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What to look for in a dedicated "gaming" Server


AvailNetworks

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Well I will start this section off by saying a little something about picking a dedicated server for gaming purposes and a few points about what is or is not important in my eyes:

 

 

 

 

 

HARDWARE:

 

 

 

Dual Xeon or Opteron

 

2GB Ram

 

dual 80Gb SATA Hard Drives (one for backup)

 

100mbit connection

 

 

 

note 1: For Servers you really NEED dual if you are going to be providing other people with paid servers, for clan use a single proc is just fine.

 

 

 

note 2: Xeons I have found to run better than opterons overall, they just run cleaner in this type of situation.

 

 

 

 

 

NETWORK:

 

 

 

Ideally you want to be on a high perfomance network suited and targeted for low latency and short routes/hops. Look for Level(3), Savvis, Internap, Mzima. Avoid Providers that carry mci, wiltel, cogent or any other "high latency" network.

 

 

 

 

 

LOCATION:

 

 

 

Location is very important when choosing a dedicated server for gaming, and for several reasons. If you are not familiar with selecting a physical location I suggest you visit webhostingtalk.com and learn a bit more on the subject. Generally I have found Dallas, Chicago, LA/san Jose to be the best place for Servers. New york, St Louis, Ashburn, VA All route through chicago first adding precious ms to your ping times.

 

 

 

PROVIDER:

 

 

 

There are good and there are bad providers, again for massive research on this go to webhostingtalk.com to see some reviews up there. But avoid places like 1and1 or aplus.net serverbeach. Any of the real big ones, they tend to have poor service.

 

 

 

SERVICE:

 

 

 

You should expect good support that is 24 hours by email. Response times of under 1 hour is considered good in my book, although faster is much appreciated.

 

 

 

SOFTWARE:

 

 

 

If you are here then you need windows 2003 STANDARD and Tcadmin. Thats about it from the dedicated end. you will need to setup ipsec or get a windows firewall for security. Windows 2003 Web will not cut it as running games violates microsoft terms of use

 

 

 

 

 

HOW MUCH TO PAY:

 

 

 

That depends on your provider and location, but as a general range for a dual Xeon 2.8/2gb/2x80gb/100mbit/windows2k3 you will probably spend about $250-$350 a month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If anyone has questions feel free to ask me, I have alot of expeience with dedicated and colo machines

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Let me just put this in. The one single large provider that I have worked with that has actually been worth anything is ThePlanet.com. They offer the Dallas location, with 11 different providers in a BGP4 pool. Coupled with great routing equipment, their network is really second to none. Their e-mail and online support has been lacking lately, but you can always call up and get a human on the phone 24/7 with no wait. Give them a little kick in the rear end and they hop to.

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I have to agree with the dual Xeon they are far better on the CPU usage compaired to single P4's of the same speed.

 

 

 

The 100mb port should be considered but you can probly get away with a 10 in most cases. However the 2gb of ram I would consider a minimum, I would use this on a box I had to rent because I got to close for comfort on one of our own large boxes and needed to get a couple of clients setup ASAP. I perfer 4gb ram (ECC registered of course).

 

 

 

I go with bigger drives as I hold all the games on each server to cut down on setup time, bandwidth and save me a few bucks each month. As far as server 2003 goes it isn't without issues with some games. Some require you to fool around with accounts and crap like that, eg. BF2.

 

 

 

Thats just my 2 cents

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the thing with an 11 pool bg4 doesnt make it a good thing in my opinion. There are only 3 or 4 real good backbones for gaming so if you are routed to an inferior backbone what good does that do you or your end user? I prefer 2 or max 3 bgp's to work with so no one gets stuck with a crappy at&t or cogent backbone.

 

 

 

100mbit port I think is essential.

 

 

 

Also I am curous how many gameservers you guys are putting on a machine as an average count? I use 2gb of ram and I still have 700mb free, unless you stacking the crap out of a machine you should have plenty of overhead

 

 

 

 

 

oh and the planet has some scary service practices, I have heard of more than 1 occasion of them formatting the wrong box and destroying someones data, better have your remote backups handy.

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My question is what games do most of your clients run? CS?

 

Do you set the chunk sizes for your games? Setting the chuck will make a big difference in the smoothness of it.

 

 

 

I wont get into debate on how to configgure your servers as I don't believe in cutting my own throte so to speek. But we've never had a lag issue on our servers due to resorces.

 

 

 

 

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most of my clients tend to be ut2004 but I do have a few halo and counter strike clans on my machines as well. I am not famiilar with "chunk" sizing, but I cut off the server when processor usage is high enough depending on number of slots and usage of the servers. I have machines with 7 clans and I have some with 13 it just depends on the usage (some are always empty and some are constantly full). I do not really go on mathematical calculations or how much profit I need to make on the server too much; as I go by on feel and play of the server, I also keep in mind of cpu spikes during map change which can be as high as 40%

 

 

 

 

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most of my clients tend to be ut2004 but I do have a few halo and counter strike clans on my machines as well. I am not famiilar with "chunk" sizing, but I cut off the server when processor usage is high enough depending on number of slots and usage of the servers. I have machines with 7 clans and I have some with 13 it just depends on the usage (some are always empty and some are constantly full). I do not really go on mathematical calculations or how much profit I need to make on the server too much; as I go by on feel and play of the server, I also keep in mind of cpu spikes during map change which can be as high as 40%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thats basically overselling the server box... Only ever did it once when we first started and never did it again. What happens when the whole server box is full?? Here come on the 13year old kids coming to sue you cause there server is lagging.

 

 

 

With your comment on only "dual proc" machines.. I work on the basis:

 

 

 

1 Dual Proc Server = $1500 to buy then to colocation

 

1 Single Proc (for example XP 3200) = $500 to buy then colocation

 

 

 

One goes down you have 4 screaming kiddies at you, have the dual go down and then you have 13 little kiddies scream. Ok it costs a little more on running costs but in a lot of ways you can be picky where certain people go :smile:

 

 

 

With transit and bandwidth.. Sometimes having more peering companies pays off, sometimes it doesnt.. Why? Every company is different and it could mean the differnce of having a large "world wide" customer base or a souly 1 country customer base.

 

 

 

<div class="pre"><pre>

PROVIDER:

 

There are good and there are bad providers, again for massive research on this go to webhostingtalk.com to see some reviews up there. But avoid places like 1and1 or aplus.net serverbeach. Any of the real big ones, they tend to have poor service.</pre></div>

 

 

 

Best advice ive seen here. Webhosting talk is a gold mine of experance and companies reputations. But as they always say: What ever works for your company is the best for you :smile:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just my pov.

 

 

 

Chris

 

 

 

 

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the duals work really well to offset map change cpu spikes. and as far as the 13 year old kid crowd I have a real easy solution to that....I do not take orders from people under 18.

 

 

 

 

 

For colocation it costs me the exact same amount to operate a dual xeon as it does to colo a single celeron/xp or anything else in a 1u package. As far as overloading I have never seen a problem and everyone compliments me on smoothness. To each their own in the deciated server dept though but If you do use single processor machines I would not advertise that to the gaming public, they will eat you alive and you will spend alot of time defending your hardware specs and choices.

 

 

 

 

 

For webhosting I agree on low spec, all my webhosting machines are p4 3.0's....nothing too fancy because I do not want 750 people calling me with problems at once.

 

 

 

 

 

side note as well: I have everyone setup on a mailing list and they are sent out an email if/when I am having issues in advance.

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Ermm I guess your in a wierd part of the market. We are currently running the highest 32bit AMD processor which acctually performs the same as P4 3.0GHZ easily.. It will run 3 users on a server box such as Source to MOHBT or MOHPA easily.. We learnt the hard way.. why pay double to get a dual CPU processor which is acctually only a 20% increase on a normal one cpu machine when you can get a single processor machine with fewer users on, no overselling and if by chance the hardware fails or the server has a problem for example a hack attempt and its offline for whatever reason you are only effecting a small ammount of people..

 

 

 

Same for us.. all our servers are in 2U cases and for us in a way it does matter (we own a few racks so space for us doesnt make alot of difference). The way you have to see it is we are not putting all our eggs in one basket...

 

 

 

Same as us, we have all customers in a mailing list but sometimes problems come up and you dont expect it. If you have 20 people on a dual xeon or 4 on a single and the processor burns out at 9.00PM during clan matches, what would you rather have jumping in teamspeak support? 20 people complaining to you or 4 :smile:

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you can still turn a profit with 4 gameservers per box. It is not a whole lot I would not, unless you charge alot per user slot and run decent sized servers. (14 player slots and up)

 

 

 

http://availnetworks.net/dedicated.php

 

 

 

look at the barton package, with windows license/tcadmin/100mbit $135/mo depending on your pricing scheme and other services you provide it is quite possible to turn a profit

 

 

 

To each their own In my opinion, With alot of colocated servers you have to think about buying rackspace/power/bandwidth commit etc and also administration costs. It adds up real fast. Dedicated is a bit different and you don't have to worry about all that other stuff.

 

 

 

With single processors I still have found that even with a few servers on there, during the map changes you WILL see lag; depending on who you host they may or may not care. With duals you will not see that unless you seriously overload the box

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We have a few Racks in London and the limiting factor on how many servers you can get in a rack is power and cooling. As standard our racks come with 8 amps, and in our first rack we have 2 power feeds so 16 amps. Now you can hit 8 amps quite easily using about 8 dual xeon servers especially on bootup. Our Quad Xeon Webserver uses about 2-3amps on its own.

 

 

 

So as you can see case size isn’t an issue we could use all our power requirements and still have 1/2 a rack free if all our servers were 1U. So what we do is use bigger cases like the 2U ones and have bigger fans and better cooling for them.

 

 

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Since we are in the UK, there is a massive difference in pricing between buying hardware and what we can sell servers at a reasonable price than what you can sell in the US as a reasonable price.

 

 

 

Im not going to start advertising our company on here ... as per the forum rules ;)

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  • 1 month later...

I agree Webhostingtalk is a good site for information and staying in touch with what everyone's doing however there are alot of 'snake oil salesmen' lurking about. Trust me Iv'e been a member for 3 years almost and can spot them at a glance now ;)

 

 

 

My opinion is read up as much as you can and check out reviews on different companies and what people say about them but don't take everything you read as 'gospel'..

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  • 3 months later...

Something pretty simple to overlook is that once you box is rebooted all the servers are pretty much cycling at the same time unless it is a stopwatch scenario..This will cause huge lag spikes. as time passes things servers will change times and things will calm down.

 

 

 

I just boought a new box running dual 2.4 opterons. 4G Ram and a 16 disk fiber array with a transfer rate of 2G per sec. My box is located in the Equinix facility in Virginia. No lag issues here!

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