Back in January 2009 at CES in Las Vegas, VIA announced that they were going to release three Windows Home Server machines onto the market.
One of those machines will be based on the Artigo A2000 bare bones server, and so until that is actually available the best we can do is take a look at the Artigo A2000 bare bones server and see what it’s all about.
These are the specifications for the bare bones version, not necessarily what the Windows Home Server version will contain.
PROCESSOR: VIA C7-D 1.5Ghz NanoBGA2 Processor / 400Mhz FSB
CHIPSET: VIA VX800 Advanced All-in-one system processor
MEMORY: DDR2 667 Memory up to 2GB (SODIMM)
LAN: VIA VT6130 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller
AUDIO: VIA VT1708B High Definition Audio Codec
I/O: 2 x SATA II 3.5-inch HDD Expansion Bay
Bootable built-in CF socket
Audio ports (Line-Out and Mic/Line-In)
RJ-45 GigaLAN port
3 x USB 2.0 ports
DC-in power jack (DC 12V)
802.11b/g WiFI (optional)
OPERATING TEMP: 0 ~ 40 C
DIMENSIONS: 260mm x 135mm x 115 mm
I would recommend putting in the full 2GB of memory, especially as memory is so cheap these days.
Certainly when the Windows Home Server version appears, the VGA will go, as the WHS logo hardware requirements require that there is no VGA port.
The box itself is very small and compact.
Opening it up, you have the bare bones server, a software CD, a setup poster and the power supply. Yes, it is an external power supply, but that is because the server itself is so small.
So looking around the server itself, it is a shiny black colour, although I have to say it is very easy, and I do mean VERY easy to mark and scratch it, so if you want it to be pristine, wear gloves and be careful 🙂
Taking the lid off let’s us look inside, and it is very compact. Slot the memory in and there is only space left for up to two hard drives.
So to try and show just how small the Artigo A200 really is, I thought I would take a few photos with my iPhone next to it. See, that is small!
Adding a hard drive or two is very simple. Just remove the 3 screws at the back of the unit, slide of the top casing, gently pull out the front unit (making sure to leave all the connectors in place).
Then slide the hard drive into one of the bays until it sits firmly in position.
Place two screws in each side to hold it in place and reduce vibration and noise.
And that is it – just click the front back into place and slide the top piece back on and fit the three screws again.
INSTALLING WINDOWS HOME SERVER
As the Artigo A2000 doesn’t come with a DVD drive, I decided to install Windows Home Server from a USB stick. You could of course use an external DVD drive if you have one available, otherwise the USB stick is the easiest.
Installing was simple once I remembered to remove the USB stick at the point in the installation that performs a reboot. The first time I wasn’t paying attention and so the installation process restarted!
I like the little Artigo A2000. It is really tiny, and because of the shape it can easily be slotted in somewhere and forgotten about.
The processing power was fine, I did the usual WHS tasks, installed a few add-ins, etc, and didn’t notice any performance hit. However, this processor is not 64 bit which means when the next version of Windows Home Server is released in 2010 you probably wont be able to run it without changing the processor and to be honest, I don’t think changing the processor on this model is really an option.
Even though there is only space for two internal hard drives, there are three USB ports which makes expansion possible and very easy.
Obviously you don’t have to just use the Artigo A2000 for Windows Home Server, you could just as easily install any other operating system on.
Overall this is a great little bit of kit, and considering it’s “bare bones” it only takes a few moments to get it ready to install an OS on. The instruction poster is very clean and shows lots of helpful pictures so even a novice system builder could handle it.
Price wise this retails in the US for around $299 and in the UK for around £249. Search around as there are some deals to be had, including packages with memory and hard drives.
My parting thoughts on this though is that given that you have buy the memory and the hard drives, as well as the bare bones server, and that the processor isn’t 64 bit and thus won’t support the next version of Windows Home Server, if you really want a home server that is going to last and be at least somewhat WHS “future proof” you might want to consider paying that little bit extra and opting for something like the Acer Aspire easyStore A340. However, if you have some spare components that you can use with the bare bones server, and you want to use WHS now, then you cant really go wrong.