HP’s compact MicroServer with its ProLiant pedigree and affordable price tag, looks like an ideal small business product, particularly suited to companies looking to move up to a server for the first time. Unfortunately, appearances can be deceptive.
Although well made, compromises have been made to keep the price down and you’ll probably have to spend a lot more than the £209 + VAT list price to get a complete solution.
There’s no denying that the MicroServer is a quality product that’s well up to normal HP standards, with a solid metal chassis and lockable front door to protect what’s inside. It’s also remarkably quiet, generating just 22dB at worst, making it possible to locate almost anywhere, even in an open plan office.
Ours spent most of its time beneath a desk, the MicroServer also living up to its name in being a lot smaller than a normal tower, about half the height in fact. Unfortunately, it proved to be ‘micro’ by nature too, not least in the processor department, shipping with a very modest AMD Athlon II Neo. Clocked at just 1.3GHz, this dual-core CPU is the only option at present, with no upgrades possible or a second socket, and accompanied by a miserly 1GB of memory as standard.
Of course, more RAM can be added, but with only two DIMM slots to play with it’s best to order this upfront. Moreover, if you do need to upgrade later you’ll have to take the motherboard out, as the disk cage is right above leaving no room for access.
On the plus side there’s nothing special about the memory. It’s a readily available 800MHz DDR3 with ECC support, plus you can fit up to 8GB in total. It’s not expensive either: 4GB DIMMs are available from HP for £95 + VAT or even less if bought elsewhere.
Storage is pretty well catered for but, again, not a strong point. The review unit came with a single 160GB SATA hard disk, cabled to an onboard controller, to our minds a very basic configuration and below what most desktops now come with.
In its favour, the controller can support data striping and disk mirroring, but only when extra disks are added, plus there’s no option to go for a more advanced RAID 5 configuration as on some other entry-level servers.
The drive cage inside the chassis can take up to four SATA hard disks, but the plastic carriers are a little on the flimsy side, added to which we had to power the server down in order to swap disks in and out. An optical drive is also an optional extra, the DVD writer in ours adding £35 + VAT to the price.