HP ProLiant MicroServer review
Low on processing power and tricky to upgrade, but a good-value first server for small businesses
Review Date: 17 Jan 2011
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: £219 (£263 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The latest ProLiant MicroServer shows HP is now taking a lot more interest in small businesses of up to ten users that have traditionally avoided the cost and complexity of an office server for functions such as file sharing.
HP is offering the MicroServer at a very low price. Only one model is available and its starting price of £219 will have a more than a few small businesses taking notice.
For this, you get a chunky little desktop cube equipped with a dual-core 1.3GHz AMD Athlon II Neo N36L processor and 1GB of DDR3 memory. The price includes a single 250GB SATA hard disk with room for three more inside, but the cheap plastic removable drive carriers arenÕt very sturdy.
No OS is included, but HP offers a choice of Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Windows Server R2 Standard and Foundation. We can't see small businesses with limited IT skills wanting to mess with Linux, so Server 2008 R2 Foundation would be the best bet, which HP will preinstall for £169 exc VAT.
There are a number of restrictions with Foundation. It can handle up to 30 simultaneous inbound connections and supports a maximum of 15 Windows user accounts. It's 64-bit only, supports multiple cores but a single processor socket and won't let you upgrade beyond 8GB of memory.
The MicroServer is well built, with a lockable metal door protecting the hard disk carriers. Up above is a single 5.25in bay, which is empty on base systems. We had the optional DVD-RW drive supplied in the review system, which costs an extra £35 exc VAT.
To fit an optical drive, you unlock the front door and release the top panel, which slips off easily enough. Don't try fitting your own drive as the HP model is only 17cm deep and has two special screws on each side, which mate with slide rails inside the chassis.
The small power button on the top is a little too exposed, but fortunately wonÕt shut down the OS down if pressed accidentally. Below this are four USB 2 ports with another inside, plus two more round the back along with an eSATA port.
There may be four drive bays, but hardware RAID options are very limited. The motherboard uses an AMD RAID controller, which only supports JBODs, stripes and mirrors, so RAID5 or 6 arrays are off the menu.
The controller doesn't support hot-swapping, so if a drive fails the server must be powered down to replace it. It can handle 2TB SATA drives, though, so future storage expansion looks good.
Useful little server
I've just put two of these servers in at remote sites to handle local DC work and file storage. We'd been looking around for a while for a NAS type box, but wanted to apply AD permissions to the file share, and this works perfect for us. We've upped the spec to 8 Gig or RAM, with a mirror pair of 1TB drives, plus we were lucky enough to get them with £100 cash back from HP, to each server cost £200 for the hardware and then Win 2008R2 standard license on top.
By Ric_Hanson on 20 Jan 2011
You can fit your own optical drive. The special screws required are fitted to the inside of the drive bay door (along with the drive caddy screws). You'll need a standard SATA cable and a molex-SATA power adapter though (about £1.50).
By NickS on 24 Jan 2011
I have been able to hot swap the hard drives, but this requires the BIOS to have the drives set up as AHCI devices (and install the relevant AHCI driver). However, once this has been completed, I have successfully removed and added hard drives with the server powered up and without having to reboot the OS (running Windows Home Server v1, aka Windows Server 2003).
By tfboy on 22 Oct 2011
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