Dell PowerEdge T40

small server for small business / ServerNews


The Dell PowerEdge T40 is even more compact than the T30 generation without sacrificing performance. But the layout change was not in vain – and something had to be sacrificed

The PowerEdge T40 continues Dell’s line of low-cost, compact entry-level servers. Outwardly, this is the same small “turret” with the characteristic elements of Dell’s corporate design, more like a regular PC. Inside, there is a small single-socket board for the entry-level Intel Xeon E. In this case, it is the Xeon E-2200 series, which was slightly delayed in entering the market, but it was the PowerEdge T40 that was the first to receive these processors. However, this is only part of the innovations, and not the most noticeable – the differences from the very popular T30 series are more significant, and not all of the company’s solutions will appeal to users.

Dell PowerEdge T40

The key difference between the T40 and the T30 is the complete redesign of the chassis itself. The PowerEdge T30 was quite similar to, so to speak, a classic PC: an overhead power supply unit, a pair of disk cages, the usual Tower case, which, apparently, turned out to be too spacious from the point of view of engineers. The PowerEdge T40 decided to radically change the layout, thanks to which the Mini Tower case became lighter and 23% more compact: 335 × 177 × 360 mm with a weight of about 8 kg. This is a definite plus, since the server is designed to be installed in an office, be it a small business or a branch office of a large enterprise.

However, tighter placement of components is not for free. The power supply with self-diagnosis function (there is a separate button and indicator) is now located parallel to the motherboard and fixed on the hinged frame. Its power has changed slightly and is only 300 W (by the way, it is certified according to the 80+ Bronze standard). There is a grill on the side cover for air intake by the unit, so that the power supply unit has its own air circuit.

Below, opposite the expansion slots, there is another grille, but the possibility of installing a fan is not provided here. And in general, everything is unusual with cooling, let’s say so. The processor has a small heatsink with its own fan – the distance between it and the back wall of the power supply unit is several centimeters. Directly above this cooler, on the top cover under two layers of crate, is a system-wide 100mm fan that blows upward. All this trio is practically inaudible in normal operation, but under prolonged load, the processor fan, of course, begins to howl.

Not only this was sacrificed for compactness – the T40 still has the option of installing a thin optical drive, which is not really needed nowadays, but the maximum number of ordinary 3.5 “SATA SSD / HDDs has decreased to three. At the same time, official support for M.2 was never delivered. That is, there is a connector on the board, but there is not a word about it in the documentation, and only LFF HDDs appear in the description of the capabilities of the disk subsystem. And this is perhaps the biggest loss compared to the T30, which had four trays for 3.5 “drives and a couple more for 2.5”. In the T40, one drive sits against the front of the chassis, and two more can be placed on the bottom of the chassis.

Even more frustrating, by default only one disk is included in the kit, and for the other two you will have to purchase a set of plastic sleds and a SATA cable. For RAID, there is Intel VROC 6 (formerly RSTe), which allows you to create arrays of levels 0, 1, 5 and 10, although the latter is irrelevant in the case of the T40. In principle, the smaller number of HDDs is compensated by the increased capacity of the drives, so, probably, many will be satisfied with a “mirror” from a pair of larger HDDs.

In general, Dell relies heavily on the capabilities of the Intel platform for this model. In particular, Intel vPro / AMT (with Xeon) is available for control, which can hardly be called a full-fledged replacement for iDRAC, which is not even provided here as an option. A single 1GbE network port can only be supplemented with external FHHL adapters. There are four slots for them: one PCIe 3.0 x16, two PCIe 3.0 x4 and one PCI (for some old card). The first slot takes the lines directly from the CPU, the rest – from the Intel C246 chipset. With the power supply, the situation is as follows: from the first slot you can get standard 75 W, from the rest no more than 25 W, but if all four are busy, then each will be entitled to no more than 25 W.

Basically, the Dell PowerEdge T40 can be seen as the foundation for an entry-level workstation. In the first slot, you can put some unpretentious professional video adapter with active cooling, since the graphics integrated into the CPU with a pair of DisplayPort ports is not suitable for everything. ECC, as one of the key elements of reliability, Xeon processors support, and the maximum amount of dual-channel DDR4-2666 UDIMM can be 64 GB (4 modules). As a matter of fact, the Dell Precision 3630 Tower workstation is not too different from the PowerEdge T40.

But with USB ports, there is a sheer expanse. The front panel has two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 Type-C. On the back there are four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 at once. Any of these can be disabled in UEFI. Finally, there are a couple more PS / 2 ports, one RS-232, and one 3.5mm audio jack (another one on the front). Here are also the latches that hold the frame with the power supply unit in the closed position and the handle for opening the side wall, which can be fixed with the Kensington Lock. Inside the case there is a sensor for opening this wall. Among other security features, there is also the TPM 2.0 module, which, alas, is not officially available in Russia and China, as well as the function of erasing drives.

Of the useful software, there is a self-diagnostic utility built into the UEFI, which will certainly remind the user that the server also has a built-in speaker. A quick check takes a few minutes, and a detailed check takes several hours. The list of officially supported operating systems includes Windows Server 2016 and 2019 LTSC, as well as Ubuntu Server 18.04 LTS (presumably 20.04 will also be added). However, a small set of basic drivers is available only for Microsoft products. Of the additional utilities, only the system component firmware update tool is offered.

As with all current Dell solutions, this model is easily searchable for service tag or express service code information: warranty information, service records, detailed configuration descriptions (with part numbers), documentation, drivers, and more. The basic warranty is 1 year, and it includes the option of visiting a technician if the diagnostics show that the problem cannot be solved remotely. Separate service subscriptions are available after the base warranty ends.

Above in the text, it was separately noted a couple of times that some features work only with Intel Xeon, but in fact, despite support for Intel Core and other low-end CPUs, this server model is offered so far only with Intel Xeon E-2224G: 4 cores without HT with a base frequency 3.5 GHz and a very decent 4.7 GHz in turbo mode, all this is supplemented by 8 MB of cache. The processor is integrated with UHD graphics Intel P630, and its TDP is 71 W. In its basic configuration, the machine is shipped with one 8GB DRR4-2666 ECC UDIMM and a 1TB hard drive. We got the Seagate BarraCuda (3.5 ”SATA, 7200 RPM, 64 MB cache). At the time of this writing, such a configuration (210-ASHD-01) in the Moscow region, according to Yandex.Market, cost an average of about 53 thousand rubles.

Additionally, the supplier has attached a set of terabyte Western Digital WD Blue HDD (3.5 ”SATA, 7200 RPM, 64 MB cache), tray and SATA cable. The official characteristics of the two drives are slightly different, so it was decided not to assemble an array of them, although in practice there was really no difference in performance between them. However, in our opinion, the optimal variant of the disk subsystem implies changing the optical drive to an SSD (for OS or caching). It’s not about the SSD included, because the manufacturer won’t want to raise the price of an entry-level server, but about the very possibility of using all four SATA channels for drives.

In the PCMark 10 system-wide benchmark with Windows Server 2019 Standard, the machine scored the expected 2,581 points. We will give the results separately without OpenCL. In Geekbench 5, the processor scored 1266 and 3812 points in the single- and multi-threaded test, respectively, as well as 5944 and 5750 points in the OpenCL and Vulkan tests. In SPECworkstation 3, the processor rating was 0.79 – the rest of the tests were excluded, since they are of little use, and they will run indecently on such a system. On the other hand, you shouldn’t expect any special records from an entry-level car.

Conclusion

If you are faced with an entry-level tower server, then the Dell PowerEdge T40 is definitely worth a look. Compared to the previous generation T30, the new model has indeed become more compact and efficient. The latter is achieved thanks to a more modern processor and slightly faster memory. The novelty is focused, as before, at small businesses and branch networks of larger organizations. Typical loads for it are a mail server, a corporate messenger, storage and exchange of files, a mini-domain for a dozen or two users. And all this is local, with predictable costs, which is what the manufacturer is pushing against, opposing the server to cloud solutions.

At the same time, the Dell PowerEdge T40 is truly a business product, and not an ordinary PC in a slightly unusual design. Someone will say that the differences here are only in the details, but they are the defining ones: support for ECC memory, remote (out-of-band) management, a large set of PCI-E slots, calculation for 24/7 operation, convenient deployment, a host of additional security and diagnostic tools, and, finally, enterprise-level technical support.

Test equipment was provided by Treolan, the official distributor of Dell EMC products in Russia