10 Mar.

Acer AC100 Micro Server First Impressions

The Acer unit arrived yesterday, and the first thing I noticed was that it ships in a much smaller box than the HP MicroServer, but I wasn’t surprised by how much smaller the Acer would be in comparison. This is instantly a big plus for me at the moment with some extended travel coming up, something small and light, with a degree of flexibility is what I need.

So far I have 8GB installed, and have been in contact with my favourite Kingston employee to get the scoop on supported memory to take it to 16GB, which is going to be a much better option longer term for some of my virtualisation and testing projects I need to perform around Windows Intune and Windows 7 deployments.

The faster CPU is really noticeable, and it’s a bit of an unfair comparison for a low power dual core Athlon against a quad core Xeon with multithreading, and that’s before the CPU speeds are even taken into account.  Like most techs, I like to see more cores in Task Manager, and this certainly delivers, but the overall responsive while under load is much, much better. I will do a Windows 7 install within the next few days so that I can provide a sample WEI comparison between the two microservers, but remember though, one is a quarter the price of the other, and while HP and Acer may be targetting them at similar audiences – SMBs with a need for Small Business Server Essentials 2011, Windows Server Foundation 2008 R2 or Windows Server Standard 2008 R2, the way they go about the task is very different.

I’m not completely sold on the Acer concept of keeping the power button behind the locked front panel, and the keyhole on the side of the unit, but that’s a minor squabble. The ease of dropping in new drives is just as simple as the HP, but in this case you are limited to 4 internal HDDs plus 1 external eSATA drive, versus the HP’s ability to take up to 6 internal drives if you forgo the optical drive and route the eSATA cable into one of the internal drive bays that are free.

Setup was simple, the only catch I had was needing to change the order of boot devices to be able to get Windows to install off the flash drive. I’ve encountered this on my Acer Iconia W500 tablet as well, so it was easy enough to change, but it did have me scratching my head for a few minutes. I’ve kept the drives in AHCI mode rather than taking advantage of either the LSI or Intel onboard RAID capabilities, I’ll test those out at some point in the future.

Total Comments: 13

Comments

  1. Jon-Roar Selenius says:

    I am a also picking up my Ac100 from the post office later today 🙂

    My plan is to run two discs in Raid 1, but the following comment from you, got me curious.
    “I’ve kept the drives in AHCI mode rather than taking advantage of either the LSI or Intel onboard RAID capabilities”.

    Doesn’t AHCI support Raid? Or have I misunderstod something?

    • intunedin says:

      I’ve gone with AHCI to avoid any driver installation requirements for the OS with RAID.

      What contributed to this is that the unit I purchased already had 2 x 1TB drives included, and I was addiing 2 x 2TB, so I wasn’t hugely interested in hardware RAID for this config. If I had 1 x 1TB boot and 3 x 2TB for data I would have probably been more likely to test the RAID functionality.

      As this machine goes through various builds I will no doubt check out the LSI capabilities to see what they offer, I didn’t realise they were included, and I’ve previously owned PCI-E LSI hardware so the on board comparison will be interesting for me.

  2. streilu says:

    Hey guys,

    I’ve a question. So you mentioned that there are only 4 internal SATA connectors, no fifth and ability to mount 2,5inch drive for OS like in Revo R111?
    If not, is there enough room in the case to mount a PCIe-SATA-Controller and a 2,5inch HDD or SSD?

    I’m very interested in this device, maybe with Linux. But there would be some important features for me like to suspend and WoL-capability.
    Maybe you’ve tested something like this?

    Greetings from Austria (yeah, no kagaroos here!)

    • intunedin says:

      Hi Streilu

      Good to hear from you again.

      For the next month I’m very close to Austria – I’m just across the border in the Czech Republic. We normally fly in via Vienna airport because the train ride from Vienna to where we are is shorter, and it’s also the nicer EC Polonia trains versus the Czech rail rattlers to and from Prague.

      I didn’t take a look inside the case that closely to see if there were any spare SATA ports, but it definitely doesn’t have the internal space that the HP MicroServers do. Next time I power down I will take a closer look for you.

      Overall I’m extremley happy with this machine for the purposes for which I bought it – as a way portable virtualisation host and lab environment. Once some certified 8GB sticks become available, this is going up to 16GB which will make it even more useful.

      • streilu says:

        Hi guy (don’t know your name, sorry),

        thanks for the fast reply.
        Very cool, Czech Republic is so close, but I’ve never been there. ;(

        Would be very nice if you can do this for me! You run ESXi Appliance or Xen on the AC100? Is it smooth?
        Which kind of disks you’re useing?

        I thought of a SSD for host OS, but this is in fact a matter of room and connectivity of the mainboard and the power supply.

        Greets,
        Lukas

        • intunedin says:

          Sorry for the delay in responding… but after looking inside the AC100 there isn’t much flexibility with the drives, you really only have the drive rails as space. I’m running everything under Hyper-V so can’t comment on the VMWare aspect, but it seems to be a fairly standard Intel chipset and CPU, so my guess is it should be fine.

  3. Deepak says:

    Hi guys,
    My company is currently using HP N40L for it’s small business solution. We run a Linux Server(CentOS6.2) and a Win 7 Professional on it with ESXi4.1. But I see that N40L does not behave well during loaded conditions. So I am trying to move to a better performing server like AC100. I realize that some of guys were trying to install ESXi4.1/5.0. Any update on how well this testing has been coming along.

    Thanks for your help.

    • intunedin says:

      Hi – the machine has been running all of the workloads i’ve thrown at it non stop for the last few months, I’ve been very pleased with it. I’ve got a few N36L microservers which I’m using for iscsi and smb purposes, for which I think they are fine, but I just wasn’t happy with the CPU performance under load with a few VMs running.

  4. money says:

    This is a great post, thanks!

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