IT is demanding more from servers, from robust virtualization to high-availability to power efficiency. The competition for affordable yet mighty servers, particularly in the SMB space, is fierce. Dell has added its latest rack-mountable server offering, the Dell PowerEdge R420 (starting price, $1,529), to the playing field. The R420 runs quiet, cool, and is built for energy-efficiency. The server also delivered the best performance to date on our server IO benchmarks.
The R420 is a 1U, two-socket server and uses Intel’s new Xeon E5-2400 processors. The server supports up to eight 2.5″ hot-plug hard drives, up to 12 DIMMs, and two PCIe 3.0 expansion slots.
The server shipped for testing here at PCMag is configured with 2x Intel Xeon E5-2400 CPUs @ 2.10 GHz, 12x 4GB RDIMM memory (chips at 1600 MHz), six SAS 300 GB drives configured with RAID, dual power supplies, and dual heat sinks. Six fans cool the internal components. Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and hardware and software RAID round out the redundancy features. The RD420 supports up to 12TB internal capacity and up to 192GB of memory.
Although the server starts out reasonably-priced with units under $2,000, for a high-availability, fully-loaded configuration like the one we were shipped with hot-swap capabilities, plenty of redundancy options and other features such as 12 RDIMM chips and SAS drives, priced the server at a hefty $11,605.
The inside of the server is easy to access, although administrators can use the integrated Dell Lifecycle Controller software to sound an alert if someone tries to open the server cover through the integrated Dell Lifecycle Controller software. Large and roomy, the interior of the R420 allows for good airflow and easy access to add, hot-swap, or upgrade components. One complaint: the top cover is too easy to misalign with the chassis frame. The cover has a plastic latch that juts out when the cover is unlocked and catches under the front panel’s faceplate if you aren’t careful.
The front panel also has an SD card holder, which holds the VFlash 8GB SD Card for use with iDRAC (integrated Dell Remote Access Controller). The card allows server admins to emulate USB flash storage and perform tasks such as backing up and restoring the platform.
The server features four USB ports, a serial port, VGA monitor port and a port dedicated to use with iDRAC.
iDRAC is part of Dell’s Open Manage system. With it, server administrators can manage Dell servers remotely or virtually. Open Manage can integrate and connect to third-party management solutions, providing a centralized management console.
The Lifecycle Controller is included with iDRAC. The LifeCycle Controller is used to view system logs, see events like firmware update history, and can be used to update or rollback certain features: BIOS, Dell software utilities, hardware driver updates and other tasks.
Operating System Support
hThe R420 supports Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 x64 as well as Hyper-V 2.0, Windows Small Business Server 2011, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Optional embedded hypervisors include Citrix XenServer and VMWare vSphere.
With maxed out RAM and two Intel Xeon processors, performance was very good. Writes averaged 3.2GBps and Reads were 4GBps—the fastest results we’ve received running an I/O benchmark locally on a server. The server performed well in our tests with Geekbench2, scoring 23,566 and achieving 1,172 IOPS. Below are comparisons to other small-business servers:
Dell PowerEdge R420 Benchmarked
The server market, as is the case with the desktop market, continues to shrink as more businesses can get away with purchasing less hardware thanks to virtualization and cloud computing. In fact it’s been a while since we had an SMB server to review because new servers aren’t coming to market as quickly as in past years. Two years ago, Lenovo’s TS200v was our Editors’ Choice pick for its performance and affordability.
The R420 is a good choice for a small business server rack and has even more enterprise capability than the TS200v. You’ll need to remember, to get the very good performance we saw from this server came from a configuration that carries a hefty $10,000 list price—which may be beyond the means of smaller businesses, and makes it just fall a bit short of an Editors’ Choice designation. However, for a heavily-used database like for Exchange or SQL for the SMB, the R420 is a worthy consideration, and a four-star pick for servers.
|Operating System||Windows Server 2008 R2|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc