HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 review: A tower of power
HPE brings Xeon Scalable processing within the reach of small businesses
SMBs tempted to replace their older servers with the latest Xeon Scalable models seen in recent Dell EMC PowerEdge and HPE ProLiant rack models but worried about their budget may find HPE has the answer. Stepping up as the first single socket Xeon Scalable tower server to market, the ProLiant ML110 Gen10 offers a wide range of affordable processor choices and teams them up with plenty of storage options, plus loads of room to grow with demand.
Businesses with modest workloads generally don't need dual-socket servers, making the ML110 Gen10 an ideal alternative. It currently supports seven Xeon Scalable CPU models, so you can keep costs down and go for the entry-level 6-core Bronze 3104, pick from three Silver models or push the boat out with the 14-core Gold 5120.
Prices start at only 718 ex VAT for the model 880230-425 which includes a 1.7GHz Bronze 3104 CPU partnered by 8GB of DDR4 memory. If you find this isn't enough, you can upgrade the CPU later on as all supported Xeon Scalable CPUs use the same socket.
HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10: Design
The ML110 Gen10 is well-built with a solid steel chassis and sturdy side panel, which can be padlocked shut and tethered to the desk with a security cable. The good news continues inside as the spacious interior leaves plenty of room to get at all the important bits for upgrades and maintenance manoeuvres.
The motherboard is covered by a large plastic shroud, separated into two halves and the CPU socket has an impressively large passive heatsink clamped to it. The system is cooled by 9cm diameter fans fore and aft which we measured emitting 44dB at one metre -- not the quietest of towers but one that won't be heard in a normal office environment.
The CPU is flanked by two banks of three DIMM slots, allowing DDR4 memory to be pushed to 192GB. Note that the Bronze CPUs support 2,133MHz memory speeds, the three Silvers and the Gold 5120 up this to 2,400MHz with only the powerful 3.6GHz 4-core Gold 5122 maxing out at the top 2,667MHz.
Expansion potential looks good as the motherboard offers five PCI-Express slots. These all accept full-height adapters and there's enough room horizontally for two of them to manage full-length cards.
HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10: Storage
Pre-configured systems come with one 4-bay cold-swap LFF drive cage mounted behind the lockable door. The panel above it can be removed and a second 4-bay cage fitted easily by sliding it into place and refitting the four panel screws.
The dual 4-port SATA connectors on the motherboard support both LFF drive cages, and HPE also offers hot-swap versions. There are plenty more storage options as the CTO (configure-to-order) models can be specified with an 8-bay hot-swap SFF drive cage, which can be expanded to 16 drives with a second cage.
If you install both drive cages and fit 15K SAS drives, you'll need to replace the standard 350W or 550W PSU with HPE's 800W redundant PSU unit. The enablement kit costs around 178 and can be field-installed. You'll also need the redundant fan kit as well.
RAID starts with the motherboard's embedded Smart Array S100i Gen10 controller, which supports SATA drives only plus stripes, mirrors and RAID5 arrays. It also offers twelve SATA ports with two dedicated to HPE's optional dual M.2 SATA SSD enablement kit. The card costs around 84 and a 240GB mixed-use SSD pushes this up uncomfortably by another 400.
Go for SAS drives and you'll need a separate Smart Array RAID card. HPE offers four models, with the top dog P408e-p Gen10 adapter adding RAID6 and 60 arrays plus 4GB of cache protected by a Smart Storage battery.
The front panel has room for a low-profile DVD drive and a combined power/SATA cable is ready and waiting. And if you're in the mood for virtualization, the motherboard has a microSD card slot for booting into an embedded hypervisor.
HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10: Management
There are no compromises in the management department as the ML110 Gen10 is endowed with the same iLO5 controller as HPE's enterprise servers. It offers a well-designed web interface with masses of information about critical components and enhanced OS provisioning tools while the controller's increased memory boosts performance.
Server security is a key feature as the iLO5 introduces silicon fingerprinting, firmware validation, encryption and breach detection technology. HPE has also switched entirely to its agentless management service (AMS) negating the need to load any OS agents.
The server comes with an iLO5 Standard license which activates features such as active health monitoring, embedded system health, agentless management, silicon root of trust fingerprinting plus configuration backup and restore. It includes the pre-OS remote console but if you want it to control the OS, you'll need to upgrade to an Advanced or Essentials license.
We found HPE's iLO Mobile iOS app worked fine on our iPad where it provided the same level of details about the server as the standard web interface. Selecting the app's Remote Console option also gave us full remote access to the server's boot menu and OS from our iPad.
HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10: Verdict
Growing SMBs that like the look of Xeon Scalable servers but are less impressed with the price of dual-socket models will find the ProLiant ML110 Gen10 offers a great compromise. Its single socket can handle a good range of Xeon Scalable CPUs, there's plenty of expansion potential and storage choices while its iLO5 controller delivers some of the best remote management features around.
The perfect solution for SMBs that want an affordable and powerful Xeon Scalable tower server with room to grow
Chassis: Tower CPU: 1.7GHz 6-core Xeon Bronze 3104 Memory: 8GB 2,400MHz DDR4 Smart Memory (max 192GB) Storage: No HDDs included (max 8 LFF/16 SFF) Drive backplane: Cold-swap 4-bay LFF RAID: HP Smart Array S100i SR Gen10 SW Array support: RAID0, 1, 10, 5 Expansion: 5 x PCI-Express 3 Network: 2 x Gigabit Power: 350W cold-swap PSU Management: HP iLO5 Standard with Gigabit Warranty: 3yr on site NBD