- Dual LGA 2011
- Support Dual Intel Xeon E5-2600 (up to 150W TDP)
- 16 x 240Pin Memory Slots (Max 1TB)
- Support 2 x SATA 600 + 8 x SATA 300 HDD
- 1620W Redundant Power Supplies, 80PLUS Platinum
- $1,859.99 1859.99
- $1,669.99 –
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Great Value 01/24/2014
Generally well built, well thought-out system.
Four double-height PCIe 3.0 x16 bays. Even when the lower four x16 bays are fully populated, none of the other PCIe slots are blocked. The downside is, this requires a huge (bigger than E-ATX) proprietary motherboard, but since it's integrated into this system, that's not something you need to worry about if you're not buying the board alone. And for you people who self-proclaim your tech knowledge 5+ on NewEgg: yes, you can run this system with only one CPU socket populated, but all the PCIe slots will not run off just one CPU (which ones are associated with which socket are clearly labeled on the motherboard). This is not a shortcoming of the system/motherboard! It is a reality of the fact that each CPU has a limited number of data lanes it can manage, and several linked to socket 1 are used by critical, integrated system components, like the C602 chipset.
Comes with two CPU heatsinks with PWM fans. I could see other manufacturers being tempted to make those an add-on purchase, but SM didn't cheap out here. Also (thanks in part to the wide MB's extra real estate), the sockets are well offset, so hot air from the cooler on CPU 1 doesn't get blown straight into CPU 2.
Cable management is pretty decent. Nothing is really loose or blocking airflow. Extra PCIe power is at-hand, but neatly zip-tied out of the way until you need it. Extra molex power connectors are similarly available near the 5.25 in bays. You will need molex to SATA power adapters if you plan to install accessories that only have the latter connector type (e.g. modern DVD/Blu-ray burners).
The case looks much better in person than in pictures. Granted, that's a subjective thing, but as someone who's used to "premium" all-aluminum cases, I was afraid I'd find the plastic+steel case an eye-sore. Really it's just functional, understated and fades into the background, which is what I ultimately prefer.
The side panel has a latch/handle that you are meant to pop open to access internal components, but the panel is also secured by two, small screws at the back. Without the screws, I have trouble securing the door fully (even when latched, the bottom edge seems to want to pop out a bit. So, the screws are necessary, but they are also quite small. For example, if the case were rack-mounted with the optional rail kit, in a data-center environment, I could so see one of those little screws dropping through the ventilation holes on your raised floor, never to be seen again (ya, you know you've had that happen at least once in your DC). What's the point in having tool-less, hot-swapable fans in the case, if you need a tool to access them anyway? Considering how modular and well thought-out the rest of the case is, these tiny screws just stand-out to me as an oversight. They should be replaced with captive thumb screws for securing the back edge of the access panel. Supermicro, are you listening?
Fans are a bit loud, even at idle. Heck, even when the system is powered OFF, the PSU fans make significant noise. If you ever get the system fans to spin up to 100%, the whole thing makes a high-pitched whine not unlike a jet engine. Overall, the constant hum doesn't bother me, and is offset by the fact that the fans do move a lot of air. So, no eggs off the rating. However, it's worth noting that if you're in a sound-sensitive environment, this system is far from quiet.
The remote console, accessible through the IPMI, is very, very slow. I think the processor they're using to run it just doesn't have enough horsepower. If I enable KVM encryption and try to run the Java console from a remote system, it grinds down to near-zero frame rate and eventually crashes. Without encryption, it runs a bit more reliably, but it's still not exactly snappy. The cost of reasonably powerful ARM SOCs being so low these days, I'd have gladly paid Supermicro an extra $25 for higher IPMI/BMC specs (it's a plausible price difference, considering you can get a whole Raspberry Pi for that).
No onboard audio or USB-3. For a pure server, that's expected, but since this system is marketed as a "workstation," it really should have a full bevy of desktop user features, in addition to the fancy server stuff. For my purposes, missing these doesn't bother me much, but I still feel that in 2014 these are essential workstation features which are conspicuous by their absence.
This is a data-center grade, 4u server, which happens to come with feet instead of rails, so you can set it on its side and use it on/under your desk as a tower workstation. It has all the typical server features: lights-out management (IPMI) provides system monitoring, power control, and KVM, independent of the OS, over a dedicated LAN port; redundant, hot-swapable PSUs; hot-swapable fans, which cover the whole motherboard with excellent, front-to-back air-flow.
For workstations, I usually build my own systems from individual components (including a high-end aluminum case). When I saw the value in this bare-bones system, I couldn't resist it. Consider, it comes with TWO 1620W Platinum PSUs. Even discounting the facts they're pre-wired to be redundant and are hot-swapable, what would you say they're worth? $300 each would be conservative I think. Add to that an 8-bay, hot-swapable SATA/SAS backplane, all the fans, etc, and I feel like I got more than my money's worth--and I haven't even counted the dual-socket Supermicro motherboard yet.
So far, Supermicro customer support has been excellent. There was a discrepancy in the manual for this model, so I emailed them to request clarification. Someone who could write intelligible English responded within 24-hours, clarified the erratum, and informed me the downloadable manual would be revised on their site by the next day. I haven't had a serious problem yet (and hope not to), but considering that's how they address a minor discrepancy, I feel pretty good about their responsiveness.
It is worth noting that I am running FreeBSD on this system. Although it is not on their "Supported OS" list, everything seems to work out of the box. For Linux users, RHEL is on their officially supported list.
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