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ASP 101's ASP.NET Test Machine

by John Peterson

Introduction

As I was looking for a computer I could install the release version of .NET on, I ran across Microsoft's system requirements for .NET. Could it be true... will .NET really run on a Pentium 133?

ASP 101's ASP.NET Test Machine Specs

For those of you who are curious, here are the specs of the machine I've got set up in my office to do our ASP.NET testing on:

Hardware

  • Tyan Tomcat III Motherboard - S1563D
  • Dual Intel Pentium 166 Classic (Non-MMX) Processors
  • 192MB EDO RAM (6 x 32MB SIMMS)
  • Matrox Graphics Millennium II PCI
  • Western Digital 4.3 Gig IDE Hard Drive (WDC AC34300L)
  • Creative / Matshita CR-581 4x CD-ROM
  • 3Com EtherLink III ISA 3C509B (10Base-T)
  • Generic Floppy / Keyboard / Mouse

Software

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server SP2
  • Internet Explorer 6
  • MDAC 2.7 RTM
  • .NET Framework SDK

Pentium 166's?  That Has To Be a Typo...

Now I realize that looking over these specs, most of you are probably thinking... "My desktop is more powerful than that" ...and you're right, but it was the best machine that I could find that we weren't currently using for something else. After some testing and rebuilding (replacing the old hard drive with a spare 4 Gig and adding 2 more 32MB SIMMS for a total of 6), I re-tasked (my new word of the day) it as my new ASP.NET v1 test server. While it's not the fastest thing around, it is up there in terms of reliability. Since almost all the components in it have been running well somewhere on our network (in one capacity or another) for the last few years, I'm not expecting it to give me any grief! IMHO, the prospect of no stupid hardware problems more then makes up for the lack of power.

Another nice point illustrated by my using this machine is that you really don't need a killer machine to run .NET. It will obviously run more slowly on this machine then it would on my P4 desktop, but if you've got a reasonable amount of memory and you enable the caching features where applicable, ASP.NET can perform as well as, if not better then, classic ASP even on older hardware. Heck, according to Microsoft's specs, it only requires a single P133 with 128MB! So if you want to play with .NET but aren't quite ready to jump in head first, dust off that three year old computer you've got sitting in the corner and "re-task" a server of your own.  ;)

Conclusion

Don't get me wrong... if you're launching a new web site built around .NET, I'm not suggesting you use the oldest hardware you can find to run it. I'm pretty sure Microsoft was not expecting people to launch their shiny new e-commerce sites on three year old hardware! Like most software, .NET runs best when it has ample resources, but it is nice to see that .NET will run (and even run decently) on an extremely modest computer.

Note: So far the only things I've run into that are noticably slow on this machine are the .NET Framework install itself (which isn't really a big deal since you only do it once) and the first hit to a page after a change. I'm pretty sure it's the compilation of the page that's slowing things down there. Once it serves up the response to the first request, even relatively complex pages that aren't cached come back really quickly. An impressive fact when you consider the box they're coming from.

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