IBM System x3100 M4 review

IBM is a latecomer to the Xeon-E3 server party, but its new System x3100 M4 is aimed at small businesses ready to swap their PC for a real server. Dave Mitchell delves deeper to see if it’s a better bet than entry-level offerings from Dell and HP.

IBM's remote server management tools see a significant change and the x3100 is the first to sport the new Integrated Management Module 2 (IMM2). This embedded IPMI controller shares the first Gigabit port, but can also be accessed via a new USB-over-LAN in-band Windows device driver.

IBM System x3100 M4

The server's embedded RAID controller can be managed and monitored locally and remotely.

The review system only had the IMM2 basic version installed that doesn't support remote web browser management or KVM-over-IP remote control. It can only be accessed using the open-source IMPITool or IBM's own Advanced Settings Utility (ASU) that allows local or remote BIOS changes to be made on the fly without having to reboot the server.

These IMM2 tools are too complex for small businesses with a single server and they're unlikely to use IBM's Systems Director either, since it's designed to manage large networks. This comes free with all IBM servers and provides an impressive range of tools, including network discovery, server and power monitoring, inventory and remote update services.

IBM System x3100 M4

IBM's Systems Director software is free but small businesses will find it far too complex to manage a single system.

Dell's PowerEdge T110 II doesn't support Dell's remote-management iDRAC chip and only has a simple embedded BMC (baseboard management controller). That means HP is still top dog in this department, as its ProLiant ML110 G7 sports a full-blown iLO3 controller found in all the high-end ProLiant servers.

The IBM System x3100 M4 may not be as well specified as HP's ML110 G7, but it scores highly for value. It's small, quiet and very well-built, making it a solid and affordable first server for small businesses.

Verdict

The new System x3100 M4 is a worthy candidate for small businesses looking for their first server and while it may not be as well specified as HP’s ProLiant ML110 G7, it is better value. It’s also extremely quiet, very well built and has impressively low power requirements.

Chassis: Pedestal CPU: 3.1GHz Core i3-2100 Memory: 2GB DDR3, expandable to 32GB Storage: 250GB IBM SATA cold-swap hard disk (max 4) RAID: embedded IBM ServeRAID C100 Array support: RAID0, 1, 10 Expansion: 4x PCI-e Network: 2x Gigabit Management: embedded IMM2 Basic Power: 350W fixed supply Software: IBM Systems Director 6.2.1 Warranty: 1 year on-site next-business-day

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