On the Dell CS24-SC Server….


I sure anyone looking for a cheap rackmount server on eBay or many other sites has come across this server. It’s everywhere but information is hard to come by about it. Even Dell Support doesn’t know about this server. I recently purchased one with the intent on using it to upgrade my existing ESXi server (basically a Dell Studio 540 PC). I’ll be returning it but I wanted to do a quick review and list of features and resources I found in researching this.

The Dell CS24-SC are custom, 1U 2-way servers manufactured by a unknown company for clustered and cloud computing. They are full depth, about 28″ and weigh roughly 36lbs/16.3kg with 4×3.5″ drives. It has 2xGBic (1000Mbit) network ports running on the Intel® 82567 Gigabit Ethernet Controller and an additional 100Mbit management port. There are 2 USB 2.0 ports on the front and 2 USB 2.0 ports on the back along with a VGA port, Serial, and PS2 Keyboard/Mouse ports. It has a single PCI-E x8 expansion port on a riser. One major reseller is Stallard Technologies, Inc though most of the server on the market are resold through eBay. The closest PowerEdge server seems to be the Dell PowerEdge 1950 Gen III or one of the earlier PowerEdge C1100 Cloud servers.

Now lets talk about some Pros/Cons. This is a solidly built 1U server. It will hold up to some abuse. With 4×3.5″ drives you can install up to 16TB of raw storage space. You can get this server pretty cheaply as well, usually cheaper than comparable Dell PowerEdge servers.

There are some negatives however with the CS24-SC. One of the most glaring is the noise. It’s not uncommon for 1U servers to be loud but the CS24-SC takes it to another level. Dell’s thermal management system seems to have only 2 settings: off or maximum. The issue is that as long as the server is on it’s pretty much at the later. The fans never spin down no matter what the internal temperature is. There are some options such as replacing the fans, modifying the voltage manually (the bios will not allow you to do so) or hacking the bios to enable lower fan speeds. There’s not out-of-the-box, easy solution though. At idle it is as loud as a vacuum cleaner. If you’re planning on using this in a home lab or anywhere where people will be working, sleeping or otherwise occupying you may want to look at alternatives. I would suggest you keep this in another room or basement unless you have a soundproof rack or server room.

The Dell CS24-SC also server only supports RAID 0 or 1, contrary to some sources that include RAID 10 in the specification. Some listings will say otherwise but there are no options for RAID 10. Another issue is boot times. Even after multiple tweaks I could never get this server to boot though BIOS in less than 2 minutes. This is not booting to the OS either. This is just to get through the BIOS! That means you can add 2 mins or more to your boot times no matter what. While this may not be a issue once the server is up, it becomes a serious flaw when updating, tweaking or rebooting from a crash or environmental failure like a power outage. A final issue is with the depth. This is a full depth server, about 28″. This means that if you want to mount it in a rack, you will need a 4 post, 30″ or deeper rack.

Overall it’s not that bad of a server but does have some serious flaws. I’ll be returning mine and looking for another solution.

Dell Custom Server Technical Specifications:

Form Factor:
1U Rackmount Server
Processors:
Up to two Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5400 sequence processors
Up to two Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5300 sequence processors
Up to two Dual-Core Intel Xeon 5200 sequence processors
Up to two Dual-Core Intel Xeon 5100 sequence processors
Up to two Dual-Core Intel Xeon 5000 sequence processors
Chipset: Intel 5100
Memory:
256MB/512MB/1GB/2GB/4GB/8GB DDR2 DIMMs in matched pairs;
667MHz or 800MHz; 6 sockets for support up to 48GB
I/O Channels:
1 PCI-e 8x expansion slots
Drive controller:
Intel SATA controller ATA or AHCI
RAID Controller:
Intel ICH9R RAID (Software Raid capable of 0 or 1)
Drive Bays:
Four hard drive chassis with 4x 3.5″ SATA
Maximum Internal Storage:
Up to 8 TB: Four 2 TB hot-plug 3.5″ SATA*
Communications:
2x Onboard Intel 82567 Gigabit NICs, 1x Intel PRO 1000M Gigabit NIC (for BMC)

*note: May be higher as this device was introduced before 3-4TB drives existed but I can't confirm it.

Pros:
+ 1U
+ 4x 3.5″ drives
+ Name-Brand Dell Server
+ Usually pretty cheap

Cons:
Very loud with no easy option to manage the noise
Only RAID 0 or 1; no RAID 10
Very slow loading through BIOS
Full Depth Server
Manufactured by a 3rd party; little to no support from Dell

Additional Resources:
PSU Model: FS6011

Feel free to ask questions or request additional information.

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