I keep meaning to do a blog post on the Bod home-office, something like the Lifehacker Workspace posts but I never quite get round to it. Still, suffice to say, my home workspace is pretty nice; it’s kind of the room I wanted when I was thirteen but cooler! The heart of the workspace though is the tech, I have tech for gaming, working, chilling and generally geeking; desktops of every flavour and a few servers for good measure.
Recently, as you will know I have been playing with Razor and Puppet and I found that my little HP Microserver was struggling a bit with the load I was putting on it and I started to think about getting something with a bit more oomph. I had decided that I was going to put something together based on Intel’s Xeon technology and began to put together a shopping list.
Building PCs is something I kind of enjoy but then as luck would have it, an email dropped into my mailbox from Servers Plus in the UK offering £150 cashback on the HP ProLiant ML110 G7 Tower Server with a E3-1220 Quad Core processor; this brought the price down to £240 including VAT. And I was sold..no PC building for me this time.
As well as the afore mentioned E3-1220, the G7 comes equipped with a 2Gb ECC UDIMM, 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports, iL03 sharing the first Ethernet, 250GB Hard Disk, 350W power supply and generally great build quality (although I could do a better job with the cable routing I reckon).
The motherboard can support up to six SATA devices and there are four non-hotswap caddies for no-screw hard-disk installation, one of which holds the 250 GB Hard Disk. Installing additional drives was a doddle and involved no cursing and hunting for SATA cables. I did not bother to install an optical disk as I intended to network boot and install from my Razor server.
Maximum supported memory is an odd 16GB; the chipset definitely supports 32GB but there are very mixed reports of running an ML110 G7 with 32GB; I just purchased a couple of generic 4 GB ECC DIMMS for about £50 to bring it up to 10 GB for the time being. I’d be interested in hearing if anyone has got a ML110 G7 running successfully with 32GB. There’s no technical reason for HP to limit the capability and it does seem strange. The DIMM slots are easily accessible and no contortions are required to install the additional memory.
There are 4 PCIe card slots available; 1×16, 2×4 and 1×1; this should be ample for most home servers as it already comes with two onboard ethernet ports.
After installing the additional memory and hard-disks, I powered the box up and let it register with my Razor server; added a policy to install ESXi on it and let it go.
A quick note about the iLO3, it is the basic license which allows you to power-up and power-off, do some basic health checking and monitoring but no remote terminal; this is not a huge problem for me as the server is in the same room and I can easily put a monitor on it if required.
The ML110 is pretty damn quiet considering the amount of fans in it but start putting under load and you will know it’s there but it’s no noisier than my desktop when I am gaming and all the fans are spinning. It is certainly noisier than the Microserver though.
Once ESXi was installed; bringing up the vSphere let me see that all the components are recognised as expected; all the temperature monitors and fans were also being seen. Power management is available and can be set to Low power if you want for your home lab.
So I would say that if you want a home lab box with a little more oomph than the HP Microserver; the ML110 G7, especially with the £150 cash-back takes some beating. If it could be upgraded all the way to 32GB, then it would be awesome.