Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Review A Tower Server Workhorse

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Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Front
Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Front

The Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 tower server is designed to be a robust and flexible edge server for enterprise remote branch offices and even for SMB customers. Supporting dual Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs with up to 20 cores each, 768GB RAM, and up to 95.4TB of storage capacity, this is a significant step up from lower-end Intel Xeon E-2100 series servers. In our hands-on review, we are going to show why this server is flexible with a wide array of configuration options to meet site and use case needs.

Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Server Hardware Overview

Here we can see the Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 which is a sizeable 4U tower server. Levono packages the ST550 in a large, well-padded shipping box, it is heavy, and we suggest two people lift the server out of the shipping box. A fully configured ST550 can weigh in at 36 kg (79.36 lb) which is something to be considered when deploying these servers in offices.

Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Front
Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Front

With a size of 4U and length of 26.4 inches, the Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 requires a large footprint to operate in the tower configuration. Overall, the dimensions are width 272 mm (10.7 in), depth: 670 mm (26.4 in), height: 438 mm (17.2 in). Rackmount kits are available for installations in server racks adding to the deployment flexibility of the ST550.

Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Rack Mount Config
Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Rack Mount Config

Here we have the Lenovo ThinkSystem TS550 the front door open. This door locks in place to prevent unintentional or unauthorized removal of hot swap drives. Our test configuration initially had 2.5″ SFF modules installed along with an optical drive. Empty bays have EM shield modules inserted to keep air-flow optimized.

Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Front Door Open
Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Front Door Open

The available drive bays offer an impressive number of options for how your storage needs are configured and provide ample opportunities to expand later on.

Available Drive Bay configurations include up to 16 SFF (including 4 NVMe) or 8 LFF bays; PLUS up to 4 SFF (in optical bay) & 2x internal M.2 boot. Here are some of the possibilities:

Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Drive Bay Options
Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Drive Bay Options

HBA/RAID support includes both software RAID (8x ports) as standard and optionally hardware RAID (up to 24x ports) and up to 16-port HBAs.

At the top of the Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550, we find the status LEDs and power button also a single USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports.

Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Front Panel Status LEDs
Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Front Panel Status LEDs

At the back of the ST550, we find at the top, slots for dual redundant hot-swap power supplies, our test unit has only one PSU installed which is common in many edge deployments without A+B power. Unlike lower-end servers, like the HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10, the PSU here is hot swappable making field servicing much faster.

Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Back
Lenovo ThinkSystem ST550 Tower Back

A total of six PCIe slots are available for a variety of expansion devices. A total of four USB 2.0 and a pair of USB 3.0 ports along with two Gigabit network ports, a management port, and a VGA video output port round out the standard IO.

Next, we are going to look inside the system to see what makes it unique.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Handsome looking case and typical for the ThinkSystem, the IBM tradition of always being professional upon first impression, continuing under Lenovo, unlike the lack of identity continuity projected with less traditional mindset, style de jure, Dell and HP.

    As for the hardware, it would be nice to see the inside of the case to examine if the same level of attention to detail that is being applied to case form is being equally applied to chassis function, e.g. thermal and harness management… along with how peripheral boards are secured, to easy of extraction and cleaning.

    Since none of the hot swap bays can be rotated 90 degrees and not a common case feature, this Lenovo computer case, irrespective of configuration would not be my first choice for any highly populated vertical (upright) application since all the drives would be situated in a less optimum, horizontal arrangement.

    If I were to configure such server for horizontal (rack mount) use would provide and not shown, 1 slim DVD along with 16 hot swap, 12G compliant drive bays compartmentalized as follows, (4) generously spaced 3.5″ bays to accommodate (1) 3.5″ and hot, 7,200 RPM RAID 10 Volume for low duty cycle archiving, and (12) SFF 2.5″ bays to accommodate a less hot but still warm, 2.5″ SSDs arranged as (3) high duty cycle RAID 10 Volumes, e.g. OS, Apps, Data.

  2. I did not notice the arrows at the bottom of the article leading to more content. I have seen the inside. Thanks.

  3. Excellent article! Thank you for taking the time to write it. Do you have any numbers on the noise the server makes? If possible compared to its HP counterparts. We don’t have a server room and are worried a tower server could be too noisy.

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