IBM System x3650 M2 review

IBM’s latest 2U Xeon rack server delivers a choice selection of features, improved management and low power consumption. Can the x3650 M2 knock HP off the top spot?

Removing the lid reveals a well designed interior offering plenty of room to grow. At the rear you have a pair of riser cards each sporting two x8 PCI-e slots and there's enough room for you to add a mixture of full-height, half-length and low profile cards.

IBM's new cooling system impresses as it incorporates an altimeter that works alongside the IMM to control fan speeds. All internal cooling is handled by a bank of three dual-rotor hot-swap modules and suffice to say that at sea-level we found the server to be very quiet during normal operations.

x3650 M2 5

IBM's optional Active Energy Manager plug-in provides plenty of information about power consumption.

The server came with a single 675W supply but you can slip in another alongside for power redundancy. For general power consumption our in-line power meter recording 14W in standby and 140W with Windows Server 2008 idling along. With SiSoft Sandra pummelling all sixteen logical cores we saw this peak at 218W. The same tests run on a very similarly specified PowerEdge R710 returned power readings of 16W, 150W and 270W.

The server comes with two embedded Gigabit ports and these can be increased to four with an optional dual-port Gigabit daughtercard, which slots into a proprietary slot on the motherboard. IBM also offers riser cards with x16 PCI-e or PCI-X slots so you have plenty of choices for further expansion.

IBM's latest 2U rack server delivers a fine combination of storage capacity, performance and expansion potential. Although memory and storage capacities are quite up with HP's ProLiant DL380 G6, the x3650 M2 is still a good choice as a virtualisation platform and it looks good value as well.


The x3650 M2 is one of the best rack servers we’ve yet seen from IBM. Storage and memory potential aren’t as good as HP’s ProLiant DL380 G6 but support for up to 12 SFF SAS/SATA/SSD hard disks isn’t to be sniffed at. Remote management sees some major improvements, power consumption is comparatively low and it looks good value as well.

Chassis: 2U rack

CPU: 2 x 2.53GHz Xeon E5540

Memory: 10GB DDR3 1066MHz RDIMM expandable to 128GB

Storage: 2 x 146GB IBM 10k SAS SFF hard disks in hot-swap carriers

RAID: IBM ServeRAID-MR10i with 256MB cache and BBU

Array support: RAID0, 1, 5, 10, 50 (optional 6 and 60)

Expansion: 4 x PCI-e 8X

Network: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet

Power: 1 x 675W hot-plug supply

Management: Embedded IMM Express

Software: IBM ServerGuide, Systems Director 6.1

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.