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VM Ware Monster Build Help Needed

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July 2, 2012 2:10:13 AM

Hello,
Im considering building a research rig to assist my studies.

Approximate Purchase Date: This week

Budget Range: £200 - £700

System Usage from Most to Least Important: research machine which will use VMware to run the following all at the same time: Windows: 7, 8 RC, exchange server, small business server, terminal server and maybe mac osx. Video creation.

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor,

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: scan.co.uk/overclockers.co.uk/tekheads.co.uk/yoyotech.co.uk

Country: UK

Parts Preferences: I have 2 x Corsair 4gb vengeance LP 1600mhz ram sticks, a 2 TB HDD and a Corsair Builder Series CMPSU-430CXV2UK 430W Power Supply

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: 1280x1024, 1920x1080, 1920x1200 (between 2 monitors or a 32inch hdtv)

Additional Comments: I will game later but the priority is to get this machine going so i can learn about the various different os's and server based applications. I will have this for about 3 years + so socket choice is crucial.

I do want to keep it as cheap as possible any help will be throughly appreciated.
July 2, 2012 2:51:10 AM

What VMware product will you use? That will dictate the required hardware.
July 2, 2012 3:19:36 AM

Mac OSX does not virtualize very well so you may want to reconsider that.
Related resources
July 2, 2012 4:40:15 AM

Im not too sure on the version of vm ware either unfortunately as i just know i need to run os's in a virtual network so any advice given there would help also
July 2, 2012 5:23:21 AM

Bokran0 said:
Im not too sure on the version of vm ware either unfortunately as i just know i need to run os's in a virtual network so any advice given there would help also


VMWare Workstation hands down. Take a look at the VMWare Workstation Technology Preview which is basically an open beta which is free to use until october.
July 2, 2012 12:02:29 PM

If the system is also to be used for gaming, then VMware Workstation is the best solution. The free VMware Player, which obviously includes less features than Workstation, may also meet the requirements. 8GB of memory isn't a lot when running several VMs. Each VM should be given enough memory to avoid swapping; otherwise the single hard disk may become a bottleneck.

July 2, 2012 12:52:48 PM

Thanks guys, defo going with VMware workstation. Now on to the contraversal bit..
Do I go for the fx 8120 or i7 3820/3770k?
I'm also going to get an extra 16GB set of Ram just so I'm ok.
July 2, 2012 1:07:59 PM

Both i7 processors are faster than the FX-8120, but unless your VMs are CPU intensive (they shouldn't in a test environment), the bottleneck will be the hard disk. There are 3 dedicated VM hard disks in my server (2-3 active VMs per hard disk at most) and they often are the main bottleneck. My server's CPU is much less powerful than the FX-8120. If you want to game while running a bunch of VMs, get a powerful enough processor and don't install VMs on the boot drive.
July 2, 2012 1:37:44 PM

Bokran0 said:
Thanks guys, defo going with VMware workstation. Now on to the contraversal bit..
Do I go for the fx 8120 or i7 3820/3770k?
I'm also going to get an extra 16GB set of Ram just so I'm ok.


If you want to virtualize OSX at all you will have to go with an Intel processor
July 2, 2012 2:11:57 PM

How many cores do you think I will need I'm quite good with hyper-v so I know that I shouldn't spread cpu resources but this machine will be used to virtualise a small office situ so I'm willing to spend what is neccesary.
July 2, 2012 2:15:06 PM

Bokran0 said:
How many cores do you think I will need I'm quite good with hyper-v so I know that I shouldn't spread cpu resources but this machine will be used to virtualise a small office situ so I'm willing to spend what is neccesary.


It all depends how heavily you're going to be loading each VM simultaneously. If you're running a heavily loaded mail server, domain controller, SQL database, sharepoint server, source repository, etc... all at once then you will probably want 6 Intel Sandybridge cores at least. 4 might do though
July 2, 2012 2:24:38 PM

GhlslainG, what cpu do you use? And gaming is me having an wish lol, but this machine potentially could become my main business machine later so I want its vmware abilities to be very good. Do you think I could get away with a quad core cpu with no hyperthreading and spend on the ssd's?
July 2, 2012 2:29:03 PM

Bokran0 said:
How many cores do you think I will need I'm quite good with hyper-v so I know that I shouldn't spread cpu resources but this machine will be used to virtualise a small office situ so I'm willing to spend what is neccesary.

Will it become a production server or will it be used only to simulate your production environment? I'm asking because a production server shouldn't be used for gaming and it should definitely have a fast disks.
July 2, 2012 2:44:23 PM

Bokran0 said:
GhlslainG, what cpu do you use? And gaming is me having an wish lol, but this machine potentially could become my main business machine later so I want its vmware abilities to be very good. Do you think I could get away with a quad core cpu with no hyperthreading and spend on the ssd's?

I built it a few years ago with a Q6600, 16GB of memory, Windows Server 2008 64 bit and VMware Server. It has one boot drive and 3 dedicated VM drives. SSDs would be nice, but they are too expensive for the amount of storage I need (several VMs use over 100GB of disk space for a total of 2TB). I use it to simulate real production environments, but it never is used for production work. In other words, I don't have dozens of users connecting to it. You should know how many users and VMs will be hosted on your server and how busy it will be. The servers that you listed in your original post don't necessarily require a lot of processing power unless you have a lot of users. If it will be used for production, then what will the host OS be? Have you considered a real server with SAS drives and VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi)? That or Hyper-V would be better suited to a production environment.
July 2, 2012 4:10:43 PM

its primary function is to learn about different server applications.and how they work together for example it will probably have a mail server, 2 domain controllers,one of windows xp, vista, 7 and 8 rc. it will have an active directory. it will need to simulate a real working setup so i can gain experience. later on once ive learned it all ill turn it into a machine for my own business but thats it.
July 2, 2012 4:18:47 PM

the main reason why i would like to use vmware is its networking capabilities as it seems a bit more robust than hyper-v. as for a real server with sas .... costs :(  im trying to use my years of system building for something new and cheap.
July 2, 2012 5:06:02 PM

Bokran0 said:
the main reason why i would like to use vmware is its networking capabilities as it seems a bit more robust than hyper-v. as for a real server with sas .... costs :(  im trying to use my years of system building for something new and cheap.


The networking capabilities are the same for both Hyper-V and VMWare Workstation
July 2, 2012 6:42:09 PM

Pinhedd said:
The networking capabilities are the same for both Hyper-V and VMWare Workstation

You are correct.
July 2, 2012 8:48:39 PM

hmm if that is the case then why in your opinion was it suggested to me to use vm ware over hyper-v? is there a feature which sets them apart? as otherwise i shall use windows server 2008 r2 and run the same machines on that as im familiar with those.

BTW thank you all again for your help it is truly appreciated
July 2, 2012 8:58:18 PM

You mentioned VMware in your original post; therefore we presumed that you want a VMware solution. Depending on the cost, running Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V might make a lot of sense. I run VMware mainly because the original version of Hyper-V didn't support USB or a parallel port and I needed them for two of the VMs.
July 2, 2012 9:04:29 PM

Bokran0 said:
hmm if that is the case then why in your opinion was it suggested to me to use vm ware over hyper-v? is there a feature which sets them apart? as otherwise i shall use windows server 2008 r2 and run the same machines on that as im familiar with those.

BTW thank you all again for your help it is truly appreciated


Hyper-V is a Type-1 virtualization platform. This means that the hypervisor runs on the metal and all operating systems including the Server 2008 R2 parent partition used to control Hyper-V are virtualized. This can lead to some performance degradation in real time applications such as media playback and gaming. With that said, all of the virtualized partitions are heavily isolated from each other and can only communicate over a virtual network.

VMWare Workstation is... well... workstation oriented. It is a Type-2 virtualization platform which means that the hypervisor runs on the OS kernel rather than on the metal itself. This means that the host OS is not virtualized and does not suffer performance degradation in real time applications. It also means that virtual machines will not be available if the host partition halts. Recent versions of VMWare Workstation have introduced shared VMs and service-level VMs that can be made accessible even if the user running Workstation is not logged in; however these still require the host partition to be active.

The other big difference between the two is that VMWare Workstation employs both Paravirtualization, software virtualization, and hardware assisted virtualization. Which scheme is employed depends on the guest OS and the VM is tailored to it. Workstation also has a bunch of nice tools facilitating host-guest communication including a host-guest filesystem (shared folders), shared clipboard, integrated desktop (wicked, works well with GTK+ 2.x desktop environments), drag and drop, automatic resolution and even 3D rendering.

Hyper-V primarily uses hardware assisted virtualization. This means that Hyper-V need not know what guest OS is being installed as the same platform is used for them all. Guests are heavily isolated from the host and the management tools are clearly designed for a large network.
July 3, 2012 5:53:51 AM

What I built recently for somewhat similar reasons (high-performance desktop, image editing, video editing, and virtualization playground) was a Core i7-3930K X79 build.

Core i7-3930K
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU cooler (with LGA 2011 support)
Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard
16GB DDR3 1600MHz (4x4GB) (Patriot Viper Xtreme Division 4, but I would suggest that you find a model that doesn't require overclocking and 1.65v)

I already had 4 1tb Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm drives, and I used the onboard RAID features (fakeraid/softraid) to set up a RAID10 array.
I also already had a 750w PSU and an EVGA Nvidia GTX 470 graphics card/GPU. I bought an LG 14x Blu-Ray burner because all my DVD burners were IDE, and the new motherboard doesn't have any IDE support. I put everything in my old case, a Cooler Master Storm Scout mid-tower ATX case. Cable management was a bit challenging in this case, but I kept airflow pretty efficient, with the hard drives, GPU and CPU all in the path of decent airflow.

In the end, I have a Windows 7 Ultimate x64 system that runs as if it is daring me to come up with something that could convince it that it needs to take advantage of the turbo boost features. It boots my Ubuntu 12.04LTS desktop guest system off the vdi on the RAID10 array in 20 seconds flat using VirtualbBox. I am considering testing out VMWare Workstation and using it to really learn what I can about enterprise virtualization.

In any case, this system makes me think that I won't be needing to open my wallet again for another 3-4 years... or that I really need to come up with something amazing for it to be doing.
July 3, 2012 8:27:25 AM

N0BOX kinda has the idea I'm approaching my last x58 machine was a joy but I sold it due to the fact I didn't have much uses for so much power. God I miss that machine now, but what's done is done.

I want something that will run me 3-5 years without the need for a serious upgrade but can doe a lot of virtualisation and maybe gaming.

In regards to gaming, I may litterally have a seperate boot drive with windows 7 on it just for gaming, while its not practical its a bit of a ease until I'm stronger on vm ware/hyper-v
July 9, 2012 3:37:16 AM

Bokran0,

The thread has kind of died down so not sure if this is timely, but you mentioned the 3770K. The 3770K does not support Intel VT-x, and so would not be a good CPU choice for a virtualization machine. The plain old 3770, without the K on the end, does support virtualization technologies and would be a better choice.

I had a similar thread recently that might be worth checking out:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/352529-31-virtualization-1400

Tom
July 9, 2012 10:57:53 AM

TomBegins2012 said:
Bokran0,

The thread has kind of died down so not sure if this is timely, but you mentioned the 3770K. The 3770K does not support Intel VT-x, and so would not be a good CPU choice for a virtualization machine. The plain old 3770, without the K on the end, does support virtualization technologies and would be a better choice.

I had a similar thread recently that might be worth checking out:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/352529-31-virtualization-1400

Tom


The 3770K supports VT-x but not VT-d, the non-K supports both
July 9, 2012 11:25:10 AM

Thanks TomBegins2012 for your input i wish i had read your thread before i bought stuff :(  but i was like a kid in a candy store this week.

Here's what i have ordered:

16GB 2x8G Vengeance LP CML16GX3M2A1600C10
1 MS Win 7 Home Prem 64bit OEM
1 Intel Core i5 3450
1 GByte GA-Z68AP-D3 Motherboard
1 SH-S222BB/BEBE 22x DVD-RW

About £390 on the lot not including delivery.


The reason for the Windows 7 was i have 7 ultimate on the family PC (don't ask) and i am going to replace that with the home premium.
!