IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

IBM System x3550 M4 review

IBM’s System x3550 M4 rack server combines E5-2600 Xeon power with a new energy efficient design. Its expansion potential also targets businesses looking to start small but get the most from their investment.

Price
£5,059

IBM's 1U rack server aims to provide businesses with the perfect balance of power, expansion, value and processing density. It goes head-to-head with HP's ProLiant DL360p Gen8 and we take a look to see if IBM can topple the server which won the IT Pro Editor's Choice award.

Along with support for Intel's E5-2600 Xeons, the x3550 M4 continues IBM's pay-as-you-grow philosophy allowing businesses to start small and expand when demand dictates. The standard models all ship with four SFF SAS/SATA hot-swap bays which can be upgraded to eight SFF drives the same number as the DL360p Gen8.

This is achieved with a kit comprising of a backplane for the four extra bays. It requires an IBM ServeRAID M1115 or M5110 controller fitted in the dedicated PCI-e slot behind the DIMM sockets as only these have a spare four-port SAS connector. Other drive options are three hot-swap LFF bays and a cheaper cold-swap LFF version available as a CTO (configure to order) model.

RAID cache options are extensive with IBM offering standard battery backed up memory and a choice of 512MB or 1GB FBWC (flash backed write cache). The review system includes the 512MB FBWC module which brings in support for RAID-5 as well as mirrors and stripes.

IBM System x3550 M4

The x3550 M4 presents a well designed interior making upgrades a simple task

Energy efficient design

For improved cooling, IBM uses a similar method to Fujitsu's Cool-Safe where round holes in the chassis front panel and hard disk carriers are replaced by a honeycomb so the holes can be more densely packed. It works well as we found the server was quiet during testing.

Cooling is handled by up to six fan modules between the drive backplanes and motherboard. These are hot-swappable but we found the protruding power connector tab on each one made them a little tricky to remove and replace. On lower specified systems with a single CPU the fan count is reduced to four.

Internally, the server is tidy with the two processor sockets flanked by 24 DIMM slots. Supported memory capacities are 64MB of UDIMMs, 384GB of RDIMMs and 768GB of LR-DIMMs.

The price of the review system includes a pair of 2.5GHz E5-2640 Xeons - the fastest of Intel's Standard Xeon E5 family. These 6-core modules have a 15MB L3 cache, a 7.2GT/sec QPI, offer Hyper- Threading plus the standard Turbo Boost and support memory speeds up to 1333MHz.

IBM System x3550 M4

IBM's Systems Director provides plenty of network management tools including power consumption graphing and trending for its servers

Featured Resources

Four strategies for building a hybrid workplace that works

All indications are that the future of work is hybrid, if it's not here already

Free webinar

The digital marketer’s guide to contextual insights and trends

How to use contextual intelligence to uncover new insights and inform strategies

Free Download

Ransomware and Microsoft 365 for business

What you need to know about reducing ransomware risk

Free Download

Building a modern strategy for analytics and machine learning success

Turning into business value

Free Download

Recommended

IBM's new z16 mainframe brings two industry-firsts and quantum-proof data encryption
Hardware

IBM's new z16 mainframe brings two industry-firsts and quantum-proof data encryption

5 Apr 2022
Software-defined storage for dummies
Whitepaper

Software-defined storage for dummies

1 Apr 2022
HSBC and IBM partner on financial quantum computing applications
cloud computing

HSBC and IBM partner on financial quantum computing applications

29 Mar 2022
IBM launches multi-cloud key management service
encryption

IBM launches multi-cloud key management service

24 Mar 2022

Most Popular

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack
hacking

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack

16 May 2022
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

13 May 2022
Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies
Server & storage

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies

12 May 2022