5 Reasons to Avoid a Dell PowerEdge R730 Today

Dell PowerEdge

5 Reasons to Avoid a Dell PowerEdge R730 Today

Key Points

  • The Dell PowerEdge R730 has a fixed drive configuration, limiting storage expansion and changes down the line.
  • Users will need a RAID card for better storage redundancy, which is an additional expense.
  • Getting a better CPU for the R730 can be costly due to its outdated status.
  • For businesses with larger needs, a single rackmount server like the R730 may not be sufficient.
  • The R730 can only support a single GPU, limiting its capabilities for rendering and AI.

What are some reasons to avoid a Dell PowerEdge R730? Dell’s 2U rackmount server was the cream of the crop circa 2015. However, time and advances have potentially left this server in the dust. Today’s guide will be taking a look at some of the more notable drawbacks of purchasing this system. While it might still retain some value for business use, you might be better off with something else entirely.

What Is the Dell PowerEdge R730?

The Dell PowerEdge R730 is a 2015 rackmount server. It takes up 2U of space, making it a compact solution for users looking to add storage or VM capabilities to their data centers. There is certainly quite a bit to love about the R730 in 2023, but it does have notable drawbacks, as you’ll discover. It does come with support for dual CPUs, giving ample processing power with plentiful cores on the Intel Xeon line.


Dell PowerEdge R730
Form FactorRackmount, 2U
Processors SupportedIntel Xeon E5-2600 Family
Processor SocketsTwo
Memory SupportedDDR4-2400, up to 3 TB over 24 DIMM slots
Drive BaysUp to 16 2.5-inch hard drives or SSDs, 8 3.5-inch hard drives or SSDs, both configurations using SATA
Remote ManagementIDRAC8
Power Supply ChoicesTitanium efficiency at 750 or 1100 watts, Platinum efficiency at 495, 750, and 1100 watts

Reason #1: It Has a Fixed Drive Configuration

The Dell PowerEdge R730 comes with ample support for either 2.5- or 3.5-inch SATA drives. It works well as a file server, or even a NAS, but lacks some crucial configuration. At the time of purchase, you have one drive cage selectable. This is an excellent drive cage, but there is zero room for expansion or change down the line.

If you find your needs for storage changing, which is common as needs for servers change with other procurements, you’ll be left high and dry. This is one of the largest reasons to avoid a Dell PowerEdge R730. Admins who don’t mind leaving it as is will do fine with the server, but this is rarely the case in any network closet.

Reason #2: Users Will Need a RAID Card

While the R730 does come out of the box with RAID support, this isn’t the best implementation. The on-board RAID controller only supports software-based implementations of RAID 0 or 1 arrays. As such, for persistent arrangements and further support for other arrays, you’ll need a hardware controller.

Integrated Video Card
Dell PowerEdge R730
  • Renewed server with the highest quality standards
  • Ideal for a robust enterprise environment or data center
  • H730 Mini RAID Controller 1GB Cache
  • 24x 16GB PC4-2133P RAM (total of 384 GB memory)
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02/01/2024 09:51 pm GMT

Dell does offer one of these as an option for the R730, but it is an additional expense on top of the server itself. As such, you might find this is one of the larger reasons to avoid a Dell PowerEdge R730. Redundancy is key when it comes to storage solutions on a server; relying on Windows to manage it isn’t the overall best choice for most users.

Reason #3: Getting a Better CPU Can Be Costly

When dealing with outdated and deprecated servers like the R730, you aren’t left with a lot of options. While the PowerEdge R730 is still a competent server for most purposes, getting the top processors is going to be a difficult task. As such, you might find this is one of the biggest reasons to avoid a Dell PowerEdge R730.

Since the server is no longer in production, you’ll likely be paying a premium to get the machine in its top configuration. This could be money spent elsewhere, preferably on a server that isn’t restricted solely to Haswell-based Xeon processors.

Reason #4: Single Rackmount Servers Aren’t Ideal for Businesses

Rackmount servers are usually deployed with multiple machines on the same rack. That is, after all, one of the advantages of the smaller form factor. With this in mind, the PowerEdge R730 makes for a poor choice when considering server purchases for some businesses.

Smaller mom-and-pop shops will do just fine with a single rackmount server and additional network hardware. However, if you’re running a business with 50 or more employees, you’ll likely need multiple servers. More modern choices are going to be sensible here, making this one of the primary reasons to avoid the Dell PowerEdge R730.

Reason #5: It Can Only Support a Single GPU

Now, you’re not going to typically run gaming GPUs in a server. However, for the likes of AI processing or 3D rendering, the option of using an enterprise-grade GPU can be a selling point. The Dell PowerEdge R730 does have a PCI-E lane capable of supporting both a GPU and its requisite power needs.

However, if you’re looking to have multiple GPUs — for a render farm, as a general example — you might find it lacking. There are other servers on the market with support for multiple PCI-E lanes and, subsequently, multiple video cards. This is more of a fringe drawback, as home lab users and small businesses likely have zero need for a GPU in their servers.

Alternatives to the Dell PowerEdge R730

Here are three of our favorite alternatives to the Dell PowerEdge R730.

HP ProLiant DL380 G9

Our Pick
HP ProLiant DL380 G9
  • 16 GB Standard DDR4 RAM
  • Serial ATA/600 RAID supported
  • Intel Xeon E5-2640 v4
  • 2 processor support
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02/01/2024 10:10 pm GMT

The HP ProLiant is dated in the same sense that the R730 is. However, where it has a notable advantage over the PowerEdge is in its flexibility. HP has been one of the names to beat in the enterprise space, and you’ve got plenty to work with here.

You’ve got support for multiple GPUs, SATA and SAS hard drive support, and built-in support for RAID Levels 0, 1, and 5. The server itself supports less overall memory compared to the PowerEdge R730. That said, the ProLiant DL380 G9 is a perfectly competent server with plenty of power for things like AI modeling and 3D rendering.

Lenovo ThinkSystem SR650

Our Pick
Lenovo ThinkSystem SR650
  • 2nd Gen Intel Xeon processors
  • HW RAID (up to 24 ports) with flash cache
  • Up to 7x PCIe 3.0
  • XClarity Controller embedded management
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02/01/2024 09:35 pm GMT

The ThinkSystem SR650 is a rackmount server for users only expecting the best. This is a thoroughly modern server, and it even utilizes Intel’s persistent Optane memory as one of its selling points. You’ve got plenty to work with here in terms of storage as well when you consider the SATA, SAS, and NVMe capabilities of the machine.

The total RAM you can use on the system is a massive 7.5 TB, more than double what the PowerEdge R730 supports. Make no mistake, this is a costly single server, but it will do well in just about any capacity you can dream up thanks to the raw power and hardware.

Cisco UCS C220

Our Pick
Cisco UCS C220
  • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2623 V3 3.0GHz 4 Core
  • 32 GB DDR4 ECC Registered Memory
  • 12 Gbps SAS 1GB Cache RAID controller
  • 8x 900 GB 10K SAS 2.5 12 Gbps hard drives
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02/01/2024 09:35 pm GMT

The UCS C220 builds upon decades of excellence from Cisco. Anyone in the know with networking has heard of Cisco and come to rely upon their products. The UCS 220 uses a more modern Intel Xeon processor family than the PowerEdge R730.

You’ve got support for 24 DDR4 DIMMs, so you have plenty of RAM. There is also Intel Optane persistent memory support, which can be a blessing when it comes to running virtual machines and other workloads. One of the bigger selling points are the robust networking features of this server. Cisco has a specific socket on the mainboard that allows for mounting a network interface card without a PCI-E lane.

Closing Thoughts

The Dell PowerEdge R730 would make a good first server for anyone cutting their teeth on network administration work. That said, the simple fact of the matter is that this isn’t a server intended for production use. You could still actively run it as such, but the lack of a hardware RAID controller out of the box really does hinder its overall efficacy in a network closet. The simple fact is there are newer servers that cost around the same as a refurbished R730 that can do more.

Reasons to Avoid a Dell PowerEdge R730
1. Users only have one option for the drive bay configuration.
2. You will need a RAID card for redundancy purposes.
3. Getting the best CPU for the system can be quite expensive.
4. Most businesses will need more than a single server to accommodate their needs.
5. The R730 can only support a single GPU for rendering and AI purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What operating systems does the R730 support?

The R730 supports Windows Server 2008, 2012, HPC Server 2008, RHEL, and Novell SUSE. Given the age of the server, you could also likely run CentOS or Debian distros on their respective stable branches.

Does the R730 work well as a NAS?

Absolutely, you can have plentiful storage available to anyone on your network with the R730.

Is the R730 good at virtualization?

It does quite an admirable job, especially if you’re running the top-spec Xeon processors supported by the motherboard.

Can you host game servers on the R730?

Sure, you would just need the required runtime binaries and configuration files to get things rolling.

Is the R730 the newest server from Dell?

No, it was released eight years ago. Dell has newer servers. What makes the R730 so enticing is that it fits a particular price point for refurbished units that make it affordable for home users to build their own labs.

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