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Broadberry CyberServe XE5-R224 review

Verdict

A top-value rack server that combines storage space with impressive expansion potential

Review Date: 28 Nov 2012

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £3,795 (£4,554 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO A-List

A key requirement for a 2U rack server is versatility, and Broadberry’s CyberServe XE5-R224 has it in spades. It’s designed for businesses requiring a combination of rack density, processing power, expansion and storage space – and it looks to have them all.

The XE5-R224 is an all-Intel product, and is based on one of Intel’s premium platforms – the Server System R2224GZ4GCSAS. This comprises its Bighorn Peak chassis and Grizzly Pass S2600GZ motherboard.

Storage makes up a major part, with 24 SFF hot-swap drive bays. This puts it right up with Dell and HP, since only the high-density versions of the PowerEdge R720 and ProLiant DL380p Gen8 servers can match it.

The motherboard has two embedded mini-SAS four-port connectors, and by default the second port is disabled, with only SATA supported. A connector next to the ports will accept an Intel hardware upgrade key, which unlocks a choice of drive support and RAID options.

Seven colour-coded keys are available, and our review model had the top-of-the-range purple key that opens up all available features. This gives you support for SATA and SAS drives, plus choices for hardware-managed mirrors, stripes and RAID5 arrays.

The two embedded SAS ports are cabled through to a SAS expander board that allows all 24 bays to be supported by the onboard RAID controller. This is a better arrangement than HP’s ProLiant DL380p Gen8; once you go beyond eight drives, more PCI Express RAID cards must be added to support them.

By mounting up to two additional 2.5in SATA SSDs in the space provided above the plastic air shroud, the drive count can be increased further; the motherboard also has a dedicated socket for an optional eUSB SSD device.

There’s an abundance of network connections, including four Gigabit Ethernet ports on the motherboard and a separate I/O connector at the rear. This can be used to add more ports using Intel’s I/O modules. Options include quad-port Gigabit Ethernet, dual 10GbE SFP, and 10GBaseT plus single and dual-port QDR InfiniBand.

There’s lots of room to expand elsewhere, since the two riser cards have three PCI Express Gen3 slots apiece. Unlike most 2U rack servers, there’s room behind the two upper slots in both risers for full-height, full-length cards.

Broadberry CyberServe XE5-R224 - interior

A single 2.4GHz E5-2665 Xeon is included in the price – one of Intel’s advanced models, with the full 20MB L3 cache and an 8GT/sec QPI speed. They also feature Turbo Boost 2, which allows the cores to be speeded up briefly beyond their TDP rating when sufficient thermal budget has been accrued.

The motherboard has 24 DIMM sockets, but in the review system only 12 were active – you’ll need to add a second processor to enable them all, a feature common to all Xeon E5-2600 servers. This also applies to the PCI Express expansion slots, since the second riser card is only supported in dual-CPU configurations.

The chassis has five hot-swap fans mounted in front of the motherboard, which we found to be quite noisy. However, the BIOS features an acoustic setting and options to balance power consumption against performance; with these options selected, the fans dropped down to near-silent running.

Two 750W hotplug power supplies are included in the price, and for lighter duties you can go for 460W modules. Overall consumption is low, though, with the system consuming 85W at idle and peaking at 199W under heavy load from the SiSoft Sandra benchmarking application.

The price also includes remote management, with Intel’s RMM4 module taking pride of place. This snaps into a small socket next to the I/O module slot and presents a dedicated network port at the rear. It won’t be worrying HP’s new iLO4 or Dell’s iDRAC7 for features, though. It offers a simple web interface with details on sensors for all critical components, and options to tie their thresholds in with email and SNMP trap alerts. It also includes KVM-over-IP remote control and virtual media support as standard.

The CyberServe XE5-R224 has storage space galore and backs this up with plenty of room to expand and low power consumption. It doesn’t have the same level of features as Dell’s R720 and HP’s DL380p Gen8, but a price that’s at least £1,000 less puts it firmly on the PC Pro A-List as our rack server of choice.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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