Lenovo ThinkServer TD340 review

£2628
Price when reviewed

Lenovo’s impending acquisition of IBM’s entire System x portfolio is taking its time, but this hasn’t stopped the company’s SMB division pushing out more servers. The ThinkServer TD340 is the sole tower server in this family of four new models, and is designed as a general-purpose server for running databases, web services and general infrastructure duties.

The TD340 makes a fine first impression. Build quality is good, and the sturdy chassis offers a pair of 5.25in bays at the front, one of which is occupied by a DVD-RW drive. A simple display with status LEDs for power, storage and network activity can also be found on the front panel. Alongside, Lenovo’s Intelligent Diagnostics Module shows the status of critical components, and warns if the CPUs, memory or PSUs aren’t operating normally.

Inside, Lenovo has ticked all the right boxes. There’s plenty of potential power on tap: the motherboard supports dual E5-2400 v2 Xeons and has a maximum memory capacity of 192GB. The chassis has room for two drive cages, each supporting four LFF or eight SFF drives. Each of those drive bays has a dedicated cooling fan, and an exhaust fan at the rear of the case pulls hot air out of the back. Those fans are very quiet, too.

Lenovo ThinkServer TD340

The TD340 supports a wide range of storage options. The base model has an embedded RAID 100 controller, which supports four of the six onboard SATA ports and offers stripes and mirrors. If you’re keen to use all the SATA ports or take advantage of the two quad-port SAS connectors, you’ll need to upgrade to a RAID300 unit. Lenovo also offers an optional RAID5 upgrade key for both controllers.

Our review system included a RAID700 II PCI Express card, which has 512MB of cache memory, supports RAID5 and RAID6, and accepts an optional BBU. Raw power was supplied by a pair of six-core 2.2GHz E5-2420 v2 Xeons, with two 8GB modules installed (there are two banks of six slots, one for each CPU socket). The maximum is 192GB of RDIMMs or 48GB of low-cost UDIMMs. We were also supplied with three 500GB SATA SFF hard disks. Out back, there’s a pair of 800W hotplug PSUs.

The low 80W TDP of the Xeons made its mark in our power tests. With Windows Server 2012 R2 in idle, we measured a power draw of 90W. Pushing the system with SiSoft Sandra saw power consumption peak at a respectably low 166W. In other areas, however, the TD340 feels slightly primitive. For instance, Lenovo is lagging behind the likes of Dell and HP for OS deployment – it can’t match their embedded UEFI and Intelligent Provisioning tools. Instead, you have to boot the server with the EasyStartup disc, which provides an assisted OS install and access to the RAID controller for storage setup.

Lenovo ThinkServer TD340

For remote management, the TD340 has an embedded ThinkServer Management Module (TMM), which shares access with the first network port. Lenovo needs to get its act together here, too: the TMM web interface provides remote access to power and component monitoring, but looks dated when compared with Dell’s iDRAC7 and HP’s iLO4. Another niggle is that activating the TMM’s remote-control feature requires a Premium upgrade hardware key. For general network systems management, Lenovo includes its ThinkServer EasyManage software, which runs network discoveries and can monitor and report on all SNMP- and WMI-enabled systems.

The Lenovo ThinkServer TD340 isn’t as well built or doesn’t offer as many features as the PC Pro Recommended Dell PowerEdge T420, but it’s cheaper. We shopped around for the best price and built the review system at Ballicom for a shade less than £2,200 – more than £400 cheaper than a similarly specified T420. If you’re after a tower server on a tight budget, it’s worth considering.

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site NBD

Ratings

Physical

Server configuration Tower chassis

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 2.20GHz
Processors supplied 2

Memory

RAM capacity 192GB
Memory type DDR3

Storage

Hard disk configuration 3 x 500GB Lenovo 7.2K SFF SATA hot-swap hard disks
RAID levels supported 0, 1, 10, 5, 6, 50, 60

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 2

Power supply

Power supply rating 800W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 90W
Peak power consumption 166W

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