New HP ProLiant Microserver Is Fast, Small and SMB Friendly

REVIEW: HP’s Proliant Microserver Gen 8 comes with plenty of power along with the pricing and deployment features to make it a smart buy for small and midsize businesses.

HP’s new ProLiant Microserver Gen 8 is designed to fit into an office environment, not a data center, but it’s still powerful, fully manageable and ready to bring big-server capabilities to smaller businesses or remote offices. Oh—and it comes in multiple colors.

The HP ProLiant Microserver Gen8 rests quietly on its table, a blue glow emanating from below as if it were an alien visitor to our planet. At least that’s what it looks like from the front—a 9.5-inch cube with black and silver panels that’s featureless except for cooling vents and logos—and that otherworldly glow. But behind that mysterious face is a capable and fast server designed from the ground up as an office-friendly resource.

HP designed this server for quiet running by equipping it with an efficient Intel Celeron G1610T processor that generates little heat and thus does not require a noisy cooling fan. An Intel Pentium G2020T processor is available as an option. While the power supply does require a fan, the demand is so low that the server is virtually silent in operation. Inside, the server can be equipped with up to 12 terabytes of non-hot plug SATA drives as well as a single DVD drive. None of the drives is included at the base price of $549. Fully configured, this server can sell for as much as $1,509.

Normally we don’t discuss the base price of a server when we’re reviewing it, but in this case, the affordable pricing is a major feature of the ProLiant Microserver. Unlike its larger siblings, the Microserver is aimed at small and midsize businesses where HP is competing against a range of small servers that do compete on price. Considering what you get with the ProLiant Microserver, it looks like a good value for SMB customers.

An example of a competing unit would be the microservers sold by Buffalo Technologies, which sells similar servers that save money by using embedded Linux as the operating system. However those devices can only be used as NAS (network attached storage), and not as a full network server. The ProLiant Microserver can operate with Microsoft Windows Server, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. All three are credible, secure operating systems that work seamlessly as part of a data center if necessary.

The Microserver in this test came equipped with four 500GB SATA drives and Microsoft Windows Server 2012. The nearly 2TB of storage was configured as RAID 0, which means there’s no redundancy, and the data is striped across all disks to improve performance. You can also separate the drives into a RAID 1 or RAID 10 configuration. A more secure RAID 5 configuration is available through an optional upgrade to the drive controller.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...