For those with no processor axe to grind, this AMD Opteron-powered server can be configured to handle a variety of small business needs and, if you're careful, needn't break the bank.
2P server with choice of four-core or six-core Opteron 4100 processors, up to 64GB RAM, dual Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, remote monitoring and management, 1U chassis
Limited internal storage, some options will bump up the price considerably
£ 1,352 + VAT
1U rack-mount chassis; single 480W PSU; dual AMD Opteron 4122 processors (2.2GHz, quad-core); 16GB ECC LV RDIMM memory (1,333MHz); Dell PERC H200A RAID controller; 2 x 250GB 3.5in SATA hard disks; 4 x hot-swap disk bays; 2 x Broadcom NetXtreme Gigabit Ethernet interfaces; 2 x USB ports; Dell iDRAC 6 remote management adapter; three-year on-site warranty (next business day)
Small businesses looking for an affordable rack-mount server could do a lot worse than consider Dell's PowerEdge R415 which, rather than Intel Xeons, uses AMD Opteron 4100 series processors to deliver scalable performance at a budget price.
Built to the usual Dell standards, the R415 is a compact 1U solution that can be configured to suit a variety of applications, from simple file and print sharing to more demanding web, email and database servers. It could also be used as a virtualisation host but, with limited space in the chassis, a larger and more capable server might be preferable for such a role.
Ours was equipped with a single 480W power supply, but for an extra £102 ex VAT a redundant pair of hot-swap PSUs can be specified instead. Access to the internals is via a full-length lift-off lid, revealing a very neat layout around a compact motherboard with sockets for two Opteron processors.
Large baffles help direct airflow, and there's a bank of four double-spindle fans to keep the inside cool. These can't be hot-swapped but are thermostatically controlled and relatively quiet once past the initial boot-up whoosh.
The review system shipped with a pair of Opteron 4122 processors, clocked at 2.2GHz and with four cores apiece. Six-core processors are also available, including 50W Highly Efficient and 32W Extremely Efficient (EE) implementations. These help reduce energy and cooling requirements, but there is a price to pay. A pair of the fastest Opteron 4166EE processors, for example, are clocked at just 1.8GHz and would add just over £800 ex VAT to the price of the review specification.
Some help may also be required when specifying the RAM, as the maximum complement of 64GB is only possible when two processors are installed. Otherwise it's just 32GB with a choice of UDIMM or RDIMM modules further complicating matters, in either standard or low voltage format. Ours had 16GB, filling up four of the eight DIMM slots and we would recommend talking to a Dell expert before deciding what to go for.