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HP ProLiant G7 Server N54L Shell Shocker $229.99 1pm-3pm


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I am part of the club now!  I broke down.  I gues S2012E will go on this once it arrives.


Here come the newb questions! 


How much RAM is in it?

Can I upgrade it?

Should I flash the bios?




The N54L will come with 2GB of RAM and the 250GB HP drive VB0250EAVER.  Use that as you OS drive and add two large drives in a SW Mirror and you’re good to go with WHS-2011 or S2012E.  (Don’t forget your 3-2-1 backups)


Depending on how you intend to use your N54L (lots of ideas in the Useful MicroServer Links & Reference) really drives your decision on RAM:


  • If you plan to use it in “production” protecting your valuable data I would NOT go over 8GB ECC RAM as recommended/certified by HP.  You could check out the data we have in MicroServer Hardware Links on what RAM is compatible and what other people are using and then set up price alerts for when the RAM you’re interested in goes on sale.  I went with the Kingston ECC 8GB KVR1333D3E9SK2/8G because that’s what DieHard chose and it has worked well for me.  YMMV!
  • If you plan to use your N54L as a “test box” or “hyper-v” play box or an IT Education/Training Box (NOT as a Production box) then you may want to consider going to 16GB RAM – check the RAM section on MicroServer Hardware Links and only go with what a large number of people are finding success with.  I’ve gone that route with my test boxes and the Kingston ECC 16GB KVR1333D3E9SK2/16G seems to work better for me and from what I’ve read it seems easily transferable to a G8 in the future (which is certified for 16GB).  YMMV.


The reasons I flashed the BIOS was to use the System Board SATA Port and the eSATA Port at full SATA II speeds (in the regular BIOS those two ports are locked down to SATA I speeds) and to enable AHCI for those Ports (so that I could use trim on a SSD attached to either of those two ports).  If you wanted to use the Port Multiplier feature on the eSATA Port you’ll also need to Flash the BIOS-MOD and follow Alex’s instructions in Useful MicroServer Links & Reference.


If you’re not going to use those ports in that way you don’t need to Flash the BIOS-MOD.  Also, if you wanted to use a P410 HP RAID card you don’t want to flash the BIOS-MOD because of incompatibilities – conversely the RR2720 seems to work better IF you flash the BIOS-MOD – though it’s still a little quirky.


The N54L is a great box – it’s very versatile and the more you “mess” with it the more things you’ll see that you want to do with it.


Here’s a picture of the Performance of the VB0250EAVER set up as the OS drive for WHS-2011 in a “basic” production build I’m currently testing:





Using the VB0250EAVER as your OS drive with a couple of ST3000DM001's mirrored for your data and with only 2GB of RAM (and without the BIOS-MOD -- I flashed my test setup back to HP Stock) you can still get some pretty serious performance:




Edited by Joe_Miner
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What's the process with adding larger drives in this server? Heard some horror stories of data loss due to not being HP firmware etc. is it possible to install any respectable 3.5" sata and off you go? Thinking of adding a few TB of standard 7,200rpm 3.5" and keeping as close spec to the OS drive as I can?


Noob question: what is SW mirror?


(Don't laugh, first server) :)





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Noob question: what is SW mirror?




Software-based Raid 1 instead of Hardware-based Raid 1

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Exactly. RAID can be handled by an add-in card, on-board circuitry, or by software. SW RAID1 just means there is some software running in the OS that looks after reading & writing data from & to 2 drives, so there are 2 copies of the data at all times. Each technique (HW, onboard, SW) has its advantages & disadvantages.

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Can I mix "production" and "test box" modes?

For example:

under VMWare ESXi will run: Windows 7-8(for test), Ubuntu (for test), WHS-2011 (for "production" - NAS) or

under Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Windows 7-8(for test), Ubuntu (for test), WHS-2011 (for "production" - NAS)

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Can I mix "production" and "test box" modes?

For example:

under VMWare ESXi will run: Windows 7-8(for test), Ubuntu (for test), WHS-2011 (for "production" - NAS) or

under Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Windows 7-8(for test), Ubuntu (for test), WHS-2011 (for "production" - NAS)



In State of the Union of Server 2012 Essentials on The Home Server Show 217 SBSDiva describes toward the end of the Podcast her set-up at home with a N40L running S2012 as the Hyper-V host and a production WHS-2011 client plus a variety of test Clients.  She passed thru 2 HDD's to WHS-2011 for her data drives and used Server 2012 Server Backup to back up the VM's.


When I was first using my N40L I ran Server 2008R2 as my Hyper-V host and ran WHS-2011 with 2 drives passed thru for Data Drives plus a variety of other Client VM's.  So it can be done and if your data/backup needs aren't huge it's a viable option.  I abandoned that option because my data needs were too much and I prefered having a machine dedicated to just my Home Server.


Listen to SBSDiva's podcast description of her set-up.

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