HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 review: Compact and bijou

HPE’s little rack server packs a punch in every department

IT Pro Verdict

Ideally suited to small businesses, the ProLiant DL20 Gen10 is affordable, powerful and very, very small


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    Excellent value

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    Big choice of Xeon E-2100 CPUs

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    Good design

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    iLO5 management

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    Surprisingly expandable


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    OS remote control requires iLO5 Advanced license

Short depth rack servers are a great choice for space-constrained SMBs, and they don't get much smaller than HPE's ProLiant DL20 Gen10. Don't be fooled by its modest dimension though - the 41cm deep 1U chassis delivers a powerful hardware package and room to grow with demand.

It offers plenty of horsepower too: you can choose from seven Xeon E-2100 CPUs or save some extra cash and opt for a basic Pentium G5400 or Core i3-8300 model. We can't see the point in skimping in the CPU department though, as the Performance model we were supplied with sports a six-core 3.3GHz Xeon E-2136 CPU and yet only costs a mere 740.

Not only that, but the price also includes a decent 16GB of 2,667MHz UDIMM DDR4 memory with room inside to upgrade to the maximum 64GB. If you do choose a Pentium G5400 or Core i3-8300 CPU, bear in mind they'll drop the memory speed to 2,400MHz.

The DL20 Gen10 can satisfy a wide range of storage requirements as well, as its chassis can be ordered with dual LFF bays or up to six SFF bays. Other stand-out features include its embedded iLO5 remote management controller and expansion potential.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 review: Storage features

Prices for entry systems start as low as 480 for the P08335-B21 model, which has a base 8GB of memory, a quad-core 3.3GHz E-2124 CPU and a pair of non-hot-plug (NHP) LFF disk bays. You can order hot-plug LFF drive bays if you wish, and they're all managed by the server's embedded Smart Array SR100i controller which supports stripes, mirrors and RAID5 arrays.

The model on review is equipped with a quartet of hot-plug SFF drive bays. There's room in the front panel for an optional SATA optical drive or you can improve your storage prospects further by adding an extra two-bay SFF cage.

The SR100i only has a four-port mini-SAS port on the motherboard so for six-drive configurations and SAS support, you'll need an HPE Smart Array RAID card. We suggest the Essential Smart Array E208i - a modular controller which snaps into the motherboard's dedicated AROC connector, supports eight SAS3/SATA drives and provides hardware-managed RAID5 arrays, mirrors and stripes.

You'll be in no doubt about drive status and activity, as HPE's hot-swap SFF carriers are crammed with LEDs. Their white LED also helps avoid costly mistakes; any carrier with this light illuminated mustn't be removed while the server is running. This safety measure is applicable where drives are configured as non-RAID or are in a striped array.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 review: Build quality

The server is very solidly built and its tidy internal design will make light work of maintenance and upgrade maneuvers. Cracking the lid reveals a small motherboard sitting in the right-hand half of the chassis with the CPU close to the front and serviced by a pair of small dual-rotor fans.

Four DIMM slots sit next to the CPU socket and a plastic guide alongside channels air flow where it's needed. A third dual-rotor fan sits in the middle of the chassis and directs its air flow towards the expansion riser card.

Two choices of riser card are available, with the standard one offering a PCIe 3 slot on each side. The other riser option has a FlexibleLOM interface on the side and supports HPE's low-profile quad-port Gigabit, dual-port 10GbE or converged dual-port 10/25GbE adapters. Entry models get a single 290W fixed PSU while our Performance model is endowed with a 500W hot-plug model and a second bay alongside allowing you to add another for power redundancy.

The embedded iLO5 chip shares access with the first of the server's two Gigabit ports but you can push this out to a dedicated port with HPE's upgrade kit. Costing around 75 and slotting in behind the CPU, the card provides a dedicated management port and also has two M.2 NVMe SSD slots plus a serial COM port.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 review: Deployment and management

HPE's Intelligent Provisioning feature makes light work of OS deployment. We selected this menu option during boot-up, chose our OS from its list, pointed it at the virtual ISO drive we'd mapped to the server and left it to load Windows Server 2019 and all required drivers with no further intervention required.

Unsurprisingly, remote management is tops. HPE's iLO5 software is among the best around, and its web console is packed with information about the server's status and provides direct links to HPE support. You can keep a close eye on all critical components, but you'll need to upgrade the Standard license to an Advanced version if you want full OS remote control, virtual media services and power metering.

With the server's iLO5 details added to the lab's virtualized Hyper-V OneView app, we could keep an eye on CPUs, power usage plus temperatures, control power and run remote control sessions. We also declared the iLO5 to HPE's iLO Mobile iOS app and received precisely the same high level of detail about server operations as presented by the standard web interface.

Enterprises and service providers managing multiple HPE servers will like HPE's free iLO Amplifier Pack which is available for VMware and Hyper-V. It presents a web management console for discovery and inventory of up to 10,000 Gen8, Gen9 and Gen10 servers and also links up with HPE's InfoSight for iLO4 and iLO5 performance monitoring and predictive fault analysis.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 review: Verdict

The ProLiant DL20 Gen10 packs an impressive range of features into its compact dimensions and will be a big hit with space-poor SMBs. Storage options are extensive, remote management features are beyond reproach and HPE delivers them all at very affordable prices.

HPE ProLiant DL20 Gen10 specifications

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Chassis1U rack
CPUSix-core 3.3GHz Xeon E-2136
Memory16GB 2,667MHz ECC UDIMM DDR4 (max 64GB)
Storage4 x SFF bays (No HDDs included)
RAIDHPE Smart Array S100i
Array supportRAID0, 1, 10, 5
Expansion2 x PCI-e Gen3, AROC connector
Network2 x Gigabit
Power500W hot-plug PSU (max 2)
ManagementHPE iLO5 Standard
Warranty3 years on-site NBD support
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.