IBM System x3550 M3 review

Price when reviewed

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.

IBM System x3550 M3

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



Server format Rack
Server configuration 1U


CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 2.66GHz
Processors supplied 2
CPU socket count 2


RAM capacity 192GB
Memory type DDR3


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

Power supply rating 675W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 155W
Peak power consumption 280W

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