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Dell PowerEdge R710 server review

Dell’s sleek new PowerEdge R710 aims to beat HP’s mighty ProLiant DL380 on all counts – can it match up?

Underneath the easily removed lid you'll find a small board on top of the optical drive with an SD memory card slot and a 1GB card installed. This is Dell's answer to virtualisation fans as this bootable device is specifically for embedded hypervisors. It currently only supports VMware's ESXi but we have been advised that Hyper-V is on the way.

Cooling is a high priority and this is handled by a row of five hot-swap fan modules arranged across the front of the motherboard. During testing we found the R710 to be very unobtrusive not as quiet as the R610 but hardly noticeable nonetheless.

You have two choices for power. The review was system fitted with a pair of 570W Energy Smart supplies. If performance is a higher priority you can opt for high output 870W modules instead. We found the R710 very efficient in this department with our inline power meter recording only 16W in standby and a modest 150W with Windows Server 2003 R2 running in idle. With SiSoft Sandra punishing all sixteen logical cores we saw this rise to a peak of only 270W.

General expansion options look good as the server has two riser cards at the back each with a pair of PCI-Express slots up for grabs. You're off to a good start with the network connections as the server sports four embedded Gigabit ports and these are TOE ready with the optional iSCSI offload upgrade. The DL380 G6 equals Dell for standard network ports but goes one better for expansion as it accepts two, triple slot riser cards.

The PowerEdge R710 delivers a wealth of new features along with plenty of expansion potential whilst its Lifecycle Controller makes it unique. It's also very good value although HP's DL380 G6 wins by a nose as it has a greater storage potential and its management tools have better power related features.

Verdict

HP’s ProLiant DL380 G6 is the benchmark for 2U rack server design and the PowerEdge R710 comes very close in terms of features, quality and value. It’s well designed with an eye to virtualisation plus expansion options and it has the unique Lifecycle Controller. However, storage potential isn’t as great as the DL380 and we found HP’s Insight Control Suite software easier to use and offering better power monitoring and management tools.

Chassis: 2U rack

CPU: 2 x 2.26GHz E5520 Xeon

Chipset: Intel 5520

Memory: 12GB 1066MHz UDIMM DDR3

Storage: 1GB SD card; 4 x 147GB Hitachi 10K SFF SAS hard disks in hot-swap carriers

RAID: Dell PERC 6/i with 256MB cache and BBU

Array support: RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6

Expansion: 4 x PCI-e slots

Network: 4 x embedded Gigabit

Power: 2 x 570W Energy Smart hot-plug supplies

Management: iDRAC6 Standard with 10/100

Software: Dell Management Console

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