HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Review This is Super

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HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus OS Testing

HPE has a number of OSes in its support list. We, of course, would suggest sticking to this validation list if you want to stay in-bounds for support.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus QuickSpecs Supported OSes
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus QuickSpecs Supported OSes

With that said, these machines are going to get used with many other OSes. So we tried checking out a few of the other options that are not necessarily on this list. When we did the hardware overview and said that the hardware is extremely well supported, we wanted to show some proof.

Below you can find our results with:

  1. Ubuntu
  2. CentOS
  3. Proxmox VE
  4. FreeNAS
  5. TrueNAS-Core (development)
  6. Unraid
  7. VMware ESXi
  8. XCP-ng
  9. Windows 10
  10. Windows Server 2019

These ten OSes we wanted to use to get a sense of how hard installing different environments are on the MSG10+.

MSG10+ with Ubuntu

We tried Ubuntu 18.04.4 LTS server (Bionic) and that worked out of the box with the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus. We also wanted to try the latest desktop environment so we utilized a Ubuntu 19.10 release desktop LiveCD as well.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Ubuntu 19.10 Out Of Box Working With 2.5GbE USB 3.0 Adapter
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Ubuntu 19.10 Out Of Box Working With 2.5GbE USB 3.0 Adapter

As you can see, it worked out of the box.

MSG10+ with CentOS 8

Since RHEL 8 is on the official compatibility list, we guessed that CentOS 8 (1911) would work on the MicroServer Gen10 Plus.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus CentOS 8 1911 Out Of Box NICs
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus CentOS 8 1911 Out Of Box NICs

We were not disappointed and this worked out-of-the-box. One item to be aware of is that the service NIC shows up in the installer. You want to use one of the Intel i350 NICs. Luckily they were enumerated in the same order that we see labeled on the chassis which is why we are using a single NIC plugged in here. It is easy to tell which is #1 if only #1 is connected.

MSG10+ with Proxmox VE

Proxmox VE is a very popular open-source Linux-based virtualization and container stack built on Debian Linux. It offers KVM for virtual machines and LXD containers. For storage, it integrates ZFS, Ceph, GlusterFS, LVM, and more. One of the interesting capabilities of Proxmox VE is that it handles clustering and high-availability across the cluster. If you want to have a KVM-virtualization cluster backed by Ceph storage with HA on your MicroServer cluster, Proxmox VE does it with a GUI and without VMware licensing.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Proxmox VE 6.1 Installer
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Proxmox VE 6.1 Installer

For this, we used Proxmox VE 6.1-1 and the standard installer ISO. We tried two modes. One installation we utilized a SATA SSD. The other we used a USB drive that fails on some systems.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Proxmox VE 6.1 Installed
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Proxmox VE 6.1 Installed

Here, both installations work without issue. This took only a few minutes to set up.

MSG10+ with FreeNAS

FreeNAS is an extremely popular NAS operating system that is run in many locations on systems very similar to the MicroServer Gen10 Plus. Indeed, many previous-generation MicroServers have been used as FreeNAS storage machines.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus FreeNAS 11.3 U1 Installer
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus FreeNAS 11.3 U1 Installer

We fired up the FreeNAS 11.3 U1 installer via an iLO mounted ISO and the install went along smoothly.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus FreeNAS 11.3 U1 Installer 2
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus FreeNAS 11.3 U1 Installer 2

Within a few minutes we had FreeNAS installed and we were at the WebGUI.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus FreeNAS 11.3 U1 Installed WebUI
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus FreeNAS 11.3 U1 Installed WebUI

FreeNAS is built upon FreeBSD. There are times, such as with the Intel Atom C3000 NIC where FreeBSD, and by extension FreeNAS, are very slow to support new hardware. In this case, sine HPE is using the proven Xeon E platform and the Intel i350-am4 NIC, everything works out-of-the-box.

MSG10+ with TrueNAS-Core

We covered that in Q3 of 2020 TrueNAS-Core will merge with and replace FreeNAS as the free offering in the popular NAS space. You can read more information about that switch in FreeNAS is Dead Long Live TrueNAS CORE.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus TrueNAS Core 12 Installer
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus TrueNAS Core 12 Installer

We wanted to see the status of TrueNAS-Core since many will read this review and ask in a few months when the new version is released and FreeNAS branding is retired. We used the 2020-03-09 nightly build installer ISO to see how compatibility is coming along.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus TrueNAS Core 12 Login
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus TrueNAS Core 12 Login

Installation overall went very smoothly.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus TrueNAS Core 12 Dashboard
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus TrueNAS Core 12 Dashboard

As you can see, the MSG10+ is already working with a software platform that will not be out for more than a quarter. This is the power of using well-supported parts.

MSG10+ with Unraid

Unraid is another popular edge storage and virtualization solution. Unlike some of the other open-source models, Unraid uses an affordable license that is relatively inexpensive for smaller 4-bay units like this.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Unraid 6.8.3
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Unraid 6.8.3

Here, we simply burned the OS image to a USB 3.0 flash drive and Unraid 6.8.3 worked out-of-the-box.

MSG10+ with VMware ESXi

VMware ESXi 6.5-U3 and 6.7-U3 are on the official HCL. VMware is very popular but hardware support can be challenging at times. We wanted to expand on the OS compatibility list, so we picked up an earlier ESXi 6.5 image and installed that.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus VMware ESXi
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus VMware ESXi

As you can see, this installed without issue. Since HPE is using the Intel i350-am4 that is popular on supported mainstream rackmount servers, ESXi already has the driver and works out-of-the-box. There is no adding a driver to the installation image to get a NIC working here, everything works.

You can see that we are using the Xeon E-2224 for this and not the Pentium Gold G5420 version. HPE notes that ESXi is only supported with Xeon E and not the Pentium model.

As a quick note here, since this is using the HPE S100i SATA controller, which is essentially the Intel PCH chipset SATA, one cannot use the onboard RAID function with VMware. VMware does not play with software RAID here which is somewhat ridiculous in 2020, but that is where we are with the legacy enterprise virtualization vendor. You will need a SmartArray option for hardware RAID which will use your PCIe slot making higher-speed networking impossible.

MSG10+ with XCP-ng

For those who are not familiar, XCP-ng is a project that is designed to take over as the open fork of XenServer after some licensing/ directional changes. Although most cloud providers have moved to KVM, Xen virtualization is still popular for many and the MicroServer Gen10 Plus can make a great lab or edge deployment platform. We booted XCP-ng on the MSG10+ and installed from the standard 8.0 installation ISO.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Xcp Ng Installed
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Xcp Ng Installed

As you may have guessed at this point, this worked without issue.

MSG10+ with Microsoft Windows 10

Some may wonder whether one can run a Microsoft Windows 10 OS on the Microserver Gen10 Plus. Some users like the lower cost licensing versus server variants and want to use Windows 10. We figured, why not?

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Windows 10 Pro
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Windows 10 Pro

This worked without issue without requiring additional drivers to get to the desktop with functioning networking. This is an important state because if you were to add additional hardware or want to update drivers, having a functioning 1GbE interface where you can pull drivers from a remote location is important.

MSG10+ with Microsoft Windows Server 2019

Microsoft Windows Server 2019 is on the HPE MicroServer Gen10 Plus compatibility list, along with WS2016. We gave it a shot here.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Windows Server 2019 Essentials
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus Windows Server 2019 Essentials

As we expected based on HPE’s compatibility list, this worked without issue.

This gives us a great perspective that the system is extremely well-supported out-of-the-box in major OSes. The next question we aim to answer is the performance which is what we will tackle next.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Aesthetics
9.5
Performance
9.3
Feature Set
9.2
Value
9.4
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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.

64 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.

  28. Hi there. Thanks for posting this article, there’s lots of great information.

    One thing I am trying to find out is what is the maximum resolution from either the VGA port or the Display port, under Windows Server 2016.

    We would like to run them at 1920×1080

    HPE were unable to help (not sure why, they make them but ???)

    Any help would be appreciated.

  29. I was wondering if I could get more specs on the power supply? I’ve just ordered a few microservers but I’d like to have a spare PS on hand. Looking up the official part number has turned up nothing relevant.

  30. I am wondering if anyone has had issues with the fan noise when running Debian or Proxmox? I’ve found that even when they are idle, the fans after a while will spike to 100% and sit there indefinitely till I restart the system.

    Just curious if there is a solution to the problem, perhaps additional tools to install or compatible drivers, or something I can change in the BIOS to stop this happening?

  31. Can I install and run Windows Server 2019 from an M.2 drive in a PCIe board without need for additional drivers? If so, do I need a specific type of card or M.2 SSD?

  32. @SomebodyInGNV, I have W10 running using a Silverstone ECM22 PCIe Expansion Card with a
    WD Black 500GB SN750 M.2 2280 NVME PCI-E Gen3 Solid State Drive (WDS500G3X0C).

  33. Hi there,
    Do you think a RAID card (LSI 9267-8i for ex.) could be used keeping power connector on the MB and using the card’s data port ?
    Thx

  34. Very useful and enjoyable review, one the best I’ve read in years 🙂

    I wonder if I could seek your thoughts…. I have an Adaptec 3405 which I’ve used for years. I know it’s an old card now (purchased about 2007) but works great and is super solid with every SATA and SAS drive configuration I’ve used with it. It has never let me down and I know how it ticks.

    I appreciate the drives can be SATA only in the HPE Gen 10+, because of the back-plane to the drives, but would you say there is a reasonable chance this card will work with this HP’s motherboard as long as I continue to use SATA drives only? I have a low profile card bracket for it and it’s not a particularly wide card (so I’m pretty sure it will physically fit) but I’m most concerned the HP’s firmware won’t like it. The server it is currently in was built only in 2019 and works fine. Do you have any experience of using older RAID cards that are from non-HP vendors?

    Many thanks in advance for even just your thoughts – alternatively whether you can recommend any hardware RAID cards that are suitable for this unit if you think my Adaptec re-use might be unwise would also be appreciated 🙂

  35. Great Review! I actually bought a MicroServer Gen10 plus on the recommendation form this article. unfortunately, when I received it, I could not access the bios. It seems like the F9-F11 keys do not work. ILO 5 is disabled (per the msg in the boot screen). I am at a loss. I know the keyboard works ( can navigate a Ubuntu installation with it and Ctrl+alt+Del works). Ive tried to clear the NVRAM using the #6 jumper, to no avail.

    Any ideas on how I can get into the bios? I’ve tried every USB port including the internal one. any helps would be greatly apprecaited

  36. hi, I’ve stumbled on this guide while looking for ways to properly install windows 10 pro on the gen10 plus. so far, while windows runs, the driver situation is just horrible. so may unrecognized drivers, and the display is basically locked in a single resolution. so drivers are available anywhere in HP’s site and windows update doesnt pull in any either. just wondering if anyone has been able to resolve the driver situation. thanks

  37. Jati Indrapramasto, it is interesting to see someone with the problem of not being able to find desktop OS (Windows 10) drivers for a box instead of the other way around of being able to find all of the desktop drivers you could need but no server OS (Server 2019) drivers.
    I guess this nice little box is a server at heart.
    It is a real pleasure not having to manipulate driver files to work with Server 2019 on this sweet little server.

  38. Jati Indrapramasto, I forgot to wish you luck with finding drivers for Windows 10. Good luck hope you are successful.

  39. Seems that, at the moment at least, the G5420 model is fairly hard to find. Given that this box is now nearly 3 years old, do we have any idea if HPE are going be replacing this soon, or is this purely a victim of the semiconductor shortage?

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