With its built-to-order direct sales model, Dell offers a narrow selection of choices than most other suppliers, but provides an arguably higher degree of flexibility on the exact specification of individual machines.
At the entry level is the PowerEdge 2200. Based on the 333MHz Pentium II processor the system can handle anything between 32Mb and 512Mb of EDO RAM. The system comes with an Adaptec Ultra Wide SCSI-3 controller card, and surprising for an entry level device also features a RAID controller as standard. A maximum of 27Gb of drive space can be installed into three hard drive bays. Despite being the lowest spec server Dell has to offer, the 2200 is still a worthy machine which is leaps ahead of the entry level servers offered by most manufacturers.
The PowerEdge 2300 is available as a tower or rack mountable unit. A choice of SCSI and RAID solutions are available; the system can hold a maximum of 72Gb worth of hard drives internally, and a backplane which provides hot swap capability can be added optionally. Like most mid-range servers, the 2300 features self monitoring tools; it constantly checks its temperature, voltage levels and fan speeds to detect any potential problems. As with the other PowerEdge devices, a choice of network adaptors is available including the Intel Pro100+ Smart PCI and the IBM Cricketstick Token Ring card. Surprisingly, the 2300 features neither a redundant or hot swappable power supply an omission which seems out of keeping with the otherwise strong features list.
If the 2300 is left wanting in terms of redundancy then the PowerEdge 4300 more than makes up the lost ground. Users have a choice of single or dual 350MHz, 400MHz and 450MHz PII processors, with a minimum of 128Mb of SDRAM which can be expanded to a maximum of 1Gb. The system offers a good availability feature with redundant hot-swap power supplies and fans as well as hot-swap hard drives - a choice of six or eight bay backplanes is available. Six expansion slots are available - four PCI and two PCI/ISA combo.
The 6300 offers four-way Xeon processor capabilities and up to 4Gb of SDRAM. Other than this it's quite similar in specification to the 4300.
It's fairly reasonable to say that Dell offers a much narrower range of servers than most of its competitors. The entry-level machine is more highly specified than its competitors' entry level machines and its top-end machine falls far short of its competitors' high-end offerings. This is largely because the server market falls some way outside of Dell's core business strengths. But don't let this put you off; its machines are respectable offerings and you get a level of freedom with the exact specification which you would be hard pressed to find at a lot of other companies.
- Prices start from: #1,320
- Contact: 0870 152 4699 - www.dell.co.uk.
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