Dell PowerEdge R820 review

Dell’s PowerEdge R820 is the first Xeon E5-4600 production server to market. We take a look at this compact four-socket server, which can be used to manage heavy duty databases, virtualisation, HPC and VDI hosting.


The server is well built, but it's the specification which is impressive. Squeezing quad CPUs and 48 DIMM sockets into a 2U chassis is no mean feat and Dell has achieved this with a mezzanine card.

In the base 2P system, the main motherboard in the chassis base has two CPUs and 24 DIMMs sockets. The 4P model has a mezzanine card sitting on top which provides the other two CPUs and remaining DIMM sockets.

Everything works well and the upper board can be removed easily by lifting it up using its clamping bracket. The R820 can be ordered in a 2P configuration and the 4P upgrade includes the mezzanine card. The price of the review system also includes a generous 96GB of memory.

Dell PowerEdge R820

Dell PowerEdge R820

Remote control requires an iDRAC7 Enterprise upgrade but you only need to apply a license key

Low power consumption

All chassis cooling is handled by a bank of six hot-plug cooling fans at the front. We found the R820 to be remarkably quiet during testing. The PowerEdge also supports Dell's Fresh Air initiative, which allows data centres to cut cooling costs by running at higher temperatures.

The R820 has been certified by Dell to run reliably at up to 45 degrees Centigrade for up to 1 per cent of its annual operational time. Furthermore, if data centre air conditioning fails, it can run for longer periods in uncooled environments.

The server includes a pair of hot-plug 1100W power supplies and Dell also offers 750W and 1100W DC versions. The R820 hits the spot for power consumption as our tests showed it to be undemanding.

With Windows Server 2008 R2 in idle, we measured a draw of 164W. With the SiSoft Sandra benchmarking app punishing all 48 logical cores, this only rose to 365W. Stacking this up against a Xeon E7 system puts it firmly into perspective. Fujitsu's RX600 S6 and its quartet of 10-core 2GHz E7-4850 Xeons pulling 427W in idle and a hefty 760W under load.

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.