Server motherboards are the essential components on top of which the machine is built. As the first quarter of the year has passed system administrators can finally start assembling new machines with the newer components. This guide will focus on the 2011-3 socket which is used with Intel Xeon processors.
Our choices are determined by both the available features and the community reviews that we have checked during our analysis. In selecting this list we are focusing on the best value for money.
5. ASROCK FH-C612NM
This motherboards provides a very convenient platform for building a variety of server solutions. This particular model offers a lot of slots so that complex applications can run without any problems. The main chipset is Intel C612 which supports both Xeon #5-2600 and v3/v4 series CPU’s. In total there are 16 DIMM slots that support a frequency of up to DDR4 2400 MHz. It comes with a SATA controller that can power a maximum of 10 hard drives. The built-in network interface is RTL8211E/EG which supports up to a 1 Gbit/s transfer speed. This is a fairy cheap board that has a lot of features and slots which makes it a premier choice for the lower price ranges.
4. ASUS Z10PE-D8 WS
ASUS’s s offering is a high-expandable EEB motherboard that can be used in hybrid solutions — gaming, mining and workstations. The board can take up to 8 DIMM memory slots totaling 512 GB of installed memory. There are 10 SATA ports which allows many drives to be plugged in and DUAL LAN ports. The presence of several (7) PCI Express 3.0 slots shows that the board can also be used in various use cases, not solely a specific server. This makes it a very versatile choice if the owners are intending to use for design, audio or video productions and other heavy-duty processing.
Several features are built into the motherboard that makes it a contender even though the board is not specifically made for the server segment. One of them is the Q-Code Logger function which allows users to easily check their system status by offloading the data to a removable flash drive.
3. SuperMicro X10DRD-i
Super Micro boards are one of the most widely used across all server types and tiers. This specific one supports up to 8x DDR4 memory modules in place along with up to 10 SATA drives. For networking connectivity connectivity it includes a 2x Gigabit ports and one IPMI LAN connection. Additional modules can be installed in any one of the 4x PCI-E slots. Compatible software that are made available by the vendor include a Watch Dog feature, Intel Node Manager, NMI, IPMI 2.0 and the company’s own SuperDoctor 5 solution. This is a specialized application that provides constant monitoring and real-time alerts to the administrators.
2. ASROCK EP2C602-4L/D16
This is the second model by ASROCK which is currently one of the preferred models by many system administrators. It can hold up to 16 DIMM memory modules and up to 10 hard drives. Given the good price and the many expansion possibilities it has also been praised because of some of the extra features that are included by the vendor. ASROCK have bundled an integrated a KVM switch and a dedicated network interface that supports QUAD Gigabit LAN.
1. SUPERMICRO MBD-X9DR3-F-O
One of the best deals right now is the MBD-X9DR3-F-O from SUPERMICRO, it can be found for a relatively low price and there are many users that report positive feedback. Together with the just enough features and the fine reputation of SUPERMICRO we are proposing this model as the #1 best buy. Like most of its competitors it supports up to 16x DIMM memory modules, as a result the board can support up to 1 TB of memory. This is double than most competitors with a similar or higher priced boards. Hard drive connectivity is handled by a total 6 of SATA and 8 SAS/SATA hybrid ports. This means that the system owners have much more flexibility when it comes into selecting their drives. SAS drives are preferred in server settings as they allow for much faster data transfers and are more reliable. The available network connections are dual Gigabit LAN ports.
The server motherboards are one of the hardest to choose as there are many factors that the owners have to look out for. Important choices that have to be considered are the number of memory slots and the total size of the supported modules. Depending on the available hard drive slots (SATA or SAS) the server owners will also need to choose the most appropriate one. While SAS drives are more expensive, they are better performing and have a longer life span. Advanced features like monitoring, added expansion options and others should be well considered in advance.