Dell PowerEdge R720 review

Price when reviewed

Dell hasn’t wasted any internal space, with the CPU and DIMM sockets arranged in a neat row across the centre of the chassis. A bank of six hotplug cooling fans sits in front; we found noise levels to be extremely low. A pair of platinum-rated 750W hotplug supplies came installed, but Dell also offers high-power 1,100W supplies and 495W models for lighter duties.

The E5-2680 Xeon has a 130W TDP, but even with two of them power consumption wasn’t excessive. With Windows Server 2008 R2 in idle we measured a draw of 120W; under maximum load from SiSoft Sandra this rose to only 358W.

Expansion options are extensive. You get seven PCI Express Gen 3 slots, with room for one x16 and three x8 full-height, full-length cards and three x8 half-height, half-length cards. Dell also moves into graphics-intensive applications, as the R720 supports two double-width graphics cards, including Nvidia’s Tesla.

Dell PowerEdge R720

The Sandy Bridge-EP design moves the I/O Hub on-chip and provides 40 PCI Express lanes per socket. This new architecture means both CPU sockets in the R720 must be populated to use all seven slots; with a single CPU, you’re reduced to three.

A proprietary slot at the rear accepts Dell’s new Broadcom and Intel-based NIC daughtercards. We had the standard Intel quad-Gigabit card, but Dell also offers dual-10GBase-T and dual-Gigabit versions that include Fibre Channel over Ethernet offload on the 10GbE ports.

The R720 introduces Dell’s new iDRAC7 remote management controllers. These are the equal of HP’s iLO3, now providing more operational data and improved power monitoring.

All in all, the PowerEdge R720 is a fine rack server that delivers a strong package for the price. HP’s ProLiant DL380 has always been a standard setter for 2U rack server design, but even its eighth-generation model will have a tough time beating the Dell’s features.


Warranty3yr on-site next business day



Server formatRack
Server configuration2U


CPU familyIntel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency2.70GHz
Processors supplied2
CPU socket count2


RAM capacity768GB
Memory typeDDR3


Hard disk configuration5 x 300GB Dell SAS 2 SFF 10K hot-swap hard disks (max 16)
RAID moduleDell PERC H710P Mini with 512MB cache/BBU
RAID levels supported0, 1, 5, 6, 10


Gigabit LAN ports4

Power supply

Power supply rating750W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption120W
Peak power consumption358W

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