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HP StorageWorks X310 Data Vault Review

X310 side view

We have seen the HP MediaSmart range develop and expand into the domestic market over the last few years, but this is only the second server in the MediaSmart family to wear the small business orientated StorageWorks brand.

The X310’s bigger brother, the StorageWorks X510 is essentially a re-badged business version of the MediaSmart EX495, but the lower hardware spec and reduced software capability X310 has no domestic market equivalent. So why would anybody want a reduced capability server?

Hardware

Well the answer is pretty straightforward; cost. Although the X510 is a great server and comes loaded with HP’s excellent media friendly MediaSmart software, if we are honest it is a little over spec’ed for the typical small business user and is far better suited to media rich domestic duties.

With this in mind, HP have lower the hardware specifications, removed a lot of the media transcoding and streaming software and slightly simplified the casing for the X310.

X300 front viewX500 front view

Anybody remotely familiar with MediaSmart/StorageWorks servers will immediately recognise the X310 as part of the family. The external cosmetic differences include a matt black finish, changes to the lower silver foot section and the removal of the door mounted light-pipes in favour of drive LED’s at the bottom of the case.

Connection wise things remain the same. There is still a front mounted USB 2.0 connection, and around the back you will find gigabit Ethernet, three x USB 2.0 ports and an eSATA connection with port multiplier. All of these connections add up to plenty of potential expansion capacity once you have fully populated the internal drive bays.

Inside, the X310 has an Intel Atom D510 @ 1.6GHz and 2Gb of RAM, which is more than adequate for core WHS duties especially after the burden of media transcoding and streaming software has been removed from the Data Vault software bundle.

HP X300 resources

The X310 comes in a single 1Tb storage capacity variant, which is perfectly fine as adding additional hard disks to the three spare drive bays it absolute child’s play using the same screw-less caddies we have seen on the other MediaSmart servers.

Software

To illustrate what software has been removed, lets compare the X310 and X510 Data Vault console screens:

HP X310 overviewHP X510 overview

So it looks like we have lost:

  • Web/iPhone Streaming
  • HP Media Collector
  • HP Video Converter
  • Media Server (Twonkymedia)

All of those functions run better with a powerful server and will not be very useful to a small business user, so it seems sensible to lower the hardware costs and do without them for the business market.

Lets have a closer look at what has been included.

HP X310 tour

The Tour page tries to explain the concept of what the Data Vault server is doing, bringing together file storage, user accounts, backups and remote access all into a single server.

HP X310 system status

The Systems Status page is much more useful and addresses a missing facility from the core Windows Home Server software. Here you can see what you server is up to, how busy your CPU is, how your storage is being used and what your network utilization is.

HP X310 Mac overview

If your office uses Macs as well as Windows PC’s, then the next page gives you information on how you are also able integrate them with the X310.

HP X310 media

There is some basic media streaming capability with the X310. This initial page shows you what is available, and how to access it, either from the home (or office) network or from the internet.

HP X310 local streaming

The Windows Home Server software is able to stream media by default, and this screen reminds you of the fact in case you didn’t know.

HP X300 server for iTunes

What isn’t standard in WHS is the ability to be an iTunes server. The X310 retains this capability from is bigger siblings and will be useful if a small business user wants to fill their office with music.

HP X300 HP photo publisher

HP MediaSmart servers have a pretty cool utility for putting photo libraries onto the internet and this is also retained on the X310.

HP X300 add software

Last is a jumping off page to purchase additional plug-in software for your server. Not exactly an applications store, but there are some useful packages here that will benefit the server.

Verdict

Would a regular small business user notice the lower hardware specification of this server?

Well no, not really as the X310 is very spritely and its performance belies its humble hardware specification. In use the X310 is every bit as quick as the X510 for basic WHS file serving and PC backup duties, is quiet and only consumes around 25-30 watts of power.

Sure, a home user is going to want to store video, converted to other formats and stream it to multiple client devices, but in general a business user won’t. So why pay extra for unwanted capabilities? It is when you see that the price for a 1Tb X310 is currently $519 and a 1Tb X510 price starts at $649 and goes up to $949 for the 3Tb, that all this makes sense.

Core WHS capability, fast performance, no unnecessary software, lower price.

Oh, and the X310 Easter Egg is pretty cool as well.

HP X310 details page

HP Entry NAS Appliances

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Comments (9)

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  1. Will M says:

    I have been using my X310 for a couple weeks now, and I find it to be almost perfect. I watch video from my Xbox360 and can stream to my iPad using AirVideo Server. It is a great little server, my only complaint is the number of drive sleds. It is a great little box, I just wonder if it can handle 4gb of ram.

    • GuustFlater says:

      According to HP spec, 2 GB is the max. This should also be sufficient for ‘normal’ usage.

      • Will M says:

        Considering I am running quite a few add-ons and the memory usage is always between 50-60%, I am just curious if it will handle it. I am also interested in upgrading the fans, since I running 7200rpm drives in it and they do get a little warm..

    • bowersm says:

      Mine (Germany) came with a Kingston ValueRAM 2 GB DDR2-800, I just put in a Kingston 4 GB Module (KVR800D2N6/4G) from the same series and it has been working perfectly for over 4 weeks now.

      You can add a second fan as well, I used two Chieftec AF-0825PWM (PWM, same electical specs as the built-in ATC) for better HDD cooling. There are two PWM-Fan connectors inside – the second fan was left out (presumably a cost decision).

      Regards

      bowersm

      • Oldvanhalenrules says:

        How did you get access to the rear of the X310? I tried taking the box apart, but couldn’t get beyond the black housing that covers the lower third of the unit beneath the hard drive slots. I, too, would like to add an additional fan.

        • bowersm says:

          Hi,

          It was easy and there were very few screws involved in the detachment process and just a little bit of force.

          I started with the top and side parts which can easily be pulled off by moving them backward (top cover pulled forward). I removed the screw of the front grill, removed the front cable and front door and could then pull out the motherboard mounting plate to install the bigger 4 GB RAM module.

          The back cover (as far as I can remember) was a simple pull from top-to-down procedure. Take a look at the inside from the top of the openend case und you should see the clamps which hold the back panel and start removing it from the top.

          Just try it, it is easy and very service friendly when you take a closer look at the mechanism.

          Unfortunately I dumped the inside fotos in the meantime – and the machine as well (Ebay), because it did not live up to my expectations with regard to upgradability towards Vail.

          HP furthermore announced to discontinue their complete Home Server Series a few days ago. It is a neat machine für home use, but the support and migration options (even if Vail will be released) are complicated without keyboard/vga/mouse connectors, especially with HP dropping support for the next generation OS.

          Windows 2008 R2 has better SMB networking performance that WHS 1, so I migrated my HDDs to a new Supermicro X8SIL-F/Intel Xeon 3426 based setup which has a 55 W IDLE TDP with 4 2 TB HDDs and superior network and CPU performance and maximum upgradability with a Fractal Define R3 case – it is a very quiet setup as well – but a little more expensive.

          Kind regards,

          Mike

          • HP X312 says:

            Mine is running with 4GB aswell.
            W2K8 R2!
            I’m now wondering, if it could handle more RAM…?!?

            Has anybody been trying?

  2. […] Crick has a good review on the MSWHS site. Other […]

  3. will says:

    just picked one of these up on black friday 2011 for $250, hope its good!

    newegg listed a review saying it only lasts 25months due to chip creep and tin whiskers – anyone have one working for more then 25months?

    last atom pc I used started to bog down after several months use.

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