Entry level pedestal servers

Although better known for its consumer notebooks and PCs, Hi-Grade has always maintained a modest portfolio of rack and pedestal servers. But this all-Supermicro Hi-Serv 733T represents a break with tradition; up until now the company has relied mainly upon Intel's server platforms.

This is no bad thing as the 733T delivers a very good specification for the price and packs it into a well constructed chassis. For starters there's a single 2.8GHz Xeon processor with room to upgrade to dual processors, and the price includes a healthy 2GB of PC3200 memory, which can also be upgraded to 8GB.

Server management is catered for by Supermicro's bizarrely named SuperO Doctor III web-based tool. This offers a smart, remote web browser interface with plenty of operational data on offer. It allows admins to can keep a close eye on general system health, monitor critical system components and issue warnings if failures or problems such as high temperatures are detected. The alerting system supports both pager and email messaging and it can monitor fan speeds, voltages, processor, chassis temperatures and chassis intrusion. Optional IPMI management is a possibility as well: one of Supermicro's baseboard controller cards can be fitted into the machine's mini-PCI slot.

The chassis is a sturdy affair and offers good expansion potential. Even after the DVD drive is taken into account the front bay still has room for two more 5.25in devices and beneath these, behind a lockable door, is a small drive cage with room for up to four disks in hot-swap carriers. Once again it's SATA taking care of storage duties rather than SCSI, with three 250GB WD2500 SATA drives supplied as standard - you'd be hard pushed to offer the same amount of SCSI storage at this price point. And there's more: Hi-Grade has also fitted a four-port LSI Logic SATA RAID controller card and configured the drives in fault tolerant RAID-5 array. With one spare bay up for grabs it's possible to add a fourth drive and designate it as a hot-standby, ready for action if any other array member fails.

Hi-Grade has taken the time to present the server well as the interior is extremely tidy with all cables clipped down and clamped out of the way so access for upgrades is unimpeded. The processor sits at the top of the motherboard and is partnered by a large active heatsink while the chassis has a single fan on the rear panel and a smaller one in a shroud underneath the hard disk cage. A rather overenthusiastic processor fan, however, meant that the 733T was one of the louder systems on review here.

That said, this is a reasonably attractive package for the money. It doesn't offer the dual processors of the Evesham and is a little noisy, but the build quality, attention to detail and overall storage package makes up for it.


Not the quietest, but a big helping of RAID-protected SATA hard disks presented in a good quality Supermicro chassis makes up for it

Motherboard: Supermicro X6DVL-EG2 CPU: 1 x 2.8GHz Intel Xeon Chipset: Intel E7320 Memory: 2GB PC3200 expandable to 8GB Storage controller: Intel 6300ESB SATA/150 Disk interface: SATA/150 Disk drives: 3 x 250GB WD2500 Caviar RE16 SATA/3Gbps RAID controller: LSI Logic MegaRAID SATA 150/4D with 64MB cache memory Expansion slots: 2 x PCI-Express X4, 1 x 64-bit/66MHz PCI, 3 x 32-bit/33MHz PCI Network ports: 2 x Intel Gigabit Ethernet Power: 1 x 450W Management software: SuperMicro SuperO Doctor III Other: none. Warranty: Three years on-site

Dave Mitchell

Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.

Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.