Dell EMC PowerEdge R340 review: A sound investment for small businesses

This 1U rack server includes top management features and plenty of upgrade potential

IT Pro RecommendedDell EMC PowerEdge R340
Price
£1,425 exc VAT (Smart Value Standard, as reviewed)
  • Highly expandable
  • Outstanding management options
  • Flexible storage options
  • No Bluetooth management

Rack servers can play a number of different roles in a business – but Dell EMC’s PowerEdge R340 is versatile enough to suit almost any of them. Its short-depth 1U chassis delivers Xeon E-2200 processing power, along with flexible storage arrangements and good expansion potential.

The system we tested includes a quad-core 3.4GHz Intel Xeon E-2224 CPU. It also comes with twice as much RAM, meaning you get 32GB of ECC DDR4 to play with out of the box – but note that the maximum memory provision is limited to 64GB, as Dell EMC’s firmware doesn’t currently support the full 128GB addressable by Xeon E-2200 CPUs.

One of our favourite things about Dell EMC servers is their management framework. The embedded iDRAC controller presents a slick web portal with a detailed status overview and a whole heap of data on system and component temperatures, cooling, voltages and power usage.

It’s not limited to hardware monitoring, either: the iDRAC console can also provide system inventory information and even give you access to the RAID controller for storage configuration. Full OS remote control and virtual media services aren’t included unless you spring for an iDRAC9 Enterprise licence – but we think that’s a worthwhile upgrade, and have included it in the price shown above.

It’s possible to monitor and manage the server from a mobile device too, using the OpenManage app for Android and iOS. We installed it on our iPad and were then quickly able to view the server’s status, pull up a list of hardware and receive alert notifications on health issues. This particular server can’t be managed over Bluetooth, however, as there isn’t a space for the optional Quick Sync 2 Bluetooth module. 

Dell EMC PowerEdge R340 open chassis

Still, it can accommodate plenty of storage permutations. The model we tested has four LFF hot-swap bays, but you can choose eight SFF bays instead. RAID options are flexible too, with the basic system using an embedded PERC S140 controller to provide software-managed mirrors, stripes and RAID5 arrays for SATA drives. Smart Value configurations such as this one add a PERC H330 card, which works with 12Gbits/sec SAS drives as well, though it doesn’t support any additional array types. 

Another option is to choose Dell’s HBA330 card – a simple non-RAID controller that presents up to eight SAS3 channels – and use a software solution such as Microsoft’s Storage Spaces to take care of pooling and mirroring drives. 

No matter which approach you go for, you don’t need to worry about running out of expansion slots. The disk controller card gets a dedicated PCIe slot on the side of the motherboard, leaving both slots in the riser card available for whatever upgrades you fancy. Dell EMC offers a range of Gigabit and 10GbE adapters to complement the server’s dual embedded ports.

If you’re looking to maximise your storage, it’s also worth considering Dell EMC’s BOSS (Boot Optimised Storage Solution) card. This adds a pair of M.2 SATA SSDs to house your operating system, allowing you to dedicate all full-sized drives to data. It’s expensive, though, costing £446 for the dual 240GB SSD version. A slower but cheaper alternative is the Internal Dual SD Module (IDSDM) card, which supports mirroring, fits in a dedicated motherboard slot and costs £100 with a pair of 16GB SD cards.

The PowerEdge R340 is a versatile little rack server with plenty to recommend it to a small business. Some optional upgrades are pricey, but Dell EMC’s remote management services are top-notch and there’s plenty of expansion space to keep up with growing needs.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R340 specifications

Chassis

1U rack chassis

CPU

3.4GHz quad-core Intel Xeon E-2224 CPU

Memory

32GB 2,667MHz ECC DDR4 (max 64GB)

Storage bays

Max 4 LFF/8 SFF

Storage included

2 x 1TB SATA LFF hard disks

PSU

350W hotplug PSU (max 2)

RAID support

Dell PERC H330, supports RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 50

Network

2 x Gigabit Ethernet    

Other ports

2 x PCIe 3

Management

Dell iDRAC9 Enterprise with Gigabit Ethernet

Warranty

1yr basic on-site NBD warranty

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