The Dell PowerEdge R210 II is a powerful yet affordable 1P server designed to take advantage of Intel's Sandy Bridge processor technology, and is well suited to life in small offices.
Some care is needed when choosing a configuration, however, as the price ramps up as soon as you start adding extras, so you could end up paying for options you don't really need.
One of the first things that caught our eye when we took the R210 II out of the box was its compact size. It's only 1U high but, at just 15.5in long, it's also little more than half the depth of most rack servers. This makes it easy to accommodate in small floor- and wall-mounted cabinets like those commonly installed in branches and small business offices.
Despite the lack of inches, build quality is up to the usual Dell standards with just a few minor compromises owing to the lack of space. These include a single 250W power supply so there is no ability to connect to a backup generator, and a limited choice when it comes to storage.
The R210 II comes with two chassis options: one to take a pair of 3.5in drives, the other a set of four 2.5in spindles. Moreover, the disks are accessible only by removing the server lid, and there's no option for hot-swapping.
On the plus side it's possible to opt for SAS rather than Sata disks, and software- or hardware-based Raid protection. Our review system shipped with two 250GB Sata drives cabled to a Dell Perc H200 HBA fitted into the single PCIe expansion slot.
Customisations for every budget
Our review server was equipped with a top-of-the-range Xeon E3-1280 quad-core 3.5GHz processor supported by 16GB of DDR3 memory, which filled all four of the onboard Dimm slots. This specification really bumped up the price, but it's possible to tweak the configuration to make big savings without overly compromising performance.
Opting for a Xeon E3-1270 processor, for example, saves £200 + VAT, the only difference being a slightly slower clock speed of 3.4GHz compared to 3.5GHz. Otherwise the two processors are identical, sporting the same 8MB L3 cache, four processing cores and HyperThreading support.
The E3-1270 is also slightly less power hungry at 80W compared to 95W for the E3-1280. Buyers looking for maximum efficiency might want to pick the dual-core 20W E3-1220L, which will knock £310 + VAT off the asking price. Core i3-2100 processors can also be specified for more cost savings.