Lenovo System x3550 M5 server review

Lenovo’s System x3550 M5 1U rack server has versatility as its middle name

  • Excellent upgrade potential, E5-2600 v4 Xeon power; Good design; xClarity Administrator; Top value
  • No embedded OS deployment tools; Basic IMM2 interface

Lenovo's new 1U rack server aims to cover as many bases as possible in the datacentre. Infrastructure, databases, cloud, management, messaging, HPC, virtualisation you name it and the System x3550 M5 reckons it can do it.

With dual E5-2600 v4 Xeons in the driving seat it has plenty of processing power and choice as well with Lenovo currently offering 25 different processor models. Memory capacity looks good too, as the server has room for up 1.5TB of Lenovo's high performance TruDDR4 memory.

On review we have one of Lenovo's TopSeller models which starts with a 12-core E5-2650 v4 Xeon, 16GB of memory and a price tag of around 2,200 ex VAT. Our system adds a second CPU, pushes memory to an app busting 128GB, includes an upgraded 12Gbps SAS RAID controller and has an agreeable MSRP of 5,960.

It's also easy to customise thanks to Lenovo's pay-as-you-grow philosophy. SMBs can start with a basic system and field upgrade it to keep in step with demand.

The well-designed interior affords easy maintenance and plenty of room to upgrade

 Under new management

Lenovo has made great strides with remote server management thanks to its new xClarity Administrator. Deployed as a Hyper-V or VMware VM, xClarity has the tools to manage all Lenovo systems including its servers, storage arrays, blades and more.

We had no problems installing the downloaded image on the lab's Hyper-V host and had it working within 30 minutes. It doesn't require any agents and runs regular discoveries which spotted the review system's IMM controller straight away.

xClarity provides excellent server management tools including monitoring and remote control

After undergoing a full system inventory, it was added to the main xClarity console. The Dashboard provides a single pane of glass for the entire network with all Lenovo systems neatly grouped into their respective categories.

For our server, we could view all critical hardware components and check on power consumption and temperatures. xClarity also provides an OS image library and firmware repository for automated provisioning while server patterns provide automated configuration of multiple systems.

We also loaded the Lenovo iOS app on our iPad and, after installing a certificate, could securely log in to the xClarity server. Along with a Newsfeed page that shows an overview of all systems plus alerts, we used the Hardware and Monitoring pages to keep a close eye on their vitals and browse inventories.

Storage choices

Lenovo's iOS app provides remote access to the xClarity Administrator server

The x3550 M5 offers plenty of storage permutations where base models start with four LFF hot-swap drive bays across the front panel. This leaves room for Lenovo's optional operator panel with integral status LEDs and various ports.

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