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Dell r420 - Stacked form-factor

Dell r420 – The Homelab Goes 12th Gen!

I added a Dell r420 to my lab recently, and I’m really enjoying the upgrade.

Dell r420 – Introduction

Since I’ve had the r710 for almost 4 years, it was time for a bigger upgrade.

I picked up an r420 locally for an incredible bargain after some searching!

Dell r420 - Side view

Top view

First boot specs

This server also came with the iDRAC Enterprise, and some license keys for vCloud Enterprise, vCenter, Windows Server 2019, and Windows Server 2016.

I could not pass up this deal, and it would make a great upgrade to my setup.

Comparing to the r710

Processor wise, I was looking at newer, faster, and more efficient processors.

The r710 was running dual Intel Xeon X5650s at 2.67GHz. Meanwhile, the r420 had the dual Intel Xeon E5-2430s at 2.2GHz.

In regards to PassMark, I was looking at an upgrade from a score of 10,420 to a score of 13,262.

It was also a 1u, as opposed to the r710’s 2u form-factor.

Dell r420 - Stacked form-factor

There are less drive bays than the r710, but that shouldn’t matter with my Synology NAS.

I sold the spinning disks that I had, and I will combine the new SSD with the Intel SSDs that were already in the r710.

There is 1x 550w PSU, which should draw less power than the 2x 870w PSUs that I had in the r710. That said, I do lose out on a little bit of redundancy.

Finally, the h710 is 2 years newer than the h700 that I upgraded too, which was already better than the 6/i that the r710 started with.

Upgrades and Future Plans

While this came with 96gb of RAM, I combined it with the r710 memory, to bump it up to 112gb (2x 16gb + 10x 8gb). This should be enough for now, but could always pick up 10 sticks of 16gb in the future.

Upgraded RAM

This left the r710 with 104gb of RAM when I put all the 4gb sticks back in. The person who purchased it from me was happy about this, and now I have no extra RAM laying around!

Processor wise, the math doesn’t quite work out for an upgrade. To go from a PassMark score of 13,221 to a score of 13,555, it would take 13 months of continuous use to make the upgrade cost back.

95w TDP per processor = 190w of processor = 0.19 * 24 = 4.56 kWh = $15/mo
60w TDP per processor = 120w = 0.12 * 24 = 2.88 kWh = $9.50/mo

I may look into adding a redundant PSU, but that might not be necessary with my UPS and proper scripting.

I could add more RAM in the future, but I will only do that if I start to see some bottlenecks.

Finally, I do plan to upgrade the drives and adding some redundancy, maybe in the form of 2x 1TB SSDs. That said, I’m open to suggestions!

Power Usage

With the new server installed, I picked up a Kill A Watt to measure the power draw of it vs. the power draw of the r710.

First, the r710’s numbers.

  • Off = 12w
  • Booting = 155w
  • Idle (OMV transferring) = 180w
  • Full load = 320w

Powered off, the r420 pulled only 7.5w, so that was a small improvement.

Powered off

During boot, I was looking at 122w, which was also lower.

Dell r420 - Booting

Running at idle I was looking at 91.7w or so, although this was probably slightly less usage than the r710.


Finally, I booted from a rescue CD to run the stress tool. This would allow me to compare the servers under full load, which I was most interested in.

Rescue CD

Dell r420 - Running stress test

In the end, the r420 “only” pulled 200w under full load, which was a welcome change. This should also mean that my office is cooler than it used to be, which will be very welcome once summer arrives.

Full load power draw

Cost wise, I’d be looking at the following breakdowns:

  • r710 (Load): (320 / 1000) * 24 = 4.32 kWh/day * 30 = 129.6 kWh/mo * 0.12 = $27.65/mo
  • r420 (Load): (200 / 1000) * 24 * 30 * 0.12 = $17.28/mo
  • r710 (Idle): (180 / 1000) * 24 = 4.32 kWh/day * 30 = 129.6 kWh/mo * 0.12 = $15.55/mo
  • r420 (Idle): (91.7 / 1000) * 24 * 30 * 0.12 = $7.92/mo

In the end, I’ll save between $7.63 and $10.37 a month if I run the server constantly.

Dell r420 – Conclusion

I still need to migrate over the rest of my VMs to this server, but I am looking forward to having it up and running.

There will be plenty of new blog posts regarding setup, configuration, and new tooling, so stay tuned!

Other than that, let me know if you have any tips about configuration, settings, or anything else I might want to know about these servers.

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