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Dell PowerEdge R710 review

Verdict

A classy 2U rack server offering a fine specification for the price, with a greatly improved management package and some unique server deployment features

Review Date: 10 Aug 2009

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £3,945 (£4,537 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

When Dell launched its PowerEdge R610 rack server earlier this year, its superb build quality and features impressed enough to earn it a coveted Recommended award and a place on the PC Pro A List. Now, we turn our attention to the new PowerEdge R710, and see whether Dell's latest 2U rack server continues this tradition.

The R710 has some stiff competition, pitched against HP's mighty ProLiant DL380 G6. The R710 looks capable of tackling it head on, since it takes everything that makes the R610 great - including a sharp focus on reduced power consumption - and delivers Dell's new centralised system management tools and the new Lifecycle Controller.

Embedded on the server's motherboard, the Lifecycle Controller is a small black box containing 1GB of NVRAM memory. You can boot the server directly from this controller by selecting the System Services option in the boot menu, which loads Dell's UEFI (unified extensible firmware interface) environment complete with GUI and support for mouse and keyboard.

Dell Unified Server ConfiguratorDell wins out for OS deployment, as the UEFI replaces Dell's Server Assistant disc. It provides a built-in deployment wizard whereby you enter your details and leave the server to get on with installing your chosen OS.

The R710 sports Dell's new iDRAC6 management controller, which has a dedicated network port at the rear of the server. It provides a web browser interface for remote monitoring and viewing the status of critical server components, and the Enterprise upgrade key brings in virtual boot media and KVM-over-IP remote access.

Based on Symantec's Altiris Notification Server, the Management Console takes over from Dell's elderly IT Assistant and provides the tools to manage all your IT equipment, instead of just Dell servers. Installation is a lengthy process, but it kicks off with an automated search process that populates its database with discovered systems and SNMP-enabled devices.

The Altiris agent can be pushed to selected systems and this provides enhanced inventory, system monitoring, remote management capabilities and extensive alerting facilities. However, power monitoring and management aren't as good as HP's Insight Control suite, where its optional Insight Power Manager plugin provides graphing and reporting facilities for power consumption, inlet air temperature and CPU performance.

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