Building a VM server

I've been reading the forum anonymously for some time, and decided to join because I wanted to build a server but don't know where to start.

I want to create a machine that hosts a variety of VMs (up to, say, 6 VMs). The purpose of the VMs are, thus far, a file server, a web server, and a mail server to start. The machines would receive minimal traffic because they are intended for personal use only (testing purposes really).

The question is, what sort of hardware would I want for this type of configuration? And the follow up question, is it possible to keep this to a budget of $500 or is that unreasonable?

If I haven't provided enough information to have this question answered, let me know and I'll provide more.
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  1. you $500 budget is tight ,

    i'd think a machine based on an Athlon quad core and a 785G or 880G chipset mb with a minimum of 4 gig of ram , and if you can afford it 8 gig is your best option

    An M-atx mb will save money . A 400 watt psu should be plenty
  2. I was unsure if $500 would be too tight or not. If I were to spend $800 instead of $500, would it be any easier?

    Furthermore, I've been looking around at various builds through this form as well as newegg, and noticed server style hardware (i.e. memory and MB) vs. desktop style hardware. In the case where I'm running VMs, is it really necessary to spend the extra to get server-specific hardware or is it possible to build a desktop style machine and put a server OS on top of it?
  3. The hardest part of building a server from desktop style components is finding drivers for those components. Given the OS you intend to install, you may find it easier or more difficult to find those needed drivers.

    That said, I haven't had any problems running a couple VMs on my Server 2008 system, using the components listed below.

    -Wolf sends
  4. Let me try this another way then. Enclosed is a build I have made:

    My guess is that I'll load ESXi on it, and have that as the server for VMs.

    1. Am I missing any parts for using this as a server?
    2. Do I need anything hardware specific for an ESXi server?
    3. Will this perform?

    Or, if someone has a counter build, let me know.
  5. I've been looking into the same thing. Though instead of VMWares ESXi, I'm looking at using Xen with Debian. I think you could get a really nice rig for under $800 that would be nicely optimized for playing around with VMs.

    I would start with an AMD 890FX mobo to take advantage of IOMMU.

    Couple that with a Phenom II X6 1090T that has AMD-V technology.

    A last thought, add lots of RAM.

    Let me know what you decide as I'm going to soon build a similar machine.
  6. Here's a thread I started for building a similar system:

    Another though on the 890FX is it supports a wider range of RAID configurations which is nice for your file server (something I'm also interested in).
  7. I'm not sure why the build I made, for $500, doesn't work as a VM machine - it's got 8GB of memory, multiple drives to allow for a file server and potentially having multiple VMs doing multiple R/W to disk, and has a new(ish) processor. And I'm not sure how much IOMMU/AMD-V will give me on the Intel specs I have provided either. The only real thing that's missing is a graphics card, but I'll only need that to get set up, since it'll be a headless server that I can just ssh into if need be.
  8. No, your build will work just won't be able to take advantage of some technology that's come out in the past few years. Intel has an equivalent to AMD-V called VT-x which is present on the processor you've listed so you're probably fine. I was just suggesting something I was interested in. I have an old Dell from 2004 that I use to run VirtualBox on so I'm sure you'll be fine.
  9. Thanks for the input. It's unfortunate I could not spur some a similar discussion on this build to some of the discussions that I've seen in other posts.
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