Storage options are a mixed bag as the Intel ICH7 controller supports the latest SATA II specification so each channel can handle up to 300MB/sec throughput. However, it’s a real shame that the controller doesn’t support RAID -1 mirroring as this feature is normally found in most embedded SATA chipsets. The upshot is that if you want RAID you’ll have to source a separate controller card and as the motherboard only offers slower 32-bit/33MHz PCI slots it could create a performance bottleneck.
As servers are expected to run 24/7 operations cooling needs to be good and Armari doesn’t disappoint. The extra heat from the processor’s dual execution cores is handled by a large heatsink with a radial fan and air is shunted out the rear of the chassis by a 120mm fan. A third fan sits underneath the disk enclosure and a plastic shroud directs air over the motherboard and also up to the hard disks. Considering the amount of air movement operational noise levels are reasonable although you wouldn’t want this box next to your desk.
The DC945G ticks the last box for server duties as Supermicro provides its SuperO Doctor III remote management utility. This accesses the myriad sensors on the motherboard and presents the data in a smart web browser console. You can keep an eye on all fan speeds, chassis and processor temperatures, system voltages and the chassis intrusion detector and link thresholds for each value into an alerting system. This supports both pager and email so if any component starts playing up the utility can notify you immediately. The server can be remotely controlled so you can redirect the server’s console to another system, switch it off and shutdown the operating system. Different login accounts are used to control access so administrators can remotely control the server whilst users can only view the data. For local monitoring Supermicro also includes a simple Client utility which provides basic information about critical components and chassis security but can also send out alerts via email and pager.
As a first server for small businesses the DC946G is offering a good value proposition. With solid build quality, excellent internal cooling throughout, remote monitoring and room to expand it meets the majority of requirements for active server duty although it’s a pity the warranty is only a measly one year RTB and the motherboard doesn’t offer any embedded hard disk mirroring.