Dell R510 2U Server Hardware Overview

Dell R510 2U Server Hardware Overview

As you may have seen in some of my previous posts, I have a few servers at home. These serve several purposes, most of which are directly or indirectly related to me bettering myself, learning more about server soft- and hardware, and for use in project development.

The Dell R510 is my recent-most server acquisition, and one I got more for personal use rather than projects or other kinds of development related work. With its 12 3.5" hard drive bays it was the perfect fit for my needs, in that I wanted a server to use for file storage that had room for growth. With 12 bays, I should be good for years to come.

This post will only be about the hardware, cataloging the internals for future reference, as-well as showing those who may be interested in an R510 what it looks like from the inside.

Note: I have taken these photos several months ago on the day the server arrived, and in my excitement did not think about what I placed the server on when checking its internals. I fortunately did not place any of its components directly onto the carpet at least. Static electricity can cause big issues if you're not careful, so avoid putting servers on carpet as much as you can.


The front of the unit with its cover in place.
And the front with the cover removed, exposing all 12 3.5" hot-swappable drive bays

The R510 is a 2U server, with its front entirely used up by the 12 3.5" hot swappable drive bays. There is another variant that has 8 bays, with the top area of the front used for things like the VGA port and a DVD drive, but as this particular unit is the 12 bay model, its power button is accessible on the left "wing," and the front VGA port and single USB2 port on its right "wing."

Under the power button are a few status lights for the hard drives, and the "i" button that is used to turn on an identifying blue light on the front and back of the unit, or blinks if something bad happened (such as a power supply failure or a drive issue).

The back of the unit.

On the back you'll find its two hot-swappable power supplies (PSU). Each one is rated for 750 watts, and you can take one out even while the unit is running. While you don't have to have both units plugged in, in my (admittedly unscientific) testing I did notice that the server somehow used less energy with both plugged in as supposed to when it runs on just one PSU, but your mileage may vary.

Specs of one of the PSUs

The power supplies are rated for 100-240v, so can be used in most countries over the world. Another note-worthy point is that they are also rated to be compatible with 47 to 63Hz, a particularly useful feature for myself.

The left-most side of the back of the unit.

Further on the back you'll find a serial port and VGA port, access to the optionally installable iDRAC (which my unit does not have), 2 USB2 ports, 2 gigabit network ports, and three PCI slots in the middle area.

The top of the server

The top of the unit shows some stickers with relevant information
Close-up of the power specifications and model number/serial information.

On the top of the unit you'll find several sticks covering useful information, from the power input specifications the unit's sereal number, as-well as an easy reference on how hard drives are counted as-well as a reminder that the inside may house two additional hard drives. More on those a little later.

The back side of the lid shows additional useful information.

The back side of the lid shows useful information like how to install the CPU, the specific order of RAM banks, and more. While most of this is probably stuff you already know, it is always handy to have a quick and easy reference for things like memory bank order, as those are not always in the most logical of orders.


Overview photo of the internals

In this photo you'll notice the front has five fans, each with a blue lip. The blue color indicates they are user-replaceable, but not hot-swappable. This is because their power cables are actually separately plugged in, and kind of tucked away in a somewhat inconvenient to access spot, so you won't be able to swap them out with the system running.

In front of the fans is where the backplane is, which is what the 12 hard drives plug into. I unfortunately did not make additional photos of this particular area.


The R510 came with two Intel Xeon L5520 CPUs, which are quad-core (8 threaded) and clocked at 2.26Ghz, with 8MB of cache. I replaced these with two one generation newer Intel Xeon L5630 CPUs, also quad-core (8 threaded) but are clocked at 2.13Ghz and have 12MB of cache. More importantly, they have a TDP rating of 40 Watts, whereas the L5520s have a TDP of 60 Watts. Since I want to run the server 24/7 and don't usually need it for CPU intensive tasks, I prefer the power savings even if it has a tiny amount of performance loss.

For more details on the performance of the L5630s, I have a blog post where I compare them along with the L5640, X5570 and X5550s.
One of the two Intel Xeon L5520 CPUs that the unit came with (since replaced with L5630)


The Dell R510 has a total of 8 RAM slots; 4 for each CPU. My particular server came with just 8GB worth of RAM (2 banks of 4GB each), but I have since upgraded this to a more reasonable 32GB (8x 4GB).

Configuration wise the RAM banks are set up in a somewhat of a peculiar way; Counting from the side where the CPU is located, the first bank is actually the fourth bank (marked with black clips), with the subsequent three banks being 1, 2 and 3, in that order. Further, Banks 1 and 4 are on the same shared channel (zero), bank 2 is on channel 1, and bank 3 is on channel 2.

The R512 is a little picky in that it wants the memory to be exactly the same in each respective bank. While you can use different memory in different banks, you must ensure that all installed sticks in channel 0 (so banks 1 and 4) are identical; In size as-well as speed, rank and data-bus width (e.g. make sure all sticks are 2Rx4, or 1Rx4).

The first CPUs four banks — from right to left: bank A4, A1, A2 and A3.
The second CPU's four banks — from left to right: bank B4, B1, B2 and B3.

PCI Slots

The R510 by default comes with a riser card that gives you three PCI slots, as-well as one storage slot. Of the three PCI slots, one is an x8 slot (the bottom one), two are x4, and the storage slot is also x4.

There is a RISER2 riser card available, which comes with just one x16 PCI slot along with an x4 storage slot, but that one seems hard to come by. Its model number is Y907R. Unfortunately from what I can tell there is no easy way to get additional power from somewhere, in case you want to install a GPU for example, so I am honestly not sure if you should ever consider this route. You might want to find a server more suitable for that kind of setup instead of an R510.

Dell PERC H700 Raid card

The Dell PERC H700, installed in the PCI "storage" slot.

My particular server came with a PERC H700 raid controller. While for my specific needs an H200 would have been more suitable, I am not complaining. The H700 is a proper RAID controller, which comes with (user replaceable) 512MB cache and a battery. The battery is located on the left-hand side of the server, in front of the dual power supplies.

The PERC H700 RAID card battery and its specifications; 3.7V, 7WH.

Boot drives

In addition to the twelve hot-swappable bays in the front, my particular server has two additional drives built-in. These are found on the left-hand side, in front of the power supplies and right next to the RAID battery. There you can find an enclosure that can hold two 2.5" drives. In my case, the server came with two Seagate Savvio 146GB 10,000rpm hard drives, which are set up in a RAID1 configuration.

As I don't have anything other than the main OS (Proxmox) installed on them, their relative slowness compared to SSDs is not noticeable, as I have virtual machines and what-not installed on other drives for the time being. In the future I might want to replace these with more spacious SSDs so I can have the more important VMs run off of these, though.

The two boot drives in their caddy.
Seagate Savvio 10K, 146Gb
The two drives connect directly to the PERC H700 through these cables and are labelled HDD 12 and 13. 


My particular setup also came with an Intel Quad port gigabit ethernet card. I believe this is a very common card and is often recommended if you are in need of more network ports. In my case it's a useful addition as I want to try out link aggregation as-well as working on setting up things like pfSense.

The intel quad port gigabit network card, with the model number MY-0HM9JY-12402.

That about covers the basics of the hardware of the Dell R510. I hope this overview may help you or someone you know who might be interested in an R510, or wants to compare it to other, similar units.

Thank you.