While no server is simple to set up, the Gateway 9510 is a bit more difficult than scaled-down small-business servers such as the HP ProLiant ML310 G2, which offers a proprietary configuration wizard on top of those included in the operating system you select for the system. With the 9510, you're at the mercy of the help provided by your operating system, which will likely be a variant of Microsoft's Windows Server 2003. Microsoft does what it can to make its wizards easy to comprehend, but you'll still need a solid grasp of computer and networking terms before you tackle the setup and configuration process.
After you make it through the OS setup, you're rewarded with the comparatively easy installation of Gateway's all-encompassing Systems Manager program. The software includes two control consoles: an Administrator console that runs on the 9510 itself and lets you monitor all of the systems on your network, and a Server console that you can install on individual workstations to monitor their activities. These two windows give you a lot of information about your equipment, such as when one of your systems is about to overheat, has an imminent power failure, or has a component that's threatening to crash. The Administrator console also lets you remotely install new programs and BIOS updates on all of your network systems, eliminating the need to have someone physically at each computer in order to upgrade it. If your network already includes other non-Gateway servers with their own management consoles, such as IBM's Tivoli or HP's OpenView, you can access those consoles via Gateway's Administrator window as well. The Administrator and Server consoles each have their own long, helpful user guides, though we wish the guides included screenshots of the console windows.
The Gateway 9510 measures 28 inches long, 17 inches high, and 8.6 inches wide. To get a sense of how substantial this is compared to the average tower-style computer, consider that the server's setup poster advises you to "use two people or a lifting device" when unpacking it. The 9510's sober all-black color makes it appear that much more daunting, and its very loud fans sound not unlike a jet engine when it initially spins up. All of these things considered, you should ideally plan to hide the 9510 inside a server closet.
Whereas you can simply twist out some servers' case screws with your fingers, you need a Phillips-head screwdriver to remove the 9510's side panel. Once you're inside, key features, including three PCI-X slots, two PCI Express slots, eight DIMM slots, and up to two hot-swappable fans, are within easy reach for upgrades. You can rely on the component map stuck to the inner panel to identify each of these features and more. Other 9510 components can be accessed by opening the front bezel; these include a whopping 10 hot-swappable bays that accommodate 6 SATA or 10 SCSI hard drives, as well as 2 free bays for more optical drives.
Gateway offers a formidable list of customizable components for the 9510. You can choose one or two Intel Xeon processors running between 2.8GHz and a superspeedy 3.6GHz, with 1MB or 2MB of L2 cache; from 512MB to a big 16GB of ECC PC 3200 DDR SDRAM; 7,200rpm SATA hard drives from 80GB to 400GB each; 10,000rpm or 15,000rpm SCSI hard drives from 36GB to 300GB apiece; a RAID controller card with support for levels 0, 1, and 5; CD-ROM, CD-RW/DVD-ROM, double-layer DVD+/-RW, and/or floppy drives; one or two hot-swappable AC power supplies; and one of four types of operating system: Red Hat or SuSE Linux, Microsoft Windows Server (in its many incarnations), or Novell NetWare. Every 9510 motherboard includes a few built-in chips, such as a power-saving Intel E7520 chipset, an 8MB ATI Rage XP graphics chip, a Gigabit Ethernet chip, and a ROMB 0, 1, 5 chip. For help on how to choose the best component combination, check out CNET's server buying guide.
Our Gateway 9510 test unit came fairly well stocked, with two 3GHz Xeon processors, 4GB of RAM, five SCSI hard drives (three 10,000rpm 300GB drives and two 15,000rpm 36GB drives), a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, two power supplies with two additional fans, and the Windows Server 2003 OS. Brace yourself before reading the price for this package: $8,902 (as of June 2005). At least this expensive machine should offer plenty of speed and storage to medium-size businesses with several dozen employees. However, large companies with hundreds of workers may need to shell out even more cash for the fastest processors, additional hard drives, more network controllers, and the other accoutrements necessary for a high-traffic environment.
Though the 9510's three-year warranty is longer than the one-year terms of cheaper servers such as the ProLiant ML 310 G2, we still suggest that you protect your substantial investment by purchasing one of Gateway's many warranty extensions, which include up to five years of 24/7 onsite support. Helpful toll-free telephone support is available for the length of your warranty.