I reviewed some used Dell PowerEdge R720. Yes, they’re EoL, a long time ago, but they are some really good workhorses.

Component Part
CPU 2x Intel Xeon E5-2670 2.60GHz, 20M Cache, 8.0GT/s QPI, Turbo, 8C, 115W
RAM 384 GiB (24x 16 GiB) RDIMM, 1600 MHz, Standard Volt, Dual Rank, x4
Internal NIC Broadcom 5720 QP 1Gb Network Daughter Card
Additional NICs 2x Broadcom 5719 QP 1Gb Network Interface Card, Low Profile
FC HBA QLogic QLE2562, Dual Port 8Gb Optical Fibre Channel HBA
SD Card for booting 1GB SD Card, Internal
iDRAC Enterprise None
VFlash for iDRAC Enterprise 8GB SD Card
PSU Dual, Hot-plug, Redundant Power Supply (1+1), 750W

To my astonishment, they were all ordered without functioning iDRACs and Lifecycle Controllers. What’s even more surprising is that the boot firmware expects the iDRAC to respond. If you’re allowed to order an R720 without an active iDRAC, why isn’t the firmware told, when the motherboard is manufactured, that the iDRAC is inaccessible?

The consequence is that every cold boot or reboot is done twice by the firmware due to the unresponsive iDRAC, and the fans spin at full speed after the second reboot, wearing out the fans a lot sooner than you expect. To add insult to injury, you must be on-site to press F1 on each of the servers to actually boot the operating system.

But wait, there’s more, these R720s were ordered without a PERC, as they booted off an internal SD card before switching to FC SAN storage. Speaking of SD cards, these servers were ordered with one iDRAC VFlash 8 GB SD card each, but no iDRAC at all.

Being EoL, it’s difficult to source spare parts for these R720s. I’d love a couple of handfulls of PERC H710p Internal Mini Mono and some battery packs. I have already sourced 3.5 inch disk brackets and 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch adapters.

The bottom line is: Don’t order your PowerEdge servers without an iDRAC, be it Express, Enterprise, or Datacentre. And please make sure the iDRAC has a dedicated TP port. And for the sake of reuse, don’t leave out even a basic PERC.

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