Supermicro SuperServer 5018A-FTN4 Rackmount Server

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Being a barebones system, we had some freedom with regards to configuring the 5018A-FTN4. We chose to make it similar to the last server we reviewed, the HP MicroServer Gen8, by using only two sticks of RAM, attaching a 5.25 inch optical drive, and loading the O/S onto a 2.5 inch SSD. This configuration is also similar to what we used for testing thin mini-ITX boards, which are suitable for DIY low power servers.

Acoustics & Thermals

System Measurements
Supermicro SuperServer 5018A-FTN4
HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8
System State
CPU Load
CPU Load
CPU Temp
System Power (AC)
20~21 dBA
24 dBA
29 dBA
Ambient temperature: 20°C.

Given the nature of rackmount enclosures, the 5018A-FTN4's cooling system is rudimentary compared to the MicroServer Gen8, but the SuperServer's Atom chip really helps balance the scales in terms of heat. On load, the Atom CPU ran 5°C hotter but the power and noise levels were substantially lower.

At idle, the CPU fan produced a soft gentle hum. The tiny PSU fan was more problematic, imbued with a high whiny profile, almost electrical in nature, and it sounded somewhat rickety as well. Thankfully, at one meter's distance, it wasn't that noticeable, and the combined noise level was low for a system with two tiny fans, just 20~21 [email protected] On load, the CPU fan ramped up, taking on a more tonal flavor but the overall SPL was bearable at 24 [email protected]

Acoustics are for the most part, unimportant for a rackmount server but unnecessary noise is not desirable in any system. The 5018A-FTN4 does all right in this department, primarily due to the Atom SoC's mere 20W power envelope.

Energy Efficiency Comparison

Aside from the MicroServer Gen8, all the other systems in our energy efficiency comparison utilized an external power supply, so we also tested the 5018A-FTN4 with a picoPSU-80 and a Seasonic class V AC-DC adapter to even the playing field. The difference turned out to be minimal, 1W at most.

On light load, the SuperServer was comparable to the MicroServer Gen8 and desktop solutions based on the Pentium G2120. Incidentally, as the Broadcom graphics adapter lacks hardware acceleration, video playback was rendered completely through software by the CPU. On heavy load, the 5018A-FTN4's Atom SoC helped it achieve much lower power numbers. In this regard, it was closer to the Intel NUC, a tiny box which was partially designed with energy efficiency in mind.

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