Tranquil Leo HS4 Home Server review

£756
Price when reviewed

The Leo HS4 home server looks identical to Tranquil’s old SQA-5H models – a black or white box, dotted with coloured LEDs and offering a bank of 3.5in bays at the front. If the 1980s styling doesn’t appeal, the HS4 can be hidden away for headless operation. But it’s quiet enough to keep on display: the only perceptible noise is the low hum of a single 80mm fan at the rear.

The default configuration includes a low-power Core i3-2100T processor with 2GB of RAM and a 2TB Western Digital Caviar drive. You can upgrade at the point of ordering, but the standard configuration is ample for domestic duties, and adding disks is as easy as popping your drive into one of the pull-out caddies (no screws required). Note that only four of the five physical bays are functional – the fifth houses a passive CPU cooler.

For external storage, the Intel DH67CF motherboard provides two USB 2 ports at the front and four at the back, along with two USB 3 ports and one eSATA. Remove the “service plate” (a ten-second screwdriver job) and you’ll also find HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort connectors – helpful for administering the server directly should the need arise.

The Sandy Bridge platform also keeps power consumption low: the HS4 idles at 22W with a single hard disk installed, rising by around 7W per extra disk.

Tranquil PC Leo HS4 Home Server

The latest version of Windows Home Server 2011 brings a slicker front-end, more versatile backup options and a few new features, including DLNA 1.5 media streaming capabilities. We found the standard Core i3 CPU had no problem smoothly serving two simultaneous 1080p streams over a home network to client PCs – and it drew only an extra 5W while doing so.

Remote access has been updated too. In addition to file and desktop access, Home Server 2011 can stream media files directly over a web session. Remote desktop still relies on ActiveX, though, and the streaming agent is built on Silverlight, limiting the range of devices and browsers that can be used. Network bandwidth is a limitation too – over a regular domestic ADSL line we found streamed video was smooth but with visible artefacts.

One feature missing from Home Server 2011 is the old drive pooling system, but Tranquil includes a licence for the third-party MonStor add-in, which largely recreates the feature. With a few clicks you can combine multiple disks into a virtual pooled drive, and have precious data mirrored across multiple physical volumes, to provide a degree of fault tolerance.

You also get the AVA Media add-in, which automatically rips CDs to the server’s media library. Shell out an extra £45 inc VAT for the AnyDVD package and it can rip DVDs too. You’ll need an external optical drive to make use of it, though.

In all it’s a capable home server OS, running on versatile hardware. The catch is the price: the basic 2TB Leo HS4 model comes in at £756 inc VAT. That’s a tough sell when you can get a four-bay NAS device for a third of the price – or repurpose an old PC and simply pay £35 for an OEM Home Server 2011 licence.

But if you’re looking for the real thing – a true server-class appliance that’s quiet, power-efficient and expandable – the Leo HS4 ticks every box. Whether that justifies the price depends on your needs and your budget.

Warranty

Warranty2 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity2,000GB
RAM capacity16.00GB

Processor

CPU familyIntel Core i3
CPU nominal frequency2.50GHz
Processor socketLGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan)Tranquil proprietary passive cooler

Motherboard

MotherboardIntel DH67CF
Motherboard chipsetIntel H67
Conventional PCI slots free0
Conventional PCI slots total0
PCI-E x16 slots free0
PCI-E x16 slots total0
Internal SATA connectors4
Internal SAS connectors0
Internal PATA connectors0
Internal floppy connectors0
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory typeDDR3
Memory sockets free0
Memory sockets total2

Graphics card

Graphics cardIntel HD Graphics 2000
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 2000
DVI-I outputs1
HDMI outputs1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1
Number of graphics cards0

Hard disk

Hard diskWestern Digital Caviar Green
Capacity2.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity1.86TB
Internal disk interfaceSATA 3Gb/s

Drives

Optical driveNone

Monitor

Monitor make and modelNone

Case

Case formatSmall form factor
Dimensions213 x 331 x 195mm (WDH)

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)6
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
Modemno
3.5mm audio jacks5

Front ports

Front panel USB ports2
Front panel memory card readerno

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardN/A

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows Home Server
Recovery methodRecovery disc

Noise and power

Idle power consumption22W
Peak power consumption27W

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