Despite having just one processor socket, six memory slots and four drive bays, the 1U PowerEdge R310 is a robust rack-mount platform that can be equipped to handle diverse workloads either as a small business or departmental server. Buyers will inevitably end up paying more than the very low starting price being advertised. However, with a choice of quad-core Xeons and up to 32GB of RAM, it's still affordable and, given what it can do, very good value.
Low starting price; choice of quad-core Xeon processors; redundant power supplies; dual Gigabit interfaces
Single processor socket; 32GB memory ceiling
£2,185 (ex VAT, as reviewed)
Single-socket 1U rack-mount server, dual hot-plug 400W power supplies, Intel Xeon quad-core X3450 processor (2.66GHz), 16GB memory, Dell PERC H200 Raid controller; four hot-swap drive bays, two 146GB 2.5in 15K SAS hard disks, two Broadcom Gigabit NICs, iDRAC 6 Express remote management controller, one-year on-site next-business-day warranty
Over the past year, Dell has launched a number of highly scalable multi-socket servers offering staggering levels of performance and capacity for those able to afford it.
When it comes to small businesses, however, these servers can be over-powered and over-priced. Fortunately, for companies with more modest requirements, Dell has added another, more affordable, model in the form of the PowerEdge R310.
The 'R' in the name tells you that this is a rack-mount server, in this case just over 24in deep and 1U high. One or two power supplies can be specified, our test model shipping with a pair of redundant 400W supplies plus four hot-swap disk bays.
A fixed disk chassis is available if preferred, but this will only shave £42 ex VAT off the price, plus it can't be upgraded to hot-swap disks later, so could be a false economy.
There are no compromises, though, when it comes to build quality. Like Dell's larger, more expensive PowerEdge servers, the chassis on the R310 is very robust with a slide off lid that removes entirely for access.
The inside is equally impressive with neatly routed cables and lots of ducting to keep things cool. Not that temperature should be an issue, with five thermally controlled fans in the centre of the case, each with twin rotors.
On the downside, these can get a bit noisy, but that's par for the course on this type of system and, following an initial burst of activity during start up, we certainly didn't find the R310 any louder than other servers we've evaluated.
The most obvious difference compared to other rack-mount PowerEdge systems, and the reason for the relatively low price tag, is the single processor socket on the R310. Supported by an Intel 3420 chipset, this can accommodate a range of quad-core Intel Xeon 3400 CPUs, with a total of five listed on the Dell web site.
Ours came with a mid-range 2.66GHz X3450 featuring support for Intel Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technologies. A popular choice, this should enable the R310 to handle a wide variety of small business workloads, including basic virtualisation duties and web/database hosting.
The slightly beefier 2.93GHz X3470 adds just £50 more to the price, while for buyers looking to minimise energy requirements, a low-power 45W processor (the 1.86GHz L3426) is yet another option.