HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus CPU Upgrades
One of the biggest reasons we wanted to get three systems working in parallel is that we wanted to try different CPU configurations. We have more than 20 CPUs that work in this socket in our lab. HPE told us that it should support any up to 71W, however, HPE also asked us to test higher to see if it works. We tested both the Intel Pentium Gold G5420 and Xeon E-2224 which are the stock CPUs in our MSG10+ review piece.
We tried the Intel Xeon E-2288G first. This is the top-end CPU that is possible in the socket with 8 cores, 16 threads, and up to 5GHz clock speeds. This booted just fine and seemed to work acceptably. When we fired up Prime95 on Windows Server 2019, we hit 194.5W on the Extech TrueRMS power meter with only an internal SATA boot SSD (OS idle) and 64GB of memory installed. For a 180W DC power brick, this is simply too much, especially if you add hard drives to the 3.5″ bays and an add-in card or two. Most users are not going to run something as demanding as Prime95, but if you want to get a lot of CPU performance, we suggest you look elsewhere at this point. Running a power supply above its rated spec is not recommended.
The Intel Xeon E-2246G is our top-pick just like the Xeon E-2146G was the generation before it. At 128.2W max under Prime95 with 64GB of memory and a boot SSD the Xeon E-2246G seems like a good fit. We found the E-2146G ran slightly lower-power in our test unit at 125.9W. Given there is a fairly small gap between the two, they are both good options. Moving up to the E-2276G we saw 137.6W which was higher than we expected. If you do not have a configuration full of drives, that can make sense, but if you are loading the MGS10+ with devices. The Intel Xeon E-2286G hit 142.1W also higher than we would suggest with four hard drives and a NIC installed.
If you want to swap the Xeon E-2224, other solid options are the Intel Xeon E-2234 and Core i3-9100(F). If you saw a good deal on either and you wanted to sell your CPU this can be a fairly incremental delta. Indeed, compared to the Pentium G5420, the Core i3-9100F is a great upgrade at a modest performance increase.
For those shopping for a new CPU, here is our rough guidelines. As a quick note here, we now have six Xeon E-2224 chips and we see around a 5W variance in our testing depending on the exact chip used. Treat these numbers as directional rather than exact figures:
After testing 23 different combinations, we can say there are several options that do not work in our system due to power consumption. We are treating 130W as our cutoff here to leave enough power for four hard drives, a USB 3.0 boot drive, and a lower-power NIC without going over 180W under load. Given we tested 23 of the 26 solutions, we were able to fill in most of the blanks. Of those 23 combinations, we had two stock options which of course make sense. We saw four other options that we can certainly recommend. There are four others that if one had the right deal on a processor, we think they can make sense, otherwise, we would stick to the six stock and recommended options.
As an example, with the Intel Xeon E-2224’s list price of just over $190, upgrading a 6-core 12 thread Xeon E-2236 can be a $100 or so proposition if one resells the stock part. At that point, one has a fairly powerful server at a very reasonable price.
We hope this helps you gauge where you may want to upgrade or downgrade in the stack. Again, the Xeon E-2100 series parts, if they can be had at a discount, are certainly worth a look as well since we are using new pricing as our guide.
Hitting 140TB Raw Storage on the MSG10+
In the 4-bay NAS territory, we see many installations at places such as photography studios where an aging collection of external drives eventually lead to a 4-bay NAS. We wanted to see if we could cost-effectively get to over 100TB of raw capacity in this system. One option was to add a SAS controller and hook it up to a disk shelf, but that seemed like a bad idea as those are really two incompatible form factors. Instead, we hooked up four internal and four external USB 3.0 drives. We settled on 14TB drives as the external versions go on sale for under $200. 20TB drives would add up to 80TB in the form factor and 16TB drives could hit 64TB of raw capacity but both cost more to the point that we did not think they were the right direction for a sub $800 otherwise server.
We hit 4x 14TB or 56TB raw without any issues using 5400rpm drives, but wanted to go bigger. As a result, we thought about those photography studios and added 4x 14TB external drives. That gave us a total of 112TB raw for around $1600 of storage costs without tax and shipping. The total for everything including the server with 32GB of memory, a boot SSD, and a dual 10GbE NIC was under $2500 shipped.
We then went a step further and assumed an embedded OS such as Unraid or FreeNAS/ TrueNAS Core on the server using a USB 2.0 internal drive. That allows us to use all four drive bays and all six USB 3 ports (2 front, 4 rear) with external drives. 10x 14TB = 140TB raw storage. The above we setup using Ubuntu. You can see we have 127TB usable.
Here is the full system topology of a HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus with ten drives including one per USB 3 port and a 25GbE NIC installed. You can also see this particular unit is upgraded to an Intel Xeon E-2234 with twice the threads of the Xeon E-2224. More on some of these upgrades later in this piece.
You should, of course, never create an array like this. We just wanted to show that using USB 3 external HDDs is possible on every port. Many will use the MicroServer Gen10 Plus with external drives to provide capabilities such as offline backups.
Testing Hard Drive Storage on the MSG10+
Officially a WD Red 14TB drive is spec’d at 6.5W average read/ write power consumption. That means four drives internally take 26W average. That can hit higher peaks so we use 10W for a safety margin here. That means we are budgeting 26-40W for drives. There are 8TB and 10TB drives where the average power consumption is over 8W each.
We tried 7200rpm 10TB HGST drives as well. While the MSG10+ can cool the drives, they will use over 40W of the power budget so we strongly suggest using 5400rpm Helium drives if possible. Another benefit is that using lower rpm Helium drives also lowers vibration in the chassis.
If one looks to higher-power drives and wants to install a NIC, be careful. One technically has only around 70W to play with to meet the power budget of the HPE MSG10+’s 180W power brick in a worst-case scenario. Leaving 10% there is only 52W available and leaving 20%, as one would do to be “safe” on most circuits means there is only 34W.
You can use higher-capacity and power drives, but we strongly suggest that if you are using a 10GbE or 25GbE NIC, plus a SSD or two that are powered by the server, that you use only 5400rpm drives. There will be those that do not stress test their servers blissfully unaware that they are creating a power overload scenario so watch out for anyone making “halo” builds and not doing power consumption testing at the same time.
As a quick note. We do not recommend the new WD Red SMR drives. See WD Red SMR vs CMR Tested Avoid Red SMR.
We were extremely successful liberating 3.5″ hard drives from WD Easystore enclosures and using them in these units. Watch out in the future in the event they are SMR drives. Do some research on which drives people have been having success with.