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Review: Apple's Xserve Gives Enterprise An Alternative

Apple's new Xserve rackmount server is an outstanding example of thoughtful design, attention to detail, and excellent performance at a reasonable price. It offers redundant power supplies, lights-out management, and the ability to run Windows and other operating systems as well as OS X, making the Xserve an appealing, capable, and flexible option.

Click image to enlarge.

I tested a system that came loaded with two dual-core, 64-bit 3.0-GHz Intel Xeon 5100 Woodcrest CPUs, 4 Gbytes of DDR2 FB-DIMM memory (the maximum is 32 Gbytes), 2.2 terabytes of storage split across three front-swappable 750-Gbyte 7,200 RPM SATA drive modules, a double-layer CD/DVD SuperDrive, and an ATI Radeon X1300 graphics card. This configuration came in at an impressive $8,500, which compares favorably against similar server products. For those who need the fastest possible drives (at a higher cost per megabyte), the Xserve also can be ordered with one or more 15,000 RPM SAS drives.

The base Xserve configuration, with two 2.0 GHz CPUs, 1 Gbyte of RAM, a single 80-Gbyte SATA drive, and an X1300 graphics card (the graphics card can be removed with a small price credit) costs $2,999. Again, not the cheapest 1U server you can possibly buy, but a solid value for the feature set, particularly noting one huge advantage of Apple servers over Windows — the standard inclusion of an unlimited-client version of OS X Server. This means no client license hassles, and no extra cost.

Apple Remote Desktop 3

While testing the Xserve, I also tried out Apple Remote Desktop 3, a remote system management tool, and ran it through its paces.
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