Monday, March 12, 2007

Adventures from State Surplus - Dell PowerEdge 6400/700 Part 1

Last summer I dropped down to State Surplus to look for some good deals on "gently used" PC hardware. Apparently the state of ND decided to upgrade an entire data center and replace all their Dell PowerEdge servers that had gotten a bit old. There were racks and racks of svelte looking black hardware.

These servers all looked really nice, some had dual power supplies, some had tons of drive bays. I started eyeballing the minimal labeling on the chassis tops of the servers and came across some PowerEdge 6400s that looked pretty good. One of them had a nice big sticker on it that said METAFRAME, which I thought was pretty techie sounding and it endeared it to me right away. Kinda like that look puppies give you at the pet store. I don't think any other servers came with a Name, by Goo Goo Dolls.

I took it over the their test table, and let me tell you it was a bit of a workout. This thing weighs in at 110lbs spec and it had two SCSI drives and the full load of processors and RAM installed. I bet it wasn't more than 150lbs but it felt like 200!

I got it onto the table and had to head back to their cable section for another power cord. This thing has three power supplies and can run on any two of them. It also has a sweet 8 bay RAID setup on the front that looked promising.

I powered the thing up and it sounded much less like the Dell jet engines I've installed in enclosed racks for some of my customers. Those things would about blow me out of my chair during installation. I guess that's why people use enclosed racks tho. The 6400 ran at about 1/10th that noise.

Boots up fine, counts out 2GB of RAM and Four PIII Xeon 700 procs. "This will make a nice vmware server, matey!" I thought to myself. Sometimes I like to talk like a pirate, and sometimes I talk like a pirate to myself too... I know I'm crazy but September 19th is my favorite day of the year.

The tag on the 6400 says $180 and I only have about $200 on me. These guys don't take credit cards and I don't really want to run back to an ATM and then come back here so I just leave the server on the bench.

So I'm talking to the manager, not like a pirate. I know I'm nuts and I'm thinking of a little haggle. Normal people never want to give crazies a good deal. I've also got a KVM that does USB and audio that I recognized because I had bought an identical model at Staples a few weeks back. I paid $80 for it and was going to return it, since the one here was only $10. I can't seem to get out of here without a $25 22" CRT so I had one of those on the bench too.

The guy starts to check me out when the power goes out.

That's right, power failure right there in the surplus center. Luckily I got the manager right there in front of me checking me out and he starts using a solar calculator, which dies in about ten key presses without overhead lights, and then switches to carbon and cellulose.

We laughed a bit about how the paper and pencils still work w/o power when I asked him what kind of a deal he can give me on the PowerEdge server. He shot right back "Make an offer." I looked into my wallet then and fingered the $20's, remember that I'm hungry and lunch needs to be paid for, and said "$180 for this stuff and the server."


So I rolled the monitor into the backseat and muscled the monster server machine into the front seat of my 3000GT as a passenger for the trip back to my torture center, er home network...

more to come in part II.


Ivansky said...

Hi wag3slav3,

My univeristy is about throw out an old power edge 6400 and I have my sights on it.

I have a "server closet" at home which kind of helps for noise isolation, but still I am not sure if I can handle the noise.

Is it super loud?
I don't have any SCSI disks in it, I plan to use a PCI card with cheap sata disks from the store.
Do you think it is those 10 000 rpm disks that make the server noisy ?

Should I get it?

Right now my fileserver is a dual P3 500 which also makes a lot of noise.... does this thing have power or what? (I have 4 P3 700 and 2G ram like you)

maneesh said...
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