The Intel S3420HGPRX motherboard and 1U rack mount product is one of the nicest, well thought out 1U designs that I have come across and it’s well priced at around $800 for the case (with 3 hotswap bays), non-redundant PSU and motherboard. You need only add RAM and CPU and one or more hard drives to make a functional system.
If this sounds like a glowing recommendation, it is. In every area, Intel has carefully thought out and implemented a great product; learning along the way from the best practices of the other manufacturers.
The image above shows the system as you unpack it from the box. The 1U heatsink for your CPU is fastened in the lower middle of the picture — you move it from this mount to the CPU socket when you install. The drive bays all come with airflow redirecting fillers and internal centrifugal fans cool both the CPU and the RAM. I bought this server with the non-redundant power supply, but a redundant power supply is available for approximately a $100 premium.
One of the coolest features of this package is that intel’s excellent remote management package, the RMM3, is available for $70. This shares one of the five gigabit ethernet ports and provides a full on management interface that not only gives you console access, but also gives you the ability to power the system on or off and to mount boot media from anywhere in the world. About the only complaint I have with the RMM3 is that, for some reason, it’s incompatible with Windows 7/64. The workaround (if you have Windows 7 Professional) is to use XP Mode. If you don’t, then Virtual Box with a Windows XP installation will also work.
Five Gigabit Ethernet. I did slightly gloss over that point. We have 3 Hotswap SATA bays, Five Gigabit Ethernet, one 8 lane PCIe and a custom slot for which Intel makes a 4 port Gigabit Ethernet and a SAS RAID card. The I/O options make this small 1U package a powerhouse. The board also provides 6 DIMM slots, but I have had trouble getting more than 4 sticks to work. The Kingston RAM has worked as 6 DIMMs in some installations and not in others.
Why buy this system rather than a Dell or HP? If you’re looking for the cheapest base server, Dell and HP are often competitive, especially if they have some sort of deal going. However, if you’re looking to populate the server with reasonable specs, Dell and HP both quickly become very uncompetitive. In one recent analysis I did for a customer, while Dell and HP both offer service plans, The customer could afford to hot spare this system and still come out ahead.
Without spoiling things, I’ll also offer that our related site, bitcoin2go.com, will offer this server for bitcoin or paypal purchase.