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I am runnig a P4 1.7Ghz with 1gig of memory. For the most part, the PC runs fine. On occasion, when accessing the Network Performance Monitor, I do experience some lag.. I am monitoring 35 nodes and 538 interfaces. If you are monitoring 200 "nodes" I can see where you system may have problems. Maybe you would be better off with a newer system with Hyper-Threading? Are you running more then the NetPerfMon? I have the NetPerfMon, Advanced CPU Load monitor and they syslog server as well as another monitor application called big brother.
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I'm not monitoring as many nodes as Bryan but I'm using a Dell SX270 (2.4g / 512meg). I'm only monitoring about a dozen nodes and close to 50 interfaces. I am monitoring uplinks to stacks off my core, WAN links and interfaces for two AS/400's. I am running Network Perf Monitor & Bandwidth Monitor for this stuff. I also run Adv CPU Monitor for 13 devices.
I am also running Kiwi Syslog for my Pix, 3005 VPN Concentrators and CE510 Content Engines. As you can imagine, this generates a lot of small packets of network traffic.
I also run SmartFilter Admin server on this machine.
After 239 days running, I had to reboot this system last night. Impressive for a Windows box running multiple applications. Advanced CPU monitor never shows this box going over 22%. Usually floats around the single digits for CPU.
I am in the process of getting a separate system to split out the Solarwinds Admin server and leave this box dedicated to network monitoring.
As you can see, you can throw a lot at a cheap box.
Hope this helps.