Lenovo ThinkServer TD340 StorageIO lab Review

October 28, 2014 – 2:07 pm
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Lenovo ThinkServer TD340 Server and StorageIO lab Review

Earlier this year I did a review of the Lenovo ThinkServer TS140 in the StorageIO Labs (see the review here), in fact I ended up buying a TS140 after the review, and a few months back picked up another one. This StorageIOlab review looks at the Lenovo ThinkServer TD340 Tower Server which besides having a larger model number than the TS140, it also has a lot more capabilities (server compute, memory, I/O slots and internal hot-swap storage bays. Pricing varies depending on specific configuration options, however at the time of this post Lenovo was advertising a starting price of $1,509 USD for a specific configuration here. You will need to select different options to decide your specific cost.

The TD340 is one of the servers that Lenovo has had prior to its acquisition of IBM x86 server business that you can read about here. Note that the Lenovo acquisition of the IBM xSeries business group has begun as of early October 2014 and is expected to be completed across different countries in early 2015. Read more about the IBM xSeries business unit here, here and here.

The Lenovo TD340 Experience

Lets start with the overall experience which was very easy other than deciding what make and model to try. This includes going from first answering some questions to get the process moving, agreeing to keep the equipment safe, secure, insured as well as not damaging anything. Part of the process also involved answering some configuration related questions and shortly there after a large box from Lenovo arrived.

TD340 is ready for use
TD340 with Keyboard and Mouse (Monitor and keyboard not included)

One of the reasons I have a photo of the TD340 on a desk is that I initially put it in an office environment similar to what I did with the TS140 as Lenovo claimed it would be quiet enough to do so. I was not surprised and indeed the TD340 is quiet enough to be used where you would normally find a workstation or mini-tower. By being so quiet the TD340 is a good fit for environments that need a server that has to go into an office environment as opposed to a server or networking room.

Welcome to the TD340
Lenovo ThinkServer Setup

TD340 Setup
Lenovo TD340 as tested in BIOS setup, note the dual Intel Xeon E5-2420 v2 processors

TD340 as tested

TD340 Selfie of whats inside
TD340 "Selfie" with 4 x 8GB DDR3 DIMM (32GB) and PCIe slots (empty)

TD340 disk drive bays
TD340 internal drive hot-swap bays

Speeds and Feeds

The TD340 that I tested was a Machine type 7087 model 002RUX which included 4 x 16GB DIMMs and both processor sockets occupied.

You can view the Lenovo TD340 data sheet with more speeds and feeds here, however the following is a summary.

  • Operating systems support include various Windows Servers (2008-2012 R2), SUSE, RHEL, Citrix XenServer and VMware ESXi
  • Form factor is 5U tower with weight starting at 62 pounds depending on how configured
  • Processors include support for up to two (2) Intel E5-2400 v2 series
  • Memory includes 12 DDR3 DRAM DIMM slots (LV RDIMM and UDIMM) for up to 129GB.
  • Expansion slots vary depending on if a single or dual cpu socket. Single CPU socket installed has 1 x PCIe Gen3 FH/HL x8 mechanical, x4 electrical, 1 x PCIe Gen3
  • FH/HL x16 mechanical, x16 electrical and a single PCI 32bit/33 MHz FH/HL slot. With two CPU sockets installed extra PCIe slots are enabled. These include single x PCIe GEN3: FH/HL x8 mechanical, x4 electrical, single x PCIe GEN3: FH/HL x16 mechanical, x16 electrical, three x PCIe GEN3: FH/HL x8 mechanical, x8 electrical and a single PCI 5V 32-bit/33 MHz: FH/HL
  • Two 5.25” media bays for CD or DVDs or other devices
  • Integrated ThinkServer RAID (0/1/10/5) with optional RAID adapter models
  • Internal storage varies depending on model including up to eight (8) x 3.5” hot swap drives or 16 x 2.5” hot swap drives (HDD’s or SSDs).
  • Storage space capacity varies by the type and size of the drives being used.
  • Networking interfaces include two (2) x GbE
  • Power supply options include single 625 watt or 800 watt, or 1+1 redundant hot-swap 800 watt, five fixed fans.
  • Management tools include ThinkServer Management Module and diagnostics

What Did I do with the TD340

After initial check out in an office type environment, I moved the TD340 into the lab area where it joined other servers to be used for various things.

Some of those activities included using the Windows Server 2012 Essentials along with associated admin activities as well as installing VMware ESXi 5.5.

TD340 is ready for use
TD340 with Keyboard and Mouse (Monitor and keyboard not included)

What I liked

Unbelievably quiet which may not seem like a big deal, however if you are looking to deploy a server or system into a small office workspace, this becomes an important considerations. Otoh, if you are a power user and want a robust server that can be installed into a home media entertainment system, well, this might be a nice to have consideration ;). Speaking of IO slots, naturally I’m interested in Server Storage I/O so having multiple slots is a must have, along with the processor that is multi-core (pretty much standard these days) along with VT and EP for supporting VMware (these were disabled in the BIOS however that was an easy fix).

What I did not like

The only thing I did not like was that I ran into a compatibility issue trying to use a LSI 9300 series 12Gb SAS HBA which Lenovo is aware of, and perhaps has even addressed by now. What I ran into is that the adapters work however I was not able to get the full performance out of the adapters as compared to on other systems including my slower Lenovo TS140s.

Summary

Overall I give Lenovo and the TD340 an "B+" which would have been an "A" had I not gotten myself into a BIOS situation or been able to run the 12Gbps SAS PCIe Gen 3 cards at full speed. Likewise the Lenovo service and support also helped to improve on the experience. Otoh, if you are simply going to use the TD340 in a normal out of the box mode without customizing to add your own adapters or install your own operating system or Hypervisors (beyond those that are supplied as part of the install setup tool kit), you may have an "A" or "A+" experience with the TD340.

Would I recommend the TD340 to others? Yes for those who need this type and class of server for Windows, *nix, Hyper-V or VMware environments.

Would I buy a TD340 for myself? Maybe if that is the size and type of system I need, however I have my eye on something bigger. On the other hand for those who need a good value server for a SMB or ROBO environment with room to grow, the TD340 should be on your shopping list to compare with other solutions.

Disclosure: Thanks to the folks at Lenovo for sending and making the TD340 available for review and a hands on test experience including covering the cost of shipping both ways (the unit should now be back in your possession). Thus this is not a sponsored post as Lenovo is not paying for this (they did loan the server and covered two-way shipping), nor am I paying them, however I have bought some of their servers in the past for the StorageIOLab environment that are companions to some Dell and HP servers that I have also purchased.

Ok, nuff said

Cheers
Gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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