My Home Lab Expansion

I bought my first two ESXi whiteboxes at the beginning of 2009.  They were two intel Q6600 processors, 8GB of RAM and a 320GB laptop running openfiler.

A few weeks ago I bought two more hosts to add to my lab and have finally got them built and ESXi installed.  I chose to go with AMD processors this time since they were cheaper and was alright without having FT support (to my surprise they DO support FT!).  In addition I was also lucky enough to win an Iomega PX4-300d at VMWorld 2011.  It came with two 2TB 7200rpm drives.  Only two of the four slots are filled so I plan on getting one more 2TB drive and a SSD.

Here is a list of the gear I got:

2x Case ($89.99ea) – I spent a little more on the case than I needed to, you can get two cases of this same size for the price of one of mine –

2x Power Supply ($34.99ea) –

2x Motherboard ($79.99ea) – ASRock A75 PRO4-M FM1 –

2x AMD 2.6GHz Processor ($109.99ea) – AMD A6-3650 Llano 2.6GHz Socket FM1 –

8x 8GB RAM ($59.99ea) – CORSAIR XMS3 8GB 240-pin DDR3 –

2x Dual NICs ($9.99ea) – Intel PRO/1000 MT PCI-X Dual Port Server Adapter (MB only has PCI slots but these still work) – —- it’s ebay, so your price may vary!

Grand total for both hosts comes to $1129.82 (564.91ea) excluding shipping.

Total Cluster Resources:


Host Summary:


I chose to use my existing vCenter instance and bring them in under the same datacenter, but created a new cluster since the existing cluster has two Intel based hosts and these are AMD. You won’t see any hard drives listed above as I elected to use a couple of laptop 2.5” drives I had around the house. You will also notice that there are no additional NICs on this list. Right now I am just using the one onboard NIC, but plan on getting two dual port Intel E1000 NICs (about $30ea on amazon/ebay).

*UPDATE* 03/26/2012

I purchased two dual port E1000 NICs off of ebay for $9.99 a piece ($27 total w/shipping) and just installed them.  The NICs are recognized in my whiteboxes and functioning properly.  I’ve updated my item listing and total.

Comments 7

  1. hi

    do you have more information for your config.
    Can you do vt-d etc..

    i really like your setting and i am going to buy the same hardware.
    you probably the only one, who where able to make a cheap whitebox with FT.

    1. Post


      Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately this configuration does not support AMD-VI (AMD equivalent of vt-d). Other than that I haven’t noticed any other feature that isn’t supported. When I bought this I wasn’t expecting FT to work but I was pleasantly surprised.


  2. Hi, looks good, any reason you went with the “ASRock A75 PRO4-M FM1” mobo? are the other ASRock A75 motherboard versions also compatible with ESX5? Did you look at the A8 AMD processors?

    1. Post

      The board choice was a combination of processor support and the 32GB RAM support. I can’t speak to whether other boards are compatible, but I imagine they will be. I haven’t looked at the A8 chips at all, the one I got suited my needs. Although the A8 chip may support Directpath I/O, which is about the only thing not supported in my setup. If you go with the A8, I would be curious to know if Directpath I/O is supported.

  3. Can you show the link on ebay for NICs or seller name. I’m searching for Intel E1000 dual port network card, but can’t find something lower than 49$

    1. Post

      I’m not sure why there aren’t more listed on eBay. I only get 3-5 results now, and like you said the cheapest one is $44. When I purchased them 3 months ago there were a lot more, and cheaper ones. I will keep my eye out and let you know if I find more.

  4. Pingback: Server for virtualization?

Leave a Reply to jcoen Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *