HPE ProLiant DL180 Gen10 review: A storage-centric marvel
Dual CPU sockets provide huge performance potential, while the storage capacity is great for the price
Most servers can be upgraded and expanded as your needs grow, but HPE’s ProLiant DL180 Gen10 has more scope for growth than most. That’s thanks to a second CPU socket that allows you to move up to multiprocessor computing as and when you’re ready.
The entry price, meanwhile, is low, with lightweight specifications starting at just £986. This modest sum gets you out of the starting blocks with a six-core Xeon Scalable Bronze 3204 CPU, 16GB of DDR4 Smart Memory and eight LFF drive bays, cabled to the embedded HPE S100i software-based RAID controller.
Move up to the £1,345 model on test and you get an eight-core Silver 4208 CPU, a full house of 12 LFF drive bays and HPE’s Smart Array P408i SATA/SAS3 RAID card with 2GB of cache and battery backup unit. Clearly, this is a configuration geared up for storage-centric workloads, but SFF fans will be pleased to know that the basic eight-bay model can be upgraded to 16 or 24 bays, with the option to add two more at the rear.
The motherboard has both internal USB 3 and microSD card slots, which you can use to boot into an embedded hypervisor. To avoid wasting storage bays on boot media, HPE’s optional PCIe Enablement board supports a pair of mirrored M.2 SSDs to house your operating system, and is cabled to dedicated SATA interfaces on the motherboard.
Remote management functions are excellent. The server comes with HPE’s iLO5 chip and a Standard licence, which provides a stiff set of platform security features such as “silicon root of trust” to protect the server’s firmware and a web interface packed with valuable information about critical components. Be aware, though, that if you want to enable power metering, OS remote control and virtual media services, you’ll need to upgrade to the Advanced licence.
To try out the management features, we added the server’s iLO 5 details to the lab’s virtualised Hyper-V HPE OneView 5.5 app. We were then immediately able to monitor the health of all our ProLiant servers and gather inventory, and if you’ve shelled out for the Advanced iLO 5 licence then OneView can also provide data on system utilisation, thermals and power usage. However, in order to provision new servers and deploy automated firmware updates you’ll need yet another upgrade, this time to the OneView Advanced licence.
Internally, the server presents a tidy layout, with the Smart Array P408i RAID card residing in a slot at the rear of the motherboard and cabled directly to the drive backplane. The server includes a riser with three PCIe slots, held in place by a locking tab that can be easily released with a flick of the wrist. If you install a second CPU, you can add another three-slot PCIe riser card, which fits next to the PSU bay.
Underneath the riser is a media module slot; HPE offers dual-port Gigabit Ethernet and 10GbE adapters that can be used to supplement the server’s dual embedded Gigabit ports. The CPU sockets are flanked on each side by banks of four DIMM slots. The base 16GB of DDR4 in the review system can be boosted to a maximum of 1TB, and installing the second CPU activates its attendant DIMM slots, allowing memory capacity to be doubled to 2TB.
Expanding businesses searching for a powerful Xeon Scalable server with a big upgrade path will find the ProLiant DL180 Gen10 a great choice. The price above doesn’t include any storage, and you may well want to factor in the cost of upgrading the iLO5 controller too, but base systems are very affordable and provide enormous expansion potential.
HPE ProLiant DL180 Gen10 specifications
2U rack chassis
2.1GHz Intel Xeon Scalable Silver 4208 CPU (max 2)
16GB DDR4 (max 2TB with 2 CPUs)
12 x LFF hot-swap bays
500W cold-swap PSU (max 2)
RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60, 1 ADM, 10 ADM
2 x Gigabit Ethernet
3 x PCIe 3 (max 6), HPE Smart Array P408i-a SAS3/2GB with FBWC/BBU
HPE iLO5 Standard with Gigabit Ethernet
3yr on-site NBD warranty
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