Don’t let this server’s diminutive size fool you.
As one of the the smallest server in the roundup we could be forgiven for thinking this little box would lack the oomph of its bigger brethren. Yet Acer’s claims of bringing the data centre to the desk aren’t so far-fetched after all, with this potent little powerhouse offering breathtaking performance.
At just 200 x 200 x 205mm, this box will comfortably fit behind the widescreen monitor on your main work desk, and the VGA out means you can operate it directly without having to log in via another networked PC. This is a godsend for those times when your network just isn’t playing ball.
Acer has filled this tiny box with some impressive hardware. Intel’s Xeon E3-1260L CPU does all of the heavy lifting, which is basically a Sandy Bridge CPU tweaked for server duties. Support for ECC memory has been added, a must for serious servers, and it operates at a base frequency of 2.4GHz, boosting to 3.3GHz under load. This quad-cored, Hyper-Threaded CPU has a total TDP of just 45W, which accounts for the whisper-quiet operation of the AC100. Graphics are handled by the Xeon’s built-in Intel HD 2000 GPU. Our review sample shipped with a mere 2GB of DDR3 ECC RAM, but this can be upgraded to a maximum of 8GB.
Our sample also included twin 1GB Western Digital SATA 6Gbps drives, which appear to be Caviar Blue drives based on their model number of WD10EALX. These 7,200rpm drives come with 32MB of cache, and are decent performers. In our test machine they were configured in RAID 1 mode, though it also supports software RAID 0, 5 and 10 modes. These drives filled two of the four hot-swappable bays hidden behind the lockable front door, and the locking mechanism was easy to use. Six USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA and a single PCI-E x8 slot deliver excellent connectivity options for extra devices, all powered by a 200W PSU.
Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials came pre-installed, perfect for office networks of 25 computers or less. Our benchmarks showed the AC100 to be quite the performer with excellent speeds in many of the file transfer tests. CPU performance was also excellent with plenty of muscle for on-the-fly transcoding.
We’ve got to hand it to Acer for delivering a speedy server in a form factor that will easily fit on or under your IT guy’s desk, even if you happen to be your IT guy. It’s got plenty of grunt for even the most arduous media serving duties, and is also perfect for a small business with moderate server needs. It’s probably overkill for a household with less than a full family, though.
Special features :
- Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
- 4 x Hot-Swap Drive Bays
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Pros : Plenty of performance, lots of USB ports, tiny form factor.
Cons : Rather expensive, only software RAID.
Verdict : 9 out of 10. Editor's choice!
Available from Acer, retailing for $1,385.