Any computer can run server software, but as some have pointed out, it will not "serve" well. Now, this being said, when you really think of servers, no...they arent the same as desktops.
All servers but the very basic low end or self built servers run different hardware and technologies. Most servers run server based motherboard (very little room for any video or sound or anything like that) and usually have all of their resources dedicated to storage and data throuput, meaning many features of standard award bios are turned off and IRQ's are dedicated to things like ram and storage. They will also usually have more storage connections and features like built in RAID and SCSI, and we are talking real RAID not the cheap stuff that "gamming motherborads" have, we are talking real througput stuff here. The ram is also generally different. Its whats called Registered ECC ram, a far more stable and matched set of ram sticks that is meant to run fast, realiable, and best of all....expensive. While some motherboards for desktops CAN use ECC, most cant and if they do, dont use the technology wisely. Also, most servers run server processors, like the Xeon family of processors. While some workstations (powerful desktops) run these processors, its generally only 1 of them. Most servers will utilize 2 or more, which leads me to the last difference. The northbridge setup on a server is MASSIVE compared to a desktop, its meant to not only run high end ECC ram (and a LOT of it, up to 1tb of ram) it also handles instructions sets for anywhere between 2 to 64 processors).
So...to sum up, a desktop and a server are both computers, but the technology, speed, RELIABILITY AND QUALITY, and what they can do are VERY different. Though, its still just a processor, ram, and a HD and a motherboard to tie it all together.....like a Geo Metro and a Firrari are both cars ;) If you want to setup a small server to run a personal website and hold some files on a home network a desktop would be ok, just make sure to keep things backed up. If you are going to have business stuff on it, id reccomend at least getting a good used server, after all, its whats its designed to do!
Many years as an IT professional.
· 8 years ago