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.

Remote management options abound and you start with the iDRAC6 embedded controller which shares the first network port and only offers basic remote access. All you can do is access the server via the CLI and turn power on or off, so we recommend the optional iDRAC6 Express at the very least.

Costing an extra 57, this module snaps into a proprietary slot on the motherboard and includes Dell's unique Lifecycle controller. It still shares the first network port but provides full web browser access with server and power monitoring plus OS deployment and diagnostics tools.

For full KVM-over-IP remote control and virtual media services you'll need the iDRAC6 Enterprise card which is included with the review system. Fitted in a separate slot to the Express card, it augments it with a separate network port for dedicated management access.

Dell's Management Console 2.0 software sees some significant improvements as it can now run on Server 2008 R2 64-bit and installation has been noticeably streamlined. It runs automated search routines to populate its database with discovered systems plus SNMP enabled devices and provides extensive alerting and inventory features. Compared with HP's Insight Control and IBM's Systems Director, this Symantec Altiris-based software is a heavyweight. Ideally it should run on a dedicated Windows Server since it requires a lot of resources so it's not well-suited for smaller sites with only a few servers and systems which would be better served using the iDRAC6 Express controller.

The R515 is a top choice for running storage hungry applications as it has a very high capacity for a 2U rack server. The number of options available make it highly customisable and currently it's also your only choice if you want low-cost Opteron 4100 processors in your rack server as IBM and HP have yet to support them.

So what's our verdict?


Dell is currently the only vendor to have AMD Opteron 4100-based rack servers and the R515 shows these processors off to their best ability. It’s better value than most 2U Xeon 5600 servers, has a commendably low power consumption and the range of options makes this a very good choice for applications requiring a lot of local storage.

Chassis: 2U rack CPU: 2 x 2.1GHz AMD Opteron 4170 HE Memory: 16GB 1,333MHz DDR3 Storage: 5 x 146GB SFF SAS hard disks in hot-swap carriers (2 internal) RAID: PERC H700 with 512MB cache and BBU Array support: RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, 6, 50, 60 Expansion: 3 x PCI Express slots Network: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet Power: 2 x 750W hot-plug supplies Management: Dell iDRAC6 Enterprise Software: Dell Management Console 2.0 Warranty: 3 years on-site next business day service

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.