HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Review A Just Right Tower Server Option

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HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Specs As Tested

We had a fairly standard configuration for the HPE Smart Buy server.

  • Server: HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10, single PSU configuration
  • CPU: Intel Xeon Silver 4108 (8 core/ 16 thread)
  • Memory: 1x 16GB DDR4-2666 ECC RDIMM and 6x 16GB ECC RDIMMs
  • Storage: Samsung 960GB SATA SSD
HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Boot
HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Boot

This came as an HPE “Smart Buy” configuration. These are generally sparsely outfitted servers with a minimum set of options. We wanted to take a quick opportunity to break down exactly why this was an amazing value at around $1000 shipped to our facility.

Our server did not have the OS drive installed, nor any storage. We wanted to just take stock of what a build-your-own version of this would be. Our HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Smart Buy configuration was around $1000 shipped, and we often get the question of whether it is worth just building your own. Although vendors generally do not like when we do this, we wanted to show you how good of a deal this is in a value breakdown.

HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Value Breakdowns
HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Value Breakdown

Just looking at the retail prices for new parts the week that this unit arrived, we would have spent around $100 more for the components in the HPE configuration if we purchased them separately. This would have also led us in the direction of a system that is not as well optimized. Still, HPE is often quoted as costing a lot more than white box vendors. This is a good example of where HPE is less expensive than white box alternatives.

There is an asterisk to this. Our alternative single socket ATX motherboard had iKVM functionality. In the small and medium business segments and down market, this is an essential feature. With HPE, one needs to upgrade to iLO Advanced to get iKVM features. We spent $100 on our license which makes pricing above the white box alternative. As we stated in our HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 Review HPE needs to get a lower-cost solution with either free or $20 iLO 5 “Enhanced Basic” or similar to add just iKVM to these platforms. For larger servers and enterprises, the iLO 5 Advanced has a number of great features that we are going to get into in our management section. On the other hand, that license offering would completely change the value proposition of the ProLiant ML110 Gen10 against white box alternatives.

HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Topology

One area that we are keenly aware of today, and will be increasingly so with future multi-chip packages, is system topology. Luckily, the Intel Xeon E-2100 series has an extremely simple system topology.

HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Topology
HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Topology

As one can see, the HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 is a fairly simple topology since everything is connected to a single die CPU. If you are comparing this to an Intel Xeon E-2100 series server like the HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10, the HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 has more PCIe lanes available through the CPU itself, and more connectivity from the PCH. Compared to an AMD EPYC 7001 series platform, one has a single NUMA node with the ML110 Gen10 versus multiple NUMA nodes on the AMD platform. There is an element to the HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10 that it will work well and as expected out of the box which is great for users.

Next, we are going to look at the management before moving on to performance testing and our final thoughts.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Aesthetics
9.2
Performance
9.1
Feature Set
9.4
Value
9.6
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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.

12 COMMENTS

  1. don’t want to jump too far ahead and spoil it – haven’t read this yet – but i wonder if it’ll be a 9.3, 9.4, 9.5 or *gasp* a 9.6?!?!?!?!

  2. Honestly I do not understand whole this Bronze/Silver business. Single E-21xx can kill that price/performance/energy-consumption wise. So the only advantage of Bronze/Silver is RDIMM support and up to 768GB RAM. But with today’s prices who would buy this CPU with more than 64GB RAM and 64GB is still supported by E-21xx.

  3. Really thorough review. Good job STH.

    KarelG I looked at the specs it only supports 192GB according to HPE since there’s 6 DIMM slots.

  4. Thank god you’re doing real reviews of servers. I hate the garbage pieces by itpro UK where they don’t even seem to review servers nor know why a server is like it is. Do more of these so I can write off itpro as vendor sponsored junk that it is.

    I just sent this review to our procurement people for a pre BF buy. Timely.

  5. Or you buy this and upgrade to a Xeon Gold for less than HPE charges… Smart Buy is the bomb tho. We use it all the time.

  6. Thank you for the thorough review Patrick.

    I had an unfortunate discovery on a Gen 9 ML350 with iLO4 and I am wondering if the same apparent weakness exists in the Gen 10/iLO5. The iLO on my server suffered a hardware failure. The BIOS then indicated it was preventing the OS from loading. In an attempt to work around it and get our server running, I tried to disable the iLO. Surely, my thinking went, since a BMC should just be for monitoring/management this should be possible, but nope, HPE made the iLO part of the BIOS dependency chain (this was an “upgrade”, in effect as of a certain firmware version, so apparently it’s not how the server was shipped).

    Here’s the the note about inability to disable iLO in Gen9: https://support.hpe.com/hpsc/doc/public/display?docId=emr_na-a00018423en_us

    Note that HPE support did promptly replace the motherboard in our server to address the issue, so the overall warranty/support experience was positive.

    This exposed what seems a very poor design choice to me – essentially turning a positive feature/reliability improvement (BMC) into a potential liability. So I am curious if the Gen 10/iLO5 has the same design.

    Also worth noting/remembering that HPE keeps BIOS updates behind a paywall (you have to have an active warranty/support contract). To me this limits resale value/ability to use these in a non-critical workloads (areas where it may otherwise be fine to not have a warranty but where you still want BIOS updates for security, reliability or other reasons). Dell and Supermicro do not do this (in my limited experience). So, depending on your use case, this may effectively reduce the value of any HPE server.

  7. @Ryan, that does seem like an odd choice since OOB management can be an attack surface that some organizations choose to do without altogether. I know one could just leave the NIC unattached, but some vendors allow the option to expose OOB via the normal ethernet interfaces, so someone with root access could still hijack it…

  8. There is a lot of talk about the iLO Advanced license, but no price is mentioned, or did I miss it?

  9. WRONG for a small business! You can not buy the caddies for drives…you can only buy super expensive drives from HPE!!!!!

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