Why Acer servers are pants

Now that the new server room is complete, I was finally able to rack up the last server that I had left in its original home in the Bursary until the air conditioning was in place. In doing so, I was reminded of the various reasons why I hate this server, which is an Acer Altos G540.

First, a recap of an earlier rant: This server has badly configured default BIOS settings, and worse BIOS update procedures.

Second, the rack mount kit is a pain in the backside, like pretty much every rack mount I’ve ever used that wasn’t made by Dell. For starters, there were no instructions included with the kit. I eventually found them in the system user guide that came with the server itself. Next, I found that Acer decided to eschew the use of industry-standard cage nuts and require the use of a flimsy-looking shim that looks like a cage nut would if you ran over it with a steamroller. The manual calls them “distands”. I’m pretty sure this is a made-up word.

Handily they provide the exact number needed, though this is not so handy when one of them pings off into the void at the bottom of the server cabinet. You know, just like cage nuts. Except that I have more cage nuts, and no more distands, because no-one else in their right mind uses them. My server is now held up by only 7 of these stupid things; hopefully they are as useless as they look and the mount will be fine without number 8.

Thirdly, the server case itself is badly manufactured, something I encountered while trying to fit the rack rails. I was initially prevented from fitting the left-hand rail because a rivet that was supposed to be flush with the side of the case was in fact raised far enough that the rail would not fit. After a fit of swearing I ended up grinding it down with my Dremel, which while extremely satisfying, should not have been necessary.

Lastly, no-one stocks parts for the damned thing. The G540 is a late 2007 model (the school bought it in 2009 for several bad reasons before I was hired). Admittedly it is getting on a bit, but I can pick up spares for Dell servers from the same era (e.g. a PowerEdge 2950) from dozens of suppliers online. The only place I could buy the aforementioned rack for the G540 (p/n SO.RKG54.K01) was on eBay, and my attempts to find a spare hot-swap PSU (p/n SO.G5305.001) have proven utterly fruitless. This particular server has a 1-day fix maintenance contract, so the revelation that parts for it seem to be utterly non-existent is something that will make for an interesting discussion with the service partner next time the contract is up for renewal.

All in all, my assessment remains unchanged: don’t buy Acer servers. They are a waste of everyone’s time.

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

3 responses to “Why Acer servers are pants”

  1. Claudio says :

    Rule “#873 of Sys Admins: Don’t trust non-trusted server vendors”.
    But then there is “Rule #5: Your boss makes the last decision” which conflicts with “Rule #17: Make your own IT-budget” and with “Rule #54: Don’t use no-names or cheap hardware as production servers”.
    In general “Rule #99: Never ever ever use Acer” can be applied in your case. ;-)

  2. ScottishTech says :

    Perhaps they’re called this because of their habit of pinging off into the distands?

    (I’ll get my coat)

    Incidentally – your remark about the rails by anyone other than DELL brought Nam like flashbacks to when I was trying to rackmount a Proliant dl360 g5 in our perfectly standard network cabinet.

    It was destined to be installed directly beneath an identical twin, so it should have been a 5 minute job. 3 hours and a considerable amount of swearing later saw me with a rackmount kit which had one of the supposedly “drop in place” holders replaced with a nut/bolt aquired from the Design/Tech dept after it absolutely positively refused to just lock in place.

    Fortunately, my faith was restored partially when the rack mount kit for the other HP went pretty damn smoothly – so the nuclear strike on HP HQ was postponed (not cancelled since I’m sure they’ll give me another reason).

  3. Chazzy2501 says :

    I was horrified with the news that my HP MSA2312 SAN that has a 4 Hour (way more than the 1 day) call out. It doesn’t include parts. The warranty only covers a response! I got my response within the hour.. it would take them 3 days to ship a new PSU! (for 3 days my butt was clenched so hard I could have passed a diamond, waiting for that 2nd PSU)