HP ProLiant ML350 G6 review

19 Aug 2009

A well-built tower server offering humungous expansion potential and quality remote management

Price when reviewed: 
2,916exc VAT
5

HP certainly isn't shy about its ProLiant servers, since it claims the DL380 as the world's most popular rack server, and the ML350 as one of the world's most flexible tower servers. In this exclusive review, we take a closer look at the sixth generation of this pedestal server and see why HP is so excited about duality.

With the new ML350 you get two dual processors sockets supporting the latest 5500 Xeons, room for two power supplies, dual redundant cooling fans and a pair of Gigabit network ports. Also, HP claims the chassis is dual purpose since it supports either 3.5in or 2.5in SFF hard disks, SAS and SATA variants and you can fit two drive bays in it.

The chassis has good expansion potential, offering a quintet of 5.25in bays with one occupied by a DVD-ROM drive, while below is a large hard disk cage with versions available for eight SFF drives or six 3.5in models. The lower pair of expansion bays can be taken over by an optional second eight-slot bay for SFF drives, or you can add a dual-slot bay for the larger drives.

Plenty of RAID options are on offer, since the ML350 comes as standard with HP's embedded Smart Array P410i controller, which supports all the usual suspects plus RAID6 dual redundant arrays when you apply the advanced pack upgrade. The motherboard has a dedicated socket at its base for cache memory, and the review system included a 256MB module.

The ML350 G6 presents a tidy interior and will make upgrades a simple process as there's no cable-related clutter to get in the way. The two processor sockets are located near the top of the motherboard, with each accompanied by a bank of nine DIMM sockets. Virtualisation is also on HP's agenda, as the ML350 sports an embedded SD memory card slot that's for booting embedded hypervisors. This feature is also present in most of Dell's new PowerEdge servers.

The new 5500 Xeons and their low power consumption made their mark in the noise department. The review system came with a single 2.26GHz E5520 module that only required a passive heatsink - the E5400 processors in the G5 version of this server use active ones.

In this configuration the entire chassis is looked after by two cooling fans mounted on the rear panel, and noise levels were so low we had to switch off all the other servers in the lab before we could hear the ProLiant. Adding the second processor module requires two more fans to be slotted into the large bracing strut in the centre of the chassis, but we doubt that noise levels will increase by much.

Expansion options abound as the server offers a choice selection of PCI Express slots with x16, x8 and four x4 available. HP even offers a special expander riser card that converts one of these slots into a dual 100MHz, 64-bit PCI-X version. All the front expansion bays are supported, as the motherboard also has six individual SATA interfaces arranged along its lower edge.

Details

Price ex VAT £2,536

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site next business day

Ratings

Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5

Physical

Server format Pedestal
Server configuration Tower chassis

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 2.26GHz
Processors supplied 1
CPU socket count 2

Memory

Memory type DDR3

Storage

Hard disk configuration 3 x 73GB HP 15K SAS SFF drives in hot-swap carriers
Total hard disk capacity 219
RAID module HP Smart Array P410i
RAID levels supported 0, 1, 5, 10

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 2
ILO? yes

Motherboard

Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x8 slots total 1
PCI-E x4 slots total 4
PCI-E x1 slots total 0

Power supply

Power supply rating 750W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 97W
Peak power consumption 161W

Software

OS family None