Virtual Machine host computer


Great forum, always had great advice from here when building a new machine so its my first port of call. Im building a new computer which will run several virtual machines inside it.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week, today if possible BUDGET RANGE: 600-800

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Running mutiple virtual machines for testing and development

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, Hard Drives, DVD Drives (basically looking for CPU, Motherboard, Ram, Case)


PARTS PREFERENCES: Open at this stage


MONITOR RESOLUTION: NA (will most likely be remoted into)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Ability to be upgraded with lost of RAM in the future. Machine will run Windows XP 64bit.
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  1. i think the guy above is way off here

    if you're only remoting into it, there's no reason for discrete graphics....

    go for a mobo that supports lots of memory and which has integrated graphics for the times you may be using the computer on its one monitor.....

    for your uses....availability of memory slots and multicore/hyperthreading are key.....not graphics
  2. Thanks for the reply.

    The card he suggested was only £26.50 so not that big a deal. But I already have access to some older graphics cards which I will just stick in there forthe sake of it so its not really an issue.

    Thinking of going for this one too and just take the extra £200 on the chin

    Yep memory slots seems to be one of the most important things, this one has 24, I may go for a Gygabyte alternative that does about the same.

    interesting note about the multicore/hyperthreading though. Guess I need a motherboard that can maximise the potential of the CPU.
  3. You would need a lot of memory and very fast hard dirve. it would be better if you can have seperate hard drive(s) dedicated to virtual machines.
  4. Im looking at 4 - 6 GB at the moment with the possibility of going up to 24 GB in the future. Looking at 3 x 500GB hard drive to start with and assigning each one to a separate VM.
  5. Not enough, you need to use physical disks. Meaning your main OS can't use the drive at all it will be used exclusively by the VMs; as a raw physical disk. This will lead to less I/O overhead as opposed to having large files to act as 'virtual disk'.

    SMP is key here. Overclocking is a no-go if you're going to use this in a server environment.
  6. Hi

    Yes three physical Western Digital hard disks at 500GB each. One for the OS, file storage, and the other two each assigned to their VM machine. Probably will add more discs on the fly.

    This is going to be for testing purposes so should be fine for overclocking.
  7. You going to use VMware of Virtualbox, by the way?

    You can also use partitions to physically map to a virtual machine, so you can use one HDD for multiple VMs if required. Otherwise with 3 disks, you'll be limited to 2 VMs in this configuration.
  8. Will probably stick with VMware.

    Yep will use Partitions a plenty, was just explaining that I wasnt going to create many virtual disks from one hard drive.

    Hard drives aren't really the issue, was just interested if anyone had some knowledge about important factors to consider when choosing memory, CPU etc.

    This is basically going to be a test machine for a number of tasks like rolling out Active Directory scripts or implementing Windows Powershell over network environments. Each machine in its own right will not need to be too powerful but will need to function as an XP machine. Of course it will need to be flexible for other tasks too.

    The main system will likely be Windows XP Pro 64bit, though ill probably go with a Linux distro in dual boot as the OS overheads are less leaving more resources free for the VM's.

    I have read that the i7 920 - D0 is great for overclocking so may well go with that.
  9. If you want a cheaper system, an AMD Phenom II build does overclock very well also but is more affordable, allowing you to either save money or spend it on some more memory etc. Both the Intel Core i7 and AMD Phenom II are excellent for SMP tasks, as they have a modern intra-core interface and direct interface to the memory.

    One thing to consider is that going for DDR2 memory, a modest 785G motherboard and a Phenom II X4 3.0GHz will all save you money compared to the intel solution. The higher clocked Core i7s will get you less value for you money; so never buy the fastest version you'll spend alot of money for very little return on investment.

    As for memory, most important is quantity; ideally you'd want 12GB+ if you are serious on your VMs. If the VMs are light, 4GB-8GB will do. Aside from that, the software config will probably affect performance alot more than the hardware choices you are about to make now.
  10. @uh_no I dont think am way off the subject...
    There is no onboard graphics on X58 boards so for setting up the machine, you would need one...and thats why I had suggested one of the cheap offerings...
    Maybe you should check out the X58 and the i7 CPUs...
    The i7 has 4 physical cores and 8 logical threads...and has Tri-Channel memory copntrollers, which offer very high bandwidth when you populate multiples of 3 RAM slots...

    @gareth2061 its is good that you changed back to the i7 is a better value CPU than the 940...

    And if you want to go cheap, then even sub-mesa's option of the Phenom is good...But the i7's 8 logical cores would be very good if your apps are multi-threaded...
  11. I agree gkay09, 25 for a graphics card is hardly excessive.

    I think i7 is definitely the way to go. Not really looking for the cheaper option, rather one which will still be powerful in a couple of years time.

    I want to tweak and overclock to get the maximum power out of the machine so may check out the X58 option. I dont know right now if there are that many multi threaded apps to take full advantage of, but may be something to keep in mind for the future.
  12. I too am looking at building a VM system and have been looking at the options available.

    The X58 looks a good mobo but I am currently finding it difficult to find suitable memory which will give me the amount I need.

    I can easily do 12g but really need at least 16g, any suggestions?
  13. ^ For a X58 mobo, Either go with 3GB/ 6GB/ 12GB/ 15GB/ 18GB/ 24GB - Reason - The X58 CPUs have Tri-Channel memory controllers, which can be fully utilized only when either 3/ 6 RAM slots of the mobo are populated...If you populate say 4 or 5 out of the 6, then you would loose Tri-Channel...
    So if you want to get 16GB, it might not be possible as you would either have to go with this setup - 3x 4GB + 3x 1GB = 15GB/ 3x 4GB + 3x 2GB = 18GB of memory...
    But the 4GB sticks would be very costly though...
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