Dell PowerEdge R710 server review

Reviews 14 Jul, 2009

Dell’s sleek new PowerEdge R710 aims to beat HP’s mighty ProLiant DL380 on all counts – can it match up?

4
Price: 
£3,945
exc. VAT
Verdict: 
HP’s ProLiant DL380 G6 is the benchmark for 2U rack server design and the PowerEdge R710 comes very close in terms of features, quality and value. It’s well designed with an eye to virtualisation plus expansion options and it has the unique Lifecycle Controller. However, storage potential isn’t as great as the DL380 and we found HP’s Insight Control Suite software easier to use and offering better power monitoring and management tools.

When we took an exclusive look at Dell’s PowerEdge R610 at the end of March we were bowled over by this 1U rack server’s innovative new features, slick design and value.

Now we move up to the latest 2U PowerEdge R710 and see whether it has what it takes to stand up to HP’s ProLiant DL380, which HP claims is the world’s best selling server.

The R710 as a system includes everything the R610 has to offer. This means it has a sharp focus on reduced power consumption, delivers Dell’s brand new centralised system management tools and, of course, has the Lifecycle Controller, which makes the eleventh generation PowerEdge servers quite unique. This delivers features such as build level audits, firmware version recording and options to transplant the server’s settings to others for swift deployment.

Embedded on the server’s motherboard, the Lifecycle Controller is a small black box containing 1GB of NVRAM memory. You can boot the server directly from this controller by selecting the System Services option in the boot menu, which loads Dell’s UEFI (unified extensible firmware interface) environment complete with GUI and support for mouse and keyboard.

Dell scores over both HP and IBM in the OS deployment department as the UEFI replaces Dell’s Server Assistant disc. It provides a built-in deployment wizard where you enter your details and leave the server to get on with installing your chosen OS. HP and IBM still require you to use their respective SmartStart and ServerGuide discs to boot the server to access the OS deployment tools.

The R710 sports Dell’s new iDRAC6 management controller which has a dedicated network port at the rear of the server. It provides a web browser interface for remote monitoring and viewing the status of critical server components and the Enterprise upgrade key brings in virtual boot media and KVM-over-IP remote access.

Specifications: 

Chassis: 2U rack

CPU: 2 x 2.26GHz E5520 Xeon

Chipset: Intel 5520

Memory: 12GB 1066MHz UDIMM DDR3

Storage: 1GB SD card; 4 x 147GB Hitachi 10K SFF SAS hard disks in hot-swap carriers

RAID: Dell PERC 6/i with 256MB cache and BBU

Array support: RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6

Expansion: 4 x PCI-e slots

Network: 4 x embedded Gigabit

Power: 2 x 570W Energy Smart hot-plug supplies

Management: iDRAC6 Standard with 10/100

Software: Dell Management Console