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10 Compelling Reasons to Avoid the Dell PowerEdge R720 Server in 2023: A Digital Technology Expert‘s Perspective


In the fast-paced world of server technology, it‘s easy to be tempted by the low prices of older models like the Dell PowerEdge R720. Released in 2012, this 2U rackmount server was once a data center workhorse, boasting impressive specs for its time. However, as a Digital Technology Expert, I must caution against investing in this aging platform in 2023. In this article, I will present ten compelling reasons why you should avoid the PowerEdge R720 and instead opt for a newer, more capable server solution.

1. Outdated Processor Architecture

The Dell PowerEdge R720 is limited to Intel‘s Xeon E5-2600 and E5-2600 v2 processors, which are based on the Sandy Bridge-EP and Ivy Bridge-EP architectures, respectively. These CPUs were manufactured using 32nm and 22nm process nodes, which are considerably larger and less efficient than the 14nm, 10nm, and 7nm nodes used in modern server processors.

Moreover, the Xeon E5-2600 series lacks support for newer instruction set extensions like AVX2, AVX-512, and TSX, which can significantly accelerate workloads in areas like high-performance computing, data analytics, and machine learning. In fact, a single-socket Xeon Scalable processor from 2017 can offer up to 28 cores, 56 threads, and 38.5 MB of cache, far outpacing the R720‘s maximum of 24 cores, 48 threads, and 30 MB of cache.

2. Limited Memory Bandwidth and Capacity

The PowerEdge R720 is stuck with DDR3 memory, which is slower and less efficient than the DDR4 memory used in newer servers. While the R720 can support up to 768GB of RAM across 24 DIMM slots, it is limited to a maximum memory speed of 1866 MT/s. In contrast, modern servers with DDR4 memory can support speeds of 2933 MT/s or higher, providing much greater bandwidth for memory-intensive applications.

Furthermore, the R720‘s 24 DIMM slots may seem impressive, but they are spread across two CPU sockets, meaning each processor only has access to half of the total memory capacity. This can limit performance in NUMA-aware workloads that benefit from having more memory directly attached to each CPU. Newer single-socket servers can offer up to 16 DIMM slots and 4TB of DDR4 memory, providing ample capacity and bandwidth for even the most demanding applications.

3. Sluggish Storage Performance

When it comes to storage, the PowerEdge R720 is severely limited by its aging SATA and SAS interfaces. The server supports up to 16 2.5" or 8 3.5" hard drives, but these are connected via 6 Gbps SATA or 12 Gbps SAS, which pale in comparison to the 32 Gbps (SAS-4) and PCIe 4.0 NVMe interfaces available in modern servers.

To illustrate this difference, consider the following table comparing the sequential read/write speeds of various storage technologies:

Interface Maximum Speed Read Speed Write Speed
SATA 3 (6Gbps) 600 MB/s 550 MB/s 520 MB/s
SAS 3 (12Gbps) 1200 MB/s 1100 MB/s 1000 MB/s
PCIe 3.0 NVMe 3500 MB/s 3200 MB/s 2800 MB/s
PCIe 4.0 NVMe 7000 MB/s 6500 MB/s 5000 MB/s

As you can see, PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives can offer over 10 times the sequential read speed and nearly 10 times the sequential write speed of the SATA SSDs supported by the R720. This massive difference in storage performance can have a significant impact on I/O-intensive workloads like databases, video processing, and big data analytics.

4. Poor Power Efficiency and Density

The Dell PowerEdge R720 was designed for the power and cooling requirements of 2012, which means it is far less efficient than modern servers. The R720 can consume up to 1100W of power in a fully-configured dual-CPU setup, which not only leads to high electricity costs but also generates a lot of heat that must be dissipated by the cooling system.

In comparison, a modern 2U server like the Dell PowerEdge R750 can deliver significantly higher performance while consuming less power. According to Dell‘s own specifications, the R750 has a maximum power consumption of 800W, despite supporting up to two 40-core Intel Xeon Scalable processors and 32 DDR4 DIMM slots.

This improved power efficiency is due in part to advancements in CPU and memory technologies, but also to more efficient power supply units (PSUs) and voltage regulator modules (VRMs). The R750 uses titanium-rated (96%) PSUs, which are more efficient than the platinum-rated (94%) PSUs in the R720.

5. Lack of Advanced Management Features

As a server ages, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage and maintain. The Dell PowerEdge R720 relies on the older iDRAC7 remote management controller, which lacks many of the advanced features found in newer versions like iDRAC9.

For example, iDRAC9 offers improved security with features like automatic certificate enrollment, two-factor authentication, and support for the latest cryptographic protocols. It also provides better performance monitoring and analytics, with real-time telemetry data and integration with Dell‘s OpenManage Enterprise software.

Furthermore, the R720‘s aging BIOS and firmware can be challenging to update and may not support the latest operating systems and virtualization platforms. This can make it difficult to ensure the server remains secure and compatible with evolving software requirements.

6. High Maintenance and Repair Costs

As with any aging hardware, the Dell PowerEdge R720 is more likely to experience component failures and require repairs than a newer server. However, finding compatible replacement parts for a decade-old server can be challenging and expensive.

Many components, such as motherboards, power supplies, and RAID controllers, are no longer manufactured and may only be available from third-party resellers at inflated prices. Additionally, the R720 uses proprietary parts like the front control panel and power distribution board, which can be difficult to source and replace.

To illustrate the potential cost of repairing an R720, consider the following table of estimated part prices:

Component Estimated Price
Motherboard $500 – $1000
Power Supply Unit (PSU) $200 – $400
RAID Controller $300 – $600
Front Control Panel $100 – $200
Power Distribution Board $150 – $300

As you can see, replacing just a few key components can easily exceed the cost of purchasing a used R720 server. This highlights the importance of considering long-term maintenance and repair costs when evaluating the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a server.

7. Limited Scalability and Future-Proofing

One of the most significant drawbacks of the Dell PowerEdge R720 is its limited scalability and future-proofing. As mentioned earlier, the R720 is stuck with DDR3 memory and PCIe 3.0, which limits its ability to take advantage of newer, faster technologies.

Moreover, the R720‘s CPU sockets are limited to the LGA 2011 package, which only supports the Xeon E5-2600 and E5-2600 v2 processors. This means that even if you wanted to upgrade the CPUs in the future, you would be limited to a maximum of 12 cores and 24 threads per socket, with no support for newer features like AVX-512 or Optane DC Persistent Memory.

In contrast, modern servers like the Dell PowerEdge R750 offer much greater scalability and future-proofing. The R750 supports up to two 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, which can offer up to 40 cores and 80 threads per socket, along with support for PCIe 4.0 and DDR4-3200 memory. This allows the R750 to scale up to meet the demands of even the most challenging workloads, while also providing a clear upgrade path for future processor generations.

8. Security Vulnerabilities and Compliance Issues

As a server ages, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure it remains secure and compliant with industry standards and regulations. The Dell PowerEdge R720 is no exception, as its aging hardware and firmware can pose significant security risks.

For example, the R720‘s iDRAC7 management controller is based on older software that may contain known vulnerabilities and exploits. Additionally, the R720‘s BIOS and firmware may not support the latest security features and protocols, such as Secure Boot, TPM 2.0, or UEFI.

This can make it challenging to comply with security standards like NIST SP 800-53 or ISO 27001, which require servers to be configured with strong authentication, encryption, and access controls. It can also make it difficult to meet regulatory requirements like HIPAA, PCI-DSS, or GDPR, which mandate strict data protection and privacy controls.

Furthermore, older servers like the R720 may not receive regular security updates and patches from the manufacturer, leaving them vulnerable to newly discovered threats and exploits. This can put your data and applications at risk of breach or compromise, which can have serious financial and reputational consequences.

9. Higher Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

While the upfront cost of a used Dell PowerEdge R720 may seem attractive, it‘s important to consider the long-term total cost of ownership (TCO) of the server. As we‘ve seen throughout this article, the R720 has several factors that can contribute to a higher TCO compared to a newer server:

  • Higher power consumption and cooling costs
  • Greater risk of component failures and repair costs
  • Limited scalability and upgrade options
  • Increased security risks and compliance challenges
  • Reduced performance and efficiency compared to modern servers

To quantify the potential difference in TCO, consider the following example. Let‘s assume you are considering purchasing a used PowerEdge R720 for $2,000, with an estimated lifespan of 3 years. Over that period, you expect the server to consume an average of 500W of power, with an electricity cost of $0.10 per kWh.

Now, let‘s compare that to a newer server like the Dell PowerEdge R750, which costs $10,000 upfront but consumes an average of only 350W of power and has an estimated lifespan of 5 years.

Server Upfront Cost Power Consumption Lifespan Electricity Cost
PowerEdge R720 $2,000 500W 3 years $1,314
PowerEdge R750 $10,000 350W 5 years $1,533

Over the lifespan of each server, the R720 would consume 13,140 kWh of electricity, costing $1,314, while the R750 would consume 15,330 kWh, costing $1,533. However, when you factor in the upfront cost of each server, the total cost of ownership looks quite different:

Server Upfront Cost Electricity Cost Total Cost
PowerEdge R720 $2,000 $1,314 $3,314
PowerEdge R750 $10,000 $1,533 $11,533

While the R750 has a higher total cost over its 5-year lifespan, it‘s important to remember that it also offers significantly better performance, scalability, and security than the R720. When you consider the improved efficiency and reduced risk of the R750, the higher upfront cost may well be justified.

10. Missed Opportunities and Competitive Disadvantage

Finally, it‘s worth considering the opportunity cost of investing in an aging server like the Dell PowerEdge R720. By choosing to deploy an R720 in 2023, you are effectively limiting your ability to take advantage of the latest advances in server technology and missing out on the potential benefits they can offer your business.

For example, newer servers with Intel Xeon Scalable processors and NVMe storage can offer significant performance improvements for applications like databases, data analytics, and machine learning. This can enable you to process more data, faster, and gain valuable insights that can help you make better business decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

Similarly, modern servers with advanced security features and management capabilities can help you better protect your data and applications from cyber threats and ensure compliance with industry regulations. This can reduce your risk of costly data breaches and reputational damage, while also simplifying your IT operations and freeing up resources to focus on more strategic initiatives.

Furthermore, by investing in a newer, more efficient server, you can reduce your energy consumption and carbon footprint, which can help you meet sustainability goals and appeal to environmentally-conscious customers and investors.

In short, by choosing an older server like the R720, you are not only limiting your own capabilities and potential, but also putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage compared to businesses that are leveraging the latest server technologies to drive innovation and growth.


In conclusion, while the Dell PowerEdge R720 may have been a powerful and reliable server in its day, it is simply no longer a viable option for most businesses in 2023. Its aging hardware, limited scalability, and lack of advanced features make it a poor choice for the demanding workloads and evolving security threats of today‘s digital landscape.

Instead, investing in a newer server like the Dell PowerEdge R750 or HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen10 can provide significant benefits in terms of performance, efficiency, security, and total cost of ownership. These modern servers offer the latest CPU architectures, faster memory and storage technologies, and advanced management and security features that can help you stay ahead of the curve and compete in today‘s fast-paced business environment.

Ultimately, the choice of server hardware is a critical decision that can have far-reaching implications for your business. By carefully evaluating your workload requirements, growth plans, and budget constraints, and consulting with trusted IT partners and experts, you can make an informed decision that will set you up for success in the years to come.