HP ProLiant ML150 Gen9 review

Price when reviewed

It may be small, but HP’s ProLiant ML150 Gen9 packs in a remarkable range of features for the price. It supports dual Xeon E5-2600 v3 CPUs, and can take up to 512GB of fast DDR4 memory, with 60TB of storage.

HP ProLiant ML150 Gen9 review

Of course, all that doesn’t come as standard. HP’s Gen9 mantra is buy now, upgrade later, and for review it supplied us with the most basic preconfigured model: a single 1.6GHz E5-2603 v3 Xeon, 4GB of memory and one (unpopulated) quad LFF, cold-swap drive bay. We tested with four 500GB SATA drives, but you can choose from a selection of storage configurations. An extra four-drive cold-swap bay can be added too, and the server’s embedded Dynamic Smart Array B140i RAID controller comes with a spare connector for it.

If you don’t mind losing the 5.25in bays up above, the B140i also lets you add two more LFF SATA drives for a total of ten. If you want more, you can add HP’s H240 PCI Express RAID card, which supports eight hot-swap 12Gbits/sec SAS SFF drives – or go for a P840 card and max out at 16 drives.

Whichever storage package you opt for, you’ll find deployment a doddle with HP’s Active Intelligent Provisioning tool. We selected this from the boot-up menu, ran through the quick-deploy wizard and had Windows Server 2012 R2 loaded up in 30 minutes.

“The jewel in this server’s crown is its embedded iLO 4 controller, which offers some of the best remote-monitoring tools around”

HP iLO 4 server administration software

Server-monitoring tools are in abundance: the System Management Homepage browser interface provided basic local server monitoring, while HP’s Insight Control offers complete network systems management. The jewel in this server’s crown is its embedded iLO 4 controller, which shares access with the first Gigabit Ethernet port and offers some of the best remote-monitoring tools around. An iLO 4 Standard licence is included, providing agentless monitoring. It also has direct access to HP support, but an Essentials or Advanced licence is needed for features such as OS remote control and advanced power monitoring – and for the Federation tool, which allows multiple ProLiant servers to be viewed from one console.

Build-wise, the ML150 Gen9 is a winner, with a solid, lockable metal chassis that houses a well-designed interior. The important bits are easily accessible for upgrades, and the memory and CPU sockets are covered by a sturdy, removable air shroud. The entry model comes with a pair of cold-swap cooling fans, and a third module will be shipped with the second CPU enablement kit. Even with all of these in place, the ML150 is a quiet customer.

In single-CPU use, five of the PCI Express slots are active; adding a second gives you all six. HP offers dual-port Gigabit Ethernet and 10GbE adapter cards. For virtualisation, the motherboard has a microSD slot for booting into an embedded hypervisor. The base price includes a single 550W fixed PSU, but you can upgrade to dual 800W PSUs with the RPS backplane option. Power consumption is commendably low; our system drew 53W in idle and only 80W under maximum CPU load.

Forward-thinking IT managers will love the ProLiant ML150 Gen9. It lets you start small, but offers great scope to upgrade when the time comes. There really is nothing we can fault it for, making it our tower server of choice for small businesses.

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