Dell PowerEdge 1950 review

£5661
Price when reviewed

The smallest of Dell’s new rack servers is the 1U-high PowerEdge 1950. This slimline chassis delivers a range of features that belie its stature, and the use of low-profile 2.5in hard disks allows it to offer plenty of fault-tolerant storage. The drive cage is located to the right side of the front panel, but its compact dimensions mean grilles can be placed on either side to allow for unimpeded airflow through the chassis. However, if your priority is storage over redundancy, you can opt for a two-bay cage, which supports a couple of larger-capacity 3.5in SAS or SATA drives. General build quality is excellent and the chassis exhibits very little flexing.

The distinctive LCD panel is to the left and Dell has managed to squeeze in a DVD drive underneath. An internal examination shows everything is neat and tidy, with a few smart design touches here and there. The processors have passive heatsinks with large horizontal vanes that extend to the side to increase their surface area. There’s plenty of cooling on tap, as a bank of eight dual-rotor fans stretch across the width of the chassis. Furthermore, they’re implemented as four dual-fan modules, which are hot-swappable. The eight memory sockets are located further back behind the processors and all are covered in a flexible plastic shroud to improve airflow. The 1950 also incorporates dual hot-swap power supplies, now a common feature on 1U chassis.

Dell’s behavioural design concept extends to RAID and remote management, as the server has a PERC 5/i SAS RAID controller fitted behind the front panel in precisely the same location as for the 2950. If you don’t want hardware-managed RAID, Dell offers a standard four-port SAS controller instead. The DRAC 5/i card is also located at the back of the motherboard in exactly the same position for both servers, where it provides a dedicated Fast Ethernet management port. Expansion options are surprisingly good, as the motherboard sports a couple of horizontal riser cards. On the review system, these provide a pair of PCI Express 8x slots, but you can opt for PCI-X versions instead, and even these are simple to remove by releasing a catch on each riser.

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