Intel S3420HGPRX Server Package Review

Intel <abbr>S3420HGPRX</abbr> Motherboard

Intel S3420HGPRX Moth­er­board

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.

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