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Pricing, Warranty, And Support Comparison

Three Xeon E5 Server Systems From Intel, Tyan, And Supermicro
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I recently read that the average selling price for a Supermicro system was around $1700. These barebones systems are all in the ballpark of that figure, and hitting a typical price range was a major consideration when framing this round-up. We've already covered the hardware and software side of each submission, so let's take a look at how pricing factors in.

Pricing Comparison
Supermicro 6027R-N3RF4+
$1515
Tyan GN70-K7053 (S7053 + KGN70M1)
$1700
Intel "Grizzly Pass" R2208GZ4GC$1900


Of course, you can add additional components to affect that price (such as Intel's management board). Intel, Supermicro, and Tyan all have options to customize their platforms, so your take-home cost is going to vary. These systems to represent a good basis for comparison, though. Price-wise, Supermicro and Tyan both managed to duck in under our expected $1800 price point, with Supermicro coming in significantly below that price target. Intel's system turned out to sell for a bit more, which makes sense given its highly-customized platform.

Service, warranty coverage, and support are also important points to consider, particularly when it comes to buying servers. When you purchase a machine from HP, Dell, IBM, Oracle/ Sun, or Fujitsu, you can specify anything from mail-in service to 24x7 support with a guaranteed on-site response time (for instance, 24x7 four-hour service). In the world of barebones servers, though, you'll typically have a reseller to assume the role of support provider. So, if you buy from a VAR that handles integration of the parts you pick, that company also arranges service. Your interactions are through the integrator, rather than the company manufacturing the system's motherboard or chassis.

Here's a quick reference of warranty coverage:

Warranty Comparison
Value-Added Reseller Warranties May Differ
Supermicro 6027R-N3RF4+
One-year warranty from Supermicro, 8x5 standard support hours (upgraded coverage available), advance RMA available, pre-paid service available, extended warranty available from Supermicro
Tyan GN70-K7053 (S7053 + KGN70M1)
Three-year warranty from Tyan/ MiTAC, 8x5 standard support hours (upgraded coverage available)
Intel R2208GZ4GC
Three-year limited warranty, extended warranty available from Intel


Update, 12/8/2012: It was recently brought to our attention that Supermicro now sells it standard complete systems with three-year parts and labor warranty coverage, along with one year of cross-shipment and 24-hour tech support.

Typically, start-up VARs and systems integrators are the interface point to the OEM when something goes awry. Once these partners become large enough, they typically receive a larger discount, allowing them to purchase spare parts instead of having to get an RMA from the manufacturer when a component goes out. So, you'd generally get your warranty work from a VAR, and not the manufacturer.

If you're the one buying the components and building servers, either as an SMB or end-user, this becomes a major consideration, since there is no reseller on which to fall back. Advanced RMA becomes especially useful, since it typically cuts the time it takes to get a replacement by days. This service is becoming more popular on desktop motherboards, and Western Digital has offered it for years.

Both the Supermicro and Tyan platforms can be beefed up with additional functionality to hit Intel's price point. However, both companies submitted their products for the round-up in accordance with what was requested.

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