Dell PowerEdge 2900-III

GCN

THE POWEREDGE 2900-III from Dell is a powerhouse of a server in a large mini-tower ' 27.5 inches by 18 inches by 9 inches ' configuration. Although it performs well with the equipment it has, its true strength is its upgrade potential.

[IMGCAP(1)]On the front, we found eight hotswappable hard drive bays capable of housing Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) or Serial ATA drives. The server we reviewed had four 73G SAS drives in a RAID 0 (striped) configuration, for total usable space of 292G.

For most Web sites, this will provide adequate space. However, to add more room, the drive space can be doubled by adding four more drives of the same size ' as much as 10T of disk space can be had by replacing these with larger drives. You could probably host a Google Earth page with that much space.

An impressive feature is the server's 12 memory slots, of which only four are used to create the PowerEdge's 4G of memory. Total memory can be raised to 36G before those four need to be replaced. You might find this many slots in a rackmount server, but finding 12 in a minitower is rare and a testament to Dell's forward-thinking engineering. This is a server that will work well today and won't let you down in the future.

Dell also uses the extra room in the PowerEdge's bigger case to good effect, leaving space for a good variety of peripheral slots. There are three 4xPCI Express, one 8xPCI Express, and two 64-bit PCI-X slots. Each can support full-height cards. It was good to see this many available expansion slots on a server.

The PowerEdge has two Gigabit Ethernet networking ports in addition to the standard array of USB, video and serial connections in the back. In addition to the two USB ports in the front, there is also an extra SVGA port. This makes sense, as an administrator might want to connect a monitor to it quickly, and many servers are placed so that the back is not quickly accessible. It's apparent that Dell talked with administrators before designing this server.

The PowerEdge has great cooling capacity. In fact, there are six large, high-powered, hot-swappable fans placed strategically about the inside of the case, doing their darnedest to keep the processors, memory and other components as cool as possible. That is without a doubt a good thing, but all those fans tended to get in the way when we tried to get a look at certain components, such as the memory. Fortunately, the fan casings that needed removal were held in place by plastic tabs and were removed without much difficulty.

In our benchmark tests, the PowerEdge, with its two Intel Xeon Quad Core E6440 processors, scored 2,259, which is about even with most of the others in this review. Our file transfer tests yield a rate of 39.94 megabits/sec when transferring files to the server via a 10/100 network connection, and 45.94 megabits/sec when moving files from the server, which made it the best of the bunch for file transfers.

The Dell averaged 11 seconds to load our monster Web page via the same network, and 1 minute, 28 seconds to load it on the Internet. These times made it one of the slower servers for page loads, though not by a large amount.

The Dell PowerEdge 2900-III sells for $5,263, a decent price considering the size of the RAID array and the huge upgrade potential, plus the magnificent administrator-friendly design.

Dell, (800) 999-3355, www.dell.com

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