HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11 review: A smart liquid-cooled rack server for budget-conscious enterprises

The DL560 has a unique closed-loop liquid cooling system capable of handling a diverse range of heavy-duty workloads

The HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11 on the ITPro background
(Image: © Future)

IT Pro Verdict


  • +

    Classy design

  • +

    Smart liquid cooling

  • +

    Supports all Xeon Scalable Platinum CPUs

  • +

    High memory capacity and expansion potential

  • +

    Great remote management features


  • -

    No coolant leak detection system

Enterprises baulking at the high costs of implementing liquid cooling in their data center racks will find HPE has a very interesting and more affordable alternative. The ProLiant DL560 Gen11 keeps it all inside the box with an innovative closed-loop liquid cooling system.

No need for costly rack conversions as this 2U rack server is a completely self-contained system. It employs cold plates with integral pumps for each CPU and routes the coolant through to a full-width radiator in front of a bank of cooling fans.

The DL560 Gen11 has more tricks up its sleeve as this is a quad-socket (4P) server and supports all Gen4 Xeon Scalable Platinum CPU models up to the 60-core 8490H and its big 350W TDP. It also has 64 DIMM slots allowing it to present a massive 16TB of fast DDR5 memory.

HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11 review: Liquid cooling design

The server is extremely well built but what lies beneath the lid is of more interest. Squeezing quad Platinum CPUs and 64 DIMMs into a 2U chassis is no mean feat and HPE has achieved this with a mezzanine card.

You can order a base 2P system where the main motherboard sits in the chassis base and has two CPU sockets and 32 DIMM slots. The 4P model on review has the removable mezzanine card sitting on top which provides the other two CPU sockets and remaining DIMM slots. For CPUs with 270W-350W TDPs, liquid cooling is the only option and the kit must be ordered as a factory installation.

HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11 thermal monitors

(Image credit: Future)

The upper and lower boards effectively have separate liquid cooling circulations as each CPU pair has their cold plates linked together by one inner pipe with another on each outer side routed through to the radiator. It all makes for a tidy arrangement as each board only has three pipes with the pump in each cold plate powered by cables routed from a single board connector.

There's no special sauce as the coolant is a mixture of purified water, ethylene, and corrosion-resistant additives. Leak detection systems are not available but the pumps provide redundancy as if one fails, the corresponding one will continue to circulate the coolant albeit at the risk of increased operating temperatures.

The server comes with a standard three-year warranty but you may want to consider HPE's 5-year extension. The cooling system has a maximum usage limitation of five years and after this period has elapsed it must be replaced by HPE at the customer's expense.

HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11 review: Management and monitoring

HPE's iLO6 controller presents a dedicated network port and a smart web interface packed with valuable monitoring features. It provides a wealth of information about server operations while platform security is assured with features such as the iLO6 Secure Start, 'silicon root of trust' firmware fingerprinting, and global component authentication.

The Power & Thermal page shows details of the fans and the liquid cooling module. For the latter, it lists the status of each pump, redundancy conditions plus speed, and if the iLO6 detects any problems it can issue SNMP traps and email alerts.

There's plenty more in HPE's management portfolio as the on-premises OneView app links up with the server's iLO6 and provides a central web console for monitoring and managing all HPE systems, hypervisors, storage arrays, pools, and switches. We also run HPE's iLO Amplifier Pack in the lab as a Hyper-V VM which provides discovery, inventory, and compliance reporting for up to 10,000 Gen8, 9, 10, and 11 servers

HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11 user interface

(Image credit: Future)

Next up is HPE's GreenLake cloud platform with its Compute Ops Management (COM) service providing complete lifecycle management of HPE servers. ProLiant Gen10 and Gen11 servers connect directly to the COM cloud portal with earlier iLO versions linking to it via OneView – you'll find our in-depth review of COM here at IT Pro.

HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11 review: Storage and expandability

Along with great processing power, the DL560 Gen11 puts plenty of storage options on the table. It employs HPE's standard triple front drive cage arrangement and can support a maximum of 24 SFF SATA, SAS, and NVMe devices or up to 24 EDSFF E3.S SSDs.

Our system comes with the central 8-bay drive box plus a quartet of 1.6TB NVMe SSDs and you can upgrade capacity by adding a second and third cage as required. The EDSFF boxes each support twelve E3.S SSDs with a maximum of two but you could use the third bay to the left for HPE's universal media cage.

Basic SATA/NVMe RAID is managed by Intel's embedded VROC (virtual RAID on CPU) controller but NVMe support is disabled by default and requires an extra enablement key. A VROC Standard key adds NVMe support and RAID10 while a Premium key brings RAID5 into play.

This wasn't an issue for us as our review system came with HPE's tri-mode MR416i-p Gen11 PCIe card. Along with support for RAID5 and 6 arrays, its 8GB of cache memory is protected by a battery pack mounted in front of the coolant radiator.

Inside the HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11

(Image credit: Future)

Expansion potential is impressive as the server has room for two risers each with three Gen5 PCIe slots and graphics acceleration is covered as it can handle six single-width (SW) or two double-width (DP) GPUs. Lurking beneath the risers are two OCP 3 PCIe 5 slots which support HPE's 'o' RAID cards and plenty of network card options with one of our slots occupied by an Intel dual-port 100GbE adapter.

HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11 review: Is it worth it?

It is if you want the highest CPU core density and memory capacity in the smallest of rack spaces. The ProLiant DL560 Gen11 has many other benefits as even with core-heavy Xeon Scalable Platinum CPUs in play, storage capacity is undiminished and it offers a high expansion potential with support for up to six GPUs. 

HPE's unique closed-loop liquid cooling system allows the server to deliver a hardware package that's clearly capable of handling a diverse range of heavy-duty workloads. It isn't limited to this server either, as it's also available for the DL325 Gen11 and DL360 Gen11. 

HPE ProLiant DL560 Gen11 specifications

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Chassis2U rack
CPU4 x 16-core 2.9GHz Xeon Scalable Platinum 8444H
Memory512GB DDR5 HPE SmartMemory (max 16TB)
CoolingClosed-loop liquid cooling, 5 x high-performance hot-plug fans
Storage bays8 x hot-swap SATA/SAS3/NVMe SFF (max 24)
Storage included4 x 1.6TB U.3 NVMe SSDs
NetworkIntel dual-port 100GbE QFP28 OCP3
Expansion3 x PCIe Gen 5 (max 6), 2 x OCP 3 Gen5
Power2 x 1600W Platinum hot-plug PSUs (max 4)
ManagementHPE iLO6, OneView, iLO Amplifier, GreenLake COM
STD Warranty3yrs parts, labour, on-site support (4 and 5yr extensions available)
Dave Mitchell

Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.

Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.