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6 Reasons to Avoid a Dell PowerEdge R720 Today

Dell poweredge r720

6 Reasons to Avoid a Dell PowerEdge R720 Today

Key Points

  • The Dell PowerEdge R720, released in 2012, is outdated and not recommended for current use.
  • The motherboard of the R720 limits upgrade options and lacks performance for business use.
  • The R720’s slower DDR3 RAM and lack of CPU extensions make it unsuitable for intensive workloads.
  • The Xeon E5-2600 processor in the R720 is overpriced and difficult to replace.
  • Modern business computers outperform the R720 in terms of raw performance.

What are some reasons to avoid a Dell PowerEdge R720? Any home lab enthusiast is spoiled for choice when it comes to older and affordable rackmount servers. However, if you’re in the market for such a computer, you might want to look elsewhere. While the PowerEdge R720 was a powerhouse in its day, it is a little too long in the tooth to be recommended now.

Today’s review is going to take a closer look at the PowerEdge R720, what you should be aware of, and some suitable alternatives in the same price bracket. You don’t have to skimp on overall quality and performance to get an affordable server for your needs.

What Is the Dell PowerEdge R720?

The Dell PowerEdge R720 is a rackmount server taking up 2U of space. The server itself was originally released in 2012 and it was an absolute workhorse for the time. It came with support for a pair of Xeon E5-2600 processors, giving it plenty of power.

You also have support for up to 768GB of RAM, which is quite respectable for most server purposes. However, you’re stuck with the older DDR3 standard, which hasn’t been supported in years at this point.

SpecsDell PowerEdge R720
Processors SupportedIntel Xeon E5-2600 or E5-2600v2
Processor Sockets2
Server TypeRackmount
I/O Slots6 PCI-E slots
Power Supply750 watt 85+ Titanium PSU
Hard Drive SupportSATA, SAS, PCI-E
Drive Bays8 3.5-inch drives or 16 2.5-inch drives
Memory TypeDDR3 with 24 DIMM slots

Reasons to Avoid a Dell PowerEdge R720

Keep reading for some compelling reasons to avoid a Dell PowerEdge R720 and look at some great alternatives instead.

The Outdated Motherboard

reasons to avoid a dell poweredge r720
The PowerEdge R720’s motherboard doesn’t leave a lot of room for substantial upgrades.

While there is plenty of wiggle room on the components of the PowerEdge R720, you’ve got scant options for upgrades. You’re going to be stuck with the outdated LGA 2011 standard, which is fine for most home uses. However, if you’re looking to employ this server in a business context, it simply doesn’t have the performance.

You just don’t have the options for higher-performing processors. You can only go up to the Xeon E5-2600v2, which was fine for its day. However, with more than a decade passing since its release, this is one of the top reasons to avoid a Dell PowerEdge R720.

Slower RAM Support

You’ve got room for plenty of RAM inside of the Dell PowerEdge R720. However, this is stuck on the slower DDR3 standard. Now, for work as just a file server, this might be perfectly fine. That said, if you’re looking to do any sort of intensive work, like virtualization, it isn’t up to snuff. It could suit the task just fine a decade ago, but the jump from DDR3 to DDR4 leaves the R720 in the dust.

You might have room for 768GB of RAM, but with newer servers capable of well over a terabyte, performance is going to lag. This also extends to the raw capabilities of the server itself, which is going to be tied to the lower maximum frequency of DDR3 and the aged processors.

The Lack of CPU Extensions

The Xeon E5-2600 and E5-2600v2 hail from a time when CPU instruction sets lacked their current extensions. If your business or home lab is running any sort of software requiring AVX2 support, you’re out of luck. This isn’t something you can simply update with firmware or BIOS flashing, either.

AVX2 support requires a brand-new CPU, which leaves you high and dry with the PowerEdge R720. The advances made in tech over the last decade have seen astounding boosts in overall performance. Sadly, those boosts aren’t going to be found with the Dell PowerEdge R720.

The Overpriced CPU

Despite the processor being over a decade old, you’re going to be paying a premium for the Xeon E5-2600. Finding a used one in good condition can run the same price as getting a modern i5. In some instances, you’ll find sellers with these CPUs at the same cost as purchasing a brand-new server.

As such, this leaves the PowerEdge R720 as a curiosity and platform for experimentation. You can’t realistically use it for heavier workloads due to the relative age of the platform itself. One of the best reasons to avoid a Dell PowerEdge R720 comes down to the scarcity and price of replacement components for the machine.

The Special Power Connector

reasons to avoid a dell poweredge r720
The Dell PowerEdge R720 and its processor use a specialized power connector.

This actually ties right back around to the Intel Xeon E5-2600 found in the Dell PowerEdge R720. In the event that you’ve got a power connector on the fritz, you won’t find a standard replacement. You’ll be forced to either make your own or order specialty parts to get the whole machine back up and running.

When you consider the used price for a PowerEdge R720 is around $250 to $300 for a good condition one, the actual maintenance can quickly outpace its initial cost. You’ll have to contend with a 24-pin connector for the main power supply to the motherboard and processor. Specialty parts are just one of the main reasons to avoid a Dell PowerEdge R720.

A Budget Modern Business Computer Outperforms It

The Dell PowerEdge R720 is easily outperformed by a semi-modern business desktop. We’re not talking about a contemporary server, but just a basic work machine from the last five years. Newer Intel Core i5 and i7 processors come with the full set of CPU extensions. You’ve also got support for the faster DDR4 standard for RAM.

Where they falter is the lack of RAID control and massive memory and storage potential. But just looking at raw performance, a standard work machine is going to run laps around the PowerEdge R720. It isn’t even about cost either, you could get a comparable business machine for around the same general price.

Alternatives to the Dell PowerEdge R720

Here are our favorite alternatives to the Dell PowerEdge R720.

Dell PowerEdge R630

DDR4-2133 RAM Support
Dell PowerEdge R630 Server
$342.01
  • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 2.40GHz
  • 4x 16GB PC4-2133P RAM
  • 8 x 2.5-inch hot-swap bays
  • H730 Mini RAID Controller with 1GB cache
  • 2x 750W Platinum PSUs with 2 power cords
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/12/2024 03:31 pm GMT

The Dell PowerEdge R630 is another rackmount server, albeit one with more modern features and performance. You’ve got DDR4-2133 RAM support, which is great as it leaves you with more modern options for kitting out the server.

The Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 is a far more modern processor as a whole, coming with much-needed support for SSE2 and AVX2 extensions. As such, performance shouldn’t be much of an issue for this server given a variety of diverse workloads. The overall cost for a refurbished R630 is very much in line with an R720, but you’re getting more for your money.

Dell PowerEdge R430

Power to Spare
DELL PowerEdge R430
$431.22
  • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2680 V3 12-Core 2.5GHz
  • 4x 3.5-inch bays
  • 48GB DDR4 memory
  • H730 1GB RAID
  • 240GB SATA SSD and 9TB (3x 3TB) HDD
  • 2X 550W PSU
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02/14/2024 04:31 am GMT

The PowerEdge R430 is another contemporary choice with plenty of power to spare. The Intel E5-2680v3 is a little less powerful than the previously mentioned E5-2680v4 found on the R630. However, you’ve got the same stellar support for DDR4 RAM, with plenty of speed on tap.

The R430 has significantly fewer drive bays, with a total of four. However, that can be forgiven given the common inclusion of a RAID hardware controller with a fairly sizable cache. This would make a great entry-level server for smaller businesses and network techs learning the ropes.

HP Z440

Great Performance
HP Z440 Tower Server
$349.99
  • Intel Xeon E5-2620 V3 2.4GHz 6 Core
  • 64GB DDR4 RAM
  • LSI 9217 4i4e SAS SATA Raid Card
  • 1TB Samsung SSD
  • NVS 310 512MB
  • 525W PSU
  • Windows 10 PRO
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02/14/2024 04:35 am GMT

The HP Z440 is the odd man out of these alternatives. That said, the Z440 is a solid tower server that can fit most purposes fairly well. It doesn’t have the room for expansion and storage that you’ll find with a standard rackmount server. The performance certainly isn’t lacking on the Z440, thankfully.

You’ve got access to an Intel Xeon E5-2620v3 processor, DDR4 RAM, and a hardware RAID controller. This might not be built for every use case, but it would serve as a fine testbed or server for any number of workloads at a small business.

Closing Thoughts

The Dell PowerEdge R720 was a fantastic server for its day. Time is particularly cruel to most things, with computers and servers bearing the brunt of advances in technology and the loss of performance. The PowerEdge R720 is still a perfectly fine server, but it is best suited for lower-demand applications. You wouldn’t want to run it as a mission-critical piece of hardware.

Best Alternatives to the Dell PowerEdge R720

1. Dell PowerEdge R630
2. Dell PowerEdge R430
3. HP Z440
  1. Dell PowerEdge R630 Server
    $342.01
    • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 2.40GHz
    • 4x 16GB PC4-2133P RAM
    • 8 x 2.5-inch hot-swap bays
    • H730 Mini RAID Controller with 1GB cache
    • 2x 750W Platinum PSUs with 2 power cords
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/12/2024 03:31 pm GMT
  2. DELL PowerEdge R430
    $431.22
    • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2680 V3 12-Core 2.5GHz
    • 4x 3.5-inch bays
    • 48GB DDR4 memory
    • H730 1GB RAID
    • 240GB SATA SSD and 9TB (3x 3TB) HDD
    • 2X 550W PSU
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/14/2024 04:31 am GMT
  3. HP Z440 Tower Server
    $349.99
    • Intel Xeon E5-2620 V3 2.4GHz 6 Core
    • 64GB DDR4 RAM
    • LSI 9217 4i4e SAS SATA Raid Card
    • 1TB Samsung SSD
    • NVS 310 512MB
    • 525W PSU
    • Windows 10 PRO
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/14/2024 04:35 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the PowerEdge R720 still supported?

No, the PowerEdge R720’s EOL date has already come and gone.

Does the PowerEdge R720 have support for DDR4 RAM?

No, it only has support for DDR3 RAM.

Can you still get support contracts for the PowerEdge R720?

No, you’ll be your own tech support for the PowerEdge R720.

What operating systems can the Dell PowerEdge R720 run?

You’ll be stuck with older Windows Server installations or stable long-term Linux distros like CentOS or Debian.

Does the PowerEdge R720 have support for Active Directory?

Yes, if running a supported version of Windows Server.

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