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Under the hood, the impressions remained mostly positive. We liked the transparent duct that directs the flow of air from two of its four hot-swap (and relatively quiet) fans across the Xeon processors' sizable heat sinks out the back of the system. Removing one of those fans immediately sends the remaining three into overdrive to compensate. Its seven PCI slots are implemented on a riser card, of course, with one slot occupied by the MegaRAID card. Even with the cover open, the system is fairly quiet; far more so than most of the other servers we've covered.
A trend we've seen lately has been for server makers to omit the optical drive from their base configuration. Acer avoids this pitfall. Aside from initial set up and upgrades, the DVD-RW can be used as an additional means to store snapshots or other valuable data in the event of network or other catastrophic failure. While this might make sense for ultra portables and other laptops, we believe that it's premature to omit it from a server. There's also room for an additional 5.25-inch device such as a tape backup drive.
Also part of the base AR380 F1's base configuration are four Gigabit Ethernet ports plus a BMC port that's dedicated to out-of-band management. Acer Smart Server Manager also is included at no extra charge. Nice if it's needed, but if your customers are using an enterprise management tool already, its unlikely that this software will represent any real value to them. With the server-room crash cart in mind, we also like having VGA and USB ports on the front, and Acer has that covered.
To its extensive list of standard equipment, flexible options, favorable price-performance ratio, Acer adds a three-year warranty on parts, the first of which includes on-site service. Taking all these things together, the company delivers what's needed for the AR380 F1 to compete in a server market that's already populated with experienced, well-established players. After seeing Acer's sturdy AR380 F1 server perform, we think it has a shot, and we have no problem adding it to the CRN Test Center's recommended list.
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