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Customers don't have to plunk down $10K to own a high-performing rack server. Or for that matter, even $5K. That's thanks to Acer, which earlier this month began shipping the AR380 F1, a Xeon-based two-socket rack server that's as well-performing as it is flexible.
The well-equipped machine that the CRN Test Center received for testing outperformed all but one of the fastest servers we've ever tested, yet would sell for just $3,329 on the street. List pricing starts at $2,438.
The handsome, 2U server we received was populated with 24 GB of DDR3 memory, but its 18 slots could have handled as much as 192 GB. In the high-end machine was a pair of Intel Xeon X5675 six-core processors running at 3.07 GHz, but it also can accept two- and four-core parts from Intel's E56xx and L56xx series.
Also in the roomy cabinet is ample space for as many as 16 2.5-inch drives, which slide into a hot-swap back plane. In the tested system, two of the eight 15K SAS drives were set as a RAID 0 array and contained the operating system, which was a pre-installed copy of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2. Five of the remaining drives were configured as a RAID 6 array for storage; the remaining drive was designated as a global hot spare.
Handling all the RAID duties is an LSI MegaRAID SAS 9260-8i storage controller and LSI's MegaRAID Storage Manager software with battery-backed cache. Nice touch. Maximum storage for this unit is 9.6 TB of SAS drives are used; 12 TB with SATA. The base systems also include a pair of redundant, hot-swap 720 watt power supplies, which together consumed 189 watts during nominal activity, and peaked at 267 during benchmarks.
The Acer system is extremely easy to service. From the factory, the top cover is held in place with small screws, which once removed can be discarded or put aside for later use during transport. The cover snaps into place securely enough with thumb-latches on either side; it slides rearward for easy removal. On the underside of the cover is a motherboard diagram we've become accustomed to seeing on servers from Dell and HP. Beyond that, Acer also provides a detailed chart to ensure the proper insertion of memory for each CPU's three-channel memory addressing capability. Bravo, Acer.