Hardware Top Ten Rack Servers

Top Ten Rack Servers

Businesses shopping for rack servers have fewer vendors to chose from than in years past. Market consolidation and acquisition have left a rack server market dominated by the few.

Dell, HPE, IBM, and Lenovo account for 50% of all server revenue. Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs), which produce commodity white boxes, own another 25%.

Hence the top rack servers in this guide are predominantly from “the big four.” However, models have been included from Cisco and Oracle, due to their obvious merits.

As you select a server, it helps to realize: the server market is the midst of a historic boom with four consecutive quarters of double digit growth. Not bad, considering that the server was written off as mere commodity hardware not long ago.

One of the reasons for this is clear market stratification. The ODM white boxes own the low end. But the midrange and high-end systems are experiencing massive growth as separate segments. Midrange server revenue grew 63.0% to $2.5 billion in the second quarter of 2018. High-end systems grew 30.4% to $1.7 billion. So as you shop, be aware of what price level you find most appropriate for your business.

Let’s look, then, at some of the leading servers on the market. They are listed roughly from the cheapest to the most expensive.

Cisco UCS C125 M5

Cisco C125 M5 racks offer plenty of computing power in a compact 2U footprint. In addition to lots of processing power and memory, they can house six direct attach SAS/SATA drives or two NVMe plus four SAS/SATA drives.

Optional dual SD cards or M.2 modular storage can be included for increased storage or boot drive capacity. Plus, these units’ support for the Cisco 12-G 9460-8i PCIe SAS RAID controller with 2-GB Flash-Backed Write Cache (FBWC) adds sophisticated storage and data protection capabilities.

An OCP 2.0 network mezzanine slot supports speeds up to 100 Gbps. For those looking for speed, density, and management simplification for compute-intensive applications at an affordable price, this is surely a unit to consider.

Read our in-depth guide to the Cisco UCS C125 M5
See user reviews of Cisco UCS C125 M5

Dell EMC PowerEdge R7425

The starting price of the R7425 is one of the lowest in this guide. But armed with the AMD processors, it comes out very well in tests on Apache Spark workloads.

Based on the new Zen architecture, the AMD EPYC line of processors inside the Dell EMC PowerEdge R7425 have been found suitable for virtual desktop deployments. Clearly, these servers are a cut above the commodity servers that have flooded the market. They offer better security, data protection, management, and operational efficiency.

The PowerEdge is a good choice for budget-strapped businesses that need significant compute power.

Read our in-depth guide to the Dell EMC PowerEdge R7425
See user reviews of Dell EMC PowerEdge R7425

Cisco C240 M5

C240 M5 servers can be deployed as standalone servers or in a Cisco UCS managed environment. When used in combination with Cisco UCS Manager, the C240 M5 brings the power and automation of unified computing to enterprise applications, drastically reducing switching and cabling requirements.

The latest models now come with Intel Xeon Scalable processors, support higher speed memory. Whether used for storage or I/O-intensive infrastructure workloads, big data analytics or collaboration, these servers can do the job.

Read our in-depth guide to the Cisco UCS C240 M5
See user reviews of the Cisco UCS C240 M5

Dell EMC PowerEdge R840

The PowerEdge R840 is a big upgrade on the previous generation. According to the demanding Monte Carlo simulation test, it performed 3.5 times faster than the previous generation. Its small footprint includes up to four Xeon processors and it can now come equipped with up to two dozen NVMe drives.

The unit can also support GPUs to accelerate workloads. Impressively, it comes with more memory than all but one of the servers in this guide, which will add to its allure.

If you are looking for an entry-level server, this is not it. But for more sophisticated workloads, or a powerhouse server that can host multiple virtualized applications, this is a strong candidate.

Read our in-depth guide to the Dell EMC PowerEdge R840
See user reviews of the Dell EMC PowerEdge R840

Oracle SPARC S7-2

Oracle promotes its S7-2 as being ideal for web infrastructure, application development, databases, and business applications. It is a no-brainer for committed Oracle users, because it interoperates so well with Oracle hardware/software packages. And any additional Oracle purchases can be made without worry.

As S7-2 uses SPARC rather than X86 processors, it may have a performance edge for certain workloads. But non-Oracle users are unlikely to select this model, as a wider range of general purpose servers is available from HPE, Dell, Lenovo and white box manufacturers.

Read our in-depth guide to the Oracle S7-2

HPE Proliant DL380

The DL380 is up there with the Toyota Corolla as the top selling product in the world. And like the car, it offers reliability, performance and a wealth of features for a reasonable cost.

HPE continues to invest in this machine, adding better processors, more memory, NVMe, more robust networking and more. It can function well for databases, analytics and mission-critical applications. It loses out to some more expensive models on high-end features, but can cope well in small and mid-sized deployments.

That said it comes with enough reliability, serviceability, availability, GPU options, and Windows Server 2016 support to make it a good choice for general purpose servers in the enterprise.

Read our in-depth guide to the HPE Proliant DL380
See user reviews of the HPE Proliant DL380

IBM Power System S922

The IBM Power System S922 is quite different from almost all the other racks in this guide in that it is the only one (with the exception of the Oracle SPARC S7 rack) that does not use an X86 processor from either AMD or Intel. That adds to initial cost.

However, TCO studies show that those willing to make the initial heavier investment could gain in the long run. These servers offer top notch processing power and plenty of memory. That makes them suitable for cloud applications, analytics and other demanding workloads.

Read our in-depth guide to the IBM Power System S922
See user reviews of the IBM Power System S922

Lenovo ThinkSystem SR630

If you are looking for a higher end server with loads of memory and storage capacity, the Lenovo SR630 is hard to beat. It scored very well in benchmark tests for single-threaded compute-intensive applications.

Featuring the latest Intel Xeon processors, it comes with flexible I/O expansion options, and a choice of drive interfaces and NVMe capabilities. It is also able to cope with harsh environments and keeps energy costs low relative to the amount of raw compute power it unleashes. A good choice for most large enterprises.

Read our in-depth guide to the Lenovo SR630
See user reviews of the Lenovo SR630

HPE Proliant DL325

The DL325 is a one-processor unit that packs in more than most 2-processor servers can manage. It is aimed at the heavy duty general purpose server market.

The DL325 is an AMD EYPC-based platform with enough security included to suit enterprise user needs. It has plenty of memory in the form of 64 GB RDIMMs. It boasts a low power consumption profile and power-packed chassis along with plenty of NVMe drives, PCIe 3.0 slots and networking options.

Read our in-depth guide to the HPE Proliant DL325
See user reviews of the HPE Proliant DL325

Lenovo ThinkSystem SR950

If you have a couple of million to spare and want the very best, the SR950 is for you. It tops every other server in this guide on raw specs by a long shot – memory, processing power, and storage (and of course, price).

But companies whose livelihood depends on top-of-the-line performance and the virtual elimination of latency will consider this model a sound investment. Up to eight Intel Xeons, 96 DIMM sockets, and the ultimate in fault-tolerance and high-availability are built into a high-density design. This is the superstar of rack servers.

Read our in-depth guide to the Lenovo SR950
See user reviews of the Lenovo SR950



Form Factor


Max Processors




Max Storage




Key Differentiator


Lenovo SR630



2 Intel Xeon Scalable

3 TB

184 TB


High-end performer

Lenovo SR950



8 Intel Xeon Scalable

12.2 TB

296.32 TB

$2 million

Incredible specs

HPE Proliant DL325



1 AMD EPYC 7000

2 TB

153 TB


Heavy-duty server

HPE Proliant DL380



2 Intel Xeon Scalable

3 TB

232 TB


A best-seller

Dell PowerEdge R840



4 Intel Xeon Scalable

6 TB

200 TB


More memory than most

Dell PowerEdge R7425




1 TB

245 TB


Low price

Cisco UCS C240



2 Intel Xeon Scalable

3 TB

200 TB


Solid workhorse

Cisco UCS C125



2 AMD EPYC 7000

2 TB

48 TB


Good power in small footprint

IBM Power S922



2 POWER9 Scale-Out SMT8

4 TB

4 TB


Top processing power

Oracle SPARC S7


1 U


1 TB

9.6 TB


Great for Oracle users

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