I need 3 machines that can be logged into so that people can watch videos and play flash games on them.
1. Which machine would you use for what purpose?
2. Can WHS2k11 be used to play videos? WHS1 didn't support much.
3. is WHS2k11 worth the hassle or should I stick with WHS1?
4. do you think with the help of a video card machine #4 could be used for videos/flash? It's a heep but it's still twice the power of my netbook (which plays videos just fine) and I might be able to find a decent video card that fits in it.
5. What am I not thinking of?
leave it it as is with WHS v1.
I don't think you would get enough performance out of machine #4 if you start swapping boxes around.
by default 2008r2 has all the video acceleration turned off. I am sure you can turn it all back on, but i would not bother. A server should be a server....
do you have a specific reason to upgrade or you just want to play with it?
I'd save the money and use it for a server upgrade.
I'd just keep your current setup as-is for now if it is working as you need it right now.
I know you said no hardware upgrades, but you look like your at that point. Bandaging old hardware to keep it running is not very cost effective in the long run in MOST cases. Plus the older P4's are power hogs. upgrading to a greener platform will pay for itself over time on a 24x7 machine.
I have no idea what machine #4 is, but you might look into reusing the case if it is not some OEM thing.
When you shop PC sales, you can get some good prices on say an I3, mobo and RAM. i have seen Intel I3 combo packages on E-tailers and microcenter for Sub-$200 price ranges and AMD Sempron 140 combos for less if you dont need lots of horse power.
If you could recycle the case (you might need a power supply also) you could get a server that can last for years to come. If the case is not reusable, you should still be able to build a complete low end, "Low Power" green server for around $250 (less hard drives).
If you want to bandage what you have, take a look at your mobo specs. you might be able to upgrade to a 64 bit used P4 or Pentium D if you have a 775 socket for under $25. there might have been some 64bit socket 478 P4's? i can't remember at this point. again check you mobo specs.
I recently upgraded some dell workstations with single core P4 and 512k of ram to dual core Pentium D's with 4 gig RAM each for about $25 per workstation off eBay. This extended the usefulness of an otherwise obsolete PC for minimum price. I did install whs2011 on one of them for testing with no issues at all. I'm not sure how that test build would hold up to 3 people streaming HD off it at once with the Sata150 it has on the mobo. It has since been converted back to a workstation.