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HP N54L ESXi 5.1 build


zen_
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Just put an offer on one after missing the great deal newegg had last week, and I have a few questions about adapter cards and memory for my particular VM needs.

 

Basically, for sure I want to run a pfSense and NAS distro on this box, plus any project VMs and whatever else down the road. So I will need a compatible dual port NIC and RAID card,

 

-Intel Pro/1000 PT dual gbit NIC (~$20-25)

-HP P410 SAS RAID contoller (~$80-100)

-3x 3TB disk in RAID 5 on RAID controller + 250GB included disk on integrated controller

-HighPoint mini-SAS to 4x SATA cable

-1x8GB or 2x4 GB unbuffered ECC memory (I've heaed 8GB and 16GB as max, not sure here)

 

Does this sound about right?

Edited by zen_
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If you are planning to run ESXi, make sure the hardware is compatible, particularly the RAID Card.

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^^ What he said. A number of forum members have had less than ideal experiences because of ESXi incompatibilities.

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As far as I know, you will not be able to use a dual port NIC and a RAID card at the same time. The MicroServer has a x16 and a x1 PCI-e slots. RAID and dual port NICs are x4 and higher. To run RAID 5 on a P410 you will need to have a memory module installed on it. 8GB, 2 x 4GB, is the maximum memory supported by HP testing. 

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I did find this 2-port gigabit x1 NIC: http://ca.startech.com/Networking-IO/Adapter-Cards/Low-Profile-Dual-Port-Gigabit-Network-Server-Adapter-NIC-Card-2-Port~ST1000SPEXD2

 

No idea how good it is (or isn't), but at least it does exist.

It does not show in the VMware compatibility guide.

Also the card does not mention if it is PCI-e version 1 or 2. If it is version 1 as I assume it is. It would not have the bandwidth for two 1 Gb ports.

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Good catch, I didn't even notice that the single port Pro/1000 NICs are 1x while the duals are 4x. I could use the integrated NIC and a single port add-in card, but that would be less ideal.

 

Basically I am trying to decide between the HP micro server or an entire whitebox built around a desktop CPU or used server class hardware.

Edited by zen_
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The MicroServer has a lot to offer for under $300, but it is what it is.

From what you have listed above, I think you may need more cpu, memory and ports than what a Microserver can give you.

Also with PFsense, I like to have several Ethernet ports,Wan, Lan1, Lan2, DMZ.

If you want to stay OEM, I have had great luck with HP ML110 G6 for a VMware server. They are reasonable on eBay.

Go over and search the BYOB section on this site. There are lots of builds listed that are running VMware.

I think a i3 or i5 would give you the speed you need, with 16GB of memory.

If you go BYOB, just be sure to check the guide;

http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php

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It does not show in the VMware compatibility guide.

Also the card does not mention if it is PCI-e version 1 or 2. If it is version 1 as I assume it is. It would not have the bandwidth for two 1 Gb ports.

 

Yeah, not being in the guide is not good. However, I suspect it's more likely that the card is PCIe 2, since it's a new replacement for an older card. Kind of a moot point since it's not listed as compatible.

 

Basically I am trying to decide between the HP micro server or an entire whitebox built around a desktop CPU or used server class hardware.

 

I'm with schoondoggy on this one. A MicroServer makes a great home server or a great gateway router, but I think trying to get it do both is pushing it.

 

These are great boxes to goof around with, and people have done some pretty amazing things with them, but that's experimentation. I don't recommend using those rigs for production. Just my 2 cents.

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Thanks guys. I have an extra ECS AM2+ board with an Athlon II X2 250 and 4GB of memory, so today I went out and bought a cheap case / PSU combo and threw that together. Unfortunately ESXi will not even finish installing without a valid NIC configured, so ordered two compatible Pro/1000 MT NICs to at least (hopefully) get a functional pfSense VM + 1 other basic VM going in a testing and learning environment. Probably better to spend under $100 on a test machine than go in $600+ on something that may or may not be suitable. 

 

Still on the fence about what to do with my long term need for NAS and a media server, whether a low end dedicated server on something like the HP micro box, or more simple 4 bay QNAP / Synology device is the way to go. 

Edited by zen_
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