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Quick Look: HP's MediaSmart EX495 Home Server

Benchmark Results

As we’ve done in the past with the EX47* models, we ran the Intel NAS Peformance Toolkit on several MSS configurations. We used the stock EX485, an EX485 with a Pentium E5200 installed, and an EX495 with the stock Pentium E5200.

TaskEX485EX485 E5200EX495Explanation
HD Video Playback19.723.033.0Play back single HD video stream
2 x HD Playback21.125.333.2Play back dual HD video streams
4 x HD Playback22.226.336.5Play back 4 HD video streams
HD Video Record91.498.9124.8Record single HD video stream
HD Playback and Record26.329.333.7Play back and record single video streams
Content Creation4.86.05.7Use the MSS as storage target when creating Web pages, flash content, etc.
Office Productivity17.220.323.8Use the MSS as storage target when creating, modifying, and deleting files in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
File Copy to NAS106.5137.8122.5Copy a single large file from client to MSS.
File Copy from NAS29.941.433.8Copy a single large file from NAS to client.
Dir Copy to NAS13.115.014.2Copy an entire directory from client to NAS.
Dir Copy from NAS5.97.26.9Copy an entire directory from NAS to client.
Photo Album9.921.411.2Open, view, and save photos on MSS from client.

The numbers in the middle columns purport to measure megabytes of network throughput per second, but when multiple streams are involved, HD video recording is underway, or when a file copy to NAS operation occurs, Intel is obviously double-counting or synthesizing those values, because the theoretical limit of gigabit Ethernet is 125 MB/s. Also, it’s weird that playback scores improve as the number of streams increase. Therefore, please don’t take these numbers as true and accurate measurements of network speed or throughput. Use them instead as Intel intended: to compare results across multiple platforms.

The numbers show that, as processor and drive speeds increase (the latter is the major difference between the EX485 and EX495 when they use the same CPU), so does performance. Given a modest $60 for the Pentium E5200, it seems an entirely worthwhile upgrade for the EX48* machines. Given costs of $138 (Q8200S) and $247 (L3110), I’m not sure the price-performance benefit justifies the increase in price over a stock EX495. And for what it’s worth, it was also our observation that the EX495 was noticeably faster than either EX485 model, even when both were equipped with the same Pentium E5200 CPU. Thus, the numbers as reported in the above table also align with our perceptual experience.

  • Why title the last page "SFF DIY WHS Is Too Expensive" when you CLEARLY state that the price is basically the same with an extra drive? And for toppers, there are other choices that can be made in your HW list that would certainly save money (why spend $100 on the drive bays, when you can get the same thing for almost half that cost). We all know that running Mythbuntu would save $95 off the top AND come with more addons to boot!
    Reply
  • I bought a re-certified 470 from newegg for $250 and added a 30 dollar 2GB stick of ram. A WHS server for under 300 (well under half the price of the newest model) was definitely a better buy as far as I'm concerned. Unless you absolutely need the faster processor (batch video editing or something) I don't really see the need for core duo in a whats basically a NAS.
    Reply
  • gilahacker
    Some of us would use that dual-core processor for video transcoding (i.e. TVersity), which the lesser processors would struggle with. This allows streaming of practically any format of video to practically any web or DLNA capable device, rather than being restricted to only the video formats that Microsoft has allowed.
    Reply
  • I have the ex495 and really like it. Is it a tad expensive? Probably but I didnt have to do anything but plug it in and install a bit of software. Custom builds always seem to be better, but that assumes you have the time and expertise to take that route (I know Tom's readers are savvy enough to do it). For me I have a busy job, family, etc and never have 1/2 a day free to be building a WHS.

    The HP iphone software is kinda nice too. A little slow but it works and is handy at work if there is some down time. The server also did a good job of converting all my movies to iphone streaming format.

    Worth the extra to get a (practically) turn key solution.
    Now I just need more upstream bandwidth.
    Reply
  • JonathanDeane
    Hmm it looks interesting, probably a fair bit easier then my solution of using an older PC installed with FreeNAS (it will stream media too, but I have yet to master that part....)

    I would like to try one of these things out some day. (Premade VS something I cobbled together)
    Reply
  • esotericjester
    "Build 2 includes two drives and a SATA drive cage, much like the one that HP uses in its MSS boxes. That price comes out $105 higher than the EX495 (albeit with twice as much storage), so it’s on par with the $475 that Amazon charges for the base unit, plus another $100 for the second drive. But again, it lacks the added software capability that HP bundles."

    The EX495 is listed at $629.99 on Amazon and Newegg right now making the DIY build cheaper. Where did you come up with $475?
    Reply
  • Luscious
    You guys forget to mention that WHS works equally well on P3 and P4 machines. Got an old box lying around? You can grab a free download of WHS that's good for 120 days and experiment with it, BEFORE plunking down cash on a HP or build-it-yourself system. That's exactly what I did for several months last year before making my purchase.

    HP's systems are priced so well that it makes build-it-yourself and fix-it-yourself jobs just not worth it. Add the fact that you get full support and warranty from HP for software/hardware, a ton of useful WHS utilities, fast turnkey operation and the occasional e-coupon for $50 off - you would be a fool not to seriously consider one of them.

    I roam around town daily with a netbook and I can tell you, WHS has changed forever the way I work and play. Streaming media from any location and logging in to work remotely on my beefier work PC are just two of the things that make WHS a joy to use. With a HTPC installed I could also stream TV shows to my netbook as well. I've been blown away every time when using WHS on the road - it has turned my simple netbook into a feature-packed device with near-unlimited capability.
    Reply
  • huron
    Interesting article - I've been wanting to install a home server and wondered about the OS - WHS seems like it might be a decent choice.

    I do like the additional items included, but I have to agree - building usually provides me with better parts and a better unit. I think the functionality provided by HP can be replaced by alternatives.
    Reply
  • jasperjones
    as What_did_HP_give_you said: why would you spend $95 on WHS? So many superior linux-based options are out there. and top-notch front-ends are available as well: boxee, mythtv, xbmc, etc.
    Reply
  • ossie
    While the usage as backup "server" is promoted, any commentary about the (lack of) redundancy offered by WH"S"?
    "It is highly recommended that you not use hardware RAID technologies for your home server." Are you really serious m$?
    Oh well, just another castrated m$ "o$" release...
    As for HP's "legendary" support, I wouldn't be too enthusiastic.
    In your calculations, don't add the 95 bucks for m$'s junk to the cost of a BIY. Firstly, HP pays far less, and, secondly, there are a lot of much better free offerings.

    ps: Don't call this toys "servers"... some wintarded micro$uxx lu$ers might even believe it.
    Reply