IT Pro Verdict
Robust management options
RAID support requires PERC controller
Stepping in at the entry point of Dell EMC’s extensive range of rack servers, the PowerEdge R250 aims to offer SMBs an affordable solution that can handle a wide range of business applications. It packs a lot into its short-depth 1U chassis, bringing Xeon E-2300 processing power to the table along with a big helping of fast memory, plenty of storage options and room to grow.
Prices start at £950, which gets you a basic dual-core 3.5GHz Intel Pentium G6405T CPU partnered by 8GB of DDR4 memory. Our review system is a lot more powerful, as the price includes a quad-core 3.1GHz Xeon E-2324G CPU and 32GB of memory, which can be boosted to 128GB for memory-hungry workloads.
The R250 is restricted to a maximum of four front drive bays, but you can choose from LFF and SFF hard disks and SSDs, with the backplane in our system adding hot-swap capabilities. It was also equipped with an HBA355i PCIe adapter card, which doesn’t provide RAID but adds support for SAS3 storage.
If you want RAID there are plenty of choices, with the server supporting most of Dell EMC’s PERC controllers. The entry-level H345 offers stripes and mirrors for SATA and SAS devices, while the top-dog H755 brings RAID5 and 6 into the equation.
You can keep all the drive bays for storage duties by adding Dell EMC’s boot optimised storage solution (BOSS) S1 card, which has two M.2 SATA SSD slots and can be used as a mirrored array for running an operating system. It will cost you a PCIe slot, though, as the R250 doesn’t support the BOSS S2 version used by the higher-end PowerEdge servers that present two removable M.2 carriers at the rear for easier access.
A cheaper alternative that doesn’t occupy a PCIe slot is the internal microSD module (IDSDM) card. This also supports mirroring, fits in a dedicated motherboard slot and costs around £110 with a pair of 32GB cards.
The server presents a tidy interior with easy access to all key components for upgrades and maintenance. Four cold-swap fans look after the CPU, memory and the pair of PCIe 4 expansion slots, and we found the server runs very quietly.
The drive backplane connects to the HBA355i card with a single cable and is far tidier than the basic four-cable drive option. Note that the R250 supports a single Bronze or Platinum 450W PSU so you’ll need to consider the more advanced PowerEdge R350 if you want power redundancy.
For the best remote server management, however, look no further. The R250 sports Dell EMC’s iDRAC9 embedded controller with dedicated Gigabit port. Its slick web console provides a wealth of information on server operations, and you can use it to remotely configure RAID arrays and directly access its BIOS menus.
We run Dell EMC’s OpenManage Enterprise (OME) server in the lab, which we used to keep a close eye on the R250. Adding an OpenManage Advanced licence to its iDRAC9 console enabled the Power Manager plug-in for viewing system consumption and thermal values.
Larger businesses will love the free CloudIQ cloud-hosted service, which provides machine learning plus server telemetry and predictive analytics for all their Dell EMC systems. Functioning as a CloudIQ collector, OME sends telemetry and alert logs to it every 15 minutes, and the only requirement for the R250 is a valid support contract.
CloudIQ provided plenty of information on the R250, including a proactive health score, full hardware inventory and 24-hour performance views for CPU and memory utilisation, power consumption and temperatures. The views can be customised with filters, and we used the reports section to create custom performance dashboards for selected server metrics.
The PowerEdge R250 is a great entry-level rack server for SMBs, delivering a powerful hardware package at a good price. It offers plenty of expansion space, a high memory capacity and unbeatable remote management features.
Dell EMC PowerEdge R250 specifications
|Chassis||1U rack chassis|
|CPU||3.1GHz quad-core Xeon E-2324G CPU|
|Memory||32GB 3,200MHz DDR4 ECC (max 128GB)|
|Storage||2 x 480GB SATA SSDs (max 4 LFF/SFF)|
|PSU||450W Platinum PSU|
|Network||2 x Gigabit Ethernet|
|Other ports||Dell PERC HBA355i SAS3 PCIe, 2 x PCIe 4|
|Management||Dell iDRAC9 Enterprise with Gigabit|
|Warranty||3yr basic on-site NBD warranty|
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.