[Build Complete] HP ML310e Gen 8 (NAS Killer 4.0) + HP-290

Bit of a chronicle–started 6 months ago as a complete noob looking to set up Plex for myself + a few family members. Up until last week I ran Unraid on an HP-290 with one 4TB HDD. On a whim I bought this deal for an HP ML310e Gen 8 Proliant server and migrated to the recommended two-box system with the ML310e running Unraid and the HP 290 as a dedicated transcoder running Plex on baremetal.

Some thoughts on the ML310e: this thing is insanely user-friendly. It is essentially a NAS–completely plug-and-play, literally no cabling or assembly required. There are essentially four steps required from the box to get it up and running with Unraid:

  • Place hard drives into drive caddies and insert them into the drive cage. You need to order the caddies separately; the server comes with blanks.
  • Plug in Unraid flash drive (there’s an internal slot for it right on the motherboard)
  • Add an SSD for cache (all you need is one SATA data cable)
  • Change boot order in BIOS to launch from USB

There’s some additional BIOS stuff that I didn’t mess with that runs during boot–I’m sure more experienced users will have use for that functionality. I ignore it and it launches Unraid after about a minute.


Front with all drives mounted (removing bezel requires key):

Drive caddy (empty):

Drive caddy (with drive):

Drive blank (server came with 3 of these):

Access panel (turn thumb screw and key to remove):

Internals (with the air baffle):

Internals (no air baffle):

Back panel:

Motherboard Closeup (note the convenient USB port for Unraid drive):

Back of drive cage:


SSD (note the power cable coming off the optical drive already had a spare ending; all I needed to add was the yellow SATA data cable):


Don’t talk to me or my son ever again:


NAS Killer:

Type Part Price
Prebuilt HP ML310e Gen 8 $170
SSD Samsung EVO 850 - 250GB Already had
Drive Caddies HP 3.5" LFF SAS & SATA HDD/SSD Smart Carrier Hard Drive Caddy/Tray $30
SATA Cable Relper-Lineso 6 Pack 18 Inches SATA III 6.0 Gbps Data Cable with Locking Latch $8
Total $208

Transcode box:

Type Part Price
Prebuilt HP-290 $140
RAM Crucial 8GB Single DDR4 2666 MT/s (PC4-21300) SR x8 DIMM 288-Pin Memory - CT8G4DFS8266 $34
SSD Samsung PM981 M.2 PCIE 256GB $40
SSD Heat Sink MHQJRH M.2 2280 SSD heatsink, Double-Sided Heat Sink $10
Total $224

Drives: 4x HGST 4TB HDDs @$50 each: $200

Total: $600

Thanks again JDM for all of your help!!

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Love it.

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Question: if I stuck a GPU (e.g. 1060) in the server, would it be enough with the E3-1230V2 for some Unraid remote gaming? I don’t need to run Cyberpunk but it would be nice to run most games on medium.

Yeah, it would!

I just starting out and found a used HP ML310e on eBay for $180 and not sure if it is a good buy and a good way to start. What do you think?

I actually thought it was a great way to start. Aside from the case, you only need two things: drive caddys (see link above), hard drives, and (optionally but recommended) an SSD (250-500 GB). You just need to make sure you buy the right caddys/hard drives for the type of drive bay your server has: it can be 8 SFF (2.5") or 4 LFF (3.5"). You can link it and I can tell you which is which. Any SSD will work–SATA or M2 (for M2 you will need a PCIe mount which is $20).

You do not need anything else–no drive cables, no ram, no power supply, no building, etc. It’s also super easy to open up and maintain.

It will do just about anything us newbies may from a NAS except Plex transcoding. Best practice for that is to get a separate Plex transcoding box like an HP-290 (as you see in my post).

Since I posted this I’ve added a GPU and set up Unraid gaming per JDM’s guide, and this was actually quite challenging due to some BIOS issues with GPU passthrough, but I was able to figure it out and now have it up and running. I’ve also figured out how to use the ILO system, which is basically a remote management system for the server. You can go into it through a web browser just like UNRAID and can power the server on/off, update firmware, and (super cool) view the console, so you can modify boot options etc. without needing to hook up a monitor.

Feel free to DM me any questions! Happy to help out any way I can since I just did this and had a lot of fun.

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Thank you so much. I build is not bad but for noob I’m leaning more towards the prebuilt. I’ll let you know once I get one of the HPs on a good deal. Once again. Thank you

This one I found on eBay says HD Cary included. Is that a good deal? Seller is willing to take $165

This deal is different from mine in a few ways.

Ways it’s better:

  • ML310e V2 (mine is the regular, V1 version). I’m not sure what difference it makes but V2 is slightly newer I think.
  • 16 GB RAM (mine was 8; I added another 16).
  • Comes with 2 drive caddys (mine came with none). You will need to buy the other 2 if you want to have more than 2 drives.

Ways it’s worse:

  • The processor looks to be substantially worse. 1220v3 vs 1230v2

Frankly, I’m not sure how much difference the processor makes; maybe @JDM_WAAAT can speak to that? It may help if you specify your use-case (what are you planning to run?).

Thank you so much.