HP ProLiant DL320e Gen8 v2 review
Don’t be fooled by the small size, this entry-level rack server is powered by Intel's Xeon range.
HP's latest ProLiant DL320e Gen8 v2 is aimed at micro/small businesses wanting a powerful, compact and affordable server. It's HP's first low-profile, entry-level rack server and it's a great effort.
Measuring a shade over 15in deep, it's the smallest ProLiant DL model we've seen but it's no weakling as it supports the latest Xeon E3 V3 processors. You have a choice of three pre-configured models with the performance' system on review brandishing a speedy 3.4GHz E3-1240 V3 CPU.
Storage isn't compromised either as there's room at the front for a quartet of SAS or SATA SFF hard disks. The price we've shown doesn't include any hard disks but the two 300GB 10K SAS drives HP dropped in for testing cost around 198 ex VAT each.
The tiny motherboard packs in a lot of features and the three cooling fans are quiet
Storage and RAID options
The two lower end models use the embedded Smart Array B120i RAID chip which supports SATA III disks plus mirrors and stripes. On the performance model, this has been elbowed aside by a Smart Array P222 PCI-Express card equipped with 512MB of DDR3 FBWC (flash backed write cache). It uses a fast charging capacitor to protect the cache contents in the event of a power failure.
The P222 brings in support for SATA III and SAS 2 drives and adds RAID-5 and -50 to your array choices. Purchase the SAAP (Smart Array Advanced Pack) 2.0 license for around 200 and you get RAID-6 and -60, capacity expansion, advanced mirroring and a lot more.
It also includes HP's Smart Path feature which optimises SSD read operations by bypassing the card's firmware. Should you need more storage this won't be a problem as the P222 has an external SAS port that can handle HP's D2600 or D2700 disk enclosures.
HP is the first manufacturer to put external USB3 ports on a rack server. There are plenty of external USB3 storage and backup devices available and now you can take advantage of their higher speeds.
HP's Intelligent Provisioning makes light work of OS installation, replacing the SmartStart DVD system
The DL320 is a member of the exclusive ProLiant Gen8 club so you get all the goodies you'd expect to find on its higher end servers. For starters, you have HP's SmartDrive disk carriers laden with status LEDs to tell you everything you need to know about your hard disks and how they're faring.
And then there's HP's standard setting iLO4 embedded remote management controller. Linked to a dedicated port at the rear, it monitors virtually everything in the server and provides masses of data on critical components.
The price of the server includes an iLO4 Essentials license so remote control and virtual media services aren't included. If you want these you'll need to purchase an iLO4 Advanced license.
As the server was supplied without an OS we also got to play with HP's Intelligent Provisioning feature. Accessed during the startup phase, this does away with the need for HP's SmartStart DVD when installing an OS and provides wizard based deployment tools including configuration access to the Smart Array controller.
It does require an Advanced upgrade but the server's iLO4 chip supports full remote control
Power and expansion
All models in the range have a fixed 300W PSU but there's no option to fit dual redundant units so make sure you're using a UPS. The E3-1240 V2 CPU has a modest 80W TDP and we found power consumption to be reasonably low.
With Windows Server 2012 in idle, we measured a draw of 54W which peaked at 120W with SiSoft Sandra piling on the pressure. We noticed that the iLO4 power metering feature was showing as unsupported on this configuration so although you can remotely turn the server on and off from its web interface, you can't keep an eye on power usage.
The server's motherboard is small but HP has managed to pack it with plenty of features. The price includes 8GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 UDIMM memory and the three spare slots allow you to beef capacity up to the maximum 32GB without wasting the existing module.
The CPU heatsink is looked after by a couple of small fans at the front and there's a third in the centre of the chassis angled towards the RAID card. Noise levels are low and although the PSU fan is noticeable at close range but not obtrusive.
Further expansion is possible as the central riser has the RAID card on one side and a spare half-height, half-length PCI-e slot on the other side. Virtualisation fans get a look in as well as the motherboard even has a microSD card slot for booting into an embedded hypervisor.
No power metering but you can watch a 3D graph of internal temperatures
Coming in at an affordable price, HP's new DL320e Gen8 v2 packs an impressive range of features into its compact dimensions. It may be pint sized but it has all the credentials for a serious entry-level system and is highly recommended for SMBs looking for their first rack server.
The ProLiant DL320e Gen v2 squeezes numerous features into its tiny chassis making it a good low cost entry-level server for SMBs. It sports a fast Xeon E3 V3 CPU, has room to expand and comes with HP’s excellent iLO4 remote management chip.
Chassis: 1U rack
CPU: 3.4GHz E3-1240 V3
Memory: 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 UDIMM (max 32GB)
Storage: 4 x SFF SAS/SATA hot-swap drive bays
RAID: HP Smart Array P222 PCI-e with 512MB FBWC
Array support: RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 50
Network: 2 x Gigabit
Expansion slots: 2 x PCI-e (1 free)
Other ports: 2 x USB3, 2 x USB2
Power: 300W fixed PSU
Management: HP iLO4 Essentials
Warranty: 1yr on-site NBD
Options: HP 300GB 10K SAS SFF drive, £198 ex VAT