So the good news is that Dell finally brings Sandy Bridge to it's high-end machine. The top-end config offers dual 8-core processors. 16 memory slots and 4 PCI x16 3rd gen round off the improvements.
Everything else is awful. The box looks like it was rushed. The LSI RAID controller takes up one of the x16 slots but should absolutely be integrated. The other slots are positioned or configured such that there are only two x16 slots available for double width graphic cards (and just as many 8/6 pin power connectors). CUDA users will make note of this.
The cabling routes through what I call a false bottom, as in the pirate chest type. The slender server style power supply is hidden in there as well. The proprietary 4-to-1 cabling between the LSI card and the drive cage makes it impossible to relocate the controller short of using a soldering iron and a lot of patience. The underground cabling lends an ultra-clean look. I could care less about that. I needed to remove both sides of the chassis to install cards and pull extra slack for power cables.
Just to reinforce the rushed feel, the onboard diagnostics fail to recognize the LSI card. Comically, it offers to report this fact to Dell. So the disk drive check always fails.
Another sign: there's a loose very fine gauge wire winding around the chassis. I tracked it down to what looks like a RF choke around the first SATA cable. It's an HDD LED cable. Very low tech. Again, it just hints at how poorly the RAID system was designed.
Finally, there is a lot of plastic. The front grill is plastic and, being a cross hatch pattern, will inevitably break in my opinion. The drive trays are very cheap plastic with a snap/friction 3.5 to 5.25 converter. It looks frail as well. The remainder of the chassis is metal, including the handles, and very sturdy. The floor stand is missing in this model. It counts for some, especially those in wet labs.
Response from Dell.comBy AnthonyAforDell, Customer Reviews, November 19, 2012
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