Thinking of building a render cluster

I have been using blender as a hobbyist for almost a year now, and am looking for ways to speed up rendering so that I do not have to wait days at a time to render a project (mainly using luxrender ). I am planning on building my own personal renderfarm, which I will control with Luxrender’s native network render capabilities.

I have a few questions:
-Are there any problems running Blender or Luxrender on a server? With no coding experience I would be looking at a Windows system for it’s GUI. Will I be able to run everything I can on my Windows 7 machine?
-Will a server with a similar clock speed / core count to a desktop computer perform similarly at rendering tasks? And if so, why are they orders of magnitude cheaper for comparable specs? (for example a desktop with the specs of thisserver would cost at least 4 times as much) It seems too good to be true!
-If I have a server with multiple CPUs will threads automatically be distributed between them or do I need to go to extra lengths to ensure they are both used?

Lastly if anyone has embarked on a similar project in the past, I would greatly appreciate any general tips / advice you have to offer!

Those CPUs are Pentium-4 based. Any modern quad-core machine will render at several times that speed. It also has almost no harddrive space and will consume an absurd amount of power. Server hardware is expensive. If you see cheap server hardare, assume it is old, or rebadaged desktop hardware.

Lux’s netrender tool does not require Blender to be run on the slave machines. Just the luxconsole node. That’s true even if you are rendering within Blender on the master machine.

Threads appear basically the same to an application whether they come from hyperthreading, multiple cores, or multiple CPUs. No issues there.

Btw, with newer versions of LuxRender things shouldn’t be taking days unless you are rendering at poster-size or something. Post in the Lux thread (link in my sig) or at the Lux forum if you need help optimizing lighting and render settings.

Ok, in that case would benchmark results be accurate predicters of render performance?

I am rendering videos, which I know “luxrender isn’t designed for” but they look so good!

Right, so if I have let’s say £500 ($750) to spend on this project, how could I maximize the performance boost I get?