Lenovo ThinkServer RS110 review

£863
Price when reviewed

Since buying IBM’s PC business, Lenovo has grown to become one of the top manufacturers, regularly trading places with Acer in the worldwide shipment rankings. However, this world isn’t enough, and last year Lenovo moved into the SMB server realm with a modest range of pedestal and rack-mount systems.

Last month, we brought you the very first look at its entry-level ThinkServer TS100 pedestal server, and now we deliver yet another exclusive – its RS110 low-profile rack system. Server spotters will immediately see a resemblance to IBM’s servers, since Lenovo has an agreement where it will produce single- and dual-socket servers based on IBM’s xSeries technology.

The RS110 targets a number of applications including general-purpose file, print, web and email services for workgroups and departments. It’s delivered in a compact low-profile 1U chassis that bears the same hallmarks of IBM’s solid build quality. This isn’t due to an OEM deal with IBM, as Lenovo was very keen to point out to us that it manufactures the servers itself.

Lenovo’s support package looks good, as the warranty is augmented with a free 90-day trial of its ThinkPlus Priority Support (TPS). This adds 24/7 telephone support for the OS and apps installed on the server, and an upgrade path to four-hour responses to hardware problems.

On to the server itself, the front panel has two bays for 3.5in hard disks and the review system came with a single 160GB SATA drive. The drives are mounted in removable carriers, although the base model supports only cold-swap, or “simple-swap” as coined by Lenovo. The drive backplane has connectors for each drive that are wired directly to the motherboard, whereas the hot-swap model has a single connector linked to the optional IBM ServeRAID MR10i PCI Express card. Note that the RS110 can only handle two 3.5in drives.

The RS110 is a single-socket server, and the price includes a decent 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor. Cooling is very serious, as the chunky passive heatsink is teamed with a secondary unit in front and linked to it with an array of pipes. Three small fans look after this assembly and the end result is low noise levels.

Two Gigabit ports are provided and there’s also an extra systems management network port, which is activated when you add the optional IBM RSA card, which brings KVM over IP into the equation. The RS110 is easy on the utility supply; with it connected to our inline power meter we saw it drawing a mere 65W with the OS idle. With SiSoft Sandra bashing the two processor cores to the max, this peaked at only 94W.

Lenovo provides an interesting server software bundle. The EasyStartup disc helps with installing an OS, and EasyUpdate Windows looks after server-specific updates and checks with Lenovo’s support site at scheduled intervals, and downloads and installs them for you.

For general remote server monitoring and management Lenovo has teamed up with Avocent, so you get its LANDesk software included as ThinkServer EasyManage 8. We’re not convinced this is the best solution, as EasyManage is designed to manage large networks of multiple servers and workstations. A core server is fundamental to its operations, and to give you an idea of size it takes about 1hr 30mins to install.

Ideally, the host system should be dedicated, and EasyManage doesn’t support Windows Server 2008 as a core server and shouldn’t be loaded on a domain controller. If you do persevere you’ll be impressed with EasyManage’s features. It provides scheduled network auto-discoveries, pushes agents to selected systems, runs inventories, and facilitates remote access to each system.

Warranty

Warranty 1yr on-site next business day

Ratings

Physical

Server format Rack
Server configuration 1U

Processor

CPU family Intel Core 2 Duo
CPU nominal frequency 2.40GHz
Processors supplied 1
CPU socket count 1

Memory

RAM capacity 8GB
Memory type DDR2

Storage

Hard disk configuration 160GB hard disk in cold-swap carrier
Total hard disk capacity 160
RAID module LSI 1064E
RAID levels supported 0, 1, JBOD

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 2
ILO? no

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 410W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 65W
Peak power consumption 94W

Software

OS family None

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