Hardware

Real-world: An amazing way to save on server RAM upgrades

RAM and servers used to be expensive. Now, with a little creativity and poking around, serious deals can be had by buying an entire server rather than just an upgrade. Scott Lowe shares an experience he had this week with a RAM upgrade project that worked out well all around.

It amazes me sometimes how things work. This week, I needed to upgrade a Dell PowerEdge M600 blade server's RAM. The existing unit has 8GB of RAM, but I needed 32GB to add it to our pool of VMware ESX servers and expect it to handle the load we need it to handle. Buying the RAM right from Dell through normal channels would have been a bit on the expensive side, so I looked at Crucial.com for pricing. Its products tend to be very good, and I've bought a lot from the site in the past. Long story short, eight 4GB DIMMs would run just under $1,000... not too bad for 32GB of good quality RAM.

However, the same day, I received a 20% off coupon from Dell's outlet site, the store from which Dell sells its refurbished and returned equipment at hefty discounts. Just for kicks, I looked at the outlet site to see if Dell had any M600 blade servers with 32GB of RAM in stock. They did. A dual processor (quad cores each), dual drive (with RAID) system with 32GB of RAM was just over $1,000. Apply that 20% coupon, and that server dropped to just over $800 with free shipping.

I bought it. We'll cannibalize the RAM for our existing M600 and keep this new server in stock just in case we need it. Didn't servers actually used to cost a lot? This week, it was cheaper to buy a entire server than it was the RAM I needed for an existing one!

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

4 comments
melekali
melekali

Used or not, still, a server for $800. I'd buy one in a snap!

JamesRL
JamesRL

I've been tempted to do the same. If it was an internal server and not mission critical, I'd do it in a heart beat, if it was a customer's server, I'd not offer the option. I've bought used workstations with RAM and dual Xeon CPUs for my at home use that were cheaper than I would pay for the RAM from the OEMs for our servers. Despite the fact the RAM is the same. James

chris
chris

Any concern about buying someone else's problem? Who knows what that RAM had been through. I'm always concerned about that kind of thing unless there is some kind of warranty, but I'd imagine that removing it would void that.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Usually refurbished hardware from top-shelf vendors like Dell is covered under warranty as if it was new. Most of the time the equipment was returned after very little or even no use (wrong model, scratch and dent). Even those returned for component failure have new parts installed as replacements.

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