Dell PowerEdge T320 review

£1771
Price when reviewed

Single-socket Xeon E5 systems are an ideal upgrade for small businesses that need a new server, but there aren’t many to choose from. Now, Dell adds another to the list with its PowerEdge T320, which is designed to provide SMBs with a good-value workhorse capable of running a wide range of applications.

Prices start at £499 for a model equipped with a basic 2.6GHz Pentium 1403 CPU, and you can upgrade to a 2.8GHz Xeon E5-1410 for around £200, or choose from a small selection of E5-2400 CPUs.

Our review system housed the slowest E5-2400 CPU in the family, the 1.8GHz Xeon E5-2403. It has four cores, a 10MB L3 cache and a 6.4GT/sec QPI, but memory speeds are limited to 1,066MHz, and neither Hyper-Threading nor Turbo Boost are supported.

Dell PowerEdge T320

The Xeon E5-2403 has a low TDP of 80W, which helped the Dell perform well in our power tests. With Windows Server 2012 idling, the review system drew a modest 68W from the mains. Under heavy load from the SiSoft Sandra benchmarking app, that figure rose to only 81W.

Our system included the basic 350W cabled PSU, but it’s possible to upgrade the system with dual PSUs for power redundancy. Dell offers dual 475W and 750W hotplug PSUs as a configurable option during the order process.

The PowerEdge is likely to be a hit with small offices that demand tranquillity: cooling is handled by a single 120mm fan at the rear that barely makes a sound. The T320 is also capable of surviving life in warmer offices, as it supports Dell’s Fresh Air initiative: this means it’s rated to operate safely in ambient temperatures of up to 40°C for 900 hours a year, and in temperatures of 45°C for 90 hours in the same period.

The T320 has oodles of storage potential. Our review system was fitted with the basic four-bay cold-swap cage, filled with a quartet of 500GB Enterprise SATA hard disks, and each drive was cabled directly to the motherboard’s 3Gbits/sec SATA port and managed by the embedded PERC S110 RAID controller.

Dell PowerEdge T320

Those who need more storage aren’t short of options. It’s possible to upgrade to a front-loading eight-bay hot-swap LFF cage, although it’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll need to shell out for a PERC PCI Express RAID card if you want to use all eight bays.

Businesses with a hunger for storage can also order the T320 with a 16-bay SFF hot-swap cage. The optional SFF cage supports SAS or SATA drives, and you can choose from pedestal- or rack-mount chassis configurations.

If decent remote management is high up on your shortlist, it’s definitely worth upgrading from Dell’s Basic Management option. The savings are tempting, but all you get is shared access to the first network port, and remote power controls via Dell’s IPMISH command line utility; it’s far better to cough up the extra £115 for the iDRAC7 card.

The iDRAC7 Express version provides remote web browser access and server monitoring, and shelling out a further £168 on the Enterprise upgrade (as found in our review system) enables full remote control and virtual media services.

Usefully, you can start with the Express card and upgrade later on: the dedicated network port and vFlash slot are already present on the Express card and can be enabled by entering a licence key. Both versions of the iDRAC7 interface allow you to monitor the Dell’s Fresh Air operating temperature thresholds, albeit only on systems that have dual redundant PSUs.

Along with dual embedded Gigabit ports, there’s plenty of room for further expansion: the motherboard provides five PCI Express slots. Dell offers upgrades to Nvidia Quadro 4000 or 6000 graphics cards for businesses planning on running apps such as medical imaging, rendering or desktop virtualisation.

The T320 also makes for a great virtualisation platform. Dell’s dual SD card controller – which provides automatic hypervisor redundancy by mirroring the contents of the primary boot card to the secondary card – remains unique to the PowerEdge range.

Dell’s PowerEdge T320 has little in the way of rivals – neither HP nor IBM has anything in their portfolios to match it, and Lenovo offers only two Xeon E3 towers.

Small businesses that need a new server, but don’t want the expense of dual sockets, will find the T320 fits the bill nicely. It delivers E5-2400 power at a reasonable price, has plenty of room to expand, and its low noise levels and solid build quality make it suited to life in a small office.

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site

Ratings

Physical

Server format Pedestal
Server configuration Pedestal chassis

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 1.80GHz
Processors supplied 1
CPU socket count 1

Memory

RAM capacity 192GB
Memory type DDR3

Storage

Hard disk configuration 4 x 500GB Dell Enterprise SATA hard disks
Total hard disk capacity 2,000GB
RAID module Dell PERC S110
RAID levels supported 0, 1, 5, 10

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 2

Motherboard

PCI-E x16 slots total 5

Power supply

Power supply rating 350W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 68W
Peak power consumption 81W

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