Dell EMC PowerEdge R650 review: a slim and powerful server

Dell EMC brings high-density processing to a rack near you, with a new PowerEdge R650 that packs great specs into a low-profile 1U chassis. As you might expect, support for Intel’s 3rd Generation Xeon Scalable Processors tops the list, but the R650 offers a lot more, including an improved internal design, increased expansion, and more storage choices.

The reviewed system exhibits these features well and was supplied to us with a pair of 28-core 2 GHz Intel Xeon Scalable Gold 6330 processors. Provided you’re willing to limit your storage and expansion ambitions, it can also handle Intel’s best 40-core turntables and their thirsty 270W TDPs.

We also received a generous 256GB of DDR4 2933MHz memory, with the R650 supporting a maximum capacity of 2TB with RDIMMs and 4TB when using LR-DIMMs – but note that the R650xs model is Optimized for virtualized environments and has only 16 DIMM slots. The R650 also supports up to 16 Intel Optane PMEM 200 modules and our system comes with eight 128 GB keys nestled between the DIMMs.

General storage options are also great, as with a wide choice of integrated RAID controllers, the chassis can handle up to ten standard SAS / SATA SFF hard drives and SSDs, as well as NVMe SSDs. As with the older R640, it has room in the back for another 2-bay cage that also supports NVMe SSDs.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650 Review: Internal Layout

Breaking the lid off the R650 reveals a similar layout to the PowerEdge R750, as it also sports a T-shaped motherboard. Locating the power supplies on either side of the chassis reduces hot spots and the R650 uses smaller models, which allows for the creation of additional exhaust channels to aid in cooling the processor.

All cooling is handled by a bank of fans in front of the motherboard and the type will be determined by a number of factors. Standard fans can be used if the processors have TDPs up to 165W, but the presence of 205W TDP Gold 6330 processors and PMEM 200 memory in our system requires a bank of eight high performance Gold fans. High-powered processors have slightly different T-shaped heat sinks that extend an extra heat sink bar on their bank of four fans. Dell EMC also offers a Direct Liquid Cooling (DLC) kit for the R650 that includes proprietary leak detection systems and shutdown services.

Overall, the internal design is very neat, with the R650 providing easy access to all components for maintenance and upgrades. It also makes good use of the extra space, as it offers significant memory savings over its predecessor with a number of DIMM slots ranging from 24 to 32. On top of that, it supports 16 PMEMs instead. from 12.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650 Review: Expansion and Management

The expansion also sees big improvements: with three PCI-E 4 x16 slots, there is room for an OCP 3.0 mezzanine edge slot, extending support to open-standard network cards from other partners, as well. than Dell’s own offers. The RAID options also get a major update, as a dedicated slot on the backplane houses the new PCI-E 4 PERC 11 controllers. We have the pre-PERC H755 SAS model in testing, but other options include the PERC H755N, which allows the server to present a full house of NVMe SSDs.

The smaller power supplies also free up enough space to store the new BOSS (Boot-Optimized Storage Solution) S2 card in the right corner of the chassis. Conveniently, its two hot-swappable M.2 SATA sockets are easily accessible from the rear without disrupting the server.

Speaking of convenience, remote server management doesn’t get any better than this, and the iDRAC9 controller offers a host of valuable features presented in a tidy web console. You can keep a close eye on all aspects of server operations, view performance, and directly access its BIOS menus. Meanwhile, Dell EMC’s OpenManage Enterprise (OME) software features a central console to manage all of your servers with the Power Manager plug-in, adding system consumption and thermal monitoring. The new CloudIQ hosted service goes even further, connecting to OME through a plug-in and providing machine learning and predictive analytics for your entire infrastructure.

A screenshot of the Dell EMC PowerEdge R650 iDRAC9 management console

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650 Review: PMEM 200 Features and Performance

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to configuring the Intel Optane PMEM 200 modules. They can be configured from the server BIOS boot menu, iDRAC9 Remote Web Management Console, Windows PowerShell, or the Intel’s open source IPMCTL utility. Either way, you set your goal and choose between memory mode, App Direct, or a mix of the two and set percentages for each mode. In App Direct mode, the R650 supports the BIOS level option to apply encryption and password protection to secure their content.

To test pure PMEM storage performance, we created two interlaced App Direct regions each using four Optane modules so that they were evenly distributed across the memory channels of the processor. With Windows Server 2019 at the helm, we could see two 504 GB persistent memory disks, which we used to create a single storage space with a mirrored virtual disk.

The performance is simply breathtaking. Iometer reported raw sequential read and write speeds of 47.6 GB / s and 3.8 GB / s, with random speeds standing at 41.8 GB / s and 3.9 GB / s. Dropping down to 4K blocks resulted in some excellent throughput figures; Iometer returned sequential read and write rates of 1,110,655 and 773,160 IOPS, while random operations returned 1,083,330 and 739,288 IOPS.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650 Review: Verdict

Organizations that want more power from their racks will find that the PowerEdge R650 presents an excellent combination of high performance processors, expansion potential, and storage features in a space-saving 1U chassis. The internal design is exemplary, the remote management features keep improving and we have found that the Intel Optane PMEM 200 modules in App Direct mode deliver astounding storage performance.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650 Specifications (as revised)


1U rack


2 x 28 cores 2 GHz Intel Xeon Scalable Gold 6330


256 GB 2 933 MHz DDR4, 8 x 128 GB Intel Optane PMEM 200

Storage bays

8 x hot-swappable front SFFs (max 12 with rear bays)


Dell PERC H755 SAS front

Storage included


Other storage

Dell BOSS-S2 with 2x 480 GB M.2 SATA SSD


2 x Gigabit, Intel 10GbE 4P X710 SFP + OCP 3


3 PCI-E 4 x16 slots, 1 OCP 3 slot


2 Platinum 1400W hot-pluggable power supplies


Dell iDRAC9 Data Center


3 years standard on site NBD

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