IBM System x3620 M3 review

IBM’s System x3620 M3 has a sharp focus on storage-intensive applications, but is it a better choice than HP’s versatile ProLiant DL380 G7? Dave Mitchell tests IBM’s latest 2U rack server to find out.

Price
£2,602

Most of today's 2U rack servers want to cover every base of operations and try to combine just the right mix of processing power, expansion potential, storage capacity and, of course, value. One of the best examples is the HP ProLiant DL380 G7 which has all these features and more in a well-built system.

IBM's System x3620 M3 differs as it is designed primarily with high storage capacity as a key feature. To this end it only supports large capacity 3.5in SAS and SATA hard disks and has room in its front panel for up to eight of them.

IBM offers a good range of storage choices as you can keep the price down and go for high-capacity, low-performance SATA drives. The base system relies on its embedded SATA controller which supports up to four cold-swap 2TB drives plus mirrored and striped arrays. IBM offers SAS and near-line SAS drives for the x3620 but you'll need to upgrade the embedded RAID controller to use them. The motherboard's UEFI means that the x3620 shouldn't have any trouble supporting 3TB disks unlike older BIOS-equipped servers.

We had the basic ServeRAID M1015 8-port PCI-E card which can handle mirrors and stripes but this can be upgraded with an advanced feature key to support RAID5 and 50. The M5014 PCI-E card has eight 6Gbit/s SAS ports plus 256MB of onboard cache whilst the M5015 is optimised for SSDs and has 512MB of cache memory and a battery backup pack.

If you want more storage options from your IBM server then check out the x3650 M3 which closely matches the DL380 G7 for features as it supports eight 3.5in or sixteen 2.5in SFF drives.

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