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Dell EMC PowerEdge T640 review: A data centre in a box

A massively powerful and expandable tower server best suited to businesses with very demanding workloads

The front and rear of the Dell EMC PowerEdge T640 tower server
Price
£1,923
  • Very powerful; Excellent expansion options; Robust management
  • Drives still charged at a premium

Make no mistake - Dell EMC's PowerEdge T640 is a data centre in a box. This tower of power supports every Xeon Scalable CPU on Intel's books, delivers a storage potential and versatility that defies belief and tops it off with a huge memory capacity.

The T640 puts its 5U width to good use as it has room for four drive cages up front allowing it to support either 32 SFF or 18 LFF drives. You can start with single 16 SFF or 8 LFF drive backplanes and add the extra backplanes as required.

High performance storage is on Dell's agenda and the 16 SFF bay model can be teamed up with eight PCI-e NVMe SSDs. These are fitted in a dedicated cage in the upper half of the front panel where their backplane is cabled through to PCI-e bridge cards fitted in expansion slots 1 and 3. The drives themselves will cost you a premium, though.

RAID choices start with the embedded PERC S140 chip which supports SATA drives plus stripes, mirrors and RAID5 arrays. Dell EMC offers a wide range of RAID controllers and our system sports a PERC H740P card with brings 12Gbps SAS3 into play and includes 8GB of NVRAM cache plus integral battery backup.

Dell EMC's BOSS (boot optimized storage solution) card saves on storage space as it negates the need to put your OS on a hard disk. This bootable PCI-e card has dual M.2 SATA SSD slots, supports mirroring and costs around 477 with two 240GB sticks.

Good design extends to the T640's spacious interior which has plenty of room for upgrade manoeuvres. The RAID card is tucked away at the top of the motherboard and there's a slot above this for a dual SD card controller which adds hypervisor redundancy with hardware mirroring.

The dual CPU sockets sit comfortably in the centre of the motherboard and we've priced the review system up to get you started with a single 2.1GHz Xeon Silver 4110 CPU. Our system has a base 16GB of DDR4 and the 24 DIMM slots allow this to be pushed to 1.5TB with dual CPUs and on to 3TB if you specify 'M' designated Gold or Platinum CPUs.

The T640 is a cool customer, with entry systems only requiring two fans modules fitted at the rear of the motherboard shroud. Add dual CPUs, 18 LFF drives or PCI-e SSDs and you'll need the optional four-fan module which slips in behind the drive backplane.

Dual 10GBase-T ports come as standard and the eight PCI-e slots means there's loads of room for more network connections. The T640 can also handle four GPU accelerator cards for virtual desktop infrastructure deployments although these are only supported in the rack mount version.

The T640 is a class management act as its iDRAC9 controller and slick HTML5 web interface presents a wealth of operational data about all critical hardware. Platform security is tight; firmware packages are cryptographically signed and the System Lockdown mode stops users making unauthorized configuration changes.

We love the server's Quick Sync 2 feature too - pressing the button by the system ID LED on the front panel activated Bluetooth allowing us to connect our iPad directly to the server via the OpenManage Mobile (OMM) iOS app. Using OMM to scan the QR code on the system label, we had the T640 loaded in seconds where we could view all server information, alerts and health status while standing in front of it.

The PowerEdge T640 is an incredibly versatile tower server that puts data centre power in the hands of SMEs. Expansion potential and management features are exemplary and it won't be beaten for its excellent storage capabilities.

Verdict

The PowerEdge T640 is an incredibly versatile tower server that puts data centre power in the hands of SMEs. Expansion potential and management features are exemplary and it won’t be beaten for its excellent storage capabilities.

Tower chassis
2.1GHz Xeon Silver 4110 CPU (max 2)
16GB 2,400MHz DDR4 (max 3TB)
Dell PERC H740P SAS3 RAID/8GB NVRAM cache/BBU
Supports RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6, 50, 60
16-bay SFF drive cage
1 x 300GB 15K SAS3 SFF hard disk (max 32)
Dual 10GBase-T
8 x PCI-E 3
495W hot-plug PSU (max 2)
iDRAC9 Enterprise with Gigabit
220 x 715 x 443mm (WDH)
Max 205W TDP
3yr on site NBD warranty

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