Dell PowerEdge R515 review

Dell’s new PowerEdge R515 is the first Opteron 4100 powered rack server to market. It has impressive storage credentials and a comparatively low price. In this exclusive review we find out whether it’s a Xeon beater.

There's a price to pay for the higher drive count though. As the entire front panel is taken over with disk carriers so you can't have Dell's LCD display and diagnostics panel. There's no room for an optical drive either, but Dell has used the rack brackets on each side to mount a power button plus VGA and USB2 ports.

You have plenty of hard disk options as Dell offers SATA, near-line SAS and SAS plus the hot-swap carriers have mounting holes for 2.5in. and 3.5in models. Those with deep pockets can also specify SSDs and the chassis even has another bay inside with room for two more cold-swap SFF drives.

If that isn't enough there are three internal RAID controllers to choose from as well. However, with so much storage on tap, we think the only card worth having is the PERC H700 as fitted in the review system. This supports up to sixteen 6Gb/s SAS drives, all array types including RAID 6 and 60 and has 512MB of cache plus the battery backup pack.

The R515 isn't the best choice for virtualisation duties as it only supports up to 128GB of memory - most dual processor Xeon servers can handle up to 192GB of RAM. The R515 also doesn't have the internal SD card slot as found on the PowerEdge R610 and R710 models used for booting an embedded hypervisor.

The shorter chassis makes for a busy interior but we found all key components could be easily accessed. There's plenty of expansion potential thanks to the riser card with three PCI Express x4 and one x8 slots. The front slot is set aside for the RAID card and the three rear mounted slots accept full-height, half-length cards.

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.