NEC offers flexible workgroup server

With increasingly decentralized workgroups, even large agencies and departments

are showing interest in more robust and flexible workgroup servers.

NEC Computers Inc.'s new Express5800/120Ld offers a combination of high

performance and easy expandability that will appeal to IT managers looking

for a flexible workgroup server.

The base configuration of the 120Ld includes a single 733 MHz Intel

Corp. Pentium III processor and a slot for a second processor should you

want to upgrade.

The base system, which carries an attractive list price of $2,109, also

includes:

* A 40x EIDE CD-ROM drive.

* An integrated PCI Ultra-Wide SCSI controller.

* A 10/100 megabits/sec Fast Ethernet adapter.

* An SVGA video controller integrated into the motherboard.

The base price doesn't include system memory or a hard drive, however.

A minimum usable configuration will raise your entry price at least several

hundred dollars.

The unit we tested, priced at $5,474, included a second 733 MHz Pentium

III processor; 256M of SDRAM; a single 18.2G, 10,000 rpm Ultra2 SCSI hard

drive in a hot-swap cage with room for an additional five drives; and Microsoft

Corp. Windows NT Server 4.0. And the 120Ld offers a generous ceiling of

4G of ECC SDRAM.

If you choose the server in the tower case rather than the rack-mounted

unit, you'll find the box to be generally well designed. The front panel,

which is lockable, protects access to power and reset switches as well as

to the hard drives, floppy drive and CD-ROM drive. The front panel also

protects access to the thumbscrew that secures the side panel of the box.

Unfortunately, removing the panel is an awkward process that requires removal

of the entire front panel.

Once you have the box open, however, you'll find a roomy interior that

includes six PCI slots and one PCI/ISA slot. The 120Ld includes redundant

system fans, though it does not offer redundant, hot-swappable power supplies.

Instead, there's a single 300W power supply.

NEC has bundled the ESMPRO Server Management Suite for server monitoring

and control, as well as plug-ins to integrate the suite with enterprise

management solutions, including Computer Associates Inc.'s Unicenter TNG,

Tivoli Systems Inc.'s Enterprise and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView.

ESMPRO also can be accessed directly via a Windows console or a Web

browser. The program can be set to monitor system and environmental conditions,

such as fan failure, memory errors, disk capacity and temperature. The ESMPRO

Manager also can be used to monitor and report on CPU usage and network

traffic. You can configure the software to send messages or alert your pager

if any specified thresholds are crossed.

NEC also provides for remote management of the 120Ld via either network

connections or a modem. And the ESMPRO agent can be used to perform a soft

reset of the server.

While we didn't find the server-management software to be the easiest

to set up and configure, it certainly covers the bases and integrates well

with enterprise management programs.

The Express5800/120Ld turned in impressive performance figures in our

testing, using BlueCurve Inc.'s Dynameasure/File Professional Edition 2.0,

a benchmark that simulates users working on networked clients and servers.

Although most workgroup servers we've tested show a significant drop in

performance when 20 to 30 users are actively accessing it, the 120Ld did

not show such a drop up to or beyond 45 connected users.

We are also impressed by NEC's inclusion of a three-year on-site warranty

with the unit.

The Express5800/120Ld may not be the lowest-cost workgroup server you

can find, but it does offer flexible expandability and strong performance.

REPORT CARD

NEC Express5800/120Ld

Score: B+

NEC Computers Inc.

(888) 446-8632

www.nec.com

Price and availability: Base system configuration is available for $2,109. The system, we tested, is available for $5,474.

Remarks: The Express5800/120Ld offers relatively high performance fora workgroup server in a package that also offers flexible configurationand easy expandability.

BY Patrick Marshall
August 23, 2000

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