HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer

I have been busy all week integrating a new server for our home network. It’s been 3 years since I added an HP EX470 MediaSmart Server to our home network. 18 months later, I replaced it with an HP EX490 MediaSmart Server. And now, 18 months after that replacement, I am performing another replacement – this time with an HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer!

The key differences with the new server:

  • Video card! No more headless install and configuration!
  • Optical drive! Again, no headless install needed!
  • Larger, lower RPM fan! Less noise!
  • Windows Home Server 2011! Whoa – so much better than V1!

EX490 on the left and N40L on the right:

Ripping this sucker apart to upgrade to 8GB EDD RAM and to add an optical drive:

After backing up my existing data (roughly 1.5TB of data) I wanted to put the best drives in my new server. I had to do a lot of planning, testing, and swapping:

Unfortunately with the floods in Thailand, hard drive prices have tripled. Populating each HDD slot with a 2TB drive would cost me over $1000! Um, I’ll stick with my 1TB drives for now 🙂

My old server is up on Ebay – and because of those ridiculous HDD prices, I may actually make money even after 18 months of use! I originally bought the 1TB HDDs that are included in the auction for $65 each. With today’s market, they are going for over $125 each!

I’m glad I was able to do all this work during the work week. I would have really hated to waste a weekend on this stuff. After all, you all know I hate computers 🙂


13 thoughts on “HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer

  1. Pingback: HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer « VPSmart

  2. Wow. I’m glad to find this post since I was wondering which one will be better to set up a personal home server.
    Can you please explain why you replaced EX490 (with E7500) with N40L?
    Considering the spec and your picture, N40L seems a bit slower and the size is even bigger. What could be the benefit of N40L over your previous EX490? I’m really interested in your answer. 🙂

    • Many reasons why I made the switch:
      1. I was running the EX490 with a processor that ran significantly hotter than the stock CPU. As we know with all hardware, more heat = shorter life. I wanted to be proactive and replace the server BEFORE it failed 🙂 I was always paranoid with all the passive heatsinks and small fan inside the EX490. The N40L is more spacious and has a larger fan cooling the unit. You get the sense that the N40L is more robust.
      2. I am a sucker for the latest and greatest software. The WHS2011 is much much more elegant than WHSv1. It is definitely quicker since it is 64 bit and able to support 8GB RAM. I could argue that its quicker than the E7500 with 2GB RAM.
      3. No more headless install! I did not like the limitations of the network install and configuration of the EX490. It takes 2-3 hours to do a clean install with the EX490. The N40L took only 30 minutes for a clean install since I could plug a keyboard, mouse, and monitor directly to it.
      4. WHS2011 is streamlined. No aftermarket add ins like Twonky etc. that you were forced to install on the EX490.

      The only downside is that there is no Drive Extender. It wasn’t a factor for me however since I have more than 2TB of actual data. In order to backup any data on either the EX490 or the N40L, you are limited to 2TB of data on a single drive. So I had to break up my directories among all my drives. So I wouldn’t call it a downside – more like something that you have to be aware of.

      If you are able to land one of the many deals for the N40L, I would definitely recommend it. I have had it for a little over a month and have yet had a need to reset or troubleshoot a problem. It has been flawless! When I had the EX490, it needed to be reset every other week because of stability issues – likely some kind of memory leak with Twonky or some other service.

      I hope this helps!

      • I appreciate your very detailed answers. 🙂
        If you say the performance of N40L with high ram is comparable to EX490 with upgraded CPU, I would go ahead for N40L.
        Thanks again, it helped a lot!

  3. I am having a weird problem with my HP N40L micro server and the HP Remote Access Card (RAC):
    When I power the server down using the RAC it would not turn on neither remotely or directly from the power button. First I thought that the PSU is out so I ordered a new one, installed it, and everything was good until I decided to power off the server using the RAC again…

    I am running WHS 2011 with original BIOS and updated RAC firmware. Any advice will be appreciated.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t have the RAC in my system although I was always curious how it worked since I am very familiar with HPs iLO system in their enterprise servers.

      For my use, I have always stuck with VPN and Remote Desktop and have been able to accomplish everything I need that way. I know the RAC gives you more hardware information, temps, etc.

      Try contacting Julian here: http://www.livingonthecloud.net/2011/08/hp-microserver-remote-access-card.html
      He seems to be an expert with the N40L with RAC.

  4. Hi There, I am hoping you can help me out. I came across your site and purchased the same memory for my n40l MicroServer. Patriot PS34G13ER – E 4GB each. Installed the memory into the Microserver and it doesn’t seem to get past POST with no Video. I changed it back to the standard memory and all is working.

    So my assumption is its bad memory. Two stick to be bad would be quite rare or perhaps I got the wrong memory.

    Would you be able to confirm if you are running a custom bios ? Any clarification would be great.


    • I apologize for the misinformation from that picture. As it turned out, the Patriot RAM DID NOT work in the system. I searched all over the place to find some sort of listing of compatible RAM. I ended up finding out that the RAM needed to be Unbuffered Server RAM. I had to go to specific vendor websites to verify compatibility. I only turned up one vendor, Kingston, that sells fully verified RAM:


      So I returned the Patriot RAM and went with the Kingston RAM and it worked! I took the old photo down so there won’t be any further confusion. It turns out that this blog post gets a lot of traffic for many who are looking into buying and configuring this system.

  5. Hahah 🙂

    Thanks for the confirmation! serves me right for making the assumption and being lazy. Having said that I assumed the the memory would work based on the specs I saw. I will be doing the same thing and returning it. Thanks for providing the additional information much appreciated 🙂

  6. Thank you a lot for sharing the informations and certainly the pictures. I was wondering about the HDD slots and on the HP site they don’t show the pictures. Am probably gonna buy that micro server.
    You wrote that article late 2011… its August 2012 now. Are you satisfied with the hardware and performance? Did you have any failure? Are the HDD’s monitorable, e.g. through SMART?

    PS: HDDs on carpet… not a good idea ;-))

  7. Pingback: 团购HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L(第2批) | Live Digital

  8. Thanks for sharing your comparison of the EX490 and N40L. I’m considering getting an N40L and am trying to find out if the CPU is upgradable. Is the CPU replaceable on the on the N40L or is it soldered to the motherboard?

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