HP Proliant MicroServer Gen8

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HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8

January 17, 2014 by Lawrence Lee with Mike Chin

HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8
Street Price

The original HP ProLiant MicroServer was an intriguing product when it was released a couple of years ago, an x86 server PC with a low power mobile AMD processor, four cold-swap hard drive bays, RAID 0/1, and ECC memory support, all stuffed into a delightfully compact enclosure. Though it drew the attention of enthusiastic home users it was designed with small businesses in mind, companies not large enough to justify a bulky blade or rackmount server, but with needs that outstripped simpler NAS box servers. It was also quiet and energy efficient enough that we're using one as SPCR's primary storage device for quite sometime with few hiccups. Our review article, which includes details on how to mod the non-standard PWM wiring fan for lower noise, immediately caught tech readers' attention and continues to attract readership today, with total reads now at 640,000 — double that of the next most popular article from 30 months ago — and still climbing steadily.

The MicroServer Gen8, a much anticipated update, brings with it a tightened design, faster hardware, and a few extra features. The Gen8's footprint is slightly larger than the original but replacing the full-sized optical drive with a slim model (not included) took 3.7 cm off the top. This change plus a move from rounded edges to sharper, more angular contours, gives it a sleeker look. The top of the case has a shallow square inset designed so a matching network switch, the HP PS1810-8G, stacks flush against it. The drive bays are hidden behind a well-ventilated plastic silver door which provides a nice contrast compared to the monotone black MicroServer from 2011.

The MicroServer Gen8.


The Gen8 ships in a plain, sturdy box with with thick foam frames protecting the enclosure. Our sample included a power cable and a few things for the optical drive bay: a couple of SATA cables, a slimline SATA adapter, and a faceplate if you prefer not to use a drive. A slim DVD burner was pre-installed in our review unit but HP doesn't offer this as an option on any of its pre-configured Gen8 variants. They also included a copy of Windows Server 2012 Essentials which runs about US$380 (OEM) and supports 25 users and 50 devices. You can use whatever operating system you see fit, whether it be another flavor of Windows or a free alternative like FreeNAS and any number of Linux distributions, but no desktop OSes at all, only server OSes. Necessary drivers are provided for:

Microsoft Windows HPC Server 2008 R2
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Essential Business
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Foundation Edition
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation Edition
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 W32
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 x64
Microsoft Windows Server 2012
Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2
Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard and Essentials
Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2008 R2
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Server (x86)
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Server (x86-64)
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 (AMD64/EM64T)
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 (x86)
Ubuntu 12.04
VMware ESXi 5.0
VMware vSphere 5.1
VMware vSphere 5.5

So the idea of slapping Windows 7 on this machine for a quick and easy home server does not work. We tried and failed with Windows 7 x64; there are too many non compatible drivers.

HP currently offers the Gen8 in three different flavors. The premium US$860 model sports a Pentium G2020T, 4GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, along with a MS OS, described only as "MS WS12 Ess FIO en/fr/es/xc SW". The other two are barebones models with no included storage, 2GB of RAM and your choice of either a Pentium G2020T (US$455) or Celeron G1610T (US$390). None of these come with OS installed, but a reseller can obviously accomplish this task if required. Our review unit appears to be the bare G2020T model with the memory upgraded to 8GB (2x4GB), and the aforementioned slim DVD writer which isn't standard. If you add the cost of these additions, you're looking at a total of about US$595. (Editor's Note: The aformentioned prices were hiked a bit sometime in the last couple of weeks; new prices are cited in the table below.)

Specifications: HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8
Available Configurations
Model No.
Intel Pentium G2020T (2.5 GHz, 3MB, 35W)
Intel Pentium G2020T (2.5 GHz, 3MB, 35W)
Intel Celeron G1610T (2.3 GHz, 2MB, 35W)
System RAM
Street Price
Common Specifications
(from the product web page)
Form factor
(fully configured)
Ultra Micro Tower
Power supply type (1) 150W non-hot plug, non redundant power supply kit Multi-output
Expansion Slots (1) PCIe; detail descriptions reference the QuickSpec
Memory slots 2 DIMM slots
Memory type PC3-12800E
Storage (hard drives) Supports up to (4) LFF SATA non-hot plug drives
Storage (optical) None ship standard
Network controller 1Gb 332i Ethernet Adapter 2 Ports per controller
Storage controller (1) Dynamic Smart Array B120i/ZM
(W x D x H)
22.97 x 24.51 x 23.24 cm
Weight 6.8 kg (without drives)
Infrastructure management iLO Management Engine, Insight Control (optional)
Warranty 1/0/0 - Server Warranty includes one year of parts, zero year of labor, zero year of onsite support coverage. Additional information regarding worldwide limited warranty and technical support is available at HP website.

All variants of the Gen8 include a 150W internal power supply, a low profile PCI-E expansion slot, and two DIMM slots. The machine's two gigabit ethernet ports and four cold-swap hard drive bays are connected to HP controllers, while an additional Marvell controller (not listed) is provided for one extra SATA port which was hooked up to the optical drive in our sample. The standard warranty is very basic, only covering parts for one year — the buyer is responsible for support. HP offers a variety of extended server warranties, of course.

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