Virtual machine Playground


Looking to replace my 3yo Dell XPS 410 tower with the ability to setup multiple virtual environments (for research, study). More of a personal/portable mini- server really.

Approximate Purchase Date: 3 weeks / end of January Budget Range: < $800

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Virtualization environments (server OS / Linux / nonstandard OS / dev ) , internet access

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: no preference but familiar with newegg (USA)

Parts Preferences: micro or mini ATX form for portability, 8-12gb ram, small SSD (64gb?) for the hypervisor / guest OS, graphics not a concern (not a gamer), already have plenty of external storage

Overclocking: No / Maybe SLI or Crossfire: No

Additional Comments: Connection flexibility is important (HDMI would be nice). Storage will primarily be external -prefer eSATA or USB 3.0. Mostly, I'm not clear on the advantages of the different chipsets available and which desktop cpu's are best for VT. I'll go with a XEON if that's what it takes.
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  1. Fill this and paste it here, will give us more info
  2. There's no way you'll get a XEON in a PC with a budget under $800. One option I hear a lot of people with VM needs use is a Core i7-9xx. The four physical \ eight logical core arrangement, along with triple channel memory and Intel VT seems to be a pretty good combination. However, with your budget that may be a little tight. A somewhat more inexpensive option would be a Core i7-2600, you still get four physical / eight logical cores, but a less expensive platform could help keep costs down. And then there's always the option of a Phenom II X6, although I'm not sure how well it stacks up against a Core i7-9xx or -2600.

    Also, 64GB is probably going to be way too small to hold a hypervisor, along with multiple OSes. You'd probably have to go to a 120GB model, and that would totally kill your budget. Although a SSD is certainly a smart addition to a VM system, given the major IO bottleneck multiple VMs run into, I'm not sure you could fit it into your build given your price constraints.
  3. ^ Intel is a better performer no doubt, but IMO if you want a value PC, then look into AMD,... 6-Core desktop parts which cost under ~$180, and these also offer VT, as it is just going to be a home/ personal server, I dont think it is necessary to go with Server grade parts,...
  4. This seems to be the closest I could get @ Newegg

    Rosewill CHALLENGER Black ATX Mid Tower Case
    Item #: N82E16811147153

    Rosewill Green Series RG530-S12 530W PSU
    Item #: N82E16817182199

    ASUS Rampage III Gene LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
    Item #: N82E16813131658R

    Intel Xeon E5506 Nehalem-EP 2.13GHz LGA 1366 80W Quad-Core Server Processor BX80602E5506
    Item #: N82E16819117186

    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound $9.99

    ZALMAN 9500A-LED 92mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler
    Item #: N82E16835118223

    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Model F3-10666CL9T-12GBRL
    Item #: N82E16820231356

    Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAC064MAG-1G1 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC (SSD)
    Item #: N82E16820148357

    Total $865 + $10 shipping

    Anybody see anything missing or incompatible here? Notes on particular components?
    I have no problem with going AMD, this is just what I spec'd first
  5. ^ You sure that board supports Xeon CPUs ? and you are missing a video card,...
  6. Best answer
    I really don't see a good reason to go with a xeon. The only advantages of Xeons over standard desktop cpus are dual/multi processor capabilities, ECC memory, and the ability to run with massive amounts of RAM. All of which aren't don't appear to be of any importance to you. I would wait a few days and for $30 less pick up a sandy bridge i5-2500. Combine that with an inexpensive H67 motherboard that also supports SATA III and USB 3 and you have a good combo.

    Or if you want to go with AMD here are a few processor options:
    AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban 3.2GHz 6 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDT90ZFBGRBOX

    ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
    GIGABYTE GA-880GMA-UD2H AM3 AMD 880G HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

    You don't need that aftermarket cooler unless you overclock. and even if you do overclock I would switch to a Cooler Master Hyper 212+ for $20 less.

    You'll also probably need a CD drive at the very least to install the OS.
  7. After reading the TH article and your post, I think I'll wait for an i5 - 2500. Thanks for the assist!
  8. Best answer selected by nanonico.
  9. No problem, I'm glad I could help. :)
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