Dell PowerEdge R415 Rack Server: Good Things In A Small Package

Dell's PowerEdge R415

The PowerEdge R415 is designed to be powerful to serve all the needs of the small office or department, including file and printer services, e-mail, DHCP and Web hosting, and the like. It also can be used for VDI and other small virtualization deployments. But available options and expansion capabilities such as PCI x16 slot and proprietary option slots give it the flexibility to be used in high performance computing environments and other speciality scenarios.

Announced in September, the R415 began shipping in October as a replacement for Dell's venerable SC1435 rack server. It's available with a variety of Opteron models, from the low and ultra-low power HE and EE four-core parts. The PowerEdge R415 is also intended to mimic the capabilities and avoid the complexities of blade systems costing much more in capex and power consumption costs.

For testing, Dell sent the CRN Test Center a mostly stock unit, with two 3.5-inch 250-GB 7200 RPM SATA drives, an optional second six-core AMD 4184 2.8-GHz processors and 4 GB of 1333-MHz memory. Its eight DIMM slots officially support 64 GB, but the company told me that systems board's logic will handle 128 GB in certain circumstances.

Next: The Price Is Right

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The PowerEdge R415 as tested had a list price of $2,448 without an operating system; its starting price is around $800. Standard equipment in the stock system is a two-port Gigabit Ethernet adapter, Matrox G200 video and a single 480 watt power supply with room for a redundant, hot-swap unit. A 500 watt power supply also is among the list of options.

Geekbench performance was excellent. After firing up Windows Server 2008 R2 and loading Geekbench 2.1.13, the benchmark delivered a high score of 13,540, ranking the PowerEdge R415 league with virtually all of the other high-end servers we've tested other than Dell's own C6145 two-node server, which set a totally new standard in performance.

Also impressive was its throughput performance as measured with IOmeter. When processing sequential reads of a 512-byte file, the R415 was able to process close to14,000 input-output transactions per second. And it was able to transfer 4K files at a rate of 43 Mbps. For all testing, the R415's hot-plug hard drives (released from inside the cabinet) were configured as a RAID 1 array with the built-in LSI PERC H200 controller logic. There's room in this chassis for a total of four 3.5-inch drives.

Drives and all other internal components are accessed by sliding the top cover off rearward. Memory and processors are shrouded for maximum air flow. With the cover in place, the unit is completely quiet. And at just under 23 pounds, the R415 is also quite light and easy to handle, install and maintain. In addition to all major versions of Windows Server, the PowerEdge R415 also is certified to run (and come pre-installed with) Novell SUSE Enterprise Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and hypervisors from Citrix and VMware (with the addition of a few options).

For the small business or department on a budget, the Dell PowerEdge R415 would make an excellent choice and is recommended by the CRN Test Center. All hardware is covered by a three-year warranty.