Armari 3020WS review
Value and expansion potential make this a fine choice as a network storage server
For sheer storage capacity, Armari's 3020WS has a lot going for it. This 3U-high rack server has no less than 16 hot-swap drive bays crammed into its front panel. Even better, the system came supplied with an LSI Logic SAS (serial attached SCSI) RAID controller, which means you can mix and match SAS and SATA drives at will and even use them both within the same RAID array. Despite all this storage, the Supermicro chassis still has room for a low-profile DVD-ROM and floppy drive above them.
The price for the 3020WS includes a pair of 73GB Fujitsu high-performance 15K SAS hard disks for the OS and another trio of 147GB models for data storage. The RAID controller is only an eight-port variety, so if you want to use all the drive bays you'll need to specify a bigger card or add a second one. The latter won't be a problem, as the 3020WS has plenty of room to expand. After the existing RAID card is taken into account, you still have three PCI-X and two PCI Express slots to play with.
The extra height of the chassis has been put to good use, and the result is a well-designed and tidy interior. The RAID card has been connected to the backplane using four-port expander cables, resulting in minimal mess. The drive bays are serviced by three, hot-swap cooling fans and both processors have large active heatsinks. A couple of smaller hot-swap fans at the rear help the airflow but, unfortunately, the end result is a system that's easily the loudest of the three on review.
The 3020WS employs a Supermicro X7DBE motherboard, which is similar to that used by the Systemax server. The key differences are that this is designed for rack applications, is shorter by an inch or so and has eight DIMM sockets for a total memory contingent of 32GB. It also has the embedded six-port SATA controller, so you can activate a few more bays for the cost of a few cables. For server management, you get the standard Supermicro software suite, and for the RAID card Armari also bundles LSI's rather smart web-based Storage Manager Windows utility.