The long-time baby of HP's ProLiant server family has finally been given a Gen8 makeover, with a smart new look and all-new internals to bring it up to current standards.

Intel rather than AMD silicon becomes the order of the day here, with a choice of processor accompanied by up to 16GB of ECC-protected RAM, on-board RAID, a couple of Gigabit network ports and USB 3.0 support. It even gets an integrated HP Lights Out (iLO) management controller, further enhancing the appeal of this popular SME platform.

More than skin deep

Previous MicroServers were basic affairs that were clearly built to a price to appeal to enthusiasts as well as small business buyers. The new Gen8 model, however, is a much more substantial product with a great deal of attention to detail and the kind of quality feel corporate buyers look for.

Some things, of course, haven't changed with the same cube format as before and a lift-off casing for ease of access secured by two thumbscrews.

The motherboard nestles in the base of the unit with the storage above, but the memory slots are easily accessible and the whole motherboard can be pulled out from the back if needed. More than that, HP has added clear labelling showing how to manage this and other hardware maintenance tasks - just as on bigger ProLiants.

HP MicroServer Gen8 open inside
The new business-like Gen8 design welcomes careful visitors

Routine access to the storage is via a hinged front door, available in red, blue, black or silver, which can be locked from within the chassis to prevent tampering, plus space for a low-profile DVD drive in the top.

A single power supply with integrated fan is built in with another larger fan at the rear to keep the processor and storage cool. Unfortunately the end result is little too noisy for an open plan office - a cupboard or separate room would be better.