Dell PowerEdge SC430
Dell designed its inexpensive PowerEdge SC430 server to help cost-conscious small businesses keep extra close eyes on their bottom line. The PowerEdge SC430 sports an especially low price yet doesn't skimp on components: it offers the usual SOHO server standards, including Pentium 4 processors and SATA or SCSI hard drives, along with new technologies such as the dual-core Intel Pentium D processor. However, the PowerEdge SC430 omits the remote manageability software that ships with more expensive servers, such as the , making the SC430 ill-suited for companies with more than a handful of employees.
Servers are like PCs on steroids, with the former offering more powerful and complex versions of the latter's components, so it makes sense that servers are far more difficult to set up than standard computers. For the undaunted folks who still choose to tackle the process themselves, Dell offers some guidance through its OpenManage Server Assistant program. After booting up the machine and installing the Server Assistant CD, the program presents you with a series of questions pertaining to your office network, chosen operating system, and other important factors that will contribute to the way you use the server. Clicking over to another screen allows you to manipulate more advanced settings, such as the levels of RAID support you'd like to apply. The only thing we'd like Dell to do differently with this overall satisfying program is to offer a more complete user guide for it.
One conspicuous software absence in the PowerEdge SC430 is a remote manageability program. These programs allow you to monitor and update all of the computers on your network from a central location--the server itself. This capability is essential for companies with dozens of computers on their networks; otherwise, their IT managers spend countless hours visiting each system in person to assess its health and to perform updates. Because Dell intended the low-cost PowerEdge SC430 to accommodate only a few computers, remote manageability isn't a critical feature, but anyone responsible for handling several systems will want to consider a server that offers the software.
For a server, the PowerEdge SC430 has a relatively petite, tower-style case that won't consume much room in limited small-office environments. The case includes one of the best modes of tool-less entry we've seen: just pull on the lever located on top of the system, and its right side pops open. A look inside the case discloses the secret behind the server's small size: it carries a limited supply of some expansion slots and bays. The PowerEdge SC430 provides enough space for just four DIMM memory slots and two bays for SATA or SCSI hard drives. In comparison, the IBM eServer xSeries 226 has six DIMM slots and four SATA or six hot-swappable SCSI bays. Despite these limitations, the PowerEdge SC430 offers an average five I/O slots, three of which are based on the new PCI Express standard; the remaining two are older 32-bit PCI slots. It also incorporates a standard 3.5-inch floppy-drive bay and two 5.25-inch bays for optical-storage drives.