Vmware Esxi / Hyper-V 2012 server spec

Discussion in 'Computer and Technology Discussion' started by InsaneNutter, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    This post is more of a blog, however any feedback is welcome

    I'm thinking of building a Vmware Esxi or Hyper-V 2012 server, basically this would be a computer running dedicated software that can run multiple virtual machines and create virtual networks with these machines.

    Having something like that would be ideal as im always messing about with stuff, and its annoying either dual booting or swapping hard drives around just to test something new. With a dedicated device on my network i could just leave multiple virtual machines running, it would be great to learn new features of Windows Server too, which could need more than one machine.

    Vmware Esxi looks pretty interesting i must admit:

    vSphere-Client-5-1.png

    Hyper-V 2012 server is Microsofts take on virtualization, after reading about both im more drawn to Esxi. Both packages are surprisingly free for the features i would use anyway.

    I have put together a spec of a PC im thinking of building to either run Esxi or Hyper V, I wanted something more powerful than an Intel Atom based device, but not thats going to go crazy with power use at the same time.

    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI
    Processor: Intel CPU Core i7 3770T Quad Core IvyBridge Processor
    Ram: 2x Corsair Memory Vengeance Blue 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz
    Hard drive: Western Digital WD20EARX 2TB Caviar Green Quiet SATA 6Gb/s HDD
    Case: Lian Li PC-Q16 Case (comes with PSU)


    • The motherboard has two network cards built in, this would allow a virtual machine to act as a router / firewall if i ever wished to use something like pfsese or another linux based router / firewall in place of my current router.
    • 16gb of ram is the max the motherboard can take
    • A low powered 2TB drive will be plenty of room, and is only £10 more than a 1TB drive so appears best value for money. I might even go for a 2.5" hard drive to save a bit more power.
    • The case is small and comes with a good energy efficient PSU

    The only thing im not really decided on is the processor, i have identified three low power processors:

    Core i5 3470T Dual Core 2.9ghz (hyperthreading) - 35w - £138
    This will only draw 35w under full load, however is only dual core but does have hyper threading.


    Core i5 3570T Quad Core 2.3ghz - 45w - £154
    Draws 45w under full load, however is quad core and not that much more in price and in energy use.

    Core i7 3770T Quad Core 2.5ghz (hyperthreading) - 45w - £222
    The best low powered CPU you can get at the moment, quad core with hyper threading, so essentially windows would see it as 8x cores, £68 more than the mid ranged Core i5 3570T.

    Im thinking of going for the mid ranged Core i5 3570T, however the Core i7 3770T is tempting as i would like to build something to last. Realistically unless i started to host multiple games servers i would probably never use all the extra power it offers.

    At the moment with the Core i5 3570T processor im probably looking at around £480, which is cheaper than any Mini PC by shuttle and the MacMini, plus will be capable of a lot more at the same time. Plus the advantage here is off the shelf parts have been used so would be easy to upgrade in the future.
     
  2. Nimrod

    Nimrod Exotic Vendor

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    You know, your blogging about this accidentally just answered a question I posted up a while ago in the Help Center:
    https://digiex.net/help-center/comp...tive-mac-mini-small-pc-high-cpu-lots-ram.html

    Virtualisation looks fun, I was going to do something similar (but not as grand) and thats just use VMWare Client on a local PC (properly a MacMini) and host a couple of virtual machines. However using HyperV or Esxi is the better way of doing things :) Great learning for a future job to! You could easily deploy a linux box when you want to give linux a go, fire up a Windows Machine to be a Remote Desktop Server. Interesting stuff :)
     
  3. BonezOz

    BonezOz Addict

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    I'm a big fan of ESXi. The VMware OS is a smaller footprint and more efficient with VMs. Mind you I'm biased as I am VMware Certified, and performed one of the very first vSphere 4.1 to 5.0 upgrades within Australia for Pandora Jewelry Hyper-V is clunky and its interface (GUI) is difficult to use, however I believe that it's possible to set up a Hyper-V cluster with minimal fuss or outlay of cash, if you have Windows Server 2008 or above. Whereas with ESXi if you want to cluster your ESX environment you'll need to lay out quite a bit of dosh for vCenter Server, and a vSphere environment isn't cheap.
     
  4. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    In the end the spec i ended up going for was:

    Motherboard:
    Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI
    Processor: Intel CPU Core i7 3770T Quad Core IvyBridge Processor
    CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Praeton LD964 Heat-Pipe Direct Touch Low Profile Cooling System
    Ram: 2x Corsair Memory Vengeance Jet Black 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz CAS 9-9-9-24
    Hard drive: Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 2.5"
    Case: Lian Li PC-Q16 Case (comes with PSU)
    USB Converter: From internal header on motherboard to case front ports

    Everything assembled fine and worked perfectly together, if the CPU cooler had been any larger it would not have fit in the case, it really was the perfect size. The fan on top could also slide in 4 directions which was a great help when connecting the 4 pin power connector to the motherboard, this is located right next to the CPU.

    Motherboard with the CPU, CPU cooler and memory attached ready to be placed in the case:

    result-8.jpg

    End result view from the back side of the case, the front USB 3 ports on the case are wired in a way where there supposed to connect to two USB 3.0 ports on the back. However i thought that was a bit silly so got an adaptor allowing me to wire the front USB 3 ports to the internal header on the motherboard as you can see below.

    result-1.jpg

    I also wanted to use the internal drive purely for storing the virtual machines, with that in mind i needed an internal USB drive to install Vmware Esxi on. For this i used an old USB header to USB port adapter i've had in my box of random parts for years.

    result-7.jpg

    I simply unscrewed the bracket and it would fit inside the case with ease, allowing me to use a cheap flash drive as my boot drive for Esxi.

    result-4.jpg

    The end result from the other side, i could add 2x more 2.5" drives at a later date, plus one 3.5" drive (or a 2.5 with a bracket). So the case has plenty of room for additional drives. despite its size.

    result-2.jpg

    Front of the case:

    result-3.jpg

    Back of the case, as you can see the motherboard has 2x ethernet ports, so i could run a virtual machine that acts as my router at a later date. It even has Wi-fi & Bluetooth, not that i ever think that will get used.

    result-5.jpg

    Should have done a size comparison, however for what is in the case its small!

    result-6.jpg

    As you can see Vmware Esxi works perfectly, the sata and ethernet ports are picked up fine, these are two of the most common problems with Esxi i've read. I just installed and it was ready go!

    esxi.jpg
    The passthrough feature is also available, allowing me to dedicate real hardware to a particular virtual machine, e.g. a network adapter:

    passthrough.jpg

    Thats all i have really done so far, not set up any proper VM's or anything yet. I installed Windows 98 and Windows 2000 to mess about with some old OS's, however i plan to get some proper virtual machines running over the next few weeks.

    The plan so far is to have a Server 2012 VM as a domain controller, and some client VM's connected to the domain and learn more about Windows Server and Active Directory. I could even have a VM for a dedicated game server, as the server is more than powerful.
     
    BonezOz likes this.
  5. BonezOz

    BonezOz Addict

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    Nice set up! Still would have doubled the amount of RAM, but still you should give yourself a nice pat on the back.

    I'm going to be upgrading my main PC here in the next couple of months and I think I'm going to use my current machine as an ESXi box. What's cool is through my connections with VMware I have a vSphere 5 license, so I'll be able to run vCenter Server for the management side of things.
     
  6. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    Cheers! I was looking at going with 32gb, however all the small ITX motherboards appear to max out at 16gb. It would have been nice however i think 16gb will be more than enough for my needs (for now!)

    Is the vCenter Server just where you can manage more than one Esxi box? i'm guessing it has some advantages over the vSphere Client? I still got a lot more reading up to be doing at the moment.
     
  7. BonezOz

    BonezOz Addict

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    vCenter Server also allows for clustering of ESXi boxes, as long as they have shared storage, say an iSCSI NAS/SAN or FC SAN.
     

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