Broadberry CyberServe RS700 review

£3433
Price when reviewed

A few Taiwanese manufacturers have realised that if they want a bigger slice of the worldwide server market, they need to improve features and build quality. Asus aims to achieve this with its latest generation of rack servers, and in this exclusive review of the Broadberry CyberServe RS700 we see what’s new and improved.

The RS700 is an all-Asus affair comprising its RS700-E6/RS4 rack solution, which amalgamates an R12A chassis with a Z8PS-D12-1U motherboard. Broadberry advised us it selected this server platform since it offers particularly good expansion features, a low power rating and a new cable-free internal design.

The chassis looks and feels solid and offers four hot-swap drive bays at the front. Asus loses out to the blue chips here, as it still doesn’t support 2.5in SFF hard disks. Their significantly lower power consumption makes them a better choice for rack dense environments, where power usage and heat output are of concern.

The CyberServe’s front panel is well designed: along with four hot-swap bays there’s room for a large air grille, a DVD drive, a pair of USB ports and plenty of status LEDs for power, drive activity, network ports and high temperature warnings. There’s also a system ID button and LED, but we’d prefer it if the reset button that sits alongside was recessed, so it can’t be pressed accidentally.

Broadberry CyberServe RS700

The RS700 offers interesting RAID possibilities. The motherboard sports an Intel embedded SATA controller with six internal ports and support for mirrors and stripes, plus RAID5 in Windows. However, there’s now Asus’ new PIKE (proprietary I/O kit expansion) module.

The hard disk backplane is connected to the motherboard via a bridge board, which gives you the basic SATA support. Alongside the motherboard’s bridge board connectors are two more slots that accept the new PIKE boards. The LSI1064E and LSI1068E versions add support for mirrored or striped SAS drives, while the LSI1078 version adds RAID5, 6, 50 and 60 to the mix – and all without losing an expansion slot.

Remote server management gets some attention, as the RS700 features an embedded controller and dedicated network port. The web interface is tidy, offering full control over the server, and as long as power is supplied you can switch the server on and off, cycle power and reset it.

The interface provides plenty of information about all motherboard sensors that can be linked up to email alerts and SNMP traps. The server can be remotely controlled, so access to the BIOS and OS is possible, and you can define devices on the management system as virtual boot media. Access controls for the embedded controller are extensive as you can create groups, users and administrators to determine levels of remote access and use AD authentication as well.

Asus has paid particular attention to internal design and removed cabling; all components slot into each other. Cooling is handled by a bank of seven hot-swap modules, each incorporating pairs of dual-rotor fans. This is the arrangement used by Sun in its 1U rack servers – we found noise levels to be very low.

The pair of meaty 2.8GHz X5560 Xeons are located at the front of the motherboard and mounted with chunky passive heatsinks. Each gets a dedicated bank of six DIMM sockets alongside, and the review system came with a decent 12GB of DDR3 RDIMM modules. The entire assembly is covered by a solid plastic air shroud that’s more solidly constructed than the flimsy versions used in earlier Asus servers.

Expansion potential is good. Asus has squeezed in a pair of risers at the back, one with PCI Express slots on both sides and the other accepts a single card, allowing you to fit a low-profile card and two half-length, full-height cards.

The RS700 is also easy on the power supply, with our inline meter registering just 16W in standby and 107W with Server 2008 idling. With SiSoft Sandra thrashing the 16 logical cores to the maximum, this rose to a peak of 288W.

The CyberServe RS700 is far better designed than its predecessors, with good expansion potential and improved remote management. If you want features such as the unique Lifecycle Controller and support for SFF hard disks, we recommend the A-Listed Dell PowerEdge R610, but the RS700 offers the same specification for around £350 less.

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site next business day

Ratings

Physical

Server format Rack
Server configuration 1U

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 2.80GHz
Processors supplied 2
CPU socket count 2

Memory

RAM capacity 96GB
Memory type DDR3

Storage

Hard disk configuration 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7.2K SATA hard disk in hot-swap carriers
Total hard disk capacity 500
RAID module Intel embedded SATA II controller
RAID levels supported 0, 1, 10, 5 and JBODs

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 2
ILO? no

Motherboard

Conventional PCI slots total 0

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 107W
Peak power consumption 288W

Software

OS family None

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