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Acer Aspire H340

If you like the idea of a stay at home server incorporating Microsoft’s Windows Home Server operating system, up until this point have really only had 2 choices so far. They could build their own,or they could buy one of the HP MediaSmart models. But fresh to the market is Acer with their Aspire easyStore H340.

What’s in the box?

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Inside the box there is the server itself, a power adapter and cable, an Ethernet cable, a software installation disc, a PC restore disc, a server recovery disc, and various documentation including warranty, packing list and quick start guide.

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Technical Specification

Product Acer Aspire H340
Processor 1.6GHz Intel Atom 230
Memory 2 GB RAM
Included capacity 2 x 640GB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm SATA drives
Expandability 2 extra caddies available making a total of 4 SATA caddies
Ethernet Port 10/100/1000 Mbps
Ports 5 x USB 2.0 (4 rear, 1 front)
1 x ESATA (rear)
Dimensions & Weight 7.9" (200mm) W x 7.1" (180mm) D x 8.3" (212mm) H 
  9.9 lb (4.5kg) without hard drive, 11.2 lb. (5.1kg) with one hard drive
Supported OSs Windows XP, Vista      

Interestingly this unit doesn’t support OS X backups. The easyStore H340 doesn’t support Time Machine and so it can’t backup OS X natively like the HP LX and EX MediaSmart WHS machines.

The specification including the Atom 230 processor and 2GB Ram, and whilst this processor is not the quickest available, it is certainly up to the task and helps reduce the power usage of the unit as a whole.

CPU-Z Report

Processor(s)  
Number of processors 1
Number of cores 1 per processor
Number of threads 2 per processor
Name Intel Atom 230
Code Name Diamondville
Specification Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU 230 @ 1.60GHz
Package Socket 437 FCBGA8
Family/Model/Stepping 6.C.2
Extended Family/Model 6.1C
Core Stepping C0
Technology 45 nm
Core Speed 1600.4 MHz
Multiplier x Bus speed 12.0 x 133.4 MHz
Rated Bus speed 533.5 MHz
Stock frequency 1600 MHz
Instruction sets MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, EM64T
L1 Data cache (per processor) 24 KBytes, 6-way set associative, 64-byte line size
L1 Instruction cache (per processor) 32 KBytes, 8-way set associative, 64-byte line size
L2 cache (per processor) 512 KBytes, 8-way set associative, 64-byte line size
Chipset & Memory  
Northbridge Intel i945G rev. A2
Southbridge Intel 82801GB (ICH7/R) rev. A1
Memory Type DDR2
Memory Size 2048 MBytes
Memory Frequency 200.0 MHz (2:3)
CAS# Latency (tCL) 4.0 clocks
RAS# to CAS# (tRCD) 4 clocks
RAS# Precharge (tRP) 4 clocks
Cycle Time (tRAS) 12 clocks
Bank Cycle Time (tRC) 16 clocks
System  
System Manufacturer Acer
System Name Aspire easyStore H340
System S/N 98H340EUBH915042F330A1
Mainboard Vendor Acer
Mainboard Model WG945GCM
BIOS Vendor Phoenix Technologies LTD
BIOS Version P03
BIOS Date 02/03/2009
Memory SPD  
Module 1 DDR2, PC2-6400 (400 MHz), 2048 MBytes, unknown brand
Software  
Windows Version Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition Service Pack 2 (Build 3790)
DirectX Version 9.0c

Power Usage

Initial startup 60 watts settling back to a consistent 42 – 45 watts. Heavy file transfer didn’t take this beyond 48watts.

Initial Impressions

This WHS machine is a rather strangely attractive cube, which in reality won’t look out of place in any home study or office.It has a big power button at the top left of the unit, a number of blue lights, and a USB socket in the bottom left hand corner. The front of the unit is dominated by a door which opens left to right to reveal 4 hot swappable 3.5-inch SATA drive bays.

The case reminds me a little of the usual Shuttle PC form factor and it’s dimensions, [7.9" (200mm) W x 7.1" (180mm) D x 8.3" (212mm) H] mean that despite its potential storage capacity of 8Tb, (more on this later), it is still in fact quite a discrete unit.

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Case Off

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Huge internal fan but slow spinning in order to keep the noise down.

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As you would expect internal cabling is kept incredibly tidy.

Expandability

This machine is immediately impressive on this front because of the 4 caddies that are available to the user. The review machine was supplied with 2 caddies already filled with two 640Gb Seagate Barracuda drives. The system drive is neatly labeled and logically is drive 1.

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If you filled up all the caddies with 2Tb drives, (which of course would necessitate a WHS OS re-install on the system disc), this system could scale up to being a whopping 8Tb server…

All the drives, (apart from the system drive), are hot swappable, and so can be added or removed without having to power down the server. You just lift up the little orange tab, pull out the tray, slide in your new drive, and slide the whole unit back into the bay. There are four USB ports in the back, along with one eSATA port and a gigabit Ethernet port. Server back up is easily provided by connecting an external USB drive drive into the front USB port and touching one button.

Start her up!

The install process is the standard WHS install process, other than the almost mandatory custom splash screens.

A new user would simply put the provided CD into a client machines drive and start up the Acer installation utility if autorun hasn’t already prompted you to do so.

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At this point you would give your new server an appropriate name and assign an administrator password. Whatever you do, don’t forget this otherwise you are going to have to install the system from scratch!

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Home Server Console Splash Screen

When you start the console up from your client PCs you will be presented initially with the screen below, which is the same that you would see on any standard WHS implementation.

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Server Storage

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Lights Out

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McAfee

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System Information

Acer supply an extra add in that provides an extra system information tab, that shows information that would otherwise be on the WHS Task Manager which would only be available if you RDP into the unit – this is a nice time saving tool.

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Settings

In the settings dialogue the general tab shows all the usual information you would expect from a WHS setup.

*General

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*Backup

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*Passwords

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*Media Sharing

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*Remote Access

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*Add Ins

Somewhat strangely as McAfee and Lights Out are pre-installed on this machine, no addins are shown as installed, (and none are available). So it’s not entirely clear to the casual WHS user as to how you would uninstall these addins should you no longer require them. You would in fact need to RDP into the WHS and use the usual add/remove programs tool in the control panel to get rid of these programs.

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*Hardware Health and Performance Monitor

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*IP configuration

A somewhat strange addin, as savvy IT professionals would know how to change IP addresses on their WHS machine; and if you aren’t IT savvy these are settings you really wouldn’t want to be playing with!

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*Lights Out

Lights out enables you to configure hibernation times for your server, so that you can improve it’s already impressive green credentials; by hibernating the server, when you are definitely not using any of the its capabilities. This addin is of course available to other WHS users here.

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*McAfee Total Protection Service

Acer also includes a 60 day trial to McAfee Total Protection which includes an antivirus/antispyware security suite.

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*Settings for DMS

Digital Media Server is a DLNA compatible program for streaming music, video and photos stored on the server, to DLNA compatible clients.

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*Settings for ITunes Server

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*Resources

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Pricing

UK pricing hasn’t yet been revealed by Acer, but currently this unit is on sale for $399 at NewEgg in the US – so would probably expect UK pricing to be in the £300 – £350 range.

Conclusion

If you directly compare this machine to any of HP’s MediaSmart machines, Acer’s Aspire easyStore H340 doesn’t have much in the way of extra software or features, but the pricing looks like it is going to be very sharp compared to these machines. In fact compared to the base LX195 machine with which it is likely to have comparable pricing, the H340 looks like a complete steal because of it’s e
xpandability, larger memory and extra ESATA port. Any software that is “missing” can easily be found in the vast array of other WHS addins available.

If you need Mac support then out of the box the Acer cannot currently support you, but there are possibly addins out there that can assist you with this anyway.

This is a machine I like, (a lot!), and would definitely recommend that you consider this as your Home Server. It’s nice to look at, it’s well configured, and has masses of scope for expansion – if the price point comes in right then I’m not sure why you would currently look at anything else.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Interested says:

    Can anyone tell me what addins can duplicate HP’s Timemachine support? and streaming to iPhone? I think I can piece togehter the web streaming, and most of the other HP additions, the only instruction I’ve found on Time machine look like a hack, rather then a proper add-in?

  2. JohnBick says:

    I do not understand the parantehtical portion of this comment: “If you filled up all the caddies with 2Tb drives, (which of course would necessitate a WHS OS re-install on the system disc), this system could scale up to being a whopping 8Tb server…”

    WHS does NOT need to be re-installed to add drives, at least not on any HP platform, DIY, or other pre-built that I have heard of…

    And yes, there ARE other ready-made platforems besides the HP (and DIY)!

  3. Bill Gates says:

    JohnBick, as the author suggests, if you wanted to fill the Acer server with 2 TB drives for a total of 8TB, then you must replace the 640GB system drive with a 2TB system drive, then yes you would have to do a full system OS reinstall to get WHS OS on that now 2TB system drive. This also applies to all systems if you want to use the maximum amout of Gigs..

  4. ok it comes with a mcafee av security, but it would be better to use BitDefender Total Security 2009. It’s much more better than mcafee.

  5. GRose says:

    I have two questions – 1 what is the server reinstall like – on a DIY build it’s easy but since this is a headless unit i just wonder what teh wizard is like

    2 is there an expected UK realese date?

  6. Kam Lau says:

    I got my Acer easyStore Home Server connected to a Sans Digital TowerRAID. I really love this setup.

  7. jeff says:

    Does anyone know the max drive size (internal) and the max overall capacity?

  8. Michel Derome says:

    Looking to get Itunes Server, so far I was not lucky.

    Maybe it is not available at all to the public or is it, maybe there is no advantage to have this over MS 7 and the media center incorporated?

    Your tough and help will be appreciated.

    Thank you

  9. Gary Quigley says:

    I don’t believe that there is a true iTunes Server available seperately from those already incorporated on these machines, (please correct me if I’m wrong!). But you can use something like Firefly, (http://www.fireflymediaserver.org/), as a media server instead.

  10. Michel Derome says:

    Thank you for the Reply Gary.

    Will check it.

  11. Is there any update on a UK release date?

  12. Tanner says:

    Hey, if anybody out there, or the person who did this review, reads this, I’m having a hard time finding documentation of error messages for this particular unit. Have one which’s error lights suggest that it’s boot device cannot be found but no literature on potential solutions (that’s red ‘i’, ‘2’, and ‘3’ LEDs) … If somebody out there is more tech savvy than me, or has delt with this issue before could help me out it would be much appreciated.
    Thanks

  13. ken says:

    I’m also experienceing issues with my h340..getting the red leds with i 2 and 3. Would appreciate any help?

  14. fsn says:

    At me 4 pieces on 2 Tb. The system doesn’t want to be established on 2Tb. Has made manually 2 sections: 1 SYS 20 Gb and 2 DATA 1,8 Tb, all the same doesn’t want to work from this disk. On a disk 1 Tb all is established perfectly. What’s the matter?

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