The Apple Nehalem Xserve ranks best-in-class in build quality, engineering, durability, and serviceability among 1U x86 rack servers.

The newest Apple Xserve, redesigned around Intel's Nehalem Xeon quad-core CPU, adds performance to the list of Xserve's leadership criteria. Nehalem Xserve is very likely the fastest, most energy-efficient, and most cost-effective dual-socket 1U rack server on the market.

Xserve's designers didn't need to commission a forward-looking study of enterprise server buyers to cook up the Apple Nehalem Xserve's specifications. It had only to chat with the IT leaders responsible for iTunes Music Store, iPhone App Store, MobileMe, Apple Store, and Apple Developer Connection. Apple's own requirements already reflect what analysts predict for the cloud.

Ideal cloud servers will strike a balance between low power utilisation and high reserve performance that's nearly impossible to achieve. By linking Intel's Nehalem architecture with custom system management hardware and a platform-tuned OS, Apple aimed for that server power/performance ideal and scored.

Apple Nehalem Xserve is not everything it could be; we want to see lower power consumption at idle, for example. But those who buy this server will witness it evolve in firmware and software. Apple Nehalem Xserve is a market-leading system now, and it'll be even better a year on.

The things that matter most to a massive enterprise with multiple datacenters are reflected in Apple Nehalem Xserve's feature list: a standards-based (IPMI 2.0) lights-out management controller is wired to an incomparably broad array of hardware sensors for local and remote monitoring of health and power utilisation.

By default, Apple Nehalem Xserve is optimised for headless (no monitor, keyboard, or mouse) deployment and operation. If you do need a close encounter with Xserve, most of it comes apart easily with only a Phillips head screwdriver, and its large, captive screws won't dive into your case for that familiar and frustrating game of hide and seek. Xserve weighs less than other 1U rack servers, even fully loaded, and yet it's undeniably sturdy. Xserve is a pleasure to work with at any distance.