Get a Cheap Server to Run Bots for Evony and Other Games

Keeping up with a bunch of Evony accounts can be a pain. Having to spread the bots out over a few desktops and maybe a laptop or two is even more of a pain! Five or so years ago I had to add extra vents to my laptop and keep it on a 4-fan chillmat while running. If I didn’t it would overheat and my bots would all start to freeze. Those days were no fun at all..

Here’s what I did to save my laptop from a fiery death without paying loads of money for a new PC.

Buy a Cheap and Lightly Used Server from a Data-Center to use for Bots!

Every few years, big corporate data-centers have to upgrade a lot of their hardware. Some times the data-centers will give their servers back as part of a trade-in. This isn’t always possible though. Data-centers then have to liquidate their old hardware in the next best way – eBay and Amazon!

But what is a Server, you wonder?

A Server is just a powerful computer that doesn’t have great audio/video capabilities when compared to a desktop computer. But, servers generally have much better CPU/RAM capabilities than a desktop computer. They are also shaped different than desktop computers. They have connection hook-ups for a mouse, keyboard and monitor. They also have Ethernet ports, and a few USB ports just like a regular computer. Servers are usually wider, flatter, and longer than a desktop computer. This is so that many of them can stack on top of each other in a rack or case.

This is good news for botters and other people that need high CPU power and RAM for the least amount of money!

The first server I bought 6 years ago was a 1U 2x Dual-Core 8GB RAM Dell PowerEdge sc1435 for $100. It pushed about 50 bots eas. Later on I bought 2x AMD Quad-Core CPUs for $40 along with 32GB RAM for $100 to max out the sc1435’s specs for $240 total. It pushed 250+ bots. I sold that server on craigslist 2 years later for $450, almost double what I paid.

The next server I bought was a 4U 4x Quad-Core 64GB RAM Dell PowerEdge r905 for $350, it pushed 500+ bots easy. I could have upgraded the r905 to 4x Hex-Cores and 256GB RAM had I wanted to. But I spotted a 8x Quad-Core 128GB RAM Sun Microsystems x4600 M2 going for $700 and I snatched that up quick! The x4600 m2 is pushing 700+ bots along with running NEATO.. and serving a private-game-server for another game called Conquer Online. 😉

Currently at an 8-core laptop with 16gb RAM costs about $900+, and an 8-core desktop with 16gb RAM costs about $600+.

I guarantee that a 2-3 year old server will out-perform and out-last a desktop with the same specs. A server will also be more stable while doing it. Why? Because servers are run 24/7 and need to be stable. Servers often take 2 or more CPUs, each CPU has it’s own sets of registered RAM. Some servers use RAID to split HDD load onto many hard drive disks for better performance. And some servers even have 2+ power supplies so if one fails there is a backup to keep it running!

These reasons make a used server a far better choice than a desktop when it comes to running Bots for Evony.

Sure, with a bit of computer know-how and newegg you could build a decent economy 16gb RAM desktop for $400+. You could probably build a real crap-fest 16GB RAM desktop with a crap parts for around $300+. ($40 case, $60 motherboard, $60 ram, $75 CPU, $25 HDD, $50 Power Supply.) But you will be buying old and inferior hardware already outdated at the time of it’s making. Outdated hardware made cheap at the end of it’s time won’t make the most stable machine.

When you buy a used server that is only outdated by a few years, you are buying technology that was cutting-edge at the time of its manufacturing. High-End corporate hardware made to work well and last for a long time. Which would you rather have? New and crappy, or slightly-aged and still awesome??

However, there is one down-side to owning your very own rack server… The Noise!

Most 1U servers have 6 to 12 1.75″ (40mm) barrel fans that spin around 30k RPM. It’s about like having a couple hair dryers on medium-heat setting inside a metal box. If you get a 1U server, prepare to deal with sound by putting it in a spare room/garage/closet. Or use a vented/cooled sound-reducing box made to put it inside of. I’ve heard some people just stick their 1U server under a bed or couch as a sound reducer and put some pantyhose over the front to stop it from sucking up dust. 😛

Remember when I said servers are long, wide, and flat so they can stack in a rack? The “1U” and “4U” in those server names I mentioned means the 1U server is “1 Unit” tall. And the 4U server is “4 Units” tall. Therefore, my 4U server is 4x taller than the 1U server I had and takes up 4 “unit slots” in a server rack. (This is visible in the eBay images above.) But since my server just sits inside a cabinet by itself, putting it into a rack isn’t why I care about it’s height.

The reason I care about server height is the larger the server you get, the larger the fans are. And because the fans are bigger, they spin slower and more quietly. My buddy has a 2U server that still uses 40mm fans, but it also has standard 80mm desktop fans in it as well. Since the 1U fans don’t have to work as hard, his 2U server is far quieter than any of the 1U servers I’ve owned. Probably something like a few hair dryers on low-cool. The 4U PowerEdge r905 I had was even quieter than my buddy’s 2U server. It just had a strong hum like a desktop gaming computer. There are also 6U, 8U and even larger servers.. but most of those are storage servers with 6+ hard drive slots, crappy CPUs, and minimal RAM – the exact opposite of what you want for running lots of game bots!

Bonus Tips for Botting on Used Servers Bought from eBay!

  • Make sure the server is in “Used” OR “Refurbished” condition. NOT “As-is” nor “Parts/Not-working”.
  • Make sure the server comes with everything. (HDDs, Motherboard, CPUs, RAM, PSU.) The Faceplate/Bezel not needed.
  • If you buy a server without HDDs and plan to buy those separate, make sure the server comes with HDD caddies if it requires them. Otherwise caddies need to be bought separate as well.
  • Remember, its about 10GB of RAM needed per 100 (10-City Account) Evony Bots. Plus you’d need some extra RAM for the Operating System and other stuff like NEATO. So, for 100 Evony Bots you should have a machine with 12GB RAM or more.
  • A Good rule for CPUS would be 1-Core per 25 Bots. So for 100 Bots you’d probably want at least a Quad-Core CPU, and 12GB RAM.
  • The one exception to 4U servers being quiet that I can think of is my x4600 M2. This thing has 4 industrial strength fans about 6 inches wide and 2 inches thick. I think they run on 24V instead of the usual 12V that computer fans use. Do NOT get a x4600 M2 without having a plan for the sound. They don’t call this thing the “Big Steel” for nothing. It might also have something to do with it weighing 100+ pounds.

Yet another way some people deal with their Evony Bots is by renting a Virtual Private Server, a.k.a. a VPS.

But what exactly is a Virtual Private Server, you ask?

A Virtual Private Server is a small part of a large server “sectioned” off. It runs on it’s own as a smaller stand-alone server, called a “Virtual Machine”. When you rent a 2-core 8GB ram machine from a VPS provider you aren’t renting a dedicated machine. You are actually renting 1 of the 12 Virtual Machines they have split up from a larger 24-core 256GB server. Or something else like that example.

Sound great right? A VPS does sound awesome – all the glory with none of the work or possible noise. But a VPS can be tricky if you aren’t used to remotely managing a computer/server. What happens if it freezes? It’s not like you can physically hold down the power button like a desktop computer to shut it down. You’d have to contact support. Then wait for a response while all your bots are down and possibly starving and/or under attack!

Plus, a Windows based server with enough RAM to run a decent amount of Evony bots is going to cost a pretty penny. And some VPS providers will charge extra if you use more system resources than allowed! I know some people paying $30+ per month for 2-core 8gb servers to run 50 accounts. $30 x 12 = $360 per year just to run 40-50 bots.. No thanks, I’d rather just own my own server!

However, if owning your own server doesn’t seem good to you, here are some of the VPS Providers recommended for Evony Bots:

  • SoftSys Hosting – Windows Server Plans starting at $12.49-$14.95 per month depending whether you pay monthly or yearly. Recommended by SRG, the maker of TheDirector, because he has tried dozens of VPS Providers and of all of them, his SoftSys VPS was the only one to have no problems running NEATBot, TheDirector, and NEATO.
  • VirMach – Windows Server Plans starting at $4.08-$7.00 per month depending whether you pay monthly or yearly. One of the top VPS Providers that rents out servers specifically geared toward hosting private game servers, playing games, and running game bots.