I'm putting in a HP N36L Microserver but there is a successor model: the HP N54L (175 Euro at Amazon) less expensive. The case is the same, the performance is a bit better: instead of 1.3 GHz, the AMD Athlon II CPU clocks with 1.5 GHz on the N40L and 2.2 GHz on the N54L, which is also better for Windows Home Server 2011 is enough. Who needs more performance gets a 2.2 GHz Dualcore AMD Turion processor with the official successor of the N40L, the HP ProLiant MicroServer N54L. Otherwise the data is the same, the price for the N54L has now dropped to 220 Euro. (Geizhals.at, as of 08.12.12).
Shopping list for FreeNAS on HP N40L and N54L Microserver (all Amazon, as of 30.04.2014)
- HP Proliant N54L Microserver (approx. 190.- Euro)
- Western Digital WD20EFRX RD1000S, especially for NAS use, 2 TB (approx. 90,- Euro), 3 TB (approx. 130,- Euro), 4 TB (approx. 180,- Euro)
- 8 GB DDR3 RAM 1,333 MHz Transcend (70,- Euro)
- Intel Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter PCI-Express (approx. 25,- Euro)
- USB stick: Transcend JetFlash 300, 4 GB (approx. 6,- Euro)
- HP Micro Server Remote Control Card (approx. 85,- Euro)
The Microserver (no matter which model) is delivered with 4 GB RAM and a 250 GB hard disk (the linked variant above comes without hard disk, since it is not very fast anyway - or at least quiet). The RAM should be upgraded to 8 GB for FreeNAS with ZFS, more RAM never hurts. You can save the optional management card if you don't want to place the microserver in the basement or attic, where you can't connect a monitor. You should also replace the main fan: the 120mm model used by HP is relatively loud. The power supply's fan, on the other hand, can hardly be replaced with a corresponding whisper model.
FreeNAS itself is then installed on a USB stick, which is placed on the internal USB port of the HP N40L. The USB stick should be quite resilient: I've often experienced that the system on the USB stick had file system errors. The actual RAIDZ was fortunately always unaffected by this, but it always gives you a short fright. The network card of the HP N40L or N54L does not support FreeNAS with Wake-On-LANhere an alternative, e.g. from Intel, must be used to make this function work and save electricity during the day.
Update: If you want more performance, you can fall back on the current model of HP's micro server, the Proliant N54L, which is once again significantly faster with 2.2 GHz and otherwise has the same specifications. In return, the price is also significantly higher at around 220 euros: HP ProLiant MicroServer N54L at Amazon.com.
Update 30.04.2013: HP N54L price dropped
Since the article was written, prices have changed: the HP N40L has become considerably more expensive, but the successor model, the HP Proliant Microserver N54LThe price for the micro server version with 2.2 GHz is a little over 220,-€ at the moment, but you get a system that meets the requirements for Windows Home Server 2011.