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Dell PowerEdge R420 review

Verdict

Dell's PowerEdge R420 delivers high-quality hardware with a sharp focus on storage capacity - for a price

Review Date: 2 Nov 2012

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £4,533 (£5,440 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

With Intel’s new Xeon E5-2600 processors hogging the limelight, it’s easy to forget that there’s a lower-cost alternative. Showcasing the capabilities of Intel’s more affordable Xeon E5-2400 CPUs, Dell’s PowerEdge R420 is aimed at SMBs looking for a powerful entry-level rack server with plenty of expansion potential. It’s primed for virtualisation, workgroup collaboration, email, web and file serving – but also as a low-profile compute node for data centres.

Physically, the R420 isn’t as deep as Dell’s flagship R620 1U rack server, but it crams a decent specification and plenty of storage capacity into a well-designed 1U rack chassis. The front panel includes an optical drive, two USB ports and Dell’s nifty LCD panel and control pad. This displays the server’s status and can be used to set the remote management network address and view power consumption and system temperatures.

Inside, the twin CPU sockets house a pair of 2.1GHz E5-2450 processors. These eight- core CPUs have an 8GT/sec QPI, a 20MB L3 cache and support for RDIMM memory speeds of up to 1,600MHz. The key differences between these CPUs and the E5-2600 Xeons are that they use the Socket-B2 (LGA1356) package, which reduces costs with a single inter-socket QPI link. They have three DDR3 memory channels and support six DIMMs for each occupied processor socket, which limits the maximum memory to 192GB.

Dell PowerEdge R420

Six dual-rotor fans behind the drive backplane keep the server cool. Unlike the R620’s, they’re not hot-swappable, but they’re quiet, making the R420 a good choice for a small office.

Storage is well catered for. There’s room for eight hot-swap SATA or SAS SFF hard disks, and the price includes a pair of 300GB SAS 2 drives. Of course, you can always cut storage costs by opting for a base system with four LFF drives cabled directly to the motherboard’s SATA port. In this instance, RAID is provided by an embedded PERC S110, which supports software-managed stripes, mirrors and RAID5 arrays.

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