IBM reckons this server is built to last and we can’t disagree although it’s nowhere near as good as the company’s larger servers as the chassis isn’t as heavy or solid. There’s no physical security as the chunky sloping front panel can’t be locked in place and neither can the side panel. You get the customary DVD player in one 5.25in bay with a spare bay underneath. Note that the system isn’t fitted with a floppy drive so you’ll need to source a USB model if you want to use one.
Internally, the server presents a slightly cluttered landscape but access to all key components is generally unhindered. An easily removable disk cage has room for up to two drives and the system came supplied with a brace of 80GB Western Digital Caviar Serial ATA (SATA) hard disks. The motherboard has a couple of embedded SATA ports but these lie idle as the review system came equipped with IBM’s ServeRAID-7t controller card. This is actually a rebadged Adaptec AAR-2410SA four-port card which comes with 64MB of embedded cache memory. RAID-5 is supported but with room for only two drives you’re limited to mirrored or striped arrays.
For your money your getting a reasonable hardware specification as the motherboard is fitted with a 2.8GHz Pentium D dual-core processor. This is teamed up with 512MB of PC-4200 memory which can be upgraded to a maximum of 8GB. There aren’t a lot of expansion options as the board has a couple of 32-bit PCI slots, one of which is occupied by the RAID controller. The two PCI Express slots are likely to go unused as there’s nothing other than RAID cards that the target market is likely to want to install in these.
Thanks to a simple but efficient cooling system the 100 will be seen but most definitely not heard in a small office. The processor has a very solid active heatsink which pulls air across the hard disks and towards a large fan on the rear panel which shunts it out the back. The end result is a whisper quiet server.
For an entry-level server IBM is offering the SMB a reasonable proposition. Build quality isn’t up there with its bigger xServer brethren and expansion is more limited but the xServer 100 Express comes with a good specification for the price and particularly good remote server management tools.