Dell EMC PowerEdge R740xd review

Dell EMC’s mighty PowerEdge R740xd debuts Intel’s core-heavy Skylake-SP Xeons

Storage

RAID options haven't changed much from the 13th Gen PowerEdges, where base systems start with an embedded PERC S140 chip supporting SATA drives plus stripes, mirrors and RAID5 arrays. Dell EMC offers a wide range of PERC 10 RAID controllers, and our system sported a PERC H730P Mini card with 2GB of NVRAM cache and integral battery backup.

There's more on the storage front, as the R740xd has another drive tray at the back which supports a further 2 LFF or 4 SFF hot-swap drives. The cage is cabled to the front backplane and integrates directly with the resident RAID controller.

The NVMe cage requires a PCI-Express extender card which slips into a slot beneath the rear drive tray. The R740xd has even more levels, as under this slot is a connector for its network daughtercards.

We tested the dual Gigabit/10GBase-T model, and even this had dedicated copper heat-pipes and radiators for cooling. Other network options are plentiful and include quad Gigabit, quad 10GbE or dual 25GbE.

Management features

The iDRAC9 controller uses a completely new chip, which provides a slick HTML5-based web interface. This is vastly superior to the iDRAC8 and, dare we say it, even better that HPE's iLO4.

The dashboard provides a complete status overview, while the System tab presents a wealth of operational data about areas such as batteries, cooling and voltages. It offers a full system inventory and performance graphs, plus direct access to the PERC for RAID configuration.

Data centres will love the new Quick Sync 2 feature. Pressing the button under the system ID LED on the front panel activates Bluetooth, and allowed us to connect our iPad to the server via the OpenManage Mobile (OMM) iOS app. Using OMM to scan the QR code on the system label, we had the R740xd loaded in seconds where we could view all server information, alerts and health status, plus launch a virtual console for remote control.

Security is extensive, as the iDRAC9 System Lockdown mode stops users changing any configuration settings. On top of that, along with full supply chain security, firmware packages are cryptographically signed and storage can be safely wiped using the iDRAC9 System Erase feature.

We could also monitor the R740xd via the lab's OpenManage Essentials host, which provided hardware and software inventories along with advanced alerting features. OpenManage Enterprise will be the next step but Dell EMC was unable to advise us when this would be released.

Verdict

As one of the first Skylake-SP servers to market, the PowerEdge R740xd sets a very high standard for the rest of the blue chips to follow. The superb internal design allows its 2U chassis to offer an unbeatable range of storage options and the new iDRAC9 delivers excellent remote management tools. It's the perfect choice for data centres that want maximum processing power and storage performance in their rack cabinets.

Verdict

Along with early support for Skylake-SP Xeons, the PowerEdge R740xd packs a superb range of storage features into its 2U chassis and teams them up with a class remote management act

Chassis2U rack
CPU2 x 2.1GHz Intel Xeon Gold 6130 
Memory192GB ECC DDR4 2,667MHz (max 3TB)
Storage bays12/24 LFF/SFF front hot-swap; 2/4 LFF/SFF rear hot-swap; 4 x NVMe SFF mid hot-swap
RAIDDell PERC H730P Mini SAS3 with 2GB NVRAM cache and BBU
Storage included5 x 4TB Dell Enterprise SED SAS3 LFF hard disks
Array supportRAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6, 50, 60
Network2 x Gigabit/2 x 10GBase-T daughtercard
Expansion4 x PCI-e 3.0 slots (max 6)
OtherInternal microSD module/dual 32GB cards 
Power2 x 750W Platinum hot-swap PSUs
ManagementDell iDRAC9 Enterprise 
Warranty3yrs on-site NBD
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