Remember Gateway and its garish black and white boxes? Well, times have changed, and the fancy boxes are long gone. Moreover, Gateway is now the business arm of Acer, with the Gateway GT350 F1 server the newest member of a family of products aimed at the small to medium-sized enterprise.
A server in the traditional tower style, the GT350 is a bulky piece of equipment, optionally available with brackets for rack mounting and consuming 4U of rack space when deployed this way. Ours came with a single 720 Watt power supply, but a second can be specified if wanted, with the two hot-pluggable for easy changing in the event of failure. Similarly there are two hot-swap fans at the back which can be swapped without having to delve inside the chassis, although others are still to be found inside which aren’t so readily accessible.
Talking of which, remove the lift-off side panel and you get unfettered access to a spacious and well-designed interior, featuring a conventional layout with the storage at the front and a single, very large, motherboard behind. This, in turn, has two sockets to take a variety of Intel Xeon 5500 and 5600 series (Nehalem) processors, available in a dual, quad and 6-core formats to effectively deliver anything from 2-way to 12-way multi-processing.
A highly flexible platform, the GT350 F1 we were sent came with just one quad-core Xeon E5506 installed. However, most buyers are expected to opt for a dual processor setup, with a choice of processors that can be specified with Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technologies to suit the Gateway server to a wide variety of workloads.
Memory and storage are similarly well catered for with slots to take up to 192GB of ECC-protected DDR3 RAM (ours had 6GB on three DIMMs) plus room for up to eight 3.5-inch hard disks or double that number when 2.5-inch drives are specified. Again, the base model we were sent was very modestly equipped, with just one 150GB WD VelociRaptor 10K SATA disk installed. However, an extensive range of SATA and SAS drives can be ordered which, at current capacities, gives the GT350 F1 a very usable storage ceiling of 16TB.
The disks are all hot-swappable, with the bays located behind a lockable door at the front of the chassis. An Intel storage controller is built onto the motherboard offering support for RAID levels 0, 1, 5 and 10, although this is limited to managing just six SATA channels which may not be enough for some buyers. In which case additional SATA/SAS RAID controllers can be specified, with five PCI-E slots on offer to take these and other plug-in cards.
Completing the hardware mix are six USB 2.0 connectors (two at the front, four at the back) plus two Gigabit Ethernet ports and a separate Ethernet connector for remote management for which software is provided. An OS isn’t included in the price quoted here, but the GT350 F1 is certified to run the latest Windows Server and Red Hat Linux products, and these can be pre-installed by resellers ready for immediate use when the server is delivered.
We were impressed with just how configurable the Gateway server was, with a good choice in terms of processors, memory, storage and other configuration options. Of course none of these options comes cheap and you can end up spending a lot more than the price given here, however that’s par for the course and no different from competing Dell, HP, Lenovo and other servers.
We did have a couple of concerns, including the mix of fixed and hot-plug fans and screws used to secure the lid on what’s supposed to be a tool-less design. However, such concerns really were small and overall the build quality was well up to Acer standards. A 3-year on-site warranty is also included, with a choice of service options depending on the reseller involved, adding yet more value to a flexible and capable small business server that can be put to wide variety of uses.
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