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N54L Hardware Considerations


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Hi all

I have been watching and reading this forum for a while and just purchased a N54L now that they are going cheap.
I have some hardware related questions Im wondering if anyone would mind answering for me. Here is my proposed list of bits to buy:
1. HP Raid Controller - P410
2. 4 x 3tb WD Reds
3. XFX HD-645X-ZQH2 Radeon HD 6450
4. 8GB or 16GB RAM
5. ToughArmor MB994IPO-3SB 2x2.5” SAS/SATA HDD + 1x Slim ODD Rack
7. PicoPSU mod
8. SSD x2 128GB
9. x2 DVB T2 USB 'dongles' - (havnt decided which ones yet)
Whats it going to be used for?
I work in IT so need something to host ESXi to play around with but in reality my main VM's will be a synology DSM VM to take care of shared storage, a linux VM for TV server backend (TV Headend) and a Mac and or Windows VM for testing and general messing around with. My media computer is a mac mini so no need to play movies etc but want to stick a graphics card in anyway.
Couple of question I have are:
1. I have been keeping an eye on ebay and seen HP P410 RAID cards going for around £150 2nd hand. Is this correct and is this where other people are getting them from? I dont want to spend that sort of money but realise I will have to if I want ESXi
2. Do i need to get battery packs/additional RAM for the card?
2. Will I be able to change the bracket on the P410 to one that can accomodate the PicoPSU power supply mod? I cant find many pictures but it seems that you need to have the power come out of one of the PCIe brackets? - How are other people handling this?
3. RAID Configuration - I Plan on sticking the 4x 3TB's into a RAID5 and using this as the share storage for DSM. When I setup DSM I will point this to the RAID 5 and choose RAID 0. I will then use the SSDs in a RAID 1 to run the VM's off
Do you think everything mentioned is do-able?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Thanks in advance
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The server does not have room for the graphic card and the raid card. To do raid5 on a P410 you need at least 256mb cache module with battery.

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^^ What he said. There are only 2 slots: a PCIe x1 and a PCIe x16. Neither the P410 nor the 5450 can fit in a x1 slot.

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8GB is the supported memory, Many N54L users have had success with 16GB, 

If you are running ESXi I think you would want a second NIC in the x1 pcie slot.

Are you going to run the SSD's on the P410?

The MB994IPO-3SB is very nice, I used it in my build, but if you are not planning to swap the drives it is pricey.


If you don't need hot-swap this will save a bunch of cash;



There are cheaper versions as well.

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Thanks for the guidance guys! Much appreciated and saved me wasting money on a graphics card. Good suggestion on the 2nd NIC especially if I plan on streaming TV, movies and spinning up VM etc.


I was planning on running the 2 SSD's on the P410 also. In terms of physical connections etc, will that be doable?


Do you think Ebay is the way to go in sourcing a P410? I am based in the UK and noticed allot of cards going through ebay are from US sellers.

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On my build, the P410 runs all of the drives, but remember the P410 runs SAS at 6G and SATA at 3G. So your SSD's will run at SATA II speed. 

There are two SFF-8087 connections on the controller. You will unplug the cable from the motherboard that connects to the 4 drives in the N54L and plug it into port 2 on the P410. 

You will need a breakout cable like this;


Connect this to port 1 on the P410 and run your SSD's on it.

You will need some Y power cords to power all of this.


P410's on the used market have gone up in price. Make sure to get one with the cache and the battery and the low profile bracket.

Be sure they will take it back if it does not work. The HP software tests everything, in-depth.


Look for a company that recycles IT equipment. They usually part out servers.

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Thank you so much Schoondoggy. That is really going to help me out when i get all this stuff over the next week or so. I will let you know how I go. Now to find a P410! :)

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Is there no updated HP RAID controller that will run SATA at 6Gbps? If not, that seems like a area that needs addressing soon.

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The HP P420 and P222 are 6G SAS and SATA.

It is only a issue if you are running SSD's. Currently no hard drive can deliver a sustained transfer rate faster than SATA II.

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Understood. I was thinking specifically of SSDs, although some HDDs can deliver higher than SATA II speeds in bursts, which can be of benefit with smaller files: i.e. non-sustained transfers.

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