2nd hand stuff for home lab for latest ESXi (6.7 U3)

ldoodle

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jun 29, 2011
Messages
167
Hi,

I need to set something up at home to play with. I have HBAs and disks already so just need board, CPU and RAM; on the RAM won't ever need more than 128GB and don't care in what sizing (4GB, 8GB dimms etc.) just whatever overall combo is cheapest.

It must be supported by the latest version of ESXi.

Thanks!
 

deruberhanyok

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Aug 22, 2004
Messages
1,482
If you’re building in a typical tower case, Best bet would be a workstation class board from super micro or asrock rack. But that usually involves xeons and ecc memory and can get expensive.

I’m running esxi 6.7u3 on a gigabyte x570 aorus master. Definitely not what the platform was made for but it works fine. It’s got some quirks (fans tend to spin up randomly) but it does what I need it to do.

I also briefly had it running on a z390 board and 9600k with 32gb ram without any issues, but then I switched to the x570 setup (3900x) for more cores and more ram (64gb).


biggest issue with any consumer board is going to be nic support. If you’re not plugging in an add-in card (I got a dual port i350 card for mine) make sure you get something with onboard intel. Esxi won’t recognize anything Realtek.

Next biggestissue would be feature support for virtualization tech. Like being able to turn on sr-iov, etc. I don’t think you see a lot of that on consumer boards - on my x570 setup I can do pcie (including gpu) pass through with Linux kvm just fine but esxi doesn’t recognize anything on my system for direct access by a vm.

basically, buy whatever, but if you get a mainstream platform there are going to be some compromises.
 
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ldoodle

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jun 29, 2011
Messages
167
Thanks. I was a bit "hard" with "must be supported". I didn't mean officially by VMware. I'm running 6.7 U3 on ML110 Gen7 at the moment - I had to swap out one of the drivers to stop it PSOD'ing but it works really well.

But the Gen7 officially maxes at 16GB RAM.
 

deruberhanyok

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Aug 22, 2004
Messages
1,482
I think as long as its ivy bridge or newer it should be fine (maybe sandy bridge, I can’t recall which ones they stopped supporting in 6.7). If you want more ram a modern desktop platform will definitely get you to 32gb and maybe to 64gb - I tried 64gb on a skylake/z270 system and had all sorts of issues, but it has been fine on z390/x570. More than that is new territory for desktop class hardware.

used HEDT heat is an option but that depends on your budget.
 

Fenris_Ulf

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Nov 29, 2004
Messages
1,699
I have two servers at home. Neither running esxi (anymore), but I have run it just fine on both initially. Both are dual socket 1366. One is a SuperMicro X8DTE board with dual hex-core Xeons and 48GB of RAM in a tower case using a consumer PSU and HSFs. Very quiet and office friendly. Cost was less than $200 all in (except the RAID array and OS drives) and that was three years ago, prices are lower now.
The other is a Dell R710 I picked up locally for something like $40. I swapped out to dual hex core Xeons (about $60) and put in 144GB of RAM ($100 on eBay) as well as a 3.2GB Fusion IO card ($200 ebay) and a 240GB SSD ($25 Microcenter) for the OS. It's a bit louder, but it flies on memory and disk intensive tasks. 10 year old CPUs aren't as fast, but 12 cores helps. Old server hardware is cheap and it's what esxi was designed to run on, so no compatibility issues should arise.

Edit: After looking at VMWare's site, they don't support past esxi 6.0 for socket 1366. I haven't tried either of the latest versions, so please ignore my advice. You'll need something with an E-series Xeon or better.
 
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Fenris_Ulf

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Nov 29, 2004
Messages
1,699
As an update, esxi 6.5 or 6.7 aren't officially supported or tested (which is the responsibility of the vendors, who have no interest in testing old hardware), but I have heard that older Xeons do work with newer esxi versions. Might be worth some research if this is just for a cheap learning box.
 
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