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Cheap Hardware RAID Card for Dev ESXi Box

Last response: in Storage
March 17, 2010 2:47:21 AM


I'm just looking for some recommendations for some cheap hardware RAID cards to add to a server to become my home ESXi server which will be the core component of my development lab?

The specs I'm looking at for the box are roughly:

CPU: Core i5/i7
RAM: 16-24GB
Motherboard: not sure yet: any recommendations? (prefer something with ESX supported NIC's so I don't need to buy add-on NIC's)

as a start I'll be running 3-4 VM's (mix of Domain controllers / App servers / SQL etc and some of which need a minimum of 8GB ram) and I don't want the storage controller/disk to be the bottleneck.

I've heard the Dell Perc 5/5i may be a good option that I can plug in a bunch of SATA disks, I'm thinking maybe 4 SATAII disks for a start with support for up to 6, I'll probably use 750gb or 1tb disks.

What other cards might be a good idea? new or secondhand is okay as this is just for home use...


a b G Storage
March 17, 2010 6:04:26 AM

You're thinking more of ESX than ESXi. Currently the cheapest SAS RAID (w/ parity) controller out there is indeed the PERC 5/i which works with ESX 4.0 out of the box.
I see you've put SQL in, which I'm assuming is pretty significant VM out of the others. For that just make sure it's kept on a separate HDD/array and away from all other VMs and absolutely no RAID5 or 6 with a SQL DB.
If you don't intend to use any RAID for any of your other VMs, then just use built-in SATA on mobo. Or a cheap SAS HBA like DELL SAS 6/ir if you need RAID 1 or 1+0.

For a single node baremetal hypervisor box I'd currently go with something like:
Xeon X3440
ASUS P7P55D Deluxe
Intel Pro/1000 PT Dual
4x 4GB DDR3-1066 ECC (should be ~$110-150/module)
DELL PERC 5/i or 6/i (make sure you get a BBU with it)

Here's my old setup for reference:
AMD Phenom II 945
MSI 790FX-GD70
4x 2GB DDR3-1333 ECC
6x ST31000340NS
2x 146GB 15K.5 (picked up dirt cheap)
DELL PERC 5/i 512MB (with LSI firmware)
Intel Pro/1000 PT Quad (dual Realtek GbE on mobo can be made functional with this)
[The platform was chosen to be eventually used as a SAN hence the somewhat non-ideal setup]

This is the new setup (the now completed SAN):
AMD Phenom II 945
MSI 790FX-GD70
4x 2GB DDR3-1333 ECC
8x ST31000340NS
2x 146GB 15K.5
2x DELL PERC 6/i
1x DELL PERC 6/E (currently not utilised until DAS enclosure arrives)
Intel Pro/1000 PT Quad

And the two ESXi hosts:
Supermicro Twin 1U
2x X8DTT-F mobo
4x Xeon L5530
6x 4GB DDR3-1333 ECC
March 17, 2010 9:50:00 AM

thanks for the reply, why do suggest I'm thinking more of ESX than ESXi?

I haven't 100% decided which way I'm going yet - might run up Hyper-V just for some basic testing before it's blown away and replaced with ESXi4 or ESX4

I'm leaning towards ESXi due to the smaller footprint and resource requirements.
Related resources
a b G Storage
March 17, 2010 10:35:27 AM

well, last time I looked, esxi was free, esx was commercial (paid). That could be one good reason to go with esxi.
March 18, 2010 4:14:49 AM

sorry I'm aware of the difference in price, what I was trying to refer to was what technical differences or limitations I may encounter by running ESXi rather than full ESX4.0? or I guess more specifically what impact that has when choosing the hardware to run my environment on..

(I don't need features like VMotion, DRS or DPM..)
a b G Storage
March 18, 2010 10:52:57 AM

Well, doing this off of memory, but I believe it's pretty much the same software, it just doesn't work with the products you were discussing.

Do you have a Dell server?
What do you consider "cheap"? Adaptec has a four port card for under 200, for example.
March 22, 2010 10:48:30 PM

I'm just building a white box pc/server for a dev lab, have done a bit more research and there seems to be plenty of folks out there that use the Perc 5i / 6i which seem to sell 2nd hand for about 200, so I'm probably going to go with that, looks like the trickiest part will be finding a suitable motherboard with supported on board NIC and enough DIMM slots for 24gb ram.

October 27, 2011 3:04:22 PM


I've setup a Perc 5i card on my PC and created a RAID 0 Volume with two Raptor WD3000HLFS.

When i try to install ESXi 5 the installation hangs at Loading scheduler, if try 4.1 it gives a GP 13 Exception.

If i remove the raid volume, the installation doesn't freeze.

i've tried with these 3 firmwares:

DELL 5.1.1-0040
DELL 5.2.2-0072
LSI 7.0.1-0083

Anyone had this problem before?
February 3, 2012 3:14:09 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey