I analyzed in a previous article which alternatives are available while designing our own home lab for VMware, and I ended up choosing the WhiteBox way. In the following weeks I looked through the products on the market, in order to find my own solution. I need to say thanks to my friend Luca Roman, co-owner of runstore.it, who helped me in choosing, searching and assembling the components.
The main component to be choosen is the motherboard/cpu combination. There is no motherboard that can host every cpu, and some choices of one of the two components influences the other.
– 6 cores in a single socket allows a good vCPU/pCPU ratio at a fair price if compared to Intel; using whiteboxes, dual socket motherboards are too expensive, so a single proessor should be plenty of cores
– low power consumption: 95w vs Intel i7 Extreme Edition 6-core at 130w
– availability of AMD Cool’n’Quiet, nice for having low noise when running at home
The CPU choice was obviously temporary, since I needed to have a good motherboard for using this cpu. After some searches I picked a AS-Rock 970 Extreme4. These are the reasons:
– obviously the FX-6100 cpu is supported, but it also supports bigger CPUs. So in the future I will be able to install some of them (maybe with even more cores)
– it has 4 ram slots. Even if now it has 4gb module on each slot, it can reach 32 Gb of RAM when 8 Gb modules will become cheaper…
– It allows the use of IOMMU. This means I can use VMDirectPath on ESXi
– it has several PCI-E connectors, good for installing addon cards
I installed the memory modules, and a 1Gb usb key I already had to install and run ESXi 5. I did not install any HDD to lower costs and also power consumtion.
Networking: since I would like to have a realistic production environment, I installed on my WhiteBox a Intel Pro1000 VT quad port gigabit ethernet, as you can see in the picture before the installation.
Together with the onboard nic (Realtek 8168 gigabit) identified by ESXi 5.0, I will have a total of 5 network uplinks to test teaming, failover, and manage storage network for iSCSI and NFS.
Finally, the price: the grand total was 449 EURO.