If I bought a Dell 2950 or 2650, for example, and it has no drives in it (from say an auction). Will any SAS drive I get work in it? I ask because they vary so much in price. Some drives are $150 some are $500. I know they are faster more space, etc. Just wondering if I can get any of these and they will work.


5 Answers 5


I've had some issues replacing Dell drives with generic equivalents but that has generally been on older servers. Recently I've been able to swap them out with no headache. Occasionally finding the right mounting hardware has been a bit of a pain, but ebay is a wonder for that stuff.

  • +1 I can second Ernie's experience. Jan 31, 2011 at 16:26
  • only ever had an issue with non-dell drives in dell storage arrays, not servers. Mar 7, 2017 at 4:29

Most DELL servers, including their latest-generation R/T series, will run non-DELL drives just fine. There are a few exceptions, like the PowerVault MD3000, MD3000i, MD3200, MD3220 and some of their Blade servers. They absolutely require "certified" DELL drives with DELL firmware (no, you can NOT "flash" non-DELL drives with DELL firmware), or they will not function. Also, some DELL diagnostic and management tools will not recognize non-DELL drives, but this is rarely an impediment. DELL OpenManage will "flag" non-DELL drives with a non-critical error sign (that annoying yellow triangle with the exclamation mark), so if you're anal about having all green check marks, or you have OM set up to kick emails out even for non-critical errors, that could be modestly disturbing.

We have run literally every type and manufacturer of SAS and SATA drives in virtually every server that supports the interface. We run HP, IBM, and Sun drives, as well as straight "generic" drives -- including consumer-grade SATA -- in our DELL servers without any issues (aside from the niggles mentioned above). A 29xx will be running drives from either a PERC 5/6i or SAS 5/6i, both types of controllers have absolutely NO restrictions when it comes to SAS or SATA manufacturers or OEM. I'm running BOTH 2TB SAS drives pulled from an IBM ESXS storage array and 400GB 10K HP SAS drives in the same machine from the same PERC 6i controller, and they work just as well as any DELL drive. We have other R710's, and 2950's that run cheap, 2TB consumer-grade SATA drives that you can pick up from Newegg for a hundred bucks or less (sometimes). They work great, and do not require interposers.

  • 3
    Interposers add the ability to have multi-path IO, important for path redundancy in external disk shelves and complex systems. SATA drives still lack some of the "enterprise" features of the SCSI command set, and the features added recently are generally not of the same capability; error recovery times and their effect on RAID is also a consideration. SATA drives are fine replacements for SAS in ideal conditions; but when the fecal mater hits the air velocity accelerator, the SCSI command set has what it takes to guarantee reliability where SATA does not.
    – Chris S
    Oct 17, 2012 at 2:10

I recently had a SAS drive in a RAID1 array that came with a PowerEdge 2900 about 3 years ago die on me. I just ordered the nearest equivalent drive (original drives were 74GB Seagate 15k RPM drives, minimum size available now is 146GB) and fitted them to the Dell caddies (rebuilding the RAID array of course, one drive at a time).

There is nothing special about the drives that Dell servers use, except for the mounting tray.

You can usually find the mounting trays on eBay, from Dell resellers or from Dell themselves.

  • 1
    +1, and ordering a bigger drive is a good idea. Have had some difficulties with 74Gb drives, the replacements we got were 74.3 but the original drives in the RAID volume are all 74.4 Check the disk spec/dimensions very carefully before ordering replacements.
    – jqa
    Oct 17, 2012 at 1:46

I learned about a new limitation the hard way: The integrated SAS controllers on Dell R410 don't support drives over 2 TB. (Or 2 TiB if you prefer.)

I have an R410 with a SAS 6 controller (LSI SAS1068E Fusion-MPT SAS), which is showing my 5 TB drives as 2 TB. It looks like PERC 6 has the same problem.

"OK", I said, "I'm going to use ZFS anyway. I'll just use the SATA controller built into the motherboard." Well, good luck connecting the SAS backplane to the SATA controller. :(

So... The solution appears to be to get a PERC H700 Adapter, which will take up the only general purpose PCIe slot. The PERC H700 Modular will fit in the slot of the existing modular SAS controller, as you might expect, but will not work! Thanks Dell. Thdell.


There's a few different generations and sizes (2.5" or 3.5") of technology sold under the SAS banner.

When looking at SAS drives drives, the basic specs are RPM (anything from 7,200 to 15,000) and, depending on your usage scenario, I/O operations per second or read bandwidth (i.e. database/web-server versus multimedia server). Then you can make an informed decision about capacity and price :-)

I suspect you will be happy with bigger capacity, but slower spindle speed (aka RPM).

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