Boston Value Series 120 G8 review
A basic feature set, but Boston’s compact Xeon E3-1200v2 rack server offers good value with an impressively low power draw
Review Date: 7 Aug 2012
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: £1,539 (£1,847 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Along with the burgeoning microserver market, Intel’s Xeon E3 processors are aimed at the single-socket, entry-level server sector. The latest E3-1200v2 series is built on the Ivy Bridge architecture, and in this exclusive review we look at the first production server to use these new CPUs.
The Boston Value Series 120 G8 is an all-Supermicro affair, designed to handle basic IT services such as web and email serving, network gateway security and dedicated hosting. Its low-profile 1U chassis is only 22in deep, so it will fit neatly into most rack- and wall-mounted cabinets.
The review system came with a 3.4GHz Xeon E3-1240v2 – one of a family of 11 new models. The biggest change to the new CPUs is a die shrink to 22nm, which should bring a noticeable reduction in power consumption. Speeds range from 2.3GHz up to 3.7GHz, and all support Intel’s Turbo Boost 2, with the E3-1290v2 capable of hitting 4.1GHz. All but one model have four cores and 8MB of L3 cache; the dual-core E3-1220Lv2 is the odd one out, with a smaller 3MB L3 cache and a tiny TDP of 17W.
Powering the Boston is a fixed 330W supply, and this CPU’s 69W TDP had a small but significant impact on overall power usage. With Windows Server 2008 R2 in idle, we measured a draw of only 33W; with SiSoft Sandra hammering all eight logical cores, this peaked at a mere 80W.
The differences in consumption between the E3-1200v2 and v1 versions are apparent only under full load. We measured a Broadberry CyberServe XE3-R130 equipped with a 3.1GHz E3-1220, and with its 80W TDP it drew 33W in idle and 91W under load.
The processor has a large passive heatsink, and all cooling is handled by a row of three 40mm fans in front. Each module has two fans that rotate in opposite directions for improved airflow and reduced vibration. They work well: we found the server exceptionally quiet during testing, which makes it suitable for a small office. The system also has mounting points and power connectors for two more fan modules if you require extra cooling for the drive bays.
The new E3-1200v2 CPUs support DDR3 memory speeds of up to 1,600MHz and the price includes a pair of 4GB modules. Up to 32GB of ECC memory can be fitted, but only the unbuffered variety as registered memory isn’t supported.
Storage options are basic. The chassis has a hot-swap bay for up to four SFF hard disks, and the price includes a triplet of 500GB Seagate Constellation SATA II drives. You can’t add any more bays: the air grille in the middle of the front panel is fixed, and there’s only an extra bay on the other side for an optical drive.
Based on Supermicro’s SuperServer 1017C-TF platform, the server uses a compact X9SCL-F microATX motherboard that doesn’t take up much internal space. The “F” suffix indicates it has an embedded RMM and dedicated network port for remote management.
The motherboard has an Intel C202 chipset with six embedded 3Gbits/sec SATA ports. The chipset allows you to create mirrors, stripes or RAID5 arrays, the last of which is supported only in Windows since it’s managed using Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology app.
The server can be managed from a web browser, and its simple interface provides access to sensor readouts so you can keep a close eye on critical components. Each sensor has links to thresholds; if anything goes awry, it will issue SNMP traps and email alerts.
The RMM looks short on features when stacked up against Dell’s iDRAC7 and HP’s new iLO4. However, if you need only basic monitoring, it does the job nicely – and it has the added bonus of providing KVM over IP remote control and virtual media services as standard, rather than as optional upgrades.
- BBC admits £100 million IT project was a "waste"
- IBM's Watson answers customers' questions
- New CEO reorganises Intel to target "new devices"
- Dell profits slide 79% amid buyout talks
- Forget cloud subscriptions: users prefer standard licences
- McAfee: cloud storage could help spread viruses
- Analysts question Windows 8 as UK PC shipments slump
- Google pools storage across Gmail and Drive
- Ofcom accused of killing off VoIP competition
- ShoreTel dock turns iPhones and iPads into desk phones
- Is it worth upgrading a media centre to Windows 8?
- Flickr redesign: is it enough to tempt photographers back?
- Hands on with the new Google Maps
- Nokia Lumia 925 review: first look
- Why I won't subscribe to Creative Cloud
- GoPro camera strapped to a remote-control helicopter: the ultimate boy's toy
- Acer Iconia A1 review: first look
- Acer Aspire P3 review: first look
- Acer Aspire R7 review: first look
- How we produce the PC Pro podcast
- Software subscriptions return us to a life of servitude
- How to get a job in cloud computing
- Are today's tech start-ups simply get-rich-quick schemes?
- Choosing the right tablet for business
- Best free antivirus for 2013
- The best business broadband: how to choose the right package
- Choosing your web hosting package: space, bandwidth, service-level agreements and email handling
- Windows Server 2012 features in-depth
- How to protect your business against spear phishing
- How to install virtual servers with Hyper-V
- The ICO's shame-faced u-turn on cookies
- Start8 and ModernMix: making Windows 8 work on a desktop
- How to boost your mobile reception
- How to fix Facebook: Social Fixer
- Taking the stress out of WordPress updates
- Where to download free web fonts
- Turn your tablet into a Sky+ remote control
- How to measure the success of a new IT system
- Three years on: the state of the tablet market
- Windows 8: what works and what doesn't
There are dozens of exciting prizes up for grabs on PC Pro Competitions. All our competitions are free to enter. Try your luck.ENTER NOW