HP ProLiant N54L G7 MicroServer — First Look

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16 Responses

  1. Nice write-up! I too recently picked up an N54L (two, actually) and loaded it with WD Red drives to add to the home lab and experiment with storage spaces. I found the SS performance to be less than desirable and attribute this at least in part to the SATA II ports. A SAS controller seems to be just the thing this little box needs (I already upgraded the memory) and I'm curious if you experimented with a JBOD setup and then using virtual disk parity in Server 2012 Storage Spaces? At the very least adding the SAS controller will allow me to eliminate the onboard SATA II as causing my lackluster IO performance with Storage Spaces, and adding two SSDs as journaling drives should allow me to create some meaningful benchmarks on the various SS virtual disk layouts. Thanks again — I'll post my results if you are interested.

  2. Joe_Miner says:

    BryanCrollins: Thank you for your kind comments. I have done some performance measurements on Storage Spaces — for a summary check Table 1 in http://homeservershow.com/storage-spaces-performa

    LoneWolf and Schoondoggy have done some pretty interesting stuff in their MicroServers using the HP P410 card http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

    I think a lot of people would be interested in your performance tests — join us in the Forums and tell us about your Set-ups and your testing results. Thanks!

  3. Just Checking says:

    I just purchased a N54L as my first server. I got it on Sale @ Newegg for US$309 with a US$50 mail in rebate. The deal included a PCIe dual USB 3.0 card and an external USB 3.0 dual HDD system. I bought a couple 8Gb Sticks (16Gb total) of DDR3 240 pin PC3-10600 ECC buffered Server Memory (Inexpensive on eBay coming out of another server upgrade). I also purchased a RAC but I am not sure that was the best use of the other available card slot after reading this build. I have been researching how best to configure my server so I have a couple questions regarding whether to purchase and install the RocketRaid 2720SGL card vs. going with the mod-bios and setting up a Sata III SSD to boot the OS and installing another ssd or HDD in OD bay. I purchased a couple 3Tb WD Red SATA III HDD's to go in the 3.5 bays and I have a couple more 2Tb SATA III drives that can go in the other two open HDD bays.

    The questions I have are as follows:
    1. Has anyone gotten the RocketRaid 2720SGL card to work with other cards? In particular, any other USB 3.0 or Ethernet NIC's?
    2. Has anyone used the RocketRaid 2720SGL with a full set of 4 HDD's in the drive bays along with either two SSD's or a SSD and a HDD in the OD bay? If so, how do you get 6 SATA III ports from the 2720SGL card?

  4. Just Checking says:

    Continued from above:

    3. What kind of power does the 2720SGL card use? The power supply for the box is only 150 watts. If you have 4-5 HDD's in the box and an SSD, along with a USB 3.0 NIC, and a 2720SGL card, isn't that approaching the PS limits if the server is under high load?
    4. My reading indicates that the mod-bios allows you to maximize the transfer rates out of the SATA II ports on the Server MB. From my reading, the default Bios setting is for SATA I or approximately 150MB/sec speed. Mod-Bios allows you to set the bios to allow the ports to run at SATA II speeds of 300MB/sec on all ports. Is this not true? If it is true, why didn't the measurements taken by Christian Marcotte in the posts above reflect that change when he changed to mod-bios? It did change for ports 4&5 but not on the other ports with the HDD's.
    5. My reading indicates that mod-bios just allows Hidden files and features to be visible. It only allows the Bios to be more "user configurable". Why is this so risky that there are all the disclaimers about "ruining your system"? This seems less dangerous than overclocking – something that is regularly done.
    6. Why are there all these posts about people adding HDD's and SSD's to the OD bay when they don't even fill up the open 3.5" bays they have available? I want to fill up my 3.5" bays, add two more drives in the OD bay, and add 2-3 more external drives connected to the USB 3.0 external ports I am putting on this server.

  5. Just Checking says:

    Continued from above – part 3.

    7. I see that other people have been using Windows 8 for an OS on this server. Windows 8 is a much larger OS than Windows 7 and has less functionality. Isn't Windows 7-64 bit Professional a better choice for an OS if you are going with a Windows based OS to begin with?
    8. What is the advantage of going with WHS 2011 over Windows 7 anyway? What about WHS 2012? I know that WHS is being discontinued – even though it will continue to be supported for some time. I am much more comfortable with Windows 7 and it seems capable of doing everything that WHS is able to do, and more.
    9. If the MB only has SATA I/II connections, how fast is the bus to RJ-45 Ethernet port on back and How fast is the eSATA port? Do they only run at SATA II speeds?

    I guess my bottom line is – will going with the RocketRaid 2720SGL card allow me to use other NIC's reliably and also to be able to connect all my HDD's up at SATA III speeds? After that, what is the most reliable Windows OS to handle lots of HDD's and other chores? I am not familiar enough to be comfortable with a Linux OS at this time.

  6. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Just Checking!
    1. I have not. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that others have but I don’t know them and have no confidence in their information.
    2. I have not but I’m planning to give it a try. Schoondoggy and LoneWolf have done it with the HP P410 RAID card. Check the forums.
    3. Don’t remember precisely – it’s less than the 25W max that the x16 slot will support. You can check HighPoint’s documentation – as I recall it was only a few Watts.
    4. The BIOS-MOD gives you the option to speed up Ports 4 & 5 to SATA II Maximum Speeds – Ports 0 – 3 are already at SATA II Maximum speed. The BIOS-MOD also allows you to set Ports 4 & 5 to AHCI – which is necessary if you intend to attach SSD’s to those Ports. AHCI is necessary for Trim. The BIOS-MOD allows you to turn on Port Multiplier for the SATA ports. BTW, Ports 4 & 5 are the eSATA and System Board SATA ports respectively.

  7. Joe_Miner says:

    5. It’s always risky and there is the danger of bricking one’s system unintentionally.
    6. People configure it to meet their needs.
    7. Windows 8 pro is an excellent OS – much better than Windows 7. Hyper-V is just one of it’s many fantastic features IMHO.
    8. Bare Metal Backup of Clients – WHS-2011 is based on Server 2008R2 Foundation and you can get it for less than $50.
    9. The NIC is a Gb. The eSATA will run at SATA I speeds stock or SATA II after BIOS-MOD.

  8. Robert says:

    using that thing and upgraded it from a HP x312 :)

    booting from 32gb Stick a ESXi
    have about 3 VMs
    firewall, windows 2012 server essentials (data homeserver) and a debian server, and trial 2008 server

    used normal ram and have 12 Gib

    just hear that someone used 5 HDD and other, a drive box over eSata and add 4 additional HDD´s

    is there a method to overclock that cpu on board ?

  9. jpopfans1 says:

    12 Gib or 12TB ?
    if 12TB, is it a raid under any VM ? or individual disks only ?

    the news you heard about eSata, is it also under ESXi using the onboard esata or need an separate PCIe raid card ?

    sorry for asking many questions

  10. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Robert! I am not aware of anyway to overclock the CPU — the G8 that is rumored to come out before the end of June 2013 is rumored to have an 1155 socket so it may be possible to upgrade the CPU http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic… If you are looking to turn on the Port Multiplier for the eSATA Port on the N54L there is a way to do it as described in the links 4 lines down in http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

  11. Garry says:


    I have just got to work on my N54l

    So far, BIOS MOD updated.
    IcyDock Installed.

    Now I've just purchased:

    1) HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL 8-Port PCI-Express 2.0 x8 SAS/SATA 6Gb/s RAID Controller with RAID 6 Support

    2) Startech.com 50cm Serial Attached SCSI SAS Cable – SFF-8087 to 4x Latching SATA

    3) Molex to 2 SATA Internal Power Splitter Cable

    Though am I right in thinking I don't need the 2* SATA Power splitter as the IcyDock only required 1 power port?
    (Hence I can get away using the Molext to SATA Internal Power adapter I have already just installed with the IcyDock?)

    Am I understanding the hardware installation process correctly:-

    1) The HP Mini SAS Cable which is pre-inserted into the front-left portion of the motherboard – is already connected to the 4 HDD bays – which will slot into Slot2 of the HighPoint rocketraid?

    2) The Startech SFF-8087 cable is inserted into Slot1 of the HighPoint rocketraid – and of the 2 of the 4 Sata Cables at the other end of this cable will connect to the 2 SATA ports on the IcyDock (correct?)
    (2 of these 4 SATA cables will be ignored – does it matter which of the 4 SATA cables to use?)

    Any information on the above and anything you think I may have missed or that I may need to know would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

  12. kgotso says:

    hey guys! where do I get the drivers for Microserver G8 windows 7 32bit

  13. Bob says:

    Hi. Thank you for the great article. How are you fitting a RAID card, a USB 3.0 card and a NIC on this board please? The mainboard has only 2 PCI-e slots as I see it!_Thanks

  14. John Stutsman says:

    Hi Bob and thanks for reading my article!

    You can not fit all three cards in the MicroServer at once. With the RR2720 installed I first tried its compatibility with the WD USB 3.0 card then shut down the MicroServer and switched out the WD USB 3.0 card for the Intel NIC card to check it's compatibility.

    Ultimately, I moved the RR2720 to my VM server http://homeservershow.com/performance-of-a-highpo

    and made my N54L my Home Server http://homeservershow.com/moving-my-windows-home-

    • Bob says:

      Thanks a lot John for the info.
      Would you know if the RR2720 SGL offer iSCSI option when installed on a N54L HP microserver running Windows server 2012 and configured to RAID 5 on four HDDs.

  15. John Stutsman says:

    Hi Bob! That I don't know. You might want to ask in the Forums http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php? there are people there who are real experts on what you can do with a 2720.