HP ProLiant MicroServer N36L review

HP's ProLiant MicroServer may look like a consumer NAS box, but it's actually aimed at small businesses as a better-designed alternative to a PC for file sharing. We take a closer look to see what else this little cube has to offer.


It makes sense for small businesses to use a server for even simple tasks, such as file sharing, but many still see them as expensive and overly complex. HP wants to change their minds as its latest MicroServer N36L is aimed at businesses of up to ten users that want something highly affordable and easy to use.

HP gets the ball rolling by selling the MicroServer at a low price. Only one model is available and its starting price of 235 will have a more than a few small businesses taking notice. Even better is the fact that HP is currently running a 100 cashback offer until the end of February.

The MicroServer is a chunky little desktop cube equipped with a dual-core 1.3GHz AMD Athlon II Neo N36L processor and 1GB of 800MHz ECC DDR3 memory. The price includes a single 250GB SATA hard disk with room for three more inside, but the removable drive carriers are cheap plastic and not very sturdy.

No OS is included in the price 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 tells us, can be preinstalled for 169.

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There are a number of restrictions with Foundation. It only supports a maximum of fifteen Windows user accounts. It's 64-bit only, supports only a single processor with multiple cores and won't let you upgrade beyond 8GB of memory, but these are unlikely to be too restrictive for the smaller business, budget-conscious users the MicroServer is aimed at.

The MicroServer itself 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 writer supplied in the review system which costs an extra 35.

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