Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs review: an “extra special” rack server

Dell EMC offers an outstanding line of PowerEdge rack servers for organizations of all sizes and its “xs” family is designed to satisfy those with a narrower range of requirements and tighter budgets. The standard PowerEdge R650 is an impressive 1U rack server, but businesses with small to medium workloads won’t want to pay extra for the privilege of high-end options such as support for Xeon Scalable processors. Heavy-core platinum, 4TB of memory. , Intel PMEM 200 modules, triple GPU cards and water cooling.

The PowerEdge R650xs is a cost-optimized version of the R650 and targets workloads such as medium-density virtualization, VDI, SDN, database scalability, and HPC. Limiting the R650xs to 32-core Xeon Scalable Gold processors also has additional benefits for VMware fans, as it means they won’t have to exceed the per-core licensing threshold.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs Review: Internal Layout

At first glance there’s not much to differentiate the R650xs from its more powerful sibling – although at 735mm deep its chassis is around 75mm shorter. You’ll find more differences under the lid, as the R650xs uses the same internal design as the previous generation of 1U rack server models.

To improve cooling for Platinum CPUs, the R650 uses a T-shaped motherboard so its power supplies can be positioned on either side of the chassis, while the R650xs keeps both power supplies in a single rear bay hot pluggable on the left. Go for a modest hardware spec and you can save even more money by installing low-cost 600W power supplies – which aren’t available for the R650.

All cooling is handled by a bank of fans arranged in front of the motherboard and the type will be determined by your choice of CPU. For modules up to 165W TDP, you can specify standard fans, but since our system came with a pair of 205W TDP 28-core Xeon Scalable Gold 6330 modules, a set of seven Gold fans was required high performance.

The good news is that there are no expansion restrictions and the R650xs supports up to three half-length, half-height PCI-E Gen 4 cards, like the R650. There’s more, as under the two-slot center riser is an OCP 3 edge connector, and our system price includes a dual-port Broadcom 25GbE mezzanine card.

Dell EMC has informed us that many of its customers do not purchase more than 1TB of server memory, so the number of DIMM slots has been halved to 16 to meet this upper limit. Our system came with all of its DIMM slots filled with 16GB DDR4 modules for a healthy total of 256GB.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs review: Storage choice

General storage options are extensive; the R650xs can be ordered with four LFF, eight SFF, or ten SFF front drive bays. When pricing our system through Dell EMC’s online store, we found that if you choose a backplane that supports 10 front SAS/SATA bays or 10 NVMe SSDs, you can add a rear flex bay that offers room for two NVMe SSDs, although that does come at the price of the two-slot center expansion riser.

RAID choices are vast, starting with the server-integrated PERC S150 controller that provides software-managed RAID0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays for SATA devices. You can choose from a wide range of hardware RAID controllers and the price we quoted includes Dell EMC’s PERC H755 front SAS card.

Besides supporting all popular RAID array types, including RAID6 and 60, it features 8GB of DDR4 cache memory and a Battery Backup Unit (BBU). One feature that makes the interior very tidy is the RAID card and BBU are neatly mounted in a dedicated space above the drive bays, plug directly into the backplane, and connect to the motherboard with a single cable.

A photograph of the interior of the Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs

The R650xs does not support the latest BOSS (Boot Optimized Storage Solution) S2 card which features two M.2 SATA SSDs in removable carriers on the back. Instead, it has a dedicated slot between its two expansion card risers where the old, cold-swappable BOSS S1 card nestles, and we’ve raised the price of the system with dual 480GB SSDs. mirror.

A cheaper alternative for running an embedded hypervisor is Dell EMC’s IDSDM (Internal Dual SD Module). This fits into a dedicated slot on the motherboard, provides redundant storage and costs £253 for one with two 64GB microSD cards.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs review: Remote management

There’s no compromise with remote management as the R650xs has the same Dell EMC iDRAC9 controller as its more well-endowed PowerEdge brethren. It features a sleek web-based console offering a wealth of information on system and component status, power consumption and cooling efficiency, as well as hardware inventory as well as direct access to BIOS and software. storage configurations.

The optional Quick Sync 2 module is a great feature for support personnel who want walk-in diagnostics on their mobile device. Using the OpenManage Mobile (OMM) application, you connect to it via Bluetooth and view all server information, alerts, and hardware component health.

We are running OpenManage Enterprise (OME) software in the lab as a Hyper-V virtual machine and after discovering the server’s iDRAC9 we were able to manage and monitor it, control power and run remote control sessions . Add an OME Enterprise Advanced license and you can use the Power Manager plugin to view historical graphs of server power consumption plus thermals and as long as the server has a valid support contract you can integrate OME to the free CloudIQ cloud-hosted service to receive server telemetry and predictive analytics.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs Review: Verdict

The Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs is an excellent choice for businesses with moderate workloads to satisfy and a keen eye on their budget. It may be a cost-optimized model, but this superbly built 1U rack server offers a powerful specification at a good price and has very little compromise for storage and expansion potential, while services remote management are simply the best.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs Specifications


1U rack


2 Intel Xeon Scalable Gold 6330 28-core 2 GHz processors


256 GB of DDR4 ECC memory at 2933 MHz (max. 1 TB)

Storage bays

8 x hot-swappable SFF (max. 12 with rear Flex Bay)


Dell PERC H755 Front/8GB SAS Cache with BBU

Storage included

6 x 1.2TB SAS3 SFF hard drives

Other Storage

Dell BOSS-S1 with 2 x 480GB M.2 SATA SSDs


2 x Gigabit LOM, Broadcom dual 25GbE OCP 3


3 PCI-E 4 slots, 1 OCP 3 edge slot


2x 1400W Platinum hot-pluggable power supplies


Dell iDRAC9 Enterprise 15G


3 years basic on NBD site

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