Fujitsu Primergy TX1310 M1 - the workhorse Xeon server for SMEs on a budget

Fujitsu Primergy TX1310 - Xeon or not Xeon

A word on the Xeon processor because thanks to Intel’s sometimes vague and evolving demarcations confusion still abounds about the differences between this chip and Intel’s high-end parts for desktop systems, the Core i5 and Core i7.

Study the spec sheet and the Xeon probably resembles a server-oriented Core i7 in terms of cache and the presence of hyperthreading (which doubles the throughput of cores) - four-core i5s have hyperthreading on only two of their physical cores and come with 6MB of on-board processor cache compared to the Xeon and i7’s 8MB.

Xeons are distinguished by including support for technologies of use in servers specifically such as error correcting code RAM (ECC) and integrated support for virtualisation. One feature Xeons don’t support is overclocking. Otherwise, to all intents and purposes, server Xeons are barely distinguishable from Core i7s, power that is needed to funciton as servers hosting storage and other application services.

The Xeon inside the TX1310 is the four-core socket 1153 E3-1226v3 3.30 GHz (3.7GHz turbo) of the Haswell generation, which dates it to April 2014 onwards. Unlike Xeons of old, this generation has integrated graphics in the form of HD4600 (GT2).

Fujitsu Primergy TX1310 - build quality

Physically, Xeon chip aside, it would be possible to re-purpose a conventional desktop PC to handle some of the tasks of an office server but that’s not recommended when for the same money or less you can buy hardware this well put together. The case is well-machined, sturdy, and easy to both secure and access via a side-plate. The system itself is reassuringly heavy and in use the systems is extremely quiet.

Fujitsu Primergy TX1310 - cooling and expansion

Inside it becomes even clearer that this system was designed from the ground up to operate as a server with numerous small tweaks that put it into that class of hardware. The two hard drives are mounted side by side at the bottom of the case with a vent drawing air from a fan mounted at the front of the case. A second larger fan drawn over the main motherboard and processor (which, of course, has its own CPU fan) and out the rear of the case. The PSU has its own integrated fan.

This means that three air-streams are pulled through the system, intelligently separating heat from the disks and processor and main components. If need be, mountings are provided for two further disk drives. Complete with colour-coded interface ribbons. The inside of the case was pristine, with nothing impeding access; replacing components in this case would be quick and easy.

BIOS: RAID configuration and BIOS settings are accessed via separate utilities. The BIOS is a custom Fujitsu AMI.

Fujitsu Primergy TX1310 - service and support

Firing up the server brings up a request to enable the AutoImmune Systems (AIS), a free service that notifies owners of new firmware or software over time and allows direct remote support should problems occur. Fujitsu’s support site also offers a wide range of add-ons and downloads for each server model, including driver updates as well as other compatible operating systems and virtualisation environments such as Hyper-V.

OUR VERDICT

The Fujitsu is up against tough competition from rivals such as HP’s ProLiant, Dell OptiPlex and Lenovo’s ThinkServers, with the latter probably the most obvious competition at the entry level. Lenovo’s TS140, for example, comes with a similar spec as the Fujitsu but at an even lower price point. This suggests that there might be a clearing of the range by makers in preparation for new Intel processors, which doesn’t mean they’re not outstanding value for money. What is clear with this system is that Fujitsu is holding its own in producing a quality product for the sort of under-the-desk small business server the death of which has been predicted for years. What ultimately decides this battle is probably not the hardware but the service and support contract.