Dell PowerEdge T130 Server review

A great-value Xeon E3 tower that’s ideal for micro-businesses – and SMBs short on cash and space

Pros 
Excellent remote management and monitoring; Low power consumption; Great value;

Cons 
Storage features are basic; Drive expansion is slightly fiddly;

Verdict 
The PowerEdge T130 packs a lot into its compact chassis. While storage features are basic, there’s room to grow and a classy set of remote management tools, making this a decent first server for micro-businesses and SMBs that are tight on either space or cash.

Dell’s PowerEdge T130 is an extremely affordable server: with prices starting at less than £400, it could be a great choice for those with modest needs. The base £383 package includes a 3.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i3 CPU, but if you want more power then you can step up to a range of Xeon processors. The system we reviewed (model PET1301) includes a 3GHz quad-core Xeon E5-1220 v5, and we also upgraded the memory from the basic 4GB of DDR4 RAM to a more usable 16GB.

Whichever spec you opt for, the T130 is solidly built, and its side panel can be padlocked shut to protect against wandering fingers. There’s a heap of USB 2 and USB 3 ports for conveniently adding external devices; these can be disabled from the BIOS if security is a concern.

Inside the chassis, there’s room for up to four LFF hard disks. Our system came with two 1TB SATA drives fitted in a dual drive bay at the bottom of the chassis, and there’s a second dual drive bay at the top with SATA and power connectors ready and waiting. Note that the top bays aren’t suitable for outward-facing 5.25in devices, since the plastic bezel doesn’t have knock-out panels for them. However, you can remove the small filler panel at the top and fit a low-profile optical drive.

Both upper and lower drive bays are cabled to the motherboard’s embedded four-port SATA connector. The embedded PERC S130 controller comes as standard and supports mirrors, stripes and RAID5 arrays. Dell offers a range of optional PCI Express controller cards that support 12Gbits/sec SAS3 and hot-swap capabilities, but the T130 is designed for cold-swap SATA drives only, so there isn’t much point.

Dell’s LifeCycle Controller makes light work of OS deployment. After hitting F10 during boot-up, we chose Windows Server 2012 R2 from the menu and had it loaded in 20 minutes. Remote management is included too, which will please businesses wanting to deploy the T130 in remote or branch offices. The system comes with an iDRAC8 Basic Controller that shares access with either of the server’s two embedded Gigabit ports.

From its tidy web interface we were able to monitor critical components, control power remotely, and reboot the server. Costing £97, an iDRAC8 Express licence adds features such as power thresholds; for OS remote control and virtual media support, you’ll need an extra £232 for an Enterprise licence.

You get Dell’s free OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA), too, which provides local web-based server monitoring. OpenManage Essentials (OME) delivers automated network discoveries and centralised management of all your SNMP- and WMI-enabled systems. Support staff on the go will particularly like the OpenManage Mobile (OMM) iOS app. After installing it on our iPad, we were able to link up with the server’s iDRAC8 controller and OME host, and view health status, alerts and system logs directly on the tablet.

The PowerEdge T130 packs a lot into its compact chassis, and it won’t disturb you in a small office: the SPLnFFT iOS app recorded a noise level of only 37.9dB with our iPad 1m away. Power usage is low too, with the server consuming 37W with its OS in idle and peaking at 71W under extreme load. While storage features are basic, there’s room to grow and a classy set of remote management tools, making this a decent first server for micro-businesses and SMBs that are tight on either space or cash.

Specification:
Tower chassis
3GHz Intel Xeon E3-1220 v5
16GB 2,133MHz DDR4 (max 64GB)
2 x 1TB Dell SATA cold-swap HDDs (max 4)
Dell PERC S130 RAID controller
Supports RAID0, 1, 5, 10
4 x PCI-E 3
2 x Gigabit Ethernet
290W fixed PSU
Dell iDRAC8 Basic controller
1yr on-site NBD warranty
175 x 435 x 360mm (WDH)
Power 38W idle, 71W peak

Source: IT PRO