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I just talked to our Dell rep about purchasing some PowerEdge R410s and R510s and he made a comment that the SATA drives are 'special' and can't be replaced by aftermarket drives because of some special connector/board on the drives.

I found some references to an 'interposer board' that is attached to the back of the drives/trays in some PE systems. Is this what he's talking about?

My plan is to buy the cheapest SATA drives from Dell (160GB) so I can get the hotplug trays and replace the drives with 1TB drives. I figured I'd just pull the Dell HDs out and replace them with aftermarket drives.

My question is: Is this as simple as it sounds or am I missing something? (basic PERC6/RAID config aside)

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Why don't you just by the trays for the harddrives instead of the entire drive? –  user67326 Jan 18 '11 at 22:13
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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, the Dell drives are special -- they cost a pile more, have a Dell warranty, and your rep probably gets a commission out of selling them, all of which you don't get if you don't buy Dell hard drives. (Whether those are benefits or drawbacks I leave to your own best judgment). For the record, we run aftermarket drives in our R410s (mostly SAS, I think) without a problem, using the same trick (buy cheapo drives, remove the caddies, use drives for target practice on the clay pigeon range).

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I don't see anything in this Dell Technical manual that rules out using any other brand of drive. Pages 29 - 31 are the relevant ones. It says you have to choose hot-swap or not when you buy the server and from the pictures it looks like if you go w/ cabled there'd be no problem using any old drive. If you go w/ hot swap, you'd have to do what your said - take their drives out of the trays and put your own in. That'll void your warranty, of course...

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The service manual doesn't seem to mention anything about special drives. Usually, I will check the manuals for a given server before I purchase it or trust the salesguy. I don't have any 410s, but I didn't have any issues replacing drives on a R300.

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It would be unusual for DELL to be using some sort of proprietary drive. The sales person may be referring to "enterprise" SATA drives which often times have firmware that helps when being used in RAID.

For example, Western Digital has a feature called TLER (Time Limited Error Recovery) as listed here: What is the difference between Desktop edition and RAID (Enterprise) edition hard drives?

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Until recently some of the newer PERCs, H700 and such, did have a firmware that would not allow the use of non-Dell branded drives in a system. I believe within the last month or so, they introduced a new firmware revision removing that limitation.

Korey

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