Straight out of the box, the Dell 2650 gives the impression of a system that has been thoughtfully engineered. Unlike many other 2U (3.5″) rack-mount servers we’ve received recently, it arrived with a keyboard and mouse. The front bezel is metal, not plastic. An LCD panel on the front under the bezel displays boot and error messages, and an indicator light on the bezel informs the system administrator of error conditions.
Straight out of the box, the Dell 2650 gives the impression of a system that has been thoughtfully engineered. Unlike many other 2U (3.5′) rack-mount servers we’ve received recently, it arrived with a keyboard and mouse.
The server has an indicator light on the back as well, which helps identify which system needs work from the back. Keyboard, mouse, USB, and monitor connections are on both the front and back. The insides of the system are very clean, with few cables showing, and all user-removable parts identified with labels that indicate whether they are hot swappable or not. A set of slick rack-mount rails is also included.
The Dell PowerEdge 2650
The 2650 supports up to five one-inch drives with an embedded Ultra3 SCSI RAID controller, for up to 365 GB of internal storage. It has a 400 MHz front-side bus, and three 64-bit PCI-X slots, one 133 MHz and two 100 MHz. The system we reviewed came with two 2.2 GHz Xeon processors with 512 KB caches, three 18 GB Seagate 15,000 RPM Ultra3 drives, and 1 GB of RAM. Up to two 2.4 GHz processors and up to six GB of Chipkill-enhanced error correction RAM is supported.
The processors include Intel’s new HyperThreading technology, which results in an approximately 40 percent improvement in speed, although this carries a potential downside for applications licensed by the CPU — each real processor shows up as two virtual processors, which some applications count. Thus, a server would show up as a four-processor system to the applications, but with less performance than an actual four-processor box.
This problem is not unique to Dell, however. It is a result of the Intel architecture, and if this is a consideration, the system does allow administrators to disable the second logical processor for each chip.
The PowerEdge 2650 we received also included dual redundant power supplies, dual embedded Broadcom NetXtreme 10/100/1000 NICs, and a 10/100 Ethernet connector for remote access and system management through the OpenManage application that can monitor, administer, configure, and shut down or reset the server. This includes the capability to do a hard reset, which equivalent to pressing the restart button. Auto-recover can also reboot the server automatically in case of system errors. The management application sends alerts on any error condition, including removal of the front bezel or system cover.
Server performance is excellent, with high-speed buses throughout, Ultra3 SCSI RAID, and embedded gigabit Ethernet. It served pages at a rate more than five times that of a two-way Pentium III Xeon 933 MHz system.
In addition, we believe the PowerEdge 2650 offers high reliability due to features it has such as dual power supplies, five-drive RAID, battery backup of the cache on the RAID controller, and the availability of a hot-spare banks of RAM. This last feature allows the administrator to install two of the six banks of RAM as hot spares, so that in the event of a failure of one of the DIMMs, the alternate bank is automatically brought on line.
The PowerEdge 2650 supports Windows NT, Windows 2000 Server, Novell NetWare, and Red Hat Linux.
Vendor Home Page: Dell Computer
Sever Home Page: Dell PowerEdge 2650
Server Starting Price: $2,399
Price of Server Setup as Tested: $6,112
Pros: Very well engineered throughout for performance, manageability reliability and physical installation; High performance at a competitive price; Excellent management capabilities
Cons:Slightly more expensive than some clone systems
Reviewed By: Logan Harbaugh
Date of Review: June 19, 2002