so I'd go for the dells as he'll get a better FW, better processors and it sounds like the memory and disk requirements might not be too high either.
    – Chopper3
    Aug 14, 2009 at 15:05
  • How heavily do you consider 'hardware vendor support' in a 'fully managed' environment? </saracsm>. Not to defend Dell -- I use both -- what does the HP system have over the Dell tangibly?
    – SirStan
    Aug 14, 2009 at 15:05
  • 1
    I've used both Dell and HP support, and found them both either good or bad depending. If you've paid for it, Dell is more likely to provide "it is broken, make it go" type calls and coordinate visits for a good time for downtime, whereas HP is more likely to want to do troubleshooting checklists firsts and you are stuck with the tech coming when he's available -- not when is convenient for you. Also, I've had problems with the more exotic HP stuff (blade chassis etc) that support didn't know at all. Aug 14, 2009 at 16:16

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