Specifications, Pricing and Availability
The first thing that sticks out is the processing power given to this Small Business Server. The most powerful CPU we've seen from the traditional NAS products was a Core 2 Duo. The custom system AVADirect sent over uses a Core 2 Quad Q9550S processor running at 2.83GHz. This is a 65 watt processor with 12MB of cache. It is safe to say that the processor is overkill for a storage system, but we have never been the ones to ask for less power.
Running down the list, we see that the heart of the system is a ZOTAC motherboard based on the Intel G41 chipset. This board offers onboard video, but when the boards PCIe slot is used disables all digital video signals. Since the system uses a PCIe SAS HBA you will not be able to use the onboard HDMI or DVI ports. The only video signal we were able to use came from a DVI to VGA adapter; analog VGA signals were passed through even though the digital portion was disabled. Obviously this is going to be a big issue with most users who are looking to use the server to perform client tasks and not as a remote server. One option is Remote Desktop Connection and with it you will be able to run nearly every aspect of the server like a client system.
For storage the AVADirect Custom Small Business Server shipped with Seagate's new Constellation ES 2TB SAS 6Gb/s drives. The server uses four of them in a RAID 5 configuration. The Constellation ES Series is designed for high reliability and to standards that far exceed typical desktop storage parts. At this time they are the only SAS 6Gb/s nearline drives available on the market and AVADirect couldn't have chosen a better set of drives to use in the system.
The task of connecting the RAID 5 Seagate Constellation ES array to the system went to Highpoint's RocketRAID 2640x4 SAS/SATA RAID controller. The 2640x4 only handles SAS 3Gb/s, so it was not able to get the most out of the Constellation ES drives that are capable of running at SAS 6Gb/s. The 2640x4 is considered to be an entry level product, void of onboard cache and a XOR engine. In the past we have taken issue with Highpoint's software interface and found that it lacked basic functions that are included with software packages from LSI, Adaptec and ATTO.
Connecting the system to your network is possible via two ways. The ZOTAC motherboard has onboard WiFi and a Gigabit Ethernet port. In testing we found the Gigabit Ethernet port to be average, but the WiFi to be horrible. With the included antenna attached the system would only connect to our wireless router at 40%, even though the two were only ten feet apart with direct line of site.
Our AVADirect Custom Small Business Server as configured had a retail cost of 3313.92 USD. This price includes the four Seagate enterprise class HDDs (the bulk of the cost), a three year warranty on all parts and labor as well as the configuration using Windows Small Business Server Standard 2008.