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Hardware Selection for Dedicated Virtual Host


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I would like some feedback on some hardware sizing/selection for a dedicated virtual host. My goal is to build a server which will probably run Hyper-V Server 2012 and host as many concurrent vms as possible (preferrably in the range of 20 to 30). I will probably end up with 10 - 12 server vms and the remainder clients. They will likely all be windows based. This will mostly be used for self-study, testing, experimentation, etc. There will be at least one SQL Server, and there will definitely be some servers used for image/patch/software deployments, etc. The vast majority of the traffic will be between vms. I will be providing some file storage/etc to other enternal/physical computers. But this is mostly meant for me to keep up the skills that keep me employed, not to be a media server, gaming rig, personal backup server, etc... My budget is about $2000. My assumptions (not withstanding capacity) are that the bottlenecks will be storage, then processor and then memory. So with that in mind I'm allocating most of my budget to storage, then to processing, then memory etc... I dont care about graphics, I'll just use the onboard graphics and I am not counting peripherals, (keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc) or software. Here is what I was thinking.



Price x Qty = Subtotal


Intel 335 Series SSD, 240GB, 2.5in 6Gb/s SATA, 20nm, MLC - VM Drives

$ 195.00 x 4 = $ 780.00


Intel 330 Series SSD, 60GB, 2.5in 6Gb/s SATA, 25nm, MLC - Boot Drive

$ 75.00 x 1 = $ 75.00


Seagate Barracuda HDD, 2TB, 3.5in, 6Gb/s SATA, 7200 RPM - Data/Storage Drives

$ 110.00 x 2 = $ 220.00


LSI 9211-8i Internal 6Gb/s SATA/SAS RAID Controller Card

$ 258.00 x 1 = $ 258.00


Intel DQ77MK LGA1155, Micro ATX, Desktop Motherboard

$ 150.00 x 1 = $ 150.00


Intel Core i7-3770 3.4-3.9GHz, Quad-Core, Hyperthreaded Processor

$ 290.00 x 1 = $ 290.00


Crucial Ballistix Sport 32GB (4 x 8GB), DDR3 1600, 9-9-9-24, Memory

$ 170.00 x 1 = $ 170.00


Any Generic Case with at least 8 Drive Bays (Internal and External)

$ 30.00 x 1 = $ 30.00


Corsair Builder Series CX600, 600W, 80 Plus Bronze, Active PFC PSU

$ 60.00 x 1 = $ 60.00


Misc, SFF-8087 SATA Breakout Cables, etc

$ 50.00 x 1 = $ 50.00



$ 2,083.00


Please keep in mind that my intent is to make this server as quick, easy and inexpensive as possible to put together and start using. I'm not interested in spending a lot of time trying to tweak things and get things to work. I don't want to overclock anything or purchase any components that are likely to cause unexpected locks/crashes/etc that I would need to troubleshoot. The main thing I want to know is will this configuration keep the resource utilization pretty balanced? I know that is probably impossible to determine without actually monitoring how they end up used. But does it seem like one subsystem is likely to be a bottle neck before others? i.e. will I hit a CPU or RAM limitation WAY before I hit a storage limitation? If so, perhaps I should spend less on storage and more on other components?




Edited by RDBenfield
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  • ikon


  • Joe_Miner


  • schoondoggy


  • RDBenfield


Welcome to the forums.


You've got a pretty ambitious project in mind. I'm glad you've spec'd 32GB of RAM, especially with a SQL Server VM in mind. Still, 32 GB for 20 VM's is a bit tight I think. A lot depends on how many VM's you plan to have running at the same time on a regular basis. I also wonder if a Xeon CPU would be a better bet for this project (granted, it and the mobo would cost more).


I think you might gain some economies by reducing the number of SSDs and going for speedy HDDs.


BTW, what is the max RAM capacity of the board you spec'd?


I look forward to reading jmwills', pcdoc's, and no-control's views on this.

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20-30 is a lot of VMs per server if they are enterprise apps, 10-12 is still a healthy load for a single server depending on what the VM's are doing.

Where will this server be located? Is noise a concern? Have you considered jumping to a real server from a OEM?

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Guest no-control

Your priorities are backwards...allocate for RAM first, then storage I/O, then processor and board. Hard to comment on what you've selected as it doesn't make sense to me. You have a beefy RAID controller and only 2 HDDs? You also have a 60GB & 240GB SDDs The 60 I assume is for the host OS but what is the single 240 supposed to do? Its too big for the VMs and too small for the VHDs so???


Your blueprint for a simple home VM server is here. But if you want to make full use of your budget I would change things....a lot of things. Here's How I would blow your $2k based on the uses you specified:


CPU - Intel XEON E5-2603

Mobo - Supermicro X9SRI-F

Ram - 2x Kingston KVR1333D3N9K4/32G

PSU - Seasonic x650

Case - NZXT Source 220



Fans - 2x NZXT FN-120

$1787.89 + tax and shipping <-Newegg


Quad core CPU with 64GB RAM, 2TB of VM/VHD space (WDVRs via SATAIII stripe) and 2TB of OS/ B/U space (WD CB via SATAII) If you need more VM space then add another 1TB 10k drive but it will put you just over $2k

Edited by no-control
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You have a beefy RAID controller and only 2 HDDs? You also have a 60GB & 240GB SDDs The 60 I assume is for the host OS but what is the single 240 supposed to do? Its too big for the VMs and too small for the VHDs so???


He has 240GB SSD x 4 so my thoughts were that he was going to RAID the 240GB SSDs for the VM disk. How would RAID'ing those 4 compare to a 1TB 10k drive?

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Hi ikon,


Thanks very much. Yes, it is a bit ambitious, but I am hopeful. 32GB might seem like a lot, but these aren't all application servers. Some of them will just be infrastructure servers, Also half or more of them will be client VMs (Win XP, Win 7). Most of the VMs should be ok with 1GB of RAM, The sole exception is probably the SQL server. I plan to run most of them at the same time. I'd love to run one (or two) Xeons, but honestly the only reason I think that would make sense would be if I can go from quad cores to hex or octal and doing that or doing dual - quad cores seems MUCH more expensive.


I have been thinking about it as the evening wore on and I think it may make more sense for me to prioritize which VMs go on SSDs rather than just putting them all on VMs, but I will have some that will absolutely benefit enough from the SSD to justify it.


That motherboard maxes out at 32GB. In order to bump it up to 64, I'd probably need to switch to an X79 chipset board, which has some pro's and con's.


Thanks again


Hi schoondoggy,


They aren't all app servers. Some of the servers will be infrastucture servers and many of them will be client operating systems. This server will be at my apartment, probably in a closet in the livingroom. Noise is not much of a concern. I'd love to get a real server, but I just can't seem to get near the bang for the buck from them that I can from building myself. I'm not timid, I've built plenty of personal systems.


Thanks again

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Hi no-control,


Thanks for the feedback. As far as the RAID controller, I actually have 2 HDDs and 5 SSDs (1x60GB and 4x240GB). Yes the 60GB (may be too large) would just be for the host OS. The 4 x 240GB (960GB Total) would be for VM guest OS's and the mechanical drives would be for data/storage.


Thanks for the link. I'll take a look at that. Also thanks for the specs. I'll look over these more closely. Out of curiosity, would the Xeon really be worth the extra cost? I'd be going from a quad core with hyperthreading at 3.4-3.9 GHz to a quad core without hyperthreading at 1.8 GHz. I know there are a lot of other differences (L2 cache, memory bandwidth, etc). But I'm not sure they are enough to justify the added cost. I could get an X79 motherboard for the Core i7 that supports 64GB, if the memory was the main advantage.


Thanks again


Hi nlitend1,


I do not have a lot of experience with to say for sure, but in what experience I do have, a single SSD outperforms 2 x 10K HDDs striped and by a good margin depending on what you are doing.



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