Hewlett Packard ProLiant ML310 G3

Dave Mitchell digs out eight of the best starter models on the market

Price
£654
  • Top quality local and remote management tools, very low noise and good storage expansion options
  • Average build quality

HP has an enormous range of servers - one of the largest on the market - which means there's something for everyone. And for this group test, it supplied its ML310 G3, a server aimed at a range of environments including SMBs that also focuses on those that want more from their server management facilities.

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It's here that the ML310 really excels. Initial installation is assisted by HP's SmartStart bootable CD-ROM, which makes light work of installing your chosen OS, drivers and utilities and also automatically installs HP's web services. The latter allow the server to be remotely accessed for general monitoring and provide a tidy, secure interface for accessing comprehensive information on components and their status. The bundled Systems Insight Manager provides enhanced browser-based remote management and monitoring and offers high levels of information about system operations and extensive alerting facilities.

What really sets the ML310 apart, however, is its embedded iLO (integrated lights out) 2 management controller chip and network port. This allows the server to be accessed securely via a browser regardless of its condition, which means systems administrators can monitor the status of the controller and server, view installed components and control power. Security is good too, as the server is supplied with a unique password for the iLO controller and it will only function over SSL.

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Physically, the ML310 is well-built, although it's not up with the likes of the IBM and Fujitsu Siemens servers on test. Three 5.25in bays are provided at the front (there's no floppy drive). A compact hard disk bay beneath has room for up to four hard disks, all mounted in solid, hot-swap carriers, and the front panel can be locked shut to prevent the hard disks being accessed by unauthorised personnel.

The ML310 offers one of the tidiest SATA implementations here - the motherboard and drive backplane both have four ports and a single multi-port connector and cable is used to link everything together. With such a low starting price, however, storage is a casualty so all you get is a single 80GB Seagate SATA hard disk. Fortunately, it's easy enough to add more drives as required and the embedded Intel SATA RAID controller brings RAID mirroring and striping to the table as well.

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Processing power looks good with a 3GHz dual core Pentium D in the driving seat although this is partnered by a modest 512MB of PC4200 memory. And there's room to expand as none of the PCI and PCI Express slots have been used.

HP has done a god job of reducing noise levels too. The processor's active heat sink pulls air through the hard disk bay and passes it on to a large fan at the rear, which is hidden inside a plastic shroud.

The ML310 G3 is not the biggest or fastest server here, but it is whisper-quiet and does have extremely good remote management facilities. Worth a look for businesses on a budget.

Verdict

A decent server at a very nice price. Build quality is average and storage capacity is low but if you want quality remote management tools then this is the server to go for

Motherboard: HP CPU: 1 x 3GHz Intel Pentium D 830 (dual-core) Chipset: Intel E7230 Memory: 512MB PC4200 expandable to 8GB Storage controller: Four-port Intel 6300ESB SATA/150 Disk interface: SATA/150 Disk drives: 1 x 80GB Seagate DiamondMax 10 SATA/150 RAID controller: Embedded Expansion slots: 1 x PCI Express 4X, 1 x PCI Express 1X, 2 x 64-bit/100MHz PCI-X Network ports: 1 x HP Gigabit Ethernet Power: 1 x 370W Management software: HP System Management, Insight Manager Other: embedded iLO 2 controller. Warranty: One year on-site

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