IT Pro Verdict
SMBs and enterprises looking for a general purpose 2U rack server or a solid platform to run their critical apps on will find IBM’s new x3650 M4 a worthy candidate. Management features aren’t as sophisticated as those found in HP’s new ProLiants but it is good value and is scalable.
IBM System x3650 M4
IBM System x3650 M4 - 4
IBM System x3650 M4 - 3
IBM System x3650 M4 - 2
System x3650 M4 - 1
The general purpose 2U rack server introduces IBM's pay-as-you-grow design. This allows businesses on a tight budget can start with a basic specification but its high expansion potential allows them to upgrade as required.
You can choose from a wide selection of storage and RAID options. Our review sample was fitted with an eight hot-swap SFF SAS/SATA drive cage and you can upgrade to sixteen bays when the time is right.
Usefully, the 8 Pac upgrade has a SAS expander card on its backplane. Unlike HP's latest ProLiant DL380p Gen8, you don't need a second RAID card and so won't lose a PCI-e slot.
Those with deep pockets and a need for speed can order the server with up to 32 of IBM's 1.8in SSDs. If capacity is more important, you can have six hot-swap LFF hard disk bays and then there's the CTO (configure to order) model which cuts costs further by using six cold-swap SATA bays.
The x3650 M4 has a well designed interior which offers plenty of room to expand
RAID and remote management
IBM has improved its RAID options as the base ServeRAID M5110e controller is embedded on the motherboard. This supports 6Gb/sec SAS and SATA drives but if you want more than stripes and mirrors you need an upgrade to get RAID-5 and -50 plus another if you want RAID-6 and -60 arrays.
Cache starts at 512MB with a battery pack or you can go for 512MB or 1GB of flash backed cache. As RAID is based on LSI's SAS2208 chip, you have the option to activate its CacheCade feature which optimises read activity from an SSD based cache.
The x3650 M4 showcases IBM's new IMM2 embedded management controller. The basic version is of limited use as it doesn't support web browser management or KVM-over-IP remote control.
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.