I was noodling through Velocity Micro’s Web site the other day, and I noticed that its version of the Windows Home Server, the NetMagix HQ HomeServer, is more robustly configured than the HP MediaSmart Server. Velocity Micro, which sells high-performance PCs that are popular with go-getter gamers, offers the NetMagix HQ at a starting config of 500GB for $899. Got really deep pockets? You can configure the NetMagix with a whopping 4TB of storage for $2,594. HP, on the other hand, offers its HP MediaSmart Server EX475 with a max of 1TB of storage for a price of $749.99.
Beyond the ability to pile on storage capacity, another difference between the Velocity Micro NetMagix and the HP’s MediaSmart is that the NetMagix HQ employs a 1.6GHz Intel Pentium E2140 dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. Microsoft designed the Windows Media Server OS to run on hardware with pretty low requirements, and HP equipped the MediaSmart with a 1.8GHz AMD Sempron processor and 512MB of RAM.
I was curious why Velocity Micro opted to boost its hardware, so I called CEO Randy Copeland to get his take. “The OS doesn’t require the extra RAM and processing power, but you’ll need it if you’re streaming video from multiple PCs around the house,” he says. “And if two people are trying to back up their PCs at the same time, the server will come to a screaming halt. If you have bunch of different PCs hitting the server, you need the horsepower.” He says that other difference include the fact that the NetMagix is housed in a bigger box for better cooling.
While Velocity Micro’s customers are the type who don’t blink (or at least don’t recoil) at paying $3,000 or more for a muscular gaming rig, the NetMagix is priced well above HP’s MediaSmart. For example, the 500GB MediaSmart sells for $599, which is $300 less than a 500GB NetMagix. Nonetheless, Copeland says that the NetMagix is selling so well that the company ran short on chassis, resulting in a six-week wait on current orders.
Given the low-price of storage today, I’m still hoping that a vendor will offer a Windows Home Server device that’s priced right for the masses. The price of the OS itself is pretty steep, but I’ve heard a rumor that Dell might be working on a deal with Microsoft. If that happens, we just might see some competition in the market that will drive down the prices. Until then, you can always build your own.