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Dell PowerEdge R720 review

Verdict

Versatility is the R720’s great strength, and it sets a high standard for 2U rack server design and features

Review Date: 1 May 2012

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £7,463 (£8,956 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Dell has consistently beaten HP and IBM to the punch when it comes to supporting the latest processors – and it does it yet again. Not only does the PowerEdge R720 2U rack server support Intel’s Xeon E5-2600 processors, it also represents a major redesign over the R710.

Our review system features a pair of 2.7GHz Xeon E5-2680 processors. These use the new 32nm Sandy Bridge-EP (efficient performance) architecture, which sees inter-socket QPI links doubled and speeds boosted to 8GT/sec.

Near the top of this family of eight-core server CPUs, the E5-2680 has a 20MB L3 cache and supports Intel’s new Turbo Boost 2, allowing cores to peak briefly beyond their TDP rating. During idle periods, the system accumulates a thermal budget to later be used to boost core performance for up to 25 seconds.

Dell PowerEdge R720

The E5-2600 Xeons have four memory channels per socket, and the R720 comes with the full 24 DIMM sockets onboard. In dual-CPU systems memory can be boosted to 768GB, using RDIMMs or the new LR-DIMM (load-reduced) modules.

Hypervisor redundancy is available via Dell’s optional dual-SD card controller. It’s been redesigned to fit into a dedicated slot at the rear, where it automatically keeps an onboard copy of the primary boot media.

For storage, the chassis now has room for eight hot-swap LFF or 16 SFF hard disks – twice that of the R710. Dell also offers a version with four standard SFF bays and four hotplug PCI Express flash SSDs. And then there’s the R720xd (extreme disk) version. Available as a separate order, its chassis is modified to provide 24 hot-swap SFF bays at the front and two more at the rear.

RAID options start with the entry-level PERC S110 controller, which links to the motherboard’s four-port SATA II connector and supports stripes, mirrors and RAID5 arrays in Windows. Our review system came with the PERC H710P Mini card, which snaps into a dedicated slot and offers RAID6 for 6Gbits/sec SAS and SATA drives.

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