HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus SSD Options and Boot Drives
First off, HPE sent us a Samsung PM883 2.5″ 240GB SATA III 6.0gbps SSD (HPE P/N P02760-001 / GPN P04573-001.) For many users they are going to be happy purchasing HPE hardware and simply using the server with very few additions. That is not the point of this piece, however, we should mention that if you want 1-2 SSDs and 0-3 hard drives, an easy, well-supported option is to simply purchase them from HPE. Aside from that, there are internal and external solutions that you may want to consider.
Internal SATA SSDs
Here there are plenty of options. One can technically add a SAS3 controller for RAID and use SAS drives with the HPE MSG10+. If you need a RAID controller for mirrored Windows or VMware boot, then this is certainly an option. It will utilize the only PCIe slot which means there will be limited networking connectivity options.
Here, the field is fairly open. SATA III SSDs are such a mature technology that we suggest using data center/ enterprise SATA SSDs with power-loss protection, but otherwise, optimizing for capacity per dollar is probably the right way to go. HPE uses a lot of Samsung and Intel drives along with those from other vendors. We have yet to find a SSD that was an issue.
If you do get a 2.5″ SSD, one of the major challenges will be mounting the drive. The MSG10+ utilizes a 3.5″ mounting system so you will need a 2.5″ to 3.5″ converter. There are many options out there. Perhaps the easiest we have found is the HP 654540-001 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter tray. These are simple and usually can be had for $10 or less. You can install the mounting pegs to these adapters and then install your SSD into the HPE MSG10+.
Internal SATA/ NVMe SSDs
Internal SATA SSD options are fairly straightforward. You will want to look for PCIe to M.2 SSD cards. Specifically, one or two M.2 SATA SSD cards that have an onboard SATA controller. You can also check to ensure the card is a low profile card and comes with a low-profile bracket.
Internal NVMe SSDs are very interesting. The system supports PCIe bifurcation so if you wanted to try a multi-NVMe SSD card, then there is hope even without using a PCIe switches onboard.
There are options using PCIe switches such as the StarTech PEX8M2E2 adapter which offers two drive capability in a single PCIe slot without requiring bifurcation support.
These PCIe switches use power, so we generally suggest avoiding them given how power-constrained the MSG10+ is.
There are other options such as the Intel DC P3608 and later cards that effectively had two SSDs per card built-in. Our general preference if you plan to use a single NVMe SSD in this system is to use an add-in card rather than a M.2 SSD since there is generally more surface area for heatsinks and cooling.
Of course, there are plenty of low profile PCIe add-in card NVMe SSDs that will work in the slot as standard NVMe SSDs as well. Since there are so many options there, we are going to let our readers explore that world more. We just wanted to give some idea of the possibilities outside of the easy options.
Going External: USB 3 SSDs
One of the best solutions we can tell our readers to look at for a low-cost SSD to be used as a boot device is the Seagate One Touch SSD 500GB.
These drives we purchased for under $77 each including tax and shipping. They are not the fastest drives (reaching up to around 400MB/s in our testing), but they have plenty of capacity at 500GB for boot duties and even housing light VMs. If you are going to run VMs from USB 3.0 media, make sure to strap the USB 3.0 cable down and velcro these drives to the servers to ensure that they do not become detached. We would have preferred these go inside the chassis, but the internal Type-A header is USB 2.0 only.
If you want to go fast, then using the 1TB Crucial X8 SSD can be a better option. This is a USB 3.2 Gen2 drive that can hit 1GB/s speeds attached to the front two ports of the MSG10+ which are also USB 3.0 Gen2 capable. You can read our full review of these drives in our Crucial 1TB X8 USB 3.2 Gen2 SSD Review.
There are, of course, other options. We even tried putting SATA III drives in inexpensive sub-$10 Sabrent 2.5-Inch SATA to USB 3.0 Tool-Free Clear External enclosures which worked fine with the MSG10+. We suggest looking for external enclosures that support UASP for storage optimizations. At the same time, pre-packaged solutions are much smaller and, such as with the 1TB Crucial X8, are built to be more rugged than some of these inexpensive drive cases.
One interesting note here is that technically the USB 3 drives are hot-swappable while the internal 3.5″ HPE MSG10+ drive bays are not. We also wanted to point out that each SSD uses a few watts, usually under 5W. For one or two drives this is not a huge load. If you are using two USB 3.2 Gen2 SSDs and four USB 3.0 SSDs all powered by the USB bus, then that can take a large part of the system’s power budget.
Going External on a Budget USB 3 Thumb Drives
An option for many OSes, especially those that do not perform heavy writes to boot media such as VMware ESXi is to use budget USB 3.0 thumb drives. The most popular is the SanDisk Ultra Fit line and we have been using the SanDisk and Samsung Fit drives as Boot USB 3.0 Drives for years.
These tend to offer lower endurance and performance than the USB 3 SSDs mentioned earlier, but they are also less expensive, especially if you need 128GB or less of space. Also, if you had a workload that needed under 512GB or 1TB of write once read often data, these can be an inexpensive flash storage option for the MSG10+ even with 4-6 of the drives installed. As a benefit, they use very little power.
Next we are going to have our NIC options for the MSG10+.