Dell PowerEdge R610 review

£4522
Price when reviewed

Dell’s latest PowerEdge servers may come equipped with Intel’s new 5500 Series “Nehalem” processors, but there’s a lot more on the table. They have a firm focus on virtualisation, reduced power requirements and cooling and, of course, value.

The PowerEdge R610 on review also introduces the Lifecycle Controller that, along with the new Dell Management Console (DMC), aims to significantly reduce the burden of management and support.

The R610’s front panel has been completely redesigned. The new LCD display offers a control keypad for setting the remote management network address along with views of power consumption and temperatures.

Storage capacity goes up to six SFF hard disks and the hot-swap carriers look sturdy, with the release levers now made of metal instead of plastic. RAID is provided by Dell’s PERC 6/i, which came with 256MB of embedded cache and a battery backup unit, and support for stripes, mirrors, RAID5 and hot-sparing.

With the lid removed you can see an SD memory slot on top of the optical drive. The supplied 1GB card is specifically for embedded hypervisors as it’s a bootable device. VMware’s ESXi is supported, but Dell says others are on the way.

The motherboard is tidily laid out with the pair of E5530 Xeons located at the front, and topped off with solid passive heatsinks. These have a TDP of 80W and support Intel’s Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost technology. Alongside each processor socket are banks of six DIMM sockets and 12GB of DDR3 UDIMM modules.

The new design has a reduced fan requirement, and cooling is handled by a bank of six small dual-rotor fans. We were amazed at how quiet the R610 was during testing. In fact, we had to turn off most of the other systems in the lab before we could even hear it.

Both 502W hot-plug supplies were included, and are the new 90% efficient models. Our inline power meter recorded only 15W in standby and 144W with Windows Server 2003 R2 running idle. With SiSoft Sandra pushing all 16 logical cores to maximum this peaked at 260W; an impressive effort.

The R610 ups the network port count, offering four embedded Gigabit ports that are TOE ready with the optional iSCSI offload upgrade. The price includes an extra dual port Gigabit PCI Express card with room for expansion.

The Lifecycle Controller is embedded on the motherboard and comprises 1GB of NVRAM memory. It provides features such as recording firmware versions, build-level audits and options to transplant the local server’s settings to others.

The server can be booted from it by selecting the System Services option from the boot menu where it loads Dell’s UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) environment, with GUI and support for a mouse and keyboard.

The GUI offers access to OS tools so you don’t need to boot the server with Dell’s Server Assistant disk.

The UEFI provides a deployment wizard where you enter your details and leave the server to install your chosen OS. The controller also provides access to diagnostics, and server update tools and settings.

Remote management is facilitated by Dell’s new iDRAC6 controller, which provides a dedicated network port at the rear. The base model offers a similar level of features to HP’s iLO2 chip, with access to server monitoring tools, while the Enterprise upgrade on the review system adds support for virtual media and full KVM over IP services.

Dell’s new Management Console is based on Symantec’s Altiris Notification Server, and provides the means to manage other vendors’ servers.

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site next business day

Ratings

Physical

Server format Rack
Server configuration 1U

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 2.40GHz
Processors supplied 2
CPU socket count 2

Memory

Memory type DDR3

Storage

Hard disk configuration 4 x 147GB Fujitsu 10k SFF disks in hot-swap carriers
Total hard disk capacity 588
RAID module Dell PERC 6/i
RAID levels supported 0, 1, 10, 5

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 4
ILO? yes

Motherboard

Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 2
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0

Power supply

Power supply rating 502W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 144W
Peak power consumption 260W

Software

OS family None

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