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Nathan Edwards Jun 24, 2008

HP MediaSmart EX475

At A Glance

Harry and the Potters

Includes the kickass Windows Home Server, an iTunes server, and lots more. 4 tool-less drivebays; eSATA connector.

The Pig Who Lived

Not as speedy as a build-it-yourself.

We’re going to get this out of the way up front. If you’re looking for raw speed, the MediaSmart isn’t for you. We’ve tested faster NAS boxes, but we’ve never tested a network storage device that delivers the same level of functionality as this little Windows Home Server-based wonder.

The svelte hardware looks more at home on your bookshelf than a server rack, and it’s virtually silent. Based on its hardware specs, the EX475 appears to be either a supercharged NAS box or an underpowered server. With a 1.8GHz single-core Sempron processor, 512MB of RAM, and two 512GB drives, it straddles the server/NAS box line. We wouldn’t have minded seeing larger drives, but with two free tool-less drive bays, adding more storage takes seconds. This rig isn’t about hardware but rather the delicious software inside.

HP started with the basic Home Server package (reviewed January 2008). With automatic system backups, centralized music/photo/video sharing, and the ability to share your files remotely, Home Server is a win. But HP took the experience a step further, including an iTunes server along with a fully featured photo-sharing suite. When you factor in these new changes with the handful of eminently useful plugins available, you’ve got an extremely powerful device that could serve multiple uses inside any home.

We’d hoped to see slightly better performance from the MediaSmart, but given its low price, we’re willing to make some allowances. Compared to a stand-alone Home Server rig sporting an Athlon X2 4800 CPU with 2GB of RAM, the MediaSmart took almost twice as long to complete large file transfers. The small-file transfer test took 32 seconds longer. Of course, the lower-powered MediaSmart draws less power every month than our full-size box. You have to decide whether speed or power is more important to you.

BENCHMARKS
  HP MediaSmart EX475
Homebrew Media Server
Write Test
  
Large File (sec)
151 88
Small Files (sec)
99 67
Read Test
  
Large File (sec)
354 158
Small Files (sec) 156 159
Power Usage (Watts)
82
220
Best scores are bolded. The homebrew server is an Athlon X2 4800+ with 2GB of memory and 2 Hitachi E7K500 hard drives.
THE VERDICT

HP MediaSmart EX475

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