- Review Price: £1409.00
Intel has traditionally offered a wide range of ‘white box’ server solutions and one of its biggest fans has always been Evesham Technology. The latest SilverEDGE 300NH represents a slight departure from this philosophy as although it uses Intel’s entry level Server Board SE7230NH1-E, Evesham has opted for an Enlight SR5032 chassis instead of Intel’s SC5295UP. The 300NH comes equipped with a Pentium D processor, which is proving to be a top choice for this type of application. It offers small businesses that are looking for their first server more than enough power for basic file and print sharing and email and web services but doesn’t incur the premium commanded by dual Xeon servers.
The Enlight chassis is as well built as the Intel alternative and offers plenty of expansion potential. A couple of 5.25in bays are provided one of which is fitted with a Sony DVD-ROM drive whilst the hard disk bay underneath comes equipped with a module that delivers support for five hot-swap Serial ATA (SATA) drives. The price of the review system includes a triplet of 160GB Western Digital WD1600 Caviar SATA hard disks. It’s worth noting that these drives are the RE (RAID Edition) models which offer enhanced heads and power controllers, while a new three stage mating sequence improves their hot-plug capabilities.
The side panel is easily removed and although there’s no means of padlocking it shut the chassis is fitted with an intrusion detection micro-switch. Furthermore, the door in front of the hard disk bay can be key-locked shut as well. Behind the panel you’ll find a tidy interior with all cables tied up out of the way enabling easy access for upgrades and maintenance maneuvers. With most servers expected to run uninterrupted, cooling needs to be good and the 300NH doesn’t disappoint. Particular attention has been paid to the hard disks and the back of the enclosure is fitted with a module containing four small fans. These are split into two modules containing two fans apiece and both can be hot-swapped. General chassis air movement is handled by a large 12cms diameter fan at the rear whilst the processor is surmounted by a large active radial heatsink. Overall noise levels are acceptable for a busy office environment but you wouldn’t want the 300NH sitting right next to you.
Along with the 2.8GHz Pentium D processor Evesham has dropped in 1GB of speedy DDR2-PC5400 unbuffered SDRAM memory which can be upgraded to 8GB. There are plenty of expansion slots to play with as the motherboard sports a pair of 32-bit/33MHz slots, a x4 PCI Express slot and a single 64-bit/133MHz PCI-X slot. Above these is an Intel Adaptive slot that does support PCI Express cards but is primarily aimed at rack server applications as it accepts a variety of riser cards that are used to convert the slot to a horizontal mount. Intel does offer an LC variant of this board with this replaced with an x8 PCI Express slot but Evesham advised us it opted for the LX version as it has advanced monitoring features and the PCI-X slot.
Storage features are extensive as the motherboard offers four embedded 3Gbps SATA ports and the integrated controller supports RAID 0, -1 and -10 arrays. However, this lies idle as the price includes an LSI Logic MegaRAID SATA150 6-port PCI-X RAID controller which brings RAID-5 and -50 to the table. The three WD drives came preconfigured in a RAID-5 array, which delivers good fault tolerance but also improved read performance. Note that the drive module is supplied with the drive carriers already provided for the spare bays so it’ll be easy enough to add more hard disks as and when required.
Server management facilities are available as the 300NH comes with Intel’s Server Manager 8.40 software included, which provides good local and remote monitoring facilities from its smart web interface. The motherboard has plenty of sensors and the software can provide a complete rundown on areas such as chassis and processor temperatures, system voltages, hard disk space and fan speeds although do note that the fan speeds for the hard disk module are not accessible. The System tab provides a complete inventory of hardware and many software components and where these are variable values you can go straight to configuring alert actions for them.
Upper and lower thresholds can be set for, say the CPU core temperature or cooling fan speeds, and if either are breached Server Manager can issue warnings ranging from a pop-up message and playing a sound, to sending an email and running another application. The RAID controller is managed separately using the bundled Power Console Plus, which is the least impressive of the management tools as LSI hasn’t updated it for years and in the event of an array degradation alerting is limited to sounding an audible alarm only.
The SilverEDGE 300NH looks a fine choice for small businesses looking for a good value entry-level server. It comes with a decent Intel-based specification that includes a triple disk, hot-swap RAID-5 array, offers plenty of room to grow with demand and the price includes a one year on-site warranty.
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