HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Review

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HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Front
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Front

With the introduction of the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10, the company pivoted on a number of fronts. We covered the initial launch for the server some time ago. Our AMD Opteron X3421 powered unit cost us under $375 which is quite reasonable. HPE’s goal is to make an edge server capable of servicing small offices, retail locations, and even high-end home environments. Hallmarks of the HPE ProLiant MicroServer include a focus on storage and low power, nearly silent operation. Here, the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 does not disappoint. In our review, we are going to tear down the server to see the design decisions HPE made. We are going to benchmark the unit and see how much power it uses. Finally, we are going to discuss the pros and cons of the Gen10 iteration.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Overview

In our HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 review, we are splitting the hardware overview into two parts. First, we are going to look at the general purpose server hardware. We are then going to focus on the storage-centric aspects of the server. The ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 is a storage-focused box so we wanted to align our review along that axis.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Hardware Overview

Upon unboxing the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10, one will immediately notice a diminutive stature. The entire unit is 9.25″ x 9.06″ x 10.00″. Finished in a matte material, one gets the updated HPE logo and two front panel USB 3.0 ports. The top of the unit has a slim optical drive bay, however we suspect most people will use it for a SSD if at all.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Front
HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Front

The rear of the unit has a power input, two more USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports. Beyond this, there are three video outputs. The large blue one is a legacy VGA port and there are two DisplayPort headers. If you need to run digital signage, perhaps for office dashboards or menus, the AMD Opteron X3421 has a GPU to handle this. We wanted to note, there are lower-spec dual-core options, but we suggest that if you are reading STH, get the quad core X3421 model.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Rear
HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Rear

One can also see a pair of 1GbE network ports. Networking is handled via Broadcom NetXtreme BCM5720. There are a total of two ports and these are detected in most OSes out of the box.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 NIC Ubuntu
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 NIC Ubuntu

Our readers will likely see these as a middle ground between using Intel i210/ i340 NICs and using lower quality Realtek NICs which cost pennies in a bill of materials. In this class of server, the Broadcom BCM5720 solution is more than acceptable.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Motherboard Overview
HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Motherboard Overview

The motherboard tray slides out after one disconnects all of the cables including the ATX power cable and SFF-8087 SATA cable. Inside there is a very functional layout.

Cooling the CPU is a passive CPU cooler. This is flanked by two DDR4 ECC UDIMM slots. It was a nice touch that our inexpensive review unit came with a single 8GB DDR4 DIMM instead of two 4GB DIMMs. 4GB DIMMs have become less common, and the implication is that one can upgrade this server to 16GB by simply adding an 8GB DIMM. If there were two 4GB DIMMs, they would be discarded in a memory upgrade.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Motherboard ECC UDIMM And Passive CPU Heatsink
HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Motherboard ECC UDIMM And Passive CPU Heatsink

The PCIe slots are interesting. HPE has a PCIe 3.0 x8 slot with an open-ended connector. The PCIe x4 slot is also open-ended but is only an x1 electrical slot. The open-ended design lets one install larger cards, although not with full bandwidth. Here, if the PCIe 3.0 x1 slot was an x4 slot, it would have made the expansion capabilities truly tantalizing. As an x1 slot, it simply does not have the bandwidth for high-speed NICs, NVMe storage, or most other add-in cards.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 PCIe Expansion
HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 PCIe Expansion

From a hardware perspective, this is mostly it. Our unit had a low-end quad-core processor with an integrated GPU allowing for 4K video output. Two DDR4 UDIMM slots with an 8GB stick of RAM installed. There are also dual 1GbE NICs. This is not a heavy compute platform, but for basic network services and storage, it is enough. We think of the AMD Opteron X3421 as an Intel Atom C3000 competitor in terms of performance and will have data to show why. For now, let us move on to storage.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Aesthetics
8.9
Performance
8.9
Feature Set
8.8
Value
9.5
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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.

9 COMMENTS

  1. That conclusion is really insightful. If you want multiple low cost servers with hard drives for clustered storage, this is a really good platform. If you just want more power, I keep buying up into the ML110 G10 because that’s so much more powerful. It’s also larger so sometimes you can’t afford the space.

  2. Finally, an honest review that actually shows cons as well was what’s good.

    We use MSG10s at our branch offices. They’re great, but servicing them sucks. We’ve been training finance people to do the physical service on the MSG10s.

    One issue you didn’t bring up is that there’s a lock for the front to secure all the drives. We had one where it wasn’t locked, employee flipped the lock and ended breaking the bezel.

    I hope you guys do more ProLiant reviews. They need a site with technical depth and business sense reviewing their products not just getting lame 5 paragraph “it’s great” reviews.

    To anyone not using the MSG10, they do have downsides, but they’re cheap so you have to expect that it isn’t a Rolls Royce at a KIA price tag

  3. It’s too bad this doesn’t have dual x8 PCIe. It also needs 10G. This is 2019. To get 10G or 25G you’ve gotta burn the x8 which leaves you with only a x1 slot left. Can’t do much with that.

  4. What about the virtualization capabilities? In your article on the APU, your lscpu output reported AMD-V. It would be nice to know if it’s fully implemented in BIOS and if there are reasonable IOMMU groups. Also, Intel consumer/entry level processors lack Access Control Services support on the processors PCIe root ports, so would be nice to see what this AMD APU offers.

    Why do I care? Because it would be nice to have a dedicated VM running less trusted graphical applications for digital signage. In a home office use case, one could use virtualization to combine a Linux NAS and a Kodi HTPC on the same hardware. Exposing the Kodi VM instead of the server OS to your family might have advantages.

  5. Like the others small HPE ProLiant MicroServers in the past, an attractive looking little box. I wish it were possible to install an externally accessible SFF x8 mobile rack such as a Supermicro CSE-M28SAB and the motherboard had x2 SFF 8087 ports or better M28SACB and 8643, thus could have x2 RAID 10 volumes.

  6. Well, I suppose you could put a ZOTAC GT 710 1GB graphics card in the spare slot, as it is a purpose-built PCIe x1 card. Marginally better than the iGPU if you have the need, and handy to keep around if your onboard graphics quits working on a server and a small x1 slot is all you have left to work with.

  7. It is a very good system, I got two with the dual core APU and 16G memory. It is possible to use the PCIe slt for an SSD card as well, I have an intel i750 that fits inside and works fine. I reckon that a couple of modifications to a future design could really make it quite good.

    Running latest version of Solaris on this works a treat hosting files over NFS.

  8. The price of these just doesn’t justify the performance. I have an older model I was able to pick up for a great price (NEW) and works great for very small stuffs, but choked when I attempted a large ZFS Freenas setup.

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