HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Review This is Super

47
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Hero
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Hero

In our HPE MicroServer Gen10 Plus Review we are going to cover a lot of ground, so get ready. This compact server is designed to be smaller and higher performing than the previous generation. What we have found over a few weeks of working with the system in various configurations is that this is an excellent platform.

Taking a moment to see the roadmap, upon announcement of the new server, we dissected the spec sheet of the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus. We then did a piece on the MicroServer Gen10 Plus (or Gen10+) versus the older Gen10 revision. We are going to discuss that briefly below, but we wanted to show what this mid-generation change offers in terms of differences. Some have called that piece a review, which is something we disagree with. This piece will be our formal review of the MicroServer Gen10 Plus including common HPE options. Next in this series will be a more expansive view of what is possible. We have just shy of 20 CPUs we are testing in our MicroServer Gen10 Plus and that simply takes time. We also have various options to give you ideas regarding how you can take the server’s base and turn it into something truly unique to fit your, or your client’s needs.

In this review, we are going to focus on what HPE delivers to its customers with the ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus so you know what you can expect. We are going to go into the hardware that makes this server on an in-depth basis. We are going to look at the system topology and management. After that, we are going to test 10 different OSes and the out-of-box experience including popular Linux, Windows, and even FreeBSD distributions. Next, we will delve into the performance of both CPU SKU options, the Intel Xeon E-2224 and Pentium Gold G5420 and compare them to the previous generation’s performance. Finally, we will end with power consumption, noise, the STH Server Spider, and our final thoughts. This will be an extremely thorough piece on the new HPE ProLiant MSG10+.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus v. Gen10

The first hands-on piece in this series is our HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus v Gen10 Hardware Overview. You can read the piece at that link, and also check out the short video summary.

Key changes in this generation are moving to a smaller physical footprint with an external power supply. Internally, changes were made to remove the optical drive bay, add iLO 5 management, and alter the PCIe slot configuration. We also witnessed a move from the AMD Opteron X3400 series to the newest generation’s LGA1151 Intel Xeon E-2224 and Pentium Gold G5420 processors that offer new features and more performance. There is a lot to cover, so if you were thinking about the HPE MicroServer Gen10 Plus and are familiar with the Gen10, that piece is worth going through.

In the rest of this piece, we are going to go in-depth into what you can expect from the new MicroServer including the hardware, software, performance, management, and operational aspects.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Hardware Overview

We are going into a lot of depth here. As a result, we are going to split this section into an external hardware overview which is what one will see if they do not care about how the system works. We will then go into detail around the internal components and features before moving on to other sections of this review.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus External Hardware Overview

The HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus is small. It measures 4.68″ x 9.65″ x 9.65″ (11.89 x 24.5 x 24.5cm.) it is also one attractive box to have around especially if you have excellent lighting to make the HPE logo pop. One can see a power button as well as status activity lights. The two USB ports are USB 3.2 Gen2 ports with means they are capable of 10Gbps operation.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Front
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Front

On the rear of the unit, we can see all of the ports and I/O surrounding a central fan. The fan is the only moving part in this generation. It is, therefore, non-redundant but half as likely to experience a fan failure as a two fan unit.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Rear
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Rear

To the left of the fan, we have two low-profile slots for expansion. We will discuss those later in this hardware overview. Below them, one can find the DC input. With this generation, we have an external power supply so there is a power input on the rear of the unit.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Rear Expansion ILO And DC In
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Rear Expansion ILO And DC In

External DC power supplies can be pulled out of the chassis accidentally so HPE included a retention clip for the DC plug. You can actually see that in the packaging, HPE had to make a cutout for this clip.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus In The Box
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus In The Box

The power supply is a 180W LiteOn unit which looks like it could power an enormous laptop.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus LiteOn External Power Supply
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus LiteOn External Power Supply

On the right rear of the unit, we find the primary system I/O. This includes four 1GbE NICs, a VGA and DisplayPort (for management) and four USB 3.2 Gen1 ports.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Rear IO View
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Rear IO View

We wish HPE had found some way to provide SFP+ 10GbE networking here. The cost of SFP+ to 10Gbase-T and Nbase-T has fallen in just a few years from thousands of dollars per module to $35 to $60 per module. Adding 10GbE would have made this server immensely more interesting and freed the expansion slot for other duties.

Removing the top cover is required to access the internals. It also allows one to access the latching mechanisms that keep the front cover locked. Having these locks is important to keep hard drives safe especially in edge locations.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Rear Top Removed
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Rear Top Removed

The two black screws on the system’s rear hold the motherboard tray in place. Once these are removed, one can simply slide the tray out, detach a few cables and get access to the internal components.

Hard drives are installed in a 2×2 matrix. 3.5″ drives utilize four pegs that are screwed into the standard hard drive mounting holes. HPE goes the extra step here and places these pegs in lines below drives so one can keep them safe and easily access them when needed. This is technically a tray-less but not tool-less design and is carried over from the original Gen10 latching mechanism.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Hard Drive In Bay
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Hard Drive In Bay

For 2.5″ drives, you will need a 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter to mount 2.5″ drives, such as SSDs, into the MSG10+. This is not a huge deal, but it does add cost to the system. It would have been extremely cool if HPE could have found a way to add two 2.5″ SATA bays just below the 3.5″ bays even if they were for 7mm SATA only.

3.5″ drives are supremely important in this market. They offer high-capacity and low-cost for local backups, surveillance video storage, as well as content sharing. While we received a lot of feedback on our earlier Gen10+ v. Gen10 content that an 8x 2.5″ chassis would be welcome for all-flash, and we agree to some extent, there is more to play here. HPE is using the Intel C242 PCH which means it only has 6x SATA III ports onboard. In order to support 8x 2.5″ bays, HPE would need to move up to the C246 PCH. While this is doable, it also adds cost. A good compromise is simply exposing two more SATA ports and bays if possible.

Continuing to add features such as a higher-end PCH and doubling bays may sound great, but then feature creep starts to bring it into HPE ProLiant ML30 Gen10 positioning. When we reviewed the ProLiant ML30 Gen10 we used an 8x 2.5″ model and that is based on a Xeon E platform as well. Our thought is that HPE is trying to service a specific market with the MSG10+ in the context of the company’s broader portfolio. HPE has an option for all-flash, it is simply a different server.

Next, we are going to look inside the system at what makes the package so effective.

1
2
3
4
5
6
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Aesthetics
9.5
Performance
9.3
Feature Set
9.2
Value
9.4
Previous articleSupermicro MegaDC Bridges Traditional and Hyper-Scale
Next articleAMD EPYC 7282 Benchmarks and Review
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.

47 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve skimmed this and wow. This is another STH Magnum Opus. I’ll read the full thing later today and pass it along to our IT team that manages branch offices.

  2. I made it to page 4 before I ordered one. That iLO enablement kit isn’t stocked in the channel so watch out. I’m now excited beyond compare for this.

  3. A really nice review, thanks a lot. impressed with the Xeon performance at this kind of low power system. I should/really want to get one, replacing my old gen 7 microserver home server.

  4. I like seeing bloggers and other guys review stuff, but STH ya’ll are in a different league. It’s like someone who understands both the technical and market aspects doing reviews. I think this format is even better than the GPU server review you did earlier this week.

    I’d like to know your thoughts about two or three of these versus a single ML110 or ML350. Is it worth going smaller and getting HA even if you’ve got 3 servers? I know that’s not part of this review. Maybe it’s a future guide.

  5. You’re Windows 10 testing is genius but you missed why. What you’ve created is a Windows 10 Pro remote desktop system that can be managed using iLO, is small and compact and it’s got 4 internal 3.5″ bays.

    If you plug RDP in, it’s a high-storage compact desktop when others this small in the market have shunned 3.5″.

  6. gentle suggestion: perhaps when taking photos of “small” items like this, have another human hold a ruler to give perspective of size (more helpful than a banana 🙂

    Thanks for mentioning the price within the article. Good info all around.

  7. Not impressed by this product nor this review; need more infos on thermal performances.

    Review lacks any discussion of thermal performance other than showing us the pretty picture of the iLO page and a brief mention of thermal limits on the PCI3 Gen3 slot with certain add-in cards.

    Complete lack of discussion of thermal performance of horizontally mounted HDD in this device where the review already admits to possible thermal issues with the design.

    For me this review looks like a Youtube “unboxing” article for HPE products and not a serious product performance review.

    Patrick, you can do better than this. Srsly.

  8. Sleepy – we used up to 7.2k RPM 10TB WD/HGST HDDs and did not see an issue. We also discussed maximum headroom for drives + PCIe + USB powered devices is around 70W given the 180W PSU and how the fan ramps at around 10min at ~110W.

    In the next piece, we have more on adding CPUs/ PCIe cards and we have touched the 180W PSU limit without thermal issues. Having done that, the thermal performance/ issue you mention is not present. If the unit can handle thermals up to the PSU’s maximum power rating, then it is essentially a non-issue.

  9. A random question, if I may : will the Gen10Plus physically stack on top of / below a Gen10 or Gen8 Microserver cleanly? It looks like it should but confirmation would be appreciated 🙂

  10. In the “comparison” article (between the MSG10 and the MSG10+), you wrote about the “missing” extra fifth internal SATA port: “[…] I think we have a solution that we will show in the full review we will publish for the MicroServer Gen10+.”
    I really had hoped to read about this solution! Or did I just miss it?

    Also, I’d like to know more about the integrated graphics: If I’m understanding it correctly, the display connectors on the back (VGA and DisplayPort, both marked blue) are for management only; meaning that even if you have a CPU with integrated GPU, that is not going to do much for you. (This is in line with the Gen8, but a definite difference with respect to the MSG10!) So … what GPU is it? A Matrox G200 like on the Gen8? Or something with a little more oomph?
    Personally, I’m saddened to see that HPE skimped on making the iGPU unusable. 🙁

  11. TomH – the Gen10 Plus is slightly wider if you look at dimensions. You can probably stack a Gen10 atop a Gen10 Plus but not the other way around.

    Nic – great point. As mentioned in the article, we ended up splitting this piece into a review of the unit for sale, and some of the customizations you can do beyond HPE’s offerings. It was already over 6K words. For this, we ended up buying 2 more MSG10+ units to test in parallel and get the next article out faster.

  12. Thanks Patrick – had hoped the “indent” on the top might be the same size as previous models, despite the overall dimensional differences, but guess not!

  13. Patrick – sounds great! Btw, next to the cmos battery, there is undocumented 60pin connector. Do you have any idea what is this for?

  14. Does iLO Enablement Kit allows you to use server after OS boot, ot is this the same as big servers where iLO advance licence is needed?

  15. Nikolas Skytter -> 4* WD40EFRX -> About 32C in idle (ambient around 20-21C), max 36C when all disks testing with badblocks. Fan speed 8% (idle).

  16. Patrick – I have found that undocumented connector exists on several supermicro motherboards as well.. and guess what.. undocumented in manual as well. Starting to be really curious..

  17. Lucky you, how were you able to install the latest Proxmox VE 6.1 on this server?
    As soon as the OS loads, the Intel Ethernet Controller I350-AM4 turns off completely :\

  18. Hi, could you please test if this unit can boot from nvme/m.2 disk in pcie slot without problem? There are some settings in bios that points to it, even there is no m.2 slot. Thanks!

  19. Having skipped the GEN10 and still owning a GEN7 and GEN8 Microserver this Plus version looks like a worthy replacement. Although I would have liked to see that HPE switched to an internal PSU, ditched the 3.5 HDD bays for 6 or 8 2.5 SSD bays (the controller can handle 12 lanes) and used 4x SODIMMS sockets to give 4 memory lanes. I also agree with Kennedy that 10Gbit would be a nice option (for at least 2 ports).

  20. How did you manage to connect to the iLO interface? My enablement board did not have the usual tag with the factory-set password on it. Is there some default password for those models?

  21. Has anyone else had / having issues when running VM’s? I have the E2224 Xeon model 16Gb RAM, but keep having performance issues. Namely storage.

    Current setup 1x Evo 850 500Gb SSD 2x Seagate Barracuda 7.2k 2Tb Spindle disks.

    Installing the Hypervisor works fine. Tried ESXi 6.5,6.7 and 7 and used the HPE images. All installed to USB and then tried to SSD all install and run ok, but when setting up a VM, it becomes slow – 1.5hrs to install a windows 10 image, then the image is unuseable.

    Installed Windows Server 2019 Eval on to bare metal, Installs ok, but then goes super sluggish when running Hyper-V to the point of being unusable. Updated to the latest BIOS etc using the SPP iso.

    Example. Copy 38Gb file from my Nas to local storage under 2k19, get full 1Gbps, start a hyper-v vm, it slows to a few kbps, even copying from USB on the Windows 2019 server, not VM, Mouse becomes jumpy and unresponsive.

    Dropped the VM vCPU to 2, then one, still no difference.

    Tried 2 other SSD’s.

    BIOS settings were set to General Compute performance, and Virtualization Max performance.

    Beginning to think I have a faulty unit.

  22. Hi! Do you think that it could be possible to add a SAS raid controller on the PCI express and use it with the provided sas connector?

    It would look a little frankenstein but with a NVME on the minipcie and a proper raid controller this would be a perfect microserver for ESXI

  23. Hi Patrick, thx for the amazing review!

    After reading this review I decided to buy this amazing device with the Xeon CPU and 2x Crucial 32GB. So-far-so-good. But I have a strange problem. The Sata disk (1Tb) is performing very bad (10-20 MB/s) in Vmware, Xen and HyperV. After replacing them, i still had the same problem. SSD is performing better, 200-300 MB/s, but still not optimal.

    After connecting an 6TB Sata disk via RDM in VMWare it was performing better and when I install clean Ubuntu it works as suppose to be. But Virtualization is a disaster. I hope I do not have a faulty device.

    @Chris: You are discribing exactly the same problem I have!

  24. Nice to see half microserver. It’d be a tease if I had choice at the time buying full microserver. Especially for the noise. Full microserver just can’t be tweaked for noise and would spin non-standard fan on non-standar connector with non-standard pwm up and down.
    There’s even 4 aggregable NICs and 1 slot for 10gbit.
    The only issue is CPU choice this time, 3226 passmark / 54W or 7651 passmark / 71W. That’s far above from i’d expect for a microserver. In the era of almost zero watt i7 NUCs. Otherwise, nice build.

  25. Hi, I was googling HPE Microserver Gen 10 plus Windows 10 and got to this article. I have been trying to install Windows 10 Pro on it. First it would not installed when the S100i SW RAID Array was enabled and two drives set up as RAID 1. W10 did not recognize the array. I reset the control to SATA and was able to finish the installation. However, the display driver was not installed (use Microsoft basic display adapter driver) and device manager shows unknown devices: 2 x Base System Device and PCI simple communications controller.

    I updated the BIOS to the latest one U48 2.16. The Windows updates did not update any driver. I’ve check the HPE support site and found no driver for Windows 10 (unlike Gen 10). I am wondering how you have installed Windows 10 on this machine. Thank you for any feedback.

  26. @Jonh Peng: Hi John, I found this article due to the same reason as you. Have you solved the troubles with Windows 10 yet? Have you tried to install drivers which are available for HPE MicroServer Gen 10 (not plus)?

  27. what is VGA “management”? can it connect to display or not? confused about the secretivness about it.. i don’t care about transcoding, but i assume i can log in to console via VGA/DP port.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here