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What kind of hard drive for virtualization?

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June 28, 2013 3:59:08 AM

Hi,
I'm planning to build a pc to run some virtual environments through ESXI and I would like to know which kind of hard drive should I buy?
thank you :) 

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June 28, 2013 7:14:32 AM

Any hard drive should work, but the faster the better. Will you buy a supported RAID controller or use the motherboard's SATA ports? What motherboard will you use and has it been confirmed to be compatible with ESXi?
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June 28, 2013 3:53:59 PM

Was thinking for a SSD samsung 128 GB and use the sata ports from the motherboard.
It's very complicated to find some information about the AMD motherboards compatible ESXI.
It looks like, regarding the neweggs reviews, than the Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3 is compatible.
I was thinking to buy a FX8350 with 32 gb ram.
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June 28, 2013 4:20:19 PM

We just upgraded our work machines and I was able to have a lot of say in it. I pushed for 256GB SSDs and 16GB RAM. It takes seconds for a VM to fire up ( I use Hyper-V on an i5-3450. ) The 16GB RAM means I can have three VMs up at once with absolutely no slow down to the rest of the system.
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June 28, 2013 6:32:09 PM

qwerty1805 said:
Was thinking for a SSD samsung 128 GB and use the sata ports from the motherboard.
It's very complicated to find some information about the AMD motherboards compatible ESXI.
It looks like, regarding the neweggs reviews, than the Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3 is compatible.
I was thinking to buy a FX8350 with 32 gb ram.
As long as it's stable then you'll be fine. I chose an Intel solution because the FX-8350 is hot for a server that's running 24x7 and I didn't find a motherboard with fully comaptible Ethernet controllers. My Intel motherboard is compatible with ESXi (including the Ethernet controllers) and a video card isn't required.

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June 29, 2013 8:05:14 AM

I don't need a server running 24*7,just a pc to run some virtual labs like server 2012,exchange 2013,and clients to make some tests.
I was looking initially for a I5 or i7 but i read the most cores you have,better it is for virtualization.
And i was looking for something not too expensive and the fx 8350 looks perfect but if at the end I can get a configuration with intel for the same price,I take it.I don't have a focused on Amd, just the fx 8350 looks pretty good regarding the reviews.
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June 29, 2013 3:17:05 PM

To be honest the number of cores won't make much of a difference for a lab as you won't have dozens of clients connecting to Exchange. Will the system be used exclusively to run ESXi? If so, then the FX-8300 is good, but so is an i5 or an i7 (non-K versions are preferred).

Will you passthrough devices like hard disks or a video card? If not, then any motherboard that supports virtualization will work, but you'll have to buy a supported NIC if your motherboard doesn't include one (usually Intel or Broadcom, but others may be supported if you modifiy the package). If passthrough (Intel VT-d or AMD IOMMU) is required, then make sure the motherboard supports it.
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July 1, 2013 4:40:43 AM

Hi,
thanks for the answer.
Initially, I wanted to install all the hardware in a very thin desktop.I might move soon and wanted a pc something that fits in a suitcase :-)
I want to be able to run differents virtual labs but don't know which environments yet.All regarding the training I will do.
I'm not sure at the moment if i will need the intel VT or IOMMU but I don't want to be limited after a while with the hardware.
I wanted to use the Vmware (Esxi or others)solutions mainly so something fully compatible with that would be perfect.
I wanted to build a mini itx desktop initially but there is no amd mini itx motherboard with a am3+ socket for the FX8350.
So, I went to to the micro atx but for the IOMMU compatible, there is only ATX motherboard size compatible.
Then, I start to had a look with Intel as I can find more motherboards mini itx and micro atx but I don't know which cpu I could choose?
I'm not at gamer at all and I just need a pc to run server 2008 or server 2012, Exchanger servers ,Lync servers and 8 (maybe more, maybe less)clients to make tests.
So, For the tower size, it looks I have to go with Intel but for the price, I don't know if there is a big difference between a intel cpu and an amd cpu for my needs.
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July 1, 2013 6:07:35 AM

What size case are you going with? Mini-ITX limits your storage options for a server. Finding a Micro-ATX case is much easier, but it won't fit in a briefcase. I built my server based on an Intel Micro-ATX (DQ77MK), an i7-3770 (no video card required) and 32GB of memory because it's compatible with ESXi and I could easily switch to it if I wanted to. I obviously couldn't use RAID, but that's fine in a lab environment.

If you go Intel, you need to select a non-K i5 or i7 that includes VT-d (or a Xeon processor). Check the CPU specs at http://ark.intel.com/products/family/75024/4th-Generati... to amke sure it includes VT-x and VT-d. For my server I also wanted vPro which somewhat limited my motherboard selection.

Unless you absolutely want/need an FX-8350, you could build a small lab server using an AMD A10-5800K or A10-6800K on an ASRock FM2A75 Pro4-M motherboard. Apparently ESXi 5.1 supports the Realtek RTL8111E Ethernet controller. ASRock and Gigabyte (990FX chipset and probably others) are quite good at supporting IOMMU (AMD-Vi).
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July 1, 2013 8:38:59 AM

thank you for the reply!!
At the beginning, I was looking for the slimmest case I could find but it looks like for virtualization purpose,I will have to go with a micro atx with intel or a atx with AMD as for this one, there is no micro atx motherboards that supports IOMMU.

I don't have a focus on the FX8350 but just like the more cores you have for virtualization , better it is and I taught, maybe wrongly, it was the right choice for AMD configuration for virtualization purpose.

For the micro atx, I was thinking for the InWin BL641 Slim MicroATX SFF.

I don't know that much about virtualization but I will have a few servers 2008, 1 exchange 2010, one exchange 2013, lync 2010 and lync 2013.I presume I will have to install some front servers for lync.
The AMD A10-5800K is a good idea and it looks cheap.I'm just worried about the number of cores.If the AMD A10-5800K can be a bottleneck,I would prefer sacrifice the size for the case , buying a atx case. and have a fx 8350 with 8 cores.
at the moment, the configs could be:

Micro ATX AMD:

InWin BL641 Slim MicroATX SFF
ASRock FM2A75 Pro4-M
AMD A10-5800K
32 GB ram
Samsung SSD 128 GB + sata hard to store the data.

Micro ATX Intel:


InWin BL641 Slim MicroATX SFF
GIGABYTE GA-B75M-D3H
I7 3770
32 GB ram
Samsung SSD 128 GB + sata hard to store the data.


or ATX AMD:

elite 360 case
Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3 or GA-990FXA-UD3
32 GB ram
Samsung SSD 128 GB + sata hard to store the data.
Fx 8350?


I have such headache now with all these potentials configurations :-)
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July 1, 2013 5:29:43 PM

To be honest, I'm still using an Intel Q6600 with 16GB of memory for my VMs. I Just started switching to the i7 and I'm not done yet. They obviously run significantly faster on the i7, but the Q6600 still is a decent processor. The A10-5800K is faster than a Q6600, but the i7-3770 and the FX-8350 are much faster.

The Micro ATX AMD build is the least expensive, but it's performance is the lowest.

The Micro ATX Intel build is good, but have you verified that VT-d is supported (it most likely is)? Is the RTL8111F LAN controller is supported by ESXi?

I like the AMD build. I'd select the GA-990FXA-UD3 or a similar ASRock 990FX motherboard that's also been tested with ESXi. The Asrock 970 Extreme4 should also work.
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July 2, 2013 11:08:01 AM

I can confirm that the i5-3450 has VT-x and VT-d, so does the i7. I'd also look at the Xeon E3-1200V2 family. It'll give you the extra cores and cache of the i7, VT support, lower thermal window, and ECC RAM for a much lower price. Some versions don't have integrated graphics if you need them, and the ones that do have the same 77W TDP as the normal i7.
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July 2, 2013 11:54:31 AM

An i5-3450 is significantly less powerful that the FX-8350 or the i7-3770. The Xeon processor should definitely be considered, particularly if it's less expensive than the i7 (it wasn't when I bought my i7). Unfortunately ECC support requires a server motherboard with a C20x chipset and more expensive non-registered ECC memory. For a lab or a home system, the additional cost usually can't be justified.
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July 2, 2013 1:54:29 PM

Thank you for these information ;) 
I'm looking now for a micro ATX motherboard with am3+ that have 4 dimms to install 32 BG and that support Esxi.
If I can't find it, I will go for the ATX then.
I won't build another desktop after a few years i think , so It's better to invest in something i won't have to replace after.
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July 2, 2013 2:06:42 PM

There is the Micro ATX motherboards AM3+ with 4 dimms I found :

Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3
Asus M5A78L-M USB3
Gigabyte GA-880GMA-USB3 . <--- 4 dimms but it looks like only 16 Gb are supported.
ASRock 890GX Pro3
MSI 760GM-E51 (FX) AM3+

Any ideas regarding these motherboards about a full compatibility with ESXI supporting IOMMU are welcome! :-)
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July 2, 2013 5:30:48 PM

I couldn't find any builder confirming that IOMMU is supported on your list of motherboards, but that's to be expected with older chipsets. As you already found out, the Gigabyte GA-880GMA-USB3 supports 16GB of memory.

If you want IOMMU support, then you have no choice but to go ATX. Unlike Intel, you can't find mATX AMD motherboards based on the latest chipsets.
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July 2, 2013 5:30:49 PM

I couldn't find any builder confirming that IOMMU is supported on your list of motherboards, but that's to be expected with older chipsets. As you already found out, the Gigabyte GA-880GMA-USB3 supports 16GB of memory.

If you want IOMMU support, then you have no choice but to go ATX. Unlike Intel, you can't find mATX AMD motherboards based on the latest chipsets.
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July 5, 2013 12:25:50 PM

u are right, I think I have to go with ATX.
I had a look with Micro atx and socket FM2 but looks complicated to get information for I/O supported or not.Plus FM2 cpu are limited to 4 cores.
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July 5, 2013 2:17:07 PM

You are correct; FM2 processors are less powerful than an i7 or an FX-8350. As you found out, mATX requires an Intel solution while ATX can be AMD or Intel. It's easier to keep an ATX case cool and quiet, but you may have to get an aftermarket HSF for the FX-8350 if it gets too noisy when heavily used (probably won't happen too often on a home server).
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July 5, 2013 3:34:16 PM

Ok, thank you for the tip :-)
Any suggestion for the HFS?
Was thinking to buy the case Cooler Master Elite RC-361 as it's not that big.
was looking for the airflow into this case to make it cooler if I need
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July 5, 2013 8:50:42 PM

I can't suggest an HSF because you chose a case that's small for very good cooling. The Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO is a popular choice, but it won't fit that case. I presume that you'll get the case without the 350W PSU as you want a quality PSU to maximize system stability. You should also buy fans for the back to improve cooling. You should read this review: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=11-119-... Personnally I'd use a larger and better case for a server build with an FX-8350. That case is too flimsy to carry the server around.
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July 9, 2013 6:11:51 AM

sorry for the late answer and thank you for the informpation, I really do appreciate.
I took order for the following components:

- ASRock 970 EXTREME4 ATX Socket AM3+
- Gigabyte HD5450
- Seagate 2To Barracuda (ST2000DM001)
- Samsung 840 Series 120GB
- Antec EarthWatts EA-380D Green 380 W
- AMD FX 8120 at the end

I will buy 32 GB Ram with Komputebay I think.

So, I need a case obviously :-) and looking for the fan after regarding the depth of the case.
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July 9, 2013 7:58:39 AM

Why the 8120 over the 8320? Was the price difference worth it? I'm not familiar with Komputebay memory, but as long as they certify support for your motherbaord, then you should be fine.
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July 15, 2013 11:56:17 AM

sorry for the late answer, I have quite busy these days.
got the 8120 for a good price, so I took it.
I "just" have to buy one of the cases below now:

Coolermaster Elite 361
BitFenix Outlaw Midi
BitFenix Merc Beta Midi
CiT Recon Micro ATX
BitFenix Merc Alpha Midi
Zalman Z5 Plus ATX Mid
Thermaltake Commander
Xigmatek CCC-AD34BT-U01
Aerocool VS-4 Screwless
Xigmatek Asgard ATX
Aerocool VS-3 Screwless
Silverstone SST-PS05B USB 3.0

the Silverstone SST-PS05B USB 3.0 looks ok in my opinion

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!