New to the Charts: HP EX487 MediaSmart Server

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Tim Higgins

The EX487 is an updated version of HP’s Windows Home Server-based NAS with more memory, an Intel CPU and more Mac-friendly features.

The packaging is very similar to the original EX470 / 475 [reviewed] with four drive bays for 3.5" SATA drives, four USB 2.0 ports and a single eSATA port.

The EX487 comes with two 750 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 drives, while the EX485 model has only one. Both models have 2 GB of DDR2 RAM, up from 512 MB on the original. The CPU has been changed from an AMD Sempron 3400+ to a 2 GHz Intel "64 Bit" Celeron. The is a single 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, which still does not support jumbo frames.

Power consumption is 51 W with two drives active. Scheduled shutdown and startup to a 1 W "sleep" mode are supported, but idle drive spindown is not. Fan and drive noise are moderate, meaning the NAS is noticably audible in a home office setting.

CIFS/SMB is the only network file system supported and there is no support for joining an NT domain or Active Directory. Administration is via a Windows application.

Media streaming is provided by a Twonky UPnP AV / DLNA media server that also supports iTunes and streams to Xbox 360 and PS3. Photos can be viewed via a web-based photo viewer. But albums must be created by a Photo Publisher that also supports publishing to Snapfish, Picasa, Flickr and Facebook. A Media Collector application that is part of the Windows client installed software suite automatically finds and copies still, music and video content to the Server upon the intial install and on an ongoing basis.

Daily incremental, versioned backup within a schedulable window is supported for both Windows and Mac OS clients. "Bare metal" (system recovery) backups can also be done for Windows systems, but not Mac OS. But the Server can be used as an Apple Time Machine drive.

The refreshed MediaSmart is no longer Windows-only and supports Mac OS clients, but not for all functions. And there is no specific support for Linux or other open source OSes. Mac OS support is provided for client backup, Time Machine storage, web folder access and photo publishing and viewing. Not supported for Macs are the Media Collector app., server administration, client "health" monitoring and "bare metal" recovery.

Remote web access via TZO dynamic DNS service supports file browsing, up and download as well as photo viewing and music streaming. Remote video access, however, is not supported.

Server features can be added via third party plug-ins. HP officially supports three bundled plug-ins: The TwonkyMedia server, McAfee Total Protection server anti-virus and "cloud" (online) server backup to Amazon S3. You must register and pay separately for the S3 service; no free trial is included.

Average write performance using our new benchmark system with a Gigabit LAN connection was 339 MB/s for file sizes between 32 MB and 4 GB. This result, which is greater than the 125 MB/s supported by a Gigabit connection, is dominated by cached performance that lasts up to the Server’s 2 GB RAM size.

The average read throughput of 69.7 MB/s with the same test conditions is a more accurate indication of true performance. File copy tests using a Vista SP1 client and a Gigabit LAN connection measured 64.1 MB/s for write and 88.4 MB/s for read.

Read the full review.

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