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HP ProLiant ML370 G4

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The ProLiant ML370 G4 is HP’s first EM64T rack server and it doesn’t disappoint - build quality is positively superb with this 5U rack mount version delivering high levels of expansion and top range of features. At the front you have a six disk hot-swap cage and the review system included a pair of 72GB Ultra320 SCSI drives mounted in sturdy hot-swap carriers. To the right is an expansion bay with room for three 5.25in devices while a small door alongside protects the floppy drive and a bank of server status LEDs.

It gets even better internally as HP’s motherboard has been designed to reduce internal clutter to an absolute minimum. Cabling is kept very tidy as all connectors are positioned on the motherboard’s edge and three hot swap fans look after cooling. Overall noise levels are commendably low and you can add a fourth fan at the front and two more at the rear if required. The pair of 3.4GHz Xeons sits behind the hard disk bay and a plastic shroud helps with air flow. The modules are covered in mighty passive heatsinks and the simple lever and bracket arrangement makes them a cinch to remove and replace. The ML370 is equipped with the higher end E7520 chipset and comes with 1GB of DDR2 400MHz memory. The eight DIMM sockets support up to 16GB of memory and HP expects 2GB modules to be available by the end of this year.

Internal space has been maximized by mounting the power distribution board underneath the motherboard. The review system came with a single 775W power supply and you can add fault tolerance with a second unit; both accessed from the rear. Storage is looked after by an integrated LSI Ultra320 dual channel SCSI controller but if you opt for the high performance version you get an HP SmartArray RAID controller included.

There’s plenty of room to expand as the motherboard sports four 100MHz/64bit PCI slots and a couple of x4 PCI-Express slots. We were surprised to see a server with such potential only offering a single embedded Gigabit Ethernet port but HP goes some way to make up for this with the integrated iLO (integrated lights-out) remote management controller. This uses a separate embedded 10/100BaseTX port and allows the server to be remotely managed and controlled irrespective of its condition. Access is via a secure HTTPS session and the tidy web interface provides full monitoring facilities for keeping an eye on the controller, server and all installed components. Full access is provided to power so you can reset the server and power it up and down from the comfort of your own desk.

General server management is handled by HP’s Systems Insight Manager suite which provides some of the best administrative, monitoring and alerting facilities currently on the market. From the smart browser interface you can access any server with the Insight agent loaded, keep an eye on critical components and set up alerts to warn if errors or failures are detected.

Verdict

The ML370 G4 is a beautifully built rack server that offers masses of expansion, plenty of hardware for the price and excellent remote management tools. It’s worth checking the Dell out if you want higher storage density in your rack cabinets, but on the whole we’d go for the HP.

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