Dell EMC PowerEdge R350 review: a compact and powerful server

Growing SMBs that need an affordable, scalable entry-level rack server should look to Dell EMC’s PowerEdge line. The R250 is a good starting point, but for those who want more storage options and greater expansion potential, the R350 on review is a worthy contender.

In addition to front space for four LFF drives or eight SFF hot-swappable drives, this 1U rackmount server supports a choice of eight Dell PERC RAID cards, double that of the R250. There’s more as it has enough internal space for Dell’s intelligent BOSS (Boot Optimized Storage Solution) S2 adapter card with two hot-swappable M.2 SSDs.

It’s also ideal for those with limited space, as this 1U rackmount server has a short depth of 585mm, so it fits into a wall cabinet. This brevity doesn’t come at the expense of functionality either, as the R350 supports the full family of ten Xeon E-2300 processors and has a maximum memory capacity of 128GB.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R350 review: Design and build

The R350 is very well built. Removing the cover reveals a tidy interior with neatly arranged wiring and unrestricted access to all key hardware components. Beneath a plastic shroud on the right you’ll find the single processor socket with the 2.9GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E-2336 processor in our system, topped with a solid passive heatsink.

The standard heatsink is designed for processors up to an 80W TDP, so if you spec the 95W Xeon E-2386G or E2388G chips, you’ll get a bigger one. On the side of the processor are four DIMM slots and the price we quoted includes a single 32GB stick of 3200MHz DDR4 memory, leaving three spare slots to expand it to the maximum 128GB.

Cooling for all versions of the R350 is handled by a bank of four cold-swappable dual-rotor fan modules lined up in front of the motherboard. We initially found their noise levels quite noticeable, but after playing around with the management settings and changing the default thermal fan profile to the Sound Cap option, this was reduced considerably.

The hot-pluggable 350W Bronze power supplies from the previous generation R340 have been upgraded in the R350 to more powerful 600W Platinum 80 Plus models. The server can be run with just one, but our setup has two power supplies for additional redundancy.

The motherboard offers a pair of built-in Gigabit ports and further expansion is facilitated by a riser card with a PCI-E 4 slot on each side. Both accept half-length (HL) and half-height (HH) cards, with Dell offering two- or four-port Gigabit adapters and dual copper or 10 Gigabit SFP+ adapters.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R350 review: Storage variables

The R350 supports twice as many PERC cards as the R250 as it has a mount point and connector on the drive backplane for a front RAID card with four versions available. Our system comes with an entry-level PERC H345 front-loading adapter that provides SAS3 and SATA support as well as hardware-managed RAID0, 1, and 10 bays – the 700-series adapters extend these to the RAID5 and 6 plus battery-backed cache memory.

The H345 card is hardwired to the motherboard and Dell has been pretty smart here as there is a dedicated PCI-E 4 PERC side slot under the riser cage. This serves a dual purpose as it accepts standard adapter PERC (aPERC) cards whereas in our case it was occupied by a simple forward PERC (fPERC) pass-through card servicing the H345 adapter.

A photograph of the interior of the Dell EMC PowerEdge R350

For general storage tasks, we’ve included two 480GB SATA SSDs, but Dell offers a wide selection of SAS and SATA HDDs and SSDs. However, we don’t see many SMBs tempted by Dell’s high-capacity models, as they’re a bit pricey with a read-intensive 4TB SATA SSD costing almost £3,000.

However, you won’t need to use them for the operating system because the BOSS S2 card is specially designed for this task. Tucked away next to the PSU bay, it showcases two M.2 SATA SSD slots in hot-swappable sockets easily accessible from the rear and we’ve included one with two mirrored 240GB SSDs.

A hypervisor hosting alternative to the BOSS S2 is Dell’s Internal Dual SD Module Card (IDSDM) which has two SD card slots, supports mirroring, and fits into a dedicated slot for the front of the motherboard. If you’re happy to run a hypervisor on a single USB, the slot also accepts Dell’s internal USB 3 card which costs just £26.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R350 review: Management picks

It might be an entry-level server, but the R350 sports the same iDRAC9 remote and dedicated Gigabit port as its larger PowerEdge siblings. Its smart web-based console presents a wealth of information about server operations along with a comprehensive hardware inventory and direct access to BIOS and storage configurations.

You can choose from five licenses – Basic and Express are very similar, with the latter adding real-time power and temperature graphs. If you want full control of the remote operating system and remote media services, you’ll need an Enterprise license, while the Datacenter option adds advanced services such as streaming telemetry.

A screenshot of the Dell EMC PowerEdge R350 management console

All PowerEdge servers can be managed and monitored from the free OpenManage Enterprise (OME) software that we run in the lab as a Hyper-V virtual machine. Adding an iDRAC9 OME Enterprise Advanced license enables the Power Manager plug-in and as long as you have a valid support contract, you can use the free CloudIQ cloud-hosted service that provides server telemetry and monitoring. predictive analysis.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R350 Review: Verdict

The PowerEdge R350 will appeal to SMBs because this entry-level rack server combines the power of the Xeon E-2300 with high expansion potential, making it a good long-term investment. Storage options are plentiful too, and you won’t find better remote management facilities anywhere else.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R350 Specifications (as revised)

Frame

1U rack

CPU

2.9 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E-2336

Memory

32GB 3200MHz ECC UDIMM DDR4 (max 128GB)

Storage bays

8 x Hot-swappable SAS/SATA SFF with Front PERC

RAID

Dell PERC H345 Front Load

Storage included

2x 480GB SATA SFF Read Intensive Solid State Drives

Other Storage

Dell BOSS S2 with 2 x 240GB M.2 SATA SSDs

Network

2 Gigabit LOMs

Expansion

2 x PCI-E 4, 1 x PCI-E 4 (PERC only), IDSDM/USB 3 card slot

Power

2x 600W Platinum hot-pluggable power supplies

Other

Static ReadyRails included

Management

Dell iDRAC9 Enterprise

guarantee

3 years standard on-site NBD

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