HPE ProLiant ML30 Gen9
A top tower for small businesses with classy management and plenty of features at a low price
SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE Model 873230-035, £638 exc VAT from morecomputers.com
HPE’s ProLiant ML30 Gen9 tower server has something for everyone. Larger offices will welcome support for the latest Xeon E3-1200 v6 processors and fast 2,400MHz DDR4 memory, while micro-businesses will love the fact that prices start at less than £400.
You can save money on the operating system too, as HPE has partnered with ClearCenter to offer the ML30 preinstalled with the Linux-based ClearOS platform. The Community edition is free, while the supported paid-for Business edition turns the ML30 into a business server with access to over 300 apps.
ClearOS offers a web-based management console, which is very simple to use. With a few clicks you can load up core gateway, DNS and Active Directory services, plus security features such as a firewall, antivirus and web content filtering.
We tried out one of HPE’s Base models (873230-035), which comes kitted out with a 3GHz Xeon E3-1220 v6 CPU and 8GB of DDR4 memory. The four-bay hotplug LFF drive cage comes populated with a 1TB SATA drive to get you off the starting blocks. If that doesn’t quite suit your needs, pick a CTO (configure to order) model and you can choose from five Xeon E3-1200 v6 models – or cut costs with the latest Core i3 or Pentium CPUs. There are also plenty of storage permutations, as the ML30 can handle an eight-bay hot-swap SSF drive cage and HPE offers SAS3, midline (MDL) and low-cost SATA drives.
All models start with an embedded Dynamic Smart Array B140i controller that provides stripes, mirrors and RAID5 arrays for up to four SATA drives. For SAS3 and MDL drive support, you can specify an HPE Smart Array H240 or H241 RAID card. Another option is HPE’s M.2 SSD enablement kit – a custom PCIExpress card, which hosts dual 120GB M.2 SSDs that connect to the spare SATA ports on the motherboard. At nearly £500, though, it’s an expensive option for this server.
Remote management is a strength, as the server is endowed with HPE’s excellent iLO4 controller. Sharing access with the first Gigabit Ethernet port, this provides a packed web interface with quality monitoring and alerting features, and direct links to HPE support. For basic monitoring, the System Management Homepage feature provides an in-depth overview of critical hardware components. Note that this requires HPE’s WBEM
“A lot of thought has gone into cooling, as the server uses a solid, transparent shroud to direct air where it’s needed most”
Windows provider, and you must load the iLO 3/4 management driver package first otherwise the WBEM component will fail to install.
Internally, the ML30 is well designed, with easy access to the four free PCI-Express expansion slots. Two spare SATA ports serve the pair of 5.25in expansion bays, while the microSD card slot lets virtualisation fans boot the server with an embedded hypervisor.
A lot of thought has gone into cooling too, as the server uses a solid, transparent shroud to direct air where it’s needed most. This allows HPE to use a passive CPU heatsink and a 9cm chassis cooling fan, which keeps noise levels down to a zephyr-like 36dB at 1m in front of the server. Base systems have a 350W fixed PSU, but you can specify dual 460W hotplug 80 Plus Gold PSUs for extra redundancy. Whichever you choose, it’s easy on the energy bills: our system with a pair of LFF SATA test drives drew a mere 28W idle and peaked at 56W with the CPU under extreme load.
The HPE ProLiant ML30 Gen9 is a versatile little tower that’s wellsuited to forward-thinking small businesses. It has a reasonable starting price, can be easily upgraded as demand dictates and won’t be beaten for remote-management features.
BELOW HPE has partnered with ClearCenter and offers the server with the ClearOS Linux software preinstalled
ABOVE The four-bay hotplug LFF drive cage comes equipped with a 1TB SATA drive to get you started