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Boston Fenway 1232-06 review

This Fenway rack server targets heavy-duty enterprise apps and combines quad E5-4600 Xeons and a 1TB memory capacity. There are a few compromises but at this low price we think they’re acceptable.

Power consumption

Power redundancy is essential for mission critical systems and the Fenway doesn't disappoint as the price includes a pair of meaty 1400W hot-plug supplies. If one fails you won't have to go grubbing around behind the rack cabinet either as the supplies are connected at the rear but removed from the front.

The Fenway is a little on the thirsty side for power consumption as we measured the review system pulling 236W in idle and 550W under peak load. The lab's Dell R820 draws 164W in idle and 365W under load although this does only have 96GB of memory.

Boston Fenway 1232-06 - 2

The RMM provides basic remote server monitoring but does come with KVM-over-IP remote control as standard

Remote management

The server can be remotely managed using the embedded RMM and dedicated network port but don't expect features to rival HP's iLO4 or Dell's iDRAC7. Supermicro's RMM provides a more basic web interface providing sensor readouts for all critical components.

Each sensor is assigned thresholds and if any are breached the RMM can issue SNMP traps and email alerts. The interface provides direct web access to the server's power supplies so you can turn the server on or off and gracefully reboot it.

Unlike Dell, HP and IBM, you get KVM-over-IP remote control as standard and not as an expensive upgrade. This feature also includes virtual media services so you can declare a USB or optical device on the guest PC to the server as a local drive.

Boston Fenway 1232-06 - 3

Sensor data can be viewed from the RMM's web console and linked in with SNMP traps and email alerts

Compromises

The compromises with this system centre mainly round build quality. We didn't like the flimsy plastic air shroud which covers the entire motherboard as it looks cheap and we found it could be difficult to get back in place after removal.

For storage, the Fenway isn't as flexible as the R820 which has room up front for sixteen SFF hard disks. Dell's PERC 710p RAID controller also has onboard NVRAM cache memory which does away with the need for a battery backup.

Cooling is handled by three hot-swap fans in front of the motherboard which produce comparatively high noise levels whereas the lab's R820 is almost silent. Virtualisation support is also limited to an internal USB port for booting a hypervisor whereas the R820 has a dual SD card module for automated hypervisor redundancy.

Conclusion

The Fenway goes a long way to make up for these shortcomings as it won't be beaten on value with similarly specified systems from Dell and HP costing at least 6,000 more. If you want a basic, low-cost but powerful 4P system to run heavy duty apps Boston's Fenway 1232-06 is well worth considering.

Verdict

Boston’s Fenway 1232-06 delivers a very good hardware package and costs considerably less than equivalent 4P E5-4600 systems from Dell and HP. There are a few compromises with build quality and power consumption is on the high side but this 2U system will suit data centres looking for a rack dense powerhouse at a low price.

Chassis: 2U rack Motherboard: Supermicro X9QR7-TF+ CPU: 4 x 2.2GHz Xeon E5-4620 Memory: 256GB 1333MHz DDR3 RDIMM expandable to 1TB Storage: 6 x 2TB Toshiba SAS 2 7.2K hot-swap hard disks RAID: LSI SAS2208 Array support: RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6 Expansion: 4 x PCI-e Gen3 slots Network: 2 x 10GBase-T Power: 2 x 1400W hot-plug supplies Management: Supermicro RMM with 10/100 Warranty: 3yrs on site NBD

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