By now you’ve hopefully read the release announcement as well as my full review of the new HP MediaSmart Server EX490 and EX495. Once I finished the review, I almost immediately started taking apart my EX495, purely in the best interest of all you readers, of course.
The 3rd generation MediaSmart Server utilizes the same chassis as the previous models, with the “aqua” LEDs and updated drive trays of the EX48x servers. I’ll be showing you the hardware from the EX495, however HP has told me that the motherboard and BIOS are the same in the EX490 though it does use a different heatsink to match with the single-core Celeron processor. I’ll start by showing you how to take apart the MediaSmart Server, then take a closer look at the hardware itself, and finally show you the results of my power consumption testing.
Note: Please be aware that even opening the case of your MediaSmart Server will void your warranty.
Disassembling the MediaSmart Server
The first step to taking apart your MediaSmart Server is to unlock the system drive tray and remove all the hard drives from the server. Be sure to mark the system drive as it is required to be in the bottom drive slot. A coin is useful for helping to turn the lock, and you can also lift up slightly on the drive tray if the lock doesn’t want to turn easily.
The hard drive that ships with the EX495 is a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 with 1.5TB capacity. The EX490 has a 1.0TB drive, and I suspect it is the same Seagate Barracude 7200.11.
After you’ve got the drives out, take a #0 jewelers screwdriver and remove the two tiny screws on the right side of the lower shield. These screws are tiny, be sure not to lose them. You can then pull out the right side of the lower shield and then pull it loose from it’s tab connectors on the left side. Now disconnect the electrical connector and set the lower shield aside in a safe place.
Next we need to remove the top cover. There’s a small plastic clip located inside the drive bay area, press up on the plastic clip while putting pressure on the rear of the top, pulling it towards the front of the server. It should slip free relatively easily and can then be lifted off the top.
With the top cover removed, you’ll next turn the blue plastic clips that retain the backplane, and remove the LED board cable and two fan connectors. Tuck them to the side out of the way so you can remove the backplane.
Removing the backplane is one of the more tricky parts of disassembling the MediaSmart Server. I’ve heard of people knocking the capacitors off, so be very careful during the step. I’ve found that the best way to remove the backplane is to reach inside the drive bay area, place your fingers underneath one of the air gaps in the backplane board, and lift gently while putting a small amount of opposing pressing against the top of the board to keep it from popping free too aggressively. Note that the board is retained by metal tabs, you’ll need to maneuver it free after you’ve popped it free from the motherboard.
Return to the front of the server, and remove the two screws that hold the motherboard tray in place. There is one screw on either side of the tray, and once they are removed you can simply slide the tray out of the front of the server.
Congratulations, you’ve now got the server apart and have full access to the motherboard, CPU, and RAM! Now let’s take a look at what’s new from the previous generation servers.
The motherboard is the same size and general layout as previous versions. The debug header still exists near the Southbridge (large Intel chip without a heatsink), so those of you that have purchased one of cakalapati’s keyboard/video/mouse cables will have direct access to the system if you need it.
The processor in the EX495 is an Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5200, and runs at 2.5 GHz at full speed with the ability to throttle down to 1.2 GHz when idle by decreasing the multiplier from 12.5x to 6.0x. This CPU is manufactured using a 45nm process and is rated at 65W TDP.
The motherboard uses the same Intel G33 Express Chipset that was used in the EX485x series servers. An important addition is the new Silicon Image SiL3531 chipset that provides support for Port Multipliers over the eSATA port and will allow you to connect an enclosure that holds up to 5 drives for further storage expansion.
The memory in the EX49x servers is 2GB of DDR2 PC2-6400 manufactured by Kingston.
I removed both of the heatsinks, and found the usual thermal interface material on the Northbridge the CPU looked better and wasn’t overloaded with thermal compound as it had been on my EX487. If you’ve the server this far apart, you might as well take the opportunity to clean off those heatsinks and apply some of your favorite thermal compound such as Arctic Silver. I also noticed that the heatsink uses the same spacing for it’s mounting posts as previous models, meaning this is a non-standard design and will not be easy to replace. I’ll be very interested to see how the heatsink on the EX490 differs, if at all, as HP has indicated.
The power supply is new for the 3rd generation MediaSmart Server, it is much quieter and really contributes to the near silent running of the server. The power supply is a 200 watt model manufactured by Delta and uses the same non-standard wiring as we have documented in the Wiki. It is attached to the motherboard tray by 3 screws on the rear.
Prior to disassembling my EX495, I plugged it in to my P3 Kill-A-Watt to measure the watts consumed with various numbers of drives installed. I also measured the server in these configurations both while idle and under heavy load from the stress test of the Prime95 utility. I used the stock 1.5TB Seagate, two 1.0TB Seagates, and a 750GB Seagate drive. All drives were added to the server and the system time to stabilize before I recorded a measurement. No “Green” drives were used in these tests.
|Number of Drives||Idle||High Load|
Remember that these stats are for the EX495 and that the EX490 will be a little bit less with it’s lower power Celeron processor. You can visit my review for the Power Consumption specs provided by HP.
This wraps up our look at the new HP MediaSmart Server EX490 and EX495 hardware. In my next article I’ll be showing you the BIOS of the EX495. If you have any questions or would like to see anything else covered, please let me know.