You can grab an HP ProLiant BL685c server for as little as £300 from eBay via itinstock. Sounds expensive? Well, only a few years ago a server with similar configuration would have set you back around £10,000.
This particular DL685c comes with four dual core AMD Opteron processors (8218 models) that run at 2.6GHz.
There’s a whopping 32GB of RAM, eight 2.5in SFF drive slots that take either SAS or SATA drives, a Smart Array P400 RAID controller with 512MB of RAM and battery backup, two power supplies, two PCIe full height, full length slots, four PCI-X expansion slots, a DVD and floppy drive, six fans, an embedded NC371I multifunction server adaptor but alas no rack rails.
The server which is VMWare ready and supports VT virtualization has been decommissioned, has been tested and is working. Shove in a few SSD (say eight 128GB ones for £50 each) and upgrade the processors and you would have a perfectly capable superfast carrier-grade server for under £1000.
That said, if you do not need the server capabilities of this machine, you’d probably be better off loading a workstation with as much RAM as possible and a high end, overclocked multi core processor.