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HP Proliant Microserver G8: Powerful features in a small, stylish package

Tom Henderson and Lars Johnson | July 2, 2013
HP's new Proliant Microserver Gen8 is an SMB, home, or branch office/retail server that looks completely different than HP's usual offering: it's a small cube with an optional eight-port Gigabit Ethernet switch atop.

8-port switch
HP pairs the Microserver with an eight-port Gigabit Ethernet switch that's handily a part of the iLO information train. What we didn't like about the switch is that it can't be simply bolted or connected to the hardware that is the server. There can be eight or more cables running from the back of the switch, and the chances of something catching a cable and doing something to make the switch a flying object would have been helpful. We suggest two strips of Velcro are a good start. It's just too easy to make the server's connectivity into an OSHA problem.

From a performance perspective, we took a 1.2TB data set and transferred it over Gigabit Ethernet using a CIFS share. The drives in the Microserver G8 go like blazes. We clocked about 12Mbps with much CPU and disk channel time to spare, according to the performance sets we monitored through Windows Server 2012. We received five user CALs with 2012; HP says more are available. We wondered why just five, but there will be many possible deployment configurations available for this server.

We then asked, why is the older i3 Intel chipset used? HP responds that there's an AMD version available, but they'll be deployed in different markets where one or the other or both processors might be available. Stronger CPUs, an HP spokesperson said, might mean that the unit would require more and stronger fans, and additionally complicate user servicing. We did note that the unit is extraordinarily quiet. As the noise level in our test lab is overwhelming during some tests, it was nice to note that the level was hushed and notebook like, rather than our memory of Apple's Xserve servers, which were loud enough to makes us wonder about the ear protection worn by airline ramp agents.

Summary
The HP Proliant Microserver G8 thrilled us with its aesthetics, made us wonder about the trade-offs between quiet and processor speed, and concerned us with potential cable management problems. It has reasonable value, we feel, for a "corporate-edition" server, and those familiar with Windows 2012 and HP's iLO will enjoy the potential utility offered.

How We Tested HP MicroServer Gen8
We used the HP MicroServer Gen8 and switch on a Gigabit Ethernet network in our lab that consists of several Dell, Lenovo, HP and Apple servers. In turn, the Gigabit Ethernet network is connected to a Comcast Business Network via an ancient and ugly SMC cable modem. We accessed the MicroServer with Microsoft RDS and LogMeIn from Lenovo ThinkPad T520 and T530 notebooks.

 

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