IBM System x3550 M3 review
IBM’s System x3550 M3 claims to be a game changer: it has a significantly reduced power envelope, top resiliency with no single point of failure and a high-end hardware specification. In this exclusive review, we see whether it can topple Dell’s PowerEdge R610 from the PC Pro A List.
The x3550 M3’s redesigned front panel supports up to eight SFF hard disks, putting it ahead of the R610 and its six hot-swap bays, and level with HP’s ProLiant DL360 G7, which also has room for eight drives.
The system on review has one hot-swap bay for four drives, but you can add an extra SAS/SATA 4-Pac HDD kit alongside, which comprises the drive cage, backplane and SAS cable. The review system included IBM’s ServeRAID M5015 RAID controller, so it’s possible to wire the extra cage directly to the spare port on this card.
The M5015 is the top dog in IBM’s RAID card portfolio, with 512MB of battery-backed-up cache and supporting the latest 6Gbits/sec SAS drives. An advanced feature upgrade key costing £131 boosts support to RAID6 and 60 arrays plus SED (self encrypting disk) key management.
There are no costs in terms of expansion, as IBM has cannily placed a dedicated PCI Express slot at the front of the motherboard specifically for these cards. However, you can reduce your outlay by selecting the ServeRAID BR10i option, which supports cold-swap mirrors and stripes, and uses the embedded controller and SAS/SATA port on the motherboard.
Other new features in the x3550 M3 are support for 1.35V DIMMs, which can lower operating costs. IBM has also redesigned its rack mount brackets to make them easier to install, and its new universal slide kit is designed for non-IBM rack cabinets.
OS installation has been streamlined: IBM’s ServerGuide utility is now universal and can be used on all the latest System x servers. But note: Dell’s Lifecycle Controller provides embedded OS deployment tools, diagnostics and a local store for device drivers.
|Warranty||3yr on-site next business day|
|CPU family||Intel Xeon|
|CPU nominal frequency||2.66GHz|
|CPU socket count||2|
|Hard disk configuration||2 x 146GB IBM 10k SAS SFF hard disks in hot-swap carriers|
|Total hard disk capacity||292GB|
|RAID module||IBM ServeRAID-M5015 SAS/SATA PCI-E card with 512MB DDR2 cache and BBU|
|RAID levels supported||0, 1, 5, 10, 50|
|Gigabit LAN ports||2|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||2|
|Power supply rating||675W|
Noise and power
|Idle power consumption||155W|
|Peak power consumption||280W|