Skip to main content

Quick Look: HP's MediaSmart EX495 Home Server


Since writing our last story in March of 2009 about hacking the first-generation AMD-based HP MediaSmart Servers—namely the EX470 and EX475—HP has released not one, but two more generations in this series of Windows Home Server products.

In this story, we fill you in on both of the newest server families—namely HP’s Celeron-based EX485/487 models and its Core 2 Duo-based EX490/95 models. We also examine some options for building your own small form factor server, thanks to an equipment loan from mini-ITX system builder Logic Supply, to compare what you can build these days versus what you can buy from HP.

As it hears from its users and understands that they want more power and capability to play back and transcode videos, as well as provide network backups, share photos and home videos, and establish a low-maintenance Web site for outside access, HP has steadily bolstered the specs of each new generation of its MediaSmart Servers. The following provides additional detail on the various HP MSS models.

ModelBest PriceCPUMemoryStoragePlatforms/Services Supported
EX470$250Sempron 3400+512MB PC2-5300500GBXP/Vista/Win7: backup, media, iTunes, NAS
EX475$300Sempron 3400+512MB PC2-53001TBXP/Vista/Win7: backup, media, iTunes, NAS
EX485$355Celeron 4402GB PC2-6400750GBXP/Vista/Win7: backup, media, iTunes, NAS MacOS (v10.5+): iTunes, backup, NAS
EX487$408Celeron 4402GB PC2-64001.5TBXP/Vista/Win7: backup, media, iTunes, NAS MacOS (v10.5+): iTunes, backup, NAS
EX490$467Celeron 4502GB PC2-6400750GBXP/Vista/Win7: backup, media, itunes, NAS MacOS (v10.5+): iTunes, backup, media, NAS
EX495$475Pentium E52002GB PC2-6400750GBXP/Vista/Win7: backup, media, itunes, NAS MacOS (v10.5+): iTunes, backup, media, NAS

Three Generations of HP MediaSmart Servers Compared

The differences between the 47* and 48* and 49* models are huge, starting with AMD-based processors in the 47* models versus Intel (Celeron 440 stock in 48* and Celeron 450 in EX490 and dual-core Pentium E5200 in EX495). Storage also increases from 500GB and 1TB in the 47* models to 750GB and 1.5TB for both 48* and 49* models, all using Seagate 7,200 RPM SATA 3 Gb/s drives. 

As you might expect from a piece of technology, prices have continued to fall on the older models as newer ones have emerged. Fortunately, prices on the newest models are surprisingly low for a pre-built appliance, especially compared to some of the NAS/SAN devices we've reviewed in the past. That makes choosing an EX49* model a no-brainer, as far as we’re concerned!

Two more things: First, both the EX47* and EX49* models support a port multiplier through their eSATA ports (which facilitates up to five more drives to be added to the server, given the proper interface). The EX48* models do not include this functionality. If four internal drive bays, three USB ports, and a single eSATA port don’t provide you with enough storage options (that's up to 16TB with 2TB drives in every port or bay), this should also steer you toward the EX49* models as well. Moreover, the PSU in the EX49* is also new, and is much quieter than its predecessors (it’s a compact Delta 200W model), making the newest MSS the quietest we've seen.