HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 review

HP’s popular little MicroServer gets a complete Gen8 makeover and some quality remote management features.

Virtualisation on the quiet

If you do need to remove the motherboard, you unplug four cables, release a retaining clip on the rear panel and slide the entire board out the back. HP's optional DVD-RW drive sits on the top of the hard disk cage although its 90 price tag is a bit steep.

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The Microserver offers a good range of ports as you get a total of five USB2 plus two USB3. Two Gigabit ports are provided for general network connections and there's an extra Ethernet port for remote management access.

The MicroServer Gen8 makes a fine candidate for virtualisation testing. Along with an internal USB port, HP has also fitted a microSD card slot on the motherboard's edge for booting into an embedded hypervisor.

The Celeron CPU has a large passive heatsink and all system cooling is handled by a single 12cms diameter fan at the rear. The MicroServer isn't silent but its low noise levels won't worry a small office.

The Celeron has a modest 35W TDP so the server won't use up much power. In idle, we measured the review system drawing 30W which rose to a peak of only 42W with the CPU under heavy load.

HP's embedded Intelligent Provisioning feature makes light work of OS installation.

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HP's iLO4

Two features that make the MicroServer Gen8 really stand out are its remote management and OS deployment tools. The original MicroServer supported HP's optional RAC (remote access card) but the Gen8 comes with the standard setting iLO4 chip found on all higher-end ProLiants.

It provides a dedicated network port at the rear and its web interface provides masses of data on every system component. You can keep an eye on all critical hardware and link the server up with HP's remote diagnostics service although you'll need to upgrade to iLO4 Essentials if you want remote control and virtual media services.

Intelligent Provisioning makes OS installation a breeze. Accessed during the startup phase, we used it to deploy Windows Server 2012 R2 Foundation and had it up and running in around an hour using the default settings.

HP has Gigabit network expansion covered as its optional 8-port PS1810-8G switch is designed to fit snugly in the recess on top of or underneath the MicroServer. This fan-less L2 switch is fully web manageable and its web interface includes a feature that monitors the iLO4 port on all HP servers and provides quick links to their own web console.

HP's optional 8-port switch has its own web interface and can auto-discover servers with active iLO ports.

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Conclusion

The new ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 is an ideal candidate for SOHOs and small businesses looking for a compact, cheap, quiet but well specified server. You will need to factor in the cost of hard disks and other options such as the SATA DVD drive but it's still good value and offers the same iLO4 remote management features as HP's high-end ProLiant servers.

We're not alone in rating this piece of kit. It has fared well in the scoring stakes in many reviews and now sits at home in our sister title PC Pro's A-List.

This article was first pubilshed on 01/01/14 and has been updated multiple times (most recently on 11/08/14) to reflect new information that has become available since its original publication.

Verdict

A compact system well suited to a variety of tasks ranging from small business server to test platform. The MicroServer Gen8 is very good value, comes with classy remote management features and looks good on the desktop as well.

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Chassis: Desktop CPU: 2.3GHz Celeron G1610T Memory: 2GB DDR3 ECC UDIMM (max 16GB) Storage: 4 x SFF cold-swap SATA drive bays RAID: Embedded HP Smart Array B120i Array support: RAID0, 1, 10 Expansion: 1 x PCI-e 2.0 slot Network: 2 x Gigabit, iLO4 management port Other ports: 2 x USB3, 5 x USB2, internal microSD card slot Power: 150W fixed PSU Management: HP iLO4 Warranty: 1yr parts only Options: HP PS1810-8G switch, £99 ex VAT

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