Compaq ProLiant 1600
PRO: Modular design, good file service speed, second least expensive system in roundup
CON: No RAID subsystem, limited features at this price
In our previous server roundup, the ProLiant 1600 rang up the top overall performance score and the lowest configured price of all the units we tested. Not so this time: Pitted against beefier Xeon systems, the plain-vanilla PIII-500 ProLiant finished last in the SQL and network tests (not counting our single-CPU reference unit). The Compaq’s file score was good enough for second place, but the server excludes a RAID subsystem, which provides highly desirable redundancy protection at the expense of performance. Compaq configured the ProLiant with a software RAID, which often is faster than hardware RAIDs, especially those configured for maximum reliability (RAID level 5).
One gripe with previous versions of the ProLiant was their lack of redundancy features. Although the newest ProLiant still lacks redundant cooling fans, Compaq now offers a hot-swappable power supply option. Our test unit had the maximum three power supplies installed.
The floppy drive, CD-ROM drive, and two empty 5.25-inch bays are readily accessible with the front door closed. The front panel is easy to remove, revealing the six hot-swap drive bays. Even with a 100Base-T network card occupying a PCI slot, the system left five slots free, because the SCSI controller is integrated. But the Compaq can handle only up to 1GB of RAM–a smallish maximum for a server these days.
The ProLiant 1600 is diminutive for a server, with a minimum of wasted space inside, but its highly modular design makes servicing and upgrading quick and easy. Disassembly requires just twisting a thumbscrew and then pressing a tab or swinging out a lever. The server breaks down quickly into function-specific subassemblies, such as the processor cage and the expansion card cage. Expansion cards are held in place by tool-free tabs and can be accessed by removing the unit’s top cover or by sliding the entire card cage out the rear of the system.
Compaq includes a setup utility, as well as server- or client-accessible monitoring tools designed to alert you to potential problems. But Remote Insight, which enables you to access the server via modem and supplies 30 minutes of battery backup, costs an additional $886. There is also additional server support by Hard Drive Recovery Group in Irvine, CA. Their guide to recovering data from the ProLiant 1600 and others is here.
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