Gift to self

When Christmas shopping, I’m better at finding gifts for myself.  And I’m not on commission, honest.  But if you’re the kind of nerd that has cobbled together a home server, HP have recently launched a very nice PC that is almost certainly smarter and cheaper than the piece of junk you’ve put together.

It’s called a HP ProLiant Microserver and this is mine, with the wiring not quite finished:


For £112.56 (with a discount code & cashback deal, only valid December!) this is what you get, in a neat chassis:

  • four hot-swap drive bays and caddies (the spec says not, but if you use Linux & AHCI, hot swap works fine);
  • Athlon “N36L” processor – had never heard of it, but it’s an Athlon core with 1MB cache and clocked from 800-1400MHz.  It runs quietly and supports virtualisation;
  • 1GiB RAM and a 160GB drive;
  • 4 USB ports on the front, 2 on the back, and 1 inside (which I’m using for a root/boot drive, leaving all 4 drive bays free);
  • an eSATA port on the back;
  • two half-sized PCIe slots, one at x16 speed (actually 3, but the third can only fit an HP lights-out card);
  • two DDR3 DIMM slots;
  • a gigabit ethernet port (a Broadcom 5723).

M’colleague Pete suggested one of these to add another 4 x 2.5″ drives – I’ll probably add a DVD drive, which of course it has a spare SATA port ready for.

I don’t think it’ll be great as a theatre system – it only has an analogue VGA port, no audio, and not enough grunt to decode 1080p.  And for some reason it’s sold by HP a a business server – I’d be a little bit less stingy for my business (we have a 12-core, 48GiB desktop shared between 8 of us).  But as a file server, internet gateway, TV recorder, backup system, it’s a bit of a bargain.

See also Samat Jain who has a slightly more detailed teardown.