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Fujitsu Siemens Primergy TX120

  • Editors' rating
    7.9 Very good


  • Small footprint
  • low power consumption
  • low noise
  • hot-swappable hard drives
  • Windows and Linux supported


  • Single processor
  • 8GB maximum memory
  • limited expansion options

Reliable and accessible IT infrastructure is now required by organisations of all sizes, including branch offices of larger companies, across almost all industries. The Primergy TX120 is designed to meet the needs of small businesses by providing file, print, application and web serving facilities plus backup storage in an unobtrusive form factor.

Three factors make the TX120 unique in its class. The most obvious is its size: at 9.9cm wide by 39.9cm deep by 34cm high, the TX120 is roughly one-third the dimensions of a standard 1-socket tower server and could easily be mistaken for a typical desktop PC. It’s also among the quietest servers in its class, with noise emissions around 50 per cent lower than a standard tower server — a feature that could prove particularly important for offices lacking a separate server room.

The system produces 28dB when idle and 31dB in operation, allowing nearby staff to work with minimal disturbance. Finally, the TX120 is one of the most energy-efficient servers on the market: Fujitsu-Siemens says the system consumes 40 per cent less energy than conventional tower servers. Fully loaded, the maximum active power consumption is 163 Watts, equating to an average energy cost saving of approximately £100 per year.

Under the surface, the TX120 is a modest single-processor system, but it’s certainly powerful enough to serve a typical small office. Fujitsu-Siemens' ultra-compact tower server is based on an Intel Dual-Core Xeon processor (3040/1.86GHz or 3070/2.66GHz) and Intel 3000 chipset. It comes as standard with 512MB of ECC DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-5300), which can be expanded to a maximum of 8MB. Storage is provided by two hot-pluggable 2.5in. SAS hard drives (300GB maximum); a maximum of four hard drives are supported, but only two are accessible from the front of the system. A DAT drive can be installed for backup purposes, or you could opt for two further hot-plug hard disks. Fujitsu-Siemens offers a choice of preinstalled operating systems: Windows Server 2003 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Finally, if you want to keep power consumption to an absolute minimum, you can specify a Celeron processor instead of the dual-core Xeon.

Because of its compact size, the TX120's expandability is relatively limited. Media bays include a single 5.25in. bay for an optical drive (CD/DVD or CD/DVD-RW), and one 3.5in. bay for a tape or hard drive (in a slide-in chassis). For expansion slots you get PCIe x8, PCIe and PCI-X (32-bit/33MHz, low-profile 5V) — one of each. If you need more flexibility, you’ll have to opt for larger TX150, which can accommodate six 2.5in. hard drives and three 5.25in. bays, and has two PCIe and two PCI-X (64-bit/66MHz long 3.3V) slots.

Onboard controllers include ATA/100 (IDE), 4-port SAS with RAID 0, 1 (IME) and 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet LAN. Other connectivity options are pretty minimal, including four USB 2.0 ports (two at front and two at rear), analogue video-out, serial RS-232-C and two PS/2 ports (keyboard and mouse). Power is supplied via a 250W PSU. Server management is supported via iRMC (Integrated Remote Management Controller), which offers enhanced system management based on IPMI 2.0 technology.

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Fujitsu-Siemens has been able to reduce the operating noise of the TX120 thanks to a redesigned heat pipe cooling system. Although previous systems have used heat pipe cooling, reducing the size of the unit required a new component alignment strategy. In the TX120, all heat-producing components are strictly aligned along a linear heat pipe. Two small temperature-controlled fans also sit either side of the pipe in a push-pull arrangement. Another benefit of the heat pipe is it enables you choose either vertical or horizontal server installation. Compared to water cooling, which is used in some small servers, a heat pipe system provides similarly quiet operation but requires fewer components and is free of potential leakage problems.

Built-in management functions enable remote power on/off and restart, while additional software options allow remote management and updating too. This is particularly important in the retail industry, for example, where store controllers need to operate uninterrupted locally but be managed and updated centrally on a daily basis. The TX120 also features tool-free access for easy maintenance, but removal or tampering with the device is a potential security issue. This has been solved by the provision of mounting points in the casing. When security wires are attached to these points they prevent the removal or opening of the server. In addition, a key is provided for the front cover to prevent unauthorised access to hard disks and storage media.

Fujitsu-Siemens’ first generation ultra-compact tower server incorporates advanced power and space-saving technologies, resulting in a significantly smaller footprint, reduced noise and energy savings. These features make the TX120 a good choice for small businesses and branch offices. You may want to look elsewhere if raw computing power is your main concern, but you’ll struggle to find such a small-footprint, low-energy server that’s easy on both the eyes and ears.