Need To Choose Between SuperMicro System or Dell PowerEdge T320 for SBS 2011

Posted on 2013-11-23
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
Been thinking about this for a while, but now need to make a decision quickly. Unsure of
which way to go between the SuperMicro system below or a Dell PowerEdge T320. Both
of the specs are fairly similar. The SuperMicro is what my hardware supplier has
recommended as they are a SuperMicro System Integrator / Reseller. I have never ordered from Dell before so do not have any experience with their server products in regards of creating raid and preinstalled operating systems etc. The one I picked has SBS 2011 factory installed.The SM would probably be easier to configure , but that would not put
me off the Dell if it is better. I would upgrade the RTB warranty to a 3 year on site so
if any problems do arise I should be covered at least as well as the Dell.

Would appreciate any thought/comments.

733TQ-665B (Black)
Xeon E3 X10SLL-F with Dual Gigabit LAN
E3 1220 v3 Intel Quad-Core Xeon 3.1GHz 8Mb Cache 5GT/s 80Watts
2x 8GB 1333MHz DDR3 ECC CL9 DIMM with Thermal Sensor
2x 1TB Enterprise Class SAS2 6Gb/s 7200RPM - 3.5" - Seagate CONSTELLATION
4 x Hot Swap Drive Bays
LSI MegaRAID 9211-4i 6Gb/s SAS/SATA RAID (RAID 0 or 1) Controller  
DVD-RW Dual Layer Drive SATA

3 Years RTB Warranty (or Advanced Replacement Parts) Upgraded to 3 Years Next day on site.
Question by:floyd197
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Accepted Solution

davorin earned 500 total points
ID: 39671274
I have a good opinion of SM motherboards, but I have not worked with them for quite some  time.
You can say that the specs are similar, but if you look from the point of server needs they are not so similar.  (Sorry, I didn't look at spec in depth).
- Dell has option of redundant power supply, you can install up to 16 SFF HDs, probably it supports AECC and hot spare RAM, I guess RAID controller supports more RAID levels (0,1,5,6 and some mixes like 10,50,...). Most of them are for increased availability.
- The second thing is management software. Branded servers normally have good management sw, so you can quickly see what is the state of your server. You can get notified when some problem occurs.
- They build thousands of pieces of the same model, so if there is some problem you will find the solution faster.
- Drivers and all components are tested together, so there is less possibility of compatibility problems.
- They normally keep spare parts on stock for longer time.
option of remote access even if the server is turned off (like HP ILO)
I have build custom made servers in past, but I'm not going back.

I can see that you intend to use just two hard drives. The configuration will work, but the disk system could be the bottleneck as you will be running a lot of programs on just two disks (AD, exchange, probably some ERP sw, file server,...)
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Expert Comment

ID: 39671298
Well, you didn't provide the full configuration of the Dell, so I will assume config is comparable.  With that in mind I see several problems with BOTH configurations.

1. Quad core is huge overkill, unless this system is going to be doing a lot of floating point database work.  
2. You have 1 TB near line SAS drives, only 2 of them.   You are much better off going to a dual core, then putting that into 4 smaller, faster SAS drives, and making it either a RAID10, or a pair of RAID1s.   (Personally, I would go a pair of RAID1s, and then you can configure the non-Boot pair to use 64KB I/O chunk size which is most efficient with SQL server).
3. You should get a BMC option. Both systems have this option. It is a separate processor board with ethernet, so in event the main system crashes or has problems, the BMC processor system is always online so you can use it to diagnose, treat, and even do watchdog reboots.

Once  you make the above 3 changes, then either system will be fine.
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Expert Comment

ID: 39671530
Big difference with the Dell is that you will have an OEM copy of SBS that will only reinstall on a dell system as it is keyed to the dell BIOS.

The controller is a LSI MegaRAID SAS 9211-4i with no cache.

Do yourself a favor and get a caching RAID  controller.

Don't cheap out on the I/O,especially if you virtualize anything.

Considering that SBS runs a lot of extraneous DB stuff,the quad core is a no brainer.
If you can afford 32 GB RAM ,do it now.

With that being said,Dell has pretty good tech support and parts are never a problem.
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Author Comment

ID: 39671549
To be Honest Like everything there is not unlimited money to throw at it. The server
will be supporting around 6 users. I think 16GB will suffice. are you talking about
the Lsi 9211 in the SuperMicro or the Dell. Yes the 9211 does not have cache, Is it really
necessary to have it?
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Expert Comment

ID: 39671574
I would not own a server without a caching controller.

The performance hit  is very noticeable.

In fact ,I would use the built in Windows raid software before I would use a non caching controller.
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 39671605
Agreed, use the native windows software RAID1. It does read load balancing, so the performance hit on writes is what you would get with a single disk.   (And as I said before, dual core is plenty, put that money in either 4 smaller SAS disks which will more than make up for not having a caching controller ... but also won't cost you any extra due to what you save on CPU).

Or just put the money you save in the bank, and buy more RAM or disk later. One thing you can pretty much  count on unless there is a major typhoon again is disk and RAM get cheaper over time)
LVL 30

Expert Comment

ID: 39671660
As for the preinstalled software,I would do it myself if I were you,you never know when you may need to install from a DR issue.

Practice,practice ,practice.

Oh yeah,the built in backup does not work with 4k sector USB drives(which is about 99% of those shipping these days).

So you will need to factor in 3rd party backup software costs.
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Expert Comment

ID: 39672855
Regarding the dual Vs quad core there's little option since there is only one dual core CPU in the E3-1200 sequence, the E3-1220L which is priced exactly the same as the E3-1220. Both run 4 threads though since the low powered one has hyper-threading, I suppose the L version having a higher maximum T-case is down to it being flip-chip mounted on the package carrier. There's really no need to consider the E3-1220L unless you're building an ultra-low power system.

Only 6 users though a low power system may be worth considering, have you considered a micro-server such as!tab=features
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Expert Comment

ID: 39672903
Those are glorified desktops.

I made the mistake of buying a non Xeon chip in a PE 840 and regretted it as the support for VM's was lacking.

If you're going to buy a server,get a server chip,not some Celeron or Core duo wannabe.
LVL 55

Expert Comment

ID: 39672949
Runs VMware fine, and for 6 users surely a glorified desktop is all that is required. Of course it's not so useful in winter being only about 75W; it won't replace the fan heater.

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