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Boston Value Series 120 G8 review

Verdict

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)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

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.

Boston Value Series 120 G8

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.

Boston Value Series 120 G8

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.

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