Executive Summary: HP’s DL160 is a high-performance server with a two-socket system that puts dual quad-core power into a tiny 1U form factor. For use as a Web server or file server, it’s a great choice. It doesn’t support Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V technology, although hosted virtualization technologies such as VMware Virtual Server 2.0 and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 would still run.

HP ProLiant DL160
PROS: 1U form factor; high performance; 64-bit compatibility
CONS: No support for Hyper-V virtualization; no optical drive test unit
PRICE: Starts at $1379; tested configuration, $6,970; base price includes one Quad-Core Xeon 2Ghz processor, 1GB RAM, and one 80GB 7,200rpm hard drive. Tested configuration includes two Quad-Core Xeon processors, 8GB RAM, and four 146GB 15,000rpm drives
RECOMMENDATION: Choose the DL160 if you need a Web server or a general-purpose file server for a small-to-midsized business (SMB) but know that you can’t use it with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V virtualization.
RATING: 3.5

CONTACT: HP • www.hp.com • 800-752-0900

HP ProLiant DL160 is the first of the new-generation high-performance 1U servers. The DL160 is a two-socket system that puts dual quad-core power into a tiny 1U form factor. The unit I tested was equipped with two Intel Xeon 3GHz CPUs, 8GB ECC RAM, and four 146GB 15,000rpm hard disks. In its maximum configuration the system supports a total of 32GB RAM and up to 3TB storage in the 1U form factor.

Internally, the DL 160 sports a 1600MHz front side bus and two internal expansion slots. The expansion slots consisted of one PCI-Express 2.0 x16 full-length/full-height slot and one PCI-Express 2.0 x16 low-profile slot. The DL160 also came equipped with two integrated 1GB network adapters, and two USB 2.0 ports on the front and on the rear of the unit. The DL 160 also had a mouse port, a keyboard port, an integrated video adapter, one serial port and an Integrated Lights Out (iLO) remote management port. The test unit didn’t have an optical drive. Being a small form-factor server, the system didn’t have redundant power supplies.

You can purchase the system with your choice of the 32-bit or 64-bit Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard or Enterprise Edition, the Windows Small Business Server 2003 Standard or Premium editions, Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, or Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition. Non-Windows OS choices include Novell’s SuSE and Red Hat Linux. The unit I tested came with Windows Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition preinstalled.

I found the 1U unit reasonably light and easy to install into the rack. The DL160 is a rather loud unit, especially when it runs its power-on self test (POST) as the fans all shift into high gear. It quiets down after it’s running. The unit takes a surprisingly long time to power up, taking 45 seconds between the initial power-on to the time the POST screen appeared. From power-on to running the OS took about two minutes. I ran the system using both Windows 2003 Enterprise x64 and Windows Server 2008 Enterprise x64 Edition, which I installed. Overall, the unit’s performance was exceptional. It was a fast file server, and its dual quad-core processors really made it shine as a small-to-medium range Web, database, and application server. However, I was very surprised to find that although the system shipped with virtualization-capable processors, virtualization support was removed from the system’s BIOS. This lack rendered the system incapable of running Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V even though Server 2008 is one of the supported OSs. Hosted virtualization technologies such as VMware Virtual Server 2.0 and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 would still run, however.

Like the other systems in the HP ProLiant line, the DL160 comes with HP’s iLO technology, which enables remote management through an embedded Web server. However, the DL160 didn’t come with HP’s Insight Manager, which would have provided system monitoring, the ability to send alerts, and asset management. This feature is standard on the higher end of the ProLiant line.

If you’re looking for a 1U rack-mounted high performance Web, database, or application server, you can’t go wrong with the HP DL160. Its dual quad-core processors provide a lot a power in a small package. However, if you need a small-scale virtualization server for Server 2008, then you should look elsewhere—the lack of support for Hyper-V prevents it from being used as a virtualization platform for organizations moving to Server 2008.