VMWare ESXi 5 Whitebox

I have 2 old computers (Pentium III and Celeron computers circa early 2000’s) that I currently use as servers for file storage, backups, and testing.  I thought it was about time to consolidate these servers I had, up the performance, and set up a flexible test environment for my coding endeavours.

VMWare’s free ESXi hypervisor piqued my interests earlier last year.  It’s comparable to XenServer but apparently has better support for Windows virtual machines.  Being a bare-metal hypervisor, it should give better performance than a usual virtual machine sitting on top of a full-blown operating system.  So I set my eyes on building an inexpensive but powerful ESXi whitebox that would take over the roles of my old computers.

I did a lot of research on ESXi and compatible components from various sites, blogs and forums.  I learned that ESXi was quite picky in what hardware it would run on.  I definitely wanted to buy the correct components that would work with ESXi 5, aiming to get everything under $500.

This is what I came up with (prices after price matching/rebates):

  • AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 6-Core 2.8GHz Processor @ $122.17
  • ASRock 990FX EXTREME3 Motherboard (ATX, AM3+, DDR3, SATA3) @ $156.60
  • Mushkin Enhanced Blackline Frostbyte PC3-12800 8GB 2x4GB Memory Kit @ $44.99
  • Gigabyte Radeon HD 5450 Low Profile Video Card @ $14.99
  • Coolermaster Elite 350 Black ATX Case with 500W PSU @ $49.69
  • Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB WD20EARS
  • Trendnet Gigabit Network Adapter TEG-PCITXR

This selection got me well within my $500 budget even after taxes.  The hard disk and network adapter were components I already had.

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