Dell PowerEdge 2950 review

£5915
Price when reviewed

Stepping up from the 1950 brings us to the 2950 and a big improvement in storage prospects. The 2U chassis offers a lot more room than its low-profile partner, and Dell has put this extra real-estate to good use.

The front panel offers a good range of storage options. The review unit included a four-disk cage, with three occupied by 3.5in Seagate SAS drives. As they have identical interfaces, you can substitute these for lower-cost and higher-capacity SATA drives. A six-drive cage for 3.5in drives is also on offer, or you can go for an eight-bay cage and 2.5in SAS drives. The only oddity is the pair of embedded SATA interfaces on the motherboard – the 1950 has one as well and they appear to serve no useful purpose.

Storage fault tolerance is comprehensive, with the optional PERC 5/i RAID controller (the cost of which is included in the price we quote here) offering a good range of RAID features. Cabling is just as tidy as in the 1950. The RAID controller is in the same location and wired directly to the backplane with a short cable. However, the DVD drive is on the opposite side of the chassis to the motherboard’s IDE interface, so its cable stretches the width of the chassis. Power fault tolerance is now a standard requirement on rack servers and the 2950 comes with two large 750W hot-swap supplies included in the price.

Expansion options are good too, as the horizontal riser card next to the power supply bay offers a pair of PCI Express 8x slots. A second, smaller riser card on the opposite side provides a PCI Express 4x slot, and you can mix and match them with PCI-X versions. As with the 1950, both riser cards can be released and replaced in seconds.

For a rack server, the 2950 runs comparatively quietly, and there’s good reason for this, as the processors are fitted with large passive heatsinks. In front is a bank of four 60mm-diameter fan modules and each one is hot-swappable. The eight memory sockets are in exactly the same location as with the 1950 and these, along with the processor, are covered in a large solid shroud that can be released and swung back for easy access.

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