I have a hardware raid array I want to use for the main system drive. It fits into a 3.5" drive bay slot, and I'd /really/ prefer it be externally accessible, so I don't have to open the case if a drive fails (this is not absolutely required, but very strongly preferred). The system must support SATA internally.
I want something with multiple processor cores. Multiple procs is fine, tho that's out of style these days. Two is fine, I don't need much more. I just want more than one.
Very important: I said /micro/ server. I want something small and portable. Something I can shut down, pull the cords, stuff in a bag, and take with me. It'll spend 99.2% of its time in my basement, but I don't want a giant hassle for the three days a year it goes out.
It should have at least one USB port. It should have a VGA or DVI port, preferably, or /some/ video port that I can connect to a standard VGA monitor thru some set of adapters which do not cost a lot of money.
Also important: I'm paying for this out of pocket then getting reimbursed from a limited budget. So, I'm looking for /cheap/ but good. I'd prefer the entire thing, with all requisite add-ons to get it going (not counting the system drive(s), since I already bought those) will stay under $300. I'm willing to go to 4 without crying too much. More than that and I'm gonna be looking for ways to strip it down further.
I'd originally been excited about the Shuttle X27D, until I realized it only has a 2.5" bay. Disappointing. But, that's the sort of form factor that would be ideal.
My stack of DECtops are, sadly, woefully underpowered and inadequate to the task. (Still looking for people to house them for me, tho. Offsite servers are a nice thing to have.)
So, what I'm looking for here is some advice: What do I buy, from whom?
I'd prefer something that comes with ram and cpu, but 'complete system's tend to run outrageously expensive for no good reason, so I'm okay with buying a barebones system and adding the cpu/ram to that. But, I'll also need advice on cpu, as I haven't paid attention to the ever deepening pile of marketing crap surrounding the processor market for at least five years.
So, if you recommend a shuttle, which one, and where do you think I should buy it? And, since a lot of them support several different CPUs these days, which one do I get?
Do you recommend something other than shuttle? They're the only name I know in this niche, tho I know there /exist/ others, so recommendations are welcome. Same questions hold.