Requirements for Gaming VM on ESXi 6

Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
5
First off, is it possible to passthrough a GPU and USB controller to create a gaming VM on ESXi? I've seen it done on other platforms (Xen, KVM, etc.) but I'm not sure it's supported on ESXi.

If it is, what hardware specific options should I be looking for? I'm looking to build a workstation/failover ESXi host around a C236 board and an E3 v5 CPU.
 
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IvanNCase

n00b
Joined
Apr 7, 2015
Messages
13
It's been working great for me passing through an R9-390X and a USB3 pcie card. First off you'll need to make sure your system supports IOMMU/Intel VT-D for passthrough, which I haven't looked up the specs of what you posted but it seems pretty common on newer server grade hardware. The only thing I other than that I know to look for is to go with AMD for the video card as Nvidea have blocked there GeForce cards from running under ESXi/VSphere. As far as failover goes though I don't think you can use it on a VM that's using pci passthrough so whatever you're doing that needs the redundancy will have to be on another VM to be protected from a failure.
 

The_Moves

Limp Gawd
Joined
Oct 8, 2008
Messages
183
Hey man, seriously use search on this forum of even Google.

Let me google that for you

Most anything that can do GPU / PCIe passthrough with Xen or KVM can also do it with ESXi. The main issue you will run into is with ESXi's requirement on GPUs that are allowed to be virtualized, certain NVIDIA Quadro can be used for Gaming that you want. You will be paying $1000+ for a current gen card and more than you should on past. AMD Radeon cards tend to be friendlier in this regards though they experiences RESET issues. The latest Radeon cards, last I checked, can not be passed through successfully. Your best bet is to stick with KVM or Xen. I used KVM with my GTX 760 (Modified via custom patch to change the DeviceID to Quadro) for 2 years - I no longer game. You will also want to look into issues people are having with v4 and v5 Xeons, maybe stick with v3.
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
5
Hey man, seriously use search on this forum of even Google.

Let me google that for you

Most anything that can do GPU / PCIe passthrough with Xen or KVM can also do it with ESXi. The main issue you will run into is with ESXi's requirement on GPUs that are allowed to be virtualized, certain NVIDIA Quadro can be used for Gaming that you want. You will be paying $1000+ for a current gen card and more than you should on past. AMD Radeon cards tend to be friendlier in this regards though they experiences RESET issues. The latest Radeon cards, last I checked, can not be passed through successfully. Your best bet is to stick with KVM or Xen. I used KVM with my GTX 760 (Modified via custom patch to change the DeviceID to Quadro) for 2 years - I no longer game. You will also want to look into issues people are having with v4 and v5 Xeons, maybe stick with v3.

Thanks for the information. I did Google this before posting but I got inconclusive information. The truth is I rarely game and if I do it's games from the late 90's early 2000's anyway (StarCraft for example).

What are these specific issues you're talking about with regard to the v4/v5 Xeons so I can research that more?
 

The_Moves

Limp Gawd
Joined
Oct 8, 2008
Messages
183
Here is one guy who uses KVM: VFIO tips and tricks: Intel processors with ACS support

The big thing you want to look into is ACS support and IOMMU groups.

Here is one thread about a guy talking about High End Sky Lake, ACS, and Alex linking to his post on IOMMU Groups: Re: [vfio-users] Want to Confirm ACS on Root Ports i7-5930K "High End",

I was thinking v4 and v5 Xeons were based on Skylake and Broadwell, which the Desktop varients were having issues. Compared to v3 or Haswell where both Xeon and Desktop (Some desktop processors that have vt-d enabled) work fine.
 
Joined
Apr 28, 2006
Messages
632
Works perfectly on the box in my sig. Only real hurdle I had was making sure the graphics card was compatible. At the time of building only ATI/AMD HD series worked. It just so happened I was pro AMD anyway. I used this guys blog as a guide ESXi Whitebox | Home Server Blog It is kind of old but was a good base of information. I'm not sure what all has changed in the world of passthrough. I started on ESXI 4.1.
 

Zarathustra[H]

Extremely [H]
Joined
Oct 29, 2000
Messages
32,875
My understanding is as follows:

Passthrough of USB and sound hardware typically works well

Passthrough of GPU's can be a bit trickier.
  • AMD GPU passthrough typically works.
  • Nvidia professional GPU's (Quadro and Tesla) will pass through (at least Quadro 2000 or higher) but you probably don't want to play games on those.
  • Nvidia actively blocks passthrough on consumer GPU's to steer enterprise users towards their more expensive professional GPU's.
  • Some consumer Nvidia GPU's can be tricked into thinking they are pseudo Quadro models by resoldering some resistors on the back of the board. This is both risky and not guaranteed to work.

I have a dedicated ESXi server right now (my desktop is bare metal) but for many different reasons, among them that I want to run remote virtualized HTPC's with passed through Geforce GT720's on it using HDBaseT HDMI over Ethernet extenders I am planning on switching to Proxmox in the near future. (Proxmox is a specially packaged Debian distribution built for simplified management of KVM virtual machines and LXC containers).

Essentially, over time I've gotten more and more tired of VMWares shit, and I am very much looking forward to my Proxmox experiment.
 
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