Dell PowerEdge T620 review

4 Jul 2012

A big, bold pedestal server with the latest E5-2600 Xeons, huge expansion potential and extremely low noise levels

Price when reviewed: 
6,223exc VAT
5

Dell’s PowerEdge T620 is one of the first Xeon E5-2600 pedestal servers to market, and it covers many bases. It’s aimed at SMBs looking for growth potential, while the 5U rack version targets data centres that want a good all-rounder. Its job description includes server and desktop virtualisation duties, medical imaging, and remote or branch office deployments. Educational establishments traditionally have an affinity for tower servers, so they’re also on Dell’s agenda.

It’s a long list, and a large device: the chassis stands 450mm tall, and Dell has put that cavernous space to good use. The T620’s storage potential is impressive: it can be ordered with 16 or 32 SFF hard disk bays.

Two backplanes service the bays, and each has integral SAS expanders, so you can have the bays split in half with 16 drives managed by two separate RAID controllers. Alternatively, all 32 bays can be connected to a single PERC controller for one massive RAID array. If you want more storage you can go for 12 3.5in hotplug bays instead, and as with the R720, Dell also offers a special order chassis with four hotplug PCI Express Flash SSDs.

Dell PowerEdge T620 front

The embedded PERC S110 provides software-managed RAID0, 1 and 5 arrays for up to four SATA II drives. The H310 PCI Express card adds support for 6Gbits/sec SATA and SAS drives, while the H710P in this system brings in RAID6 and 1GB of NVRAM cache.

A small panel above the drive bays presents an LCD panel and control keypad for setting the remote management network address, along with views of power consumption and temperatures. Next door is an SD card slot for Dell’s iDRAC7 Enterprise remote management upgrade, but the server comes as standard with the iDRAC7 Express controller. It presents a freshly designed web interface with more operational data and improved power-monitoring features, making it the match of HP’s iLO3 controller.

If you want remote control and virtual media services, you need to upgrade to the Enterprise version: the dedicated management port and vFlash slots are already in place, so you just add a licence to activate it.

The T620 is well set for virtualisation, as dual-CPU systems support up to 764GB of RAM using 1.35V or 1.5V LR-DIMMs. Note that RDIMMs or UDIMMs max out at 512GB and 128GB respectively.

For hypervisor redundancy, Dell’s dual-SD card controller snaps into a slot at the top of the motherboard. A mirrored mode keeps an onboard copy of the primary boot media in case it fails.

Offices with no dedicated server room should consider the T620, because it’s unbelievably quiet. The entire chassis is cooled by two large fans at the rear, and noise levels are so low we had to turn off everything else in the lab before we could hear them.

The Dell’s internals are tidy: the passive processor heatsinks are covered with a large shroud. Our review system came with a pair of eight-core 2GHz Xeon E5-2650s, which have a top QPI speed of 8GT/sec and a 20MB L3 cache, and support Intel Turbo Boost 2.

Dell PowerEdge T620 gut shot

The E5-2650 is also one of four eight-core models with a low 95W TDP, and it made a difference in our power tests. With Windows Server 2008 R2 in idle, we measured the review server sipping 126W; with SiSoft Sandra maxing out all 32 logical cores, this rose to only 278W.

The server supports a pair of load-balanced power supplies, and ours came with two 750W hotplug units. Dell also offers 495W models for light duties, and 1,100W versions for high specifications – for example, in systems with more than two of Dell’s Nvidia GPUs installed.

There’s plenty of room to expand: even with the RAID card in residence, there are six spare full-length, full-height PCI Express Gen 3 slots. The newly designed Sandy Bridge-EP I/O Hub (IOH) means you’ll need both CPUs to use all of them; a single CPU activates only the top four slots.

The PowerEdge T620 offers great expansion potential, and looks capable of handling a range of SMB duties. Storage capacity is impressive, and although its chassis will be hard to miss, Dell’s smart cooling design means it won’t be heard.

Details

Price ex VAT £5,186

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site next business day

Ratings

Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5

Physical

Server format Pedestal
Server configuration Pedestal chassis

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 2.00GHz
Processors supplied 2
CPU socket count 2

Memory

Memory type DDR3

Storage

Hard disk configuration 2 x 250GB Dell SATA SFF hot-swap hard disks (max 32)
Total hard disk capacity 500GB
RAID module Dell PERC H710P with 1GB cache
RAID levels supported 0, 1, 5, 6, 10

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 2

Power supply

Power supply rating 750W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 126W
Peak power consumption 278W