Learn the major types of server hardware and their pros and cons 5 common server issues and their effects on operations

A rundown of server hardware vendors and the server options

Discover and compare the leading vendors in server hardware with these in-depth overviews of the blade, rack and mainframe computers available to see which may be best for you.

Server hardware vendors offer servers of all shapes and sizes, providing a wide range of options for organizations. Most of the major players include rack servers in their inventories, but many also provide blade servers. And some even offer mainframe computers.

Server hardware vendors usually offer other types of systems, such as towers, converged infrastructures, hyperconverged infrastructures (HCIs), high-density systems or supercomputers.


Acer Inc. offers a handful of rack servers that target midsize and enterprise-level organizations. These rack servers include the Altos series, which adheres to the 1U form factor. The Altos series includes two models, both of which are single socket.

One of the more powerful of the Altos systems is the R320 F5, which supports an Intel Xeon E-2224 processor and provides sockets for four dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs). The server also provides redundant hot-swappable power supplies and a dual-port Gigabit Ethernet controller.

Acer also offers a collection of tower servers, which are all a part of its Altos BrainSphere collection. The Altos BrainSphere T310 F5 server can be equipped with an Intel Xeon E2200 or E2100 processor or an Intel Gen 8 or Gen 9 CPU. It includes four DIMM slots and enables either Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) storage.

For information about pricing and how to purchase servers, buyers should contact Acer.


AsusTek Computer Inc. is one of the server hardware vendors that offers a variety of rack servers, as well as two towers. The rack servers are part of the RS series.

The RS series includes models available in 1U or 2U form factors. The servers target a range of operations depending on business size and workload. For example, the RS720Q-E11-IM rack server in the RS series can support two fourth-generation Intel Xeon scalable processors. The server can also support up to 4 TB of memory. Other servers in the RS series are not as strong.

The ESC series was once among the rack servers, but Asus now categorizes these systems as GPU servers. The ESC4000 series includes several models -- all 2U form factors and two-socket systems -- with support for up to eight DIMMs per CPU.

The primary differences between the models are in the processor types, number of drive bays and number of GPUs. For example, the ESC4000-E11 supports a fourth-generation Intel Xeon scalable processor, up to six drive bays and 16 memory slots. The ESC4000A-E12 supports a single AMD processor, 3 TB of RAM and up to six drive bays.

Buyers can purchase Asus servers online from retailers such as Newegg, Amazon or CDW, but they should keep in mind that prices vary significantly.


Cisco offers its Unified Computing System (UCS) server line, with servers being classified as modular, blade, rack or storage. Cisco has servers to accommodate organizations of all sizes.

The rack servers are included in the UCS C-Series and are available in 1U, 2U and 5U form factors. Most models can support two Xeon processors.

For those needing a more powerful system, Cisco offers its UCS B-Series blade servers, which include the B200 M6 and B480 M5. The B480 M5 supports up to four processors and 18 TB of memory. The maximum amount of supported internal storage for this server is 39 TB.

Cisco also offers its UCS S-Series of storage servers and its UCS X-Series of modular systems.

Buyers interested in purchasing servers can go to the Cisco website to find a nearby retailer.


Dell Technologies is another one of the server hardware vendors that offers a wide range of rack and blade servers to accommodate different types of organizations. Most of the rack servers are part of the PowerEdge R-Series, with prices ranging from $1,129 to $30,480.

The R-Series includes 14 single-socket models, 27 two-socket models and five four-socket models available in form factors between 1U and 4U. One of the more powerful of these servers is the PowerEdge R940xa, a 4U system that supports up to four processors, 6 TB of memory and 32 internal 2.5-inch disks.

Dell modular -- blade -- servers are available through the PowerEdge M-Series, which includes two models starting at $5,212. The models differ in terms of the number of sockets, types of processors and amount of memory.

For example, the PowerEdge MX750c supports two processors and 2 TB of RAM. However, the MX760c has a higher price, starting at $24,461. It also supports two CPUs and up to 8 TB of RAM.

Dell also offers several models of tower servers, all part of the PowerEdge T-Series. These tower servers have varying capabilities and range from $941 to $6,938.

Buyers can purchase servers directly on the Dell website.


Fujitsu Ltd. sells an assortment of racks, blades, towers and mainframes, but buyers must be aware that the available models can vary between countries.

In the U.S., Fujitsu offers three rack servers that are part of the Primergy RX series. The servers are available with one, two or four sockets and in 1U or 2U form factors. Fujitsu also offers an additional model in the Primequest series, which tends to be stronger than those in the Primergy RX series. For example, the Primequest 3800E2 server is an eight-socket system with a 7U form factor.

For prices and purchasing options, buyers should contact Fujitsu directly or contact a regional Fujitsu sales office.


HPE offers a wide range of rack and blade servers for all types of organizations. HPE's rack servers are available in three series: ProLiant DL, Integrity and Superdome Flex.

The ProLiant DL series is the most extensive and includes 15 Gen10 models and 10 Gen11 models. The models are available in 1U, 2U and 4U form factors and come with one, two or four sockets.

Starting prices can range anywhere from $600 to $25,000. For example, the ProLiant DL560 Gen10 entry server lists for $11,855 and can support two Xeon scalable processors and 6 TB of memory.

HPE's products also include towers -- converged infrastructures and HCIs -- and mission-critical servers.

Buyers can purchase servers from the HPE website.


IBM offers a variety of server products, but the company is best known for its Z mainframe computers, available in three configurable models. The most current is the z16, which includes an IBM Telum processor and integrated AI accelerator. In addition, the server can support up to 40 TB of memory and run both z/OS and Linux on IBM Z.

IBM also offers a variety of rack servers. The rack servers are part of the Power Systems series and include five models, available in 2U and 4U form factors, with one, two or four sockets.

IBM no longer offers blade servers. The company sold its division that offered blade systems to Lenovo. The systems that IBM currently sells are generally geared toward enterprise deployments, as well as local, state and federal governments.

In addition to mainframe and rack computers, IBM offers the LinuxOne 4 system, a Power Systems scale-out server. IBM offers three models of this server: the Emperor 4 multi frame, Rockhopper 4 single frame and Rockhopper 4 rack mount.

For information about prices and how to purchase servers, buyers should contact an IBM sales rep.


Most of Lenovo Group Ltd.'s rack servers are part of the ThinkSystem line, which includes 17 rack servers available in 1U, 2U or 3U form factors. A couple of these servers support only one processor, but most support two, with memory varying between 16 GB and 12 TB.

For example, the ThinkSystem SR250 V2 rack server is an entry-level 1U server that supports only one processor and between 16 GB and 128 GB of memory, with a starting price of $1,238. In contrast, the ThinkSystem SR650 V2 rack server is designed for data center workloads, supporting up to two processors and 12 TB of memory.

In addition to the rack and blade servers, Lenovo offers tower servers, mission-critical servers and high-density servers.

Buyers can purchase servers directly through the Lenovo website. Rack servers start at $1,238, but prices can run higher depending on the model and configuration.


Although Oracle does not offer a large number of servers, it offers x86 servers, Sparc servers, high-end servers, midrange servers and scale-out servers. Oracle does not offer blade servers.

Oracle has three models of rack servers: the X9-2, X9-2L and X8-8. The X9-2 is a two-socket, third-generation Xeon scalable, 1U system that can support 2 TB of memory. The X9-2L server has similar specifications but supports up to 216 TB of SAS storage or 132.8 TB of NVMe storage. In contrast, the X9-2 has only four drive bays.

The X8-8 is a larger system, available in either four- or eight-socket configurations. It supports up to 6 TB of RAM and up to 51.2 TB of NVMe storage.

For information about pricing and how to purchase servers, buyers should contact Oracle.

Super Micro

Of all these featured server hardware vendors, Super Micro Computer Inc. offers the largest server selection, but its categorization can make it difficult to navigate the options.

In addition to towers, midtowers and mini-towers, Super Micro offers SuperServer computers, SuperBlade systems, Ultra 1U and 2U platforms, BigTwin 2U four-node systems, FatTwin 4U multinode systems, SuperStorage servers and GPU platforms with up to 10 GPUs.

For the most part, however, the rack servers are included in the SuperServer series, with some of the other categories integrated into that category. The blade servers are part of the SuperBlade series.

The SuperServer series includes hundreds of models, with a range that can accommodate just about any workload. The servers come in 1U, 2U, 3U and 4U form factors and with one, two or four sockets. The SuperBlade series includes about 50 models.

As with rack servers, there is something for everyone. Super Micro recommends that customers purchase servers from authorized local resellers or distributors to receive guaranteed local support and services.

Because Super Micro sells so many products, prices can vary greatly depending on the server model and configuration. Buyers must work with resellers to pick the best option.

Editor's note: The author researched the server hardware vendors and chose them based on their popularity and reliability. Some companies that were previously included have been removed from the list as they no longer sell rack and blade servers.

Brien Posey is a 15-time Microsoft MVP with two decades of IT experience. He has served as a lead network engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense and as a network administrator for some of the largest insurance companies in America.

Robert Sheldon is a technical consultant and freelance technology writer. He has written numerous books, articles and training materials related to Windows, databases, business intelligence and other areas of technology.

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