Dell PowerEdge R815

Dell is the first blue chip to deliver a quad socket server using AMD’s new Bulldozer architecture. It looks like good value, so read Dave Mitchell’s review to see if it moves the earth.

The Opteron 6200 uses the same chunky processor G34 socket as the 6100 family and is essentially a drop-in upgrade for existing systems. In reality few businesses will actually want to do this, but Dell does offer kits for those that do. What it does mean is that server vendors can take existing Opteron 6100 systems, tweak their BIOS and serve them up again with a higher core count.

The chassis for the R815 is real all-rounder too, since not only is it used for the Opteron boards, but it's also virtually identical to Dell's R810 Xeon 6500/7500 based servers.

Dell PowerEdge R815

Dell PowerEdge R815

Expansion potential is very good and the R815 has six PCI-e slots, though they're unlikely to needed the server already has four embedded Gigabit ports.The Dell R815 is very well designed, with the front panel split into two horizontal sections and the lower half providing unobstructed air flow through the chassis.

To the right are six hot-swap SFF disk bays that support SATA, 6Gbit SAS, near-line SAS and SSD drives. On the opposite side is Dell's nifty little LCD control panel. This provides a keypad for setting the network address of the iDRAC6 remote management controller, along with options to scroll through views of the server's serial number, power consumption and temperatures.

The server also has a very well designed interior that's completely tool free. The four processor sockets and their attendant banks of eight DIMM sockets are staggered to improve airflow, and the front sockets are accessed by releasing the hard disk bay and sliding the top half of the front panel forward.

Six hot-swap fans are spread across the middle of the chassis and we found the server to be very quiet during testing. Each fan can be removed individually but releasing clamps on each side allows the entire assembly to be lifted out.

RAID options are plentiful. The embedded SATA controller supports both mirrored and striped arrays, while the supplied PERC H700 RAID controller card has a 512MB cache and battery backup, and supports all the usual array suspects, including RAID-6.

Expansion potential is very good and the R815 has six PCI-e slots, though they're unlikely to needed the server already has four embedded Gigabit ports and the RAID card has its own dedicated expansion slot, too.

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.