The Intel Arc A310 in the HP Proliant MicroServer Gen 8

The somewhat popular HP MicroServer series has been an excellent starting point for all sorts of home lab experimentation. They are particularly well suited for acting as a media server (using Plex, Jellyfin, or others). While CPU transcoding will suffice for a steam or two, it will heavily tax the CPU. Hence, the popularity of GPU transcoding (NVENC and QuickSync).

Thanks to HP’s design decisions, the MicroSever Gen 8 does not enable the iGPU present on many Intel CPUs. What makes this an unfortunate decision is the MicroServer Gen 8 uses the LGA1155 socket—the consumer oriented socket where most of the CPUs, including the Xeons, have integrated graphics. Instead, a Matrox G200EH handles basic VGA duties. Which is a shame, the iGPU in the Ivybridge generation CPUs is not only more powerful, it also has QuickSync for transcoding acceleration. While this is disappointing, the MicroServer Gen 8 does have a PCIe x16 slot (PCIe 2.0).

Enter the ASRock Arc A310 LP. This is a low profile, 2 slot card with a TDP of 30W. Since we’re not gaming on this, the PCIe link rate doesn’t really matter (downgrading from PCIe 4.0 to PCIe 2.0). Physically, the MicroServer Gen 8 requires a low profile card (as that is what the back plate bracket supports). Additionally, the bracket for the card must be a single slot wide. The ASRock Arc A310 LP (and A380 LP—they share the same PCB) meets these criteria. However, the card’s heat sink with the fan attached fan exceeds the single slot card width. This is mostly not a problem, except the ATX 24 pin connector interferes with the second fan. Still, not a huge problem, just remove the fan shroud and place it on top of the card.

Is this a little ugly? Sure. Does it work? Definitely. Given the A310 LP and A380 LP cards share the exact same cooling solution, and the A310 is roughly 1/2 the TDP of the A380, this change in airflow shouldn’t be a huge deal. Ultimately, the fan shroud can be modified to remove the rear fan. However, doing so requires chopping the shroud apart and some soldering as the fans are driven off the same cable assembly. Since the fans usually are not spinning, there is little motivation to modify the card further.

-John Havlik

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