HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 Review Compact and Nimble Server


HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 Management Overview

HPE integrated lights out (iLO) management has been an industry staple for generations. Modern servers are meant to be deployed in data centers and rarely if ever visited by an administrator unless a part has failed. In its most basic form, the iLO 5 basic allows administrative tasks such as editing BIOS and firmware settings, changing boot orders and one-time boot settings, getting system inventory and event logs, and powering on/ off the server.

HPE ProLiant ILO 5
HPE ProLiant ILO 5

Here is the blurb from HPE iLO 5 on iLO Advanced features:

Licensing iLO Advanced enables true Lights-Out Management by enabling many features: 

  • AuthenticationDirectory integration, Kerberos with Two-Factor authentication, CAC Smartcard Authentication
  • Remote Console: Virtual KVM (Integrated Remote Console), Console capture, replay, and share, Text Console, Virtual Serial Port record and playback
  • Virtual Media: Image file (.iso or .img), CD/DVD, floppy, USB-key, scripting, folder
  • Power: Power-related reporting, power capping, thermal capping on some systems
  • Scalable Manageability: Support for Federation Management commands to update firmware, control server power, use virtual media, and more
  • OtherEmail alerting, Remote syslog, and support for HPE Smart Array Secure Encryption

Without iLO Advanced, one can do some fairly basic configuration. With iLO Advanced one gets not just what we see as industry standard features like iKVM and media, but also HPE’s advanced integrations and scalable management features. Every server that passes through the STH lab ends up getting the iLO Advanced functionality license.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO Advanced HTML5 IKVM
HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO Advanced HTML5 IKVM

Perhaps the feature that is going to be most important to the HPE ProLiant DL20 buyers is the iKVM management capabilities. This is the feature that allows for remote terminal access and also allows for remote media mounting. Without the iLO Advanced license, it is conspicuously absent on the HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10. Instead one can use iKVM during POST and BIOS setup, but not once the server boots to the OS.

We saw this as an almost mandatory feature. HPE did not send us a unit with an iLO Advanced license and we lasted about 30 minutes before we simply broke down and bought one for the server. HPE’s competition, especially in the white box arena that is prevalent in this space, gives iKVM functionality for free. On the cost level associated with a ProLiant DL20 Gen10, adding this functionality is a significant burden since the license cost as a percent of system cost is much higher lower than on a HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen10 with dual processors.

HPE is somewhat stuck since it has standard pricing for iLO Advanced which is more than many of the CPU options for the HPE ProLiant Gen10 cost. HPE’s management solution is designed to manage large clusters of servers and increase automation functionality and information given. HPE iLO 5 is significantly more advanced than a low-cost white box server’s functionality in this space and HPE has a silicon root of trust that is needed to ensure BMC firmware and hardware security, a topic coming up more often. HPE iLO 5 may work well for managing large numbers of servers, and servers under a single pane of glass for organizations using the HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 as a remote branch office server or remote POP.

Smaller deployments say 1-10 servers, often have administrators that just want iKVM. On a tight budget, an iLO Advanced license on the HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 will mean a small customer has to choose between a lower-end CPU or less memory on the DL20 Gen10 with iLO Advanced for iKVM or a faster system with more memory in the white box space.

HPE iLO 5 has some really great features. You can see how the solution is designed for managing clusters of servers even without HPE Insight with features like iLO Federation. This is the type of feature that white box vendors, and even other large server vendors, do not have.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO 5 Federation
HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO 5 Federation

There is also a certain “cool” factor to HPE iLO 5’s interface. Here is a great example of the 3D temperature graph that can help you diagnose hot spots in the server.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO 3D Temperature View
HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO 3D Temperature View

HPE can also display heat maps in 2D fashion and below this view, there is a list of 14 temperature monitors that are labeled with their locations. Most management solutions have a table with temperature sensor readings, but few have the 3D temperature graph eye candy.

HPE iLO 5 has other features that are extremely useful for managing large numbers of servers. A simple example of this is that iLO 5 can show firmware versions not just of the UEFI firmware and BMC firmware, but it can show the firmware revisions of the complete system. That allows one to easily diagnose which servers in a large cluster need to be updated. Also, HPE has an easy manner to update this firmware from the management interface.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO Advanced Firmware Inventory
HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO Advanced Firmware Inventory

As one may expect, HPE iLO 5 provides standard features such as system logging.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO Management Log
HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 ILO Management Log

Another advanced feature is that HPE Remote Support integration allows automated support for hardware failure and replacement. This is a feature white box vendors do not have, and only some of the large server vendors deliver.

HPE ProLiant ILO Remote Support
HPE ProLiant ILO Remote Support

Overall, we like HPE iLO 5. If the iKVM functionality was included with the server, or it was a nominal upgrade ($20 or so) then it would be superior to white box implementations in just about every area. Certainly, iLO Advanced is beyond standard remote management implementations. The catch is, for this market, iLO Advanced is too expensive.

We are going to get into our HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 test configurations and system topology next. We will then go into our performance testing which will be followed by power consumption testing and some of our concluding thoughts.

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Patrick has been running STH since 2009 and covers a wide variety of SME, SMB, and SOHO IT topics. Patrick is a consultant in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about server, storage and networking, building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.


  1. This might be the most comprehensive review of any HPE server product ever done. I’m happy to see you’re reviewing HPE again.

  2. We’re a big Dell shop and use your R740xd and R7415 reviews all the time. I know several of our customers that used STH reviews as the deciding factor when we’ve quoted for them. This is a great review but I’m not thrilled about our HPE competition having access to STH review material.

    Only 2 LFF is weak. Dell has better m2 options too.

  3. Another stellar review STH.

    You’re right. I think we priced out a DL20 Gen9 and the config was $1050 and the iLO Advanced for internet KVM and media was $200. We were buying 4 servers so it was buy 4 HPE or 5 white box. We don’t need any of the other features but our remote hands cost is $120. We even did the analysis of what it’d cost to just do remote hands and it was cheaper.

    Your market assumption is off. I don’t think outside of dedicated web hosting there’s a market for these in quantity at a location At 5 servers we’d just get a dual Xeon Gold or Silver server and virtualize. I’d say there’s either really big installations of hundreds or thousands of these servers or small 1 to 4 server installs but not much between.

  4. I love this site.

    That’s a great insight you’ve got on kvm over ip. Maybe they sell advanced on one of 4 servers and that’s like all the margin for the product line. It’s a shame they don’t get more competitive with that feature.

  5. I was interested until you talked about the hamstrung iLO, I’ll stick with Supermicro who provide virtual media included in their lower priced boxes.

  6. Did you try to fit a Nvidia Quadro M2000 in the half length full height pci-e gen 3 slot? Looking at the picture the P2000 might not fit due to the heat sink

  7. Hi,

    I am going to order a CTO DL20 Gen10 tomorrow.
    The price jump from Single 290W PSU to Redundant 500W is really big.
    I am thinking of buying the single 290W model and maybe buy an extra PSU in case of failure.

    How many years do they work 24/7 before they fail at average? 5-7 years?
    I have a Dell R710 (2010) with redundant PSU and I had a failure in 3-4 months!
    DL20 will replace old dell.

  8. Hello! Can somebody tell more about noise which is produced by this server. We hava a small branch Office and I am wondering if this server can take place in 19″ rack under the Office desk? Thanks

  9. Hi Andrej, it was too loud to be under my desk if that helps. We have an upcoming review of the ProLiant HPE ML30 Gen10 along with other tower servers in this class that are quiet and can be placed under a desk.

  10. Could somebody which HPE model(, HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10???), has been integrated with Intel N3000 card and passed tests?




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