Internal design is reasonably tidy with all cabling secured in place. The compact motherboard takes up the rear half of the chassis with the processor plumb in the centre and covered with a solid copper passive heatsink. Cooling looks well handled as Intel has opted for no less than five banks of fans – four of which are the dual rotor variety. They are all variable speed but the cost of staying frosty is above average noise levels.
Storage is handled by an embedded four-port SATA controller which supports RAID-0, -1 and -10 arrays. The network connection is well served as you get a pair of embedded Gigabit Ethernet ports at the rear and the bundled Intel PROSet utility allows you to create adapter teams for fault tolerance or load balancing. Options for adding extra expansion cards are provided by the motherboard’s Intel Adaptive slot which has been converted into a single 64-bit/133MHz horizontal mount with a small riser card. You can also opt for a different riser card which offers a PCI Express slot instead.
Intel has made some considerable effort with improving its server management tools as its latest Server Manager 8.4 bundle delivers a smart web browser front end offering good local and remote monitoring facilities. It provides plenty of information about critical areas such as chassis and processor temperatures, system voltages, hard disk space and fan speeds and these can be linked to an extensive alerting system. Upper and lower thresholds can be set for, say the CPU core temperature or cooling fan speeds, and if either is breached then Server Manager will issue warnings ranging from a pop message and playing a sound to sending an email and running another application.
For RAID management you get the RAIDmon utility which sits in the System Tray and watches the drives and arrays. It ties in with Server Manager so any disk errors and array degradations will be posted as an alert and can be used to send out warning messages. We tested this by yanking the interface cable out of one of the drives and the utility’s icon promptly turned red while Server Manager prompted us with plenty of warnings.
A reasonably priced all-Intel rack server with a good specification although more storage for the price wouldn’t have gone amiss. Server management tools are plentiful and the price also includes a very useful one year on-site warranty.