Virtualization Home Lab: Setting up VMware ESXi on the Gigabyte Brix

2013-09-23 00:27: Added information about ESXi 5.5 not including RTL8111E support
2013-09-23 22:23: Added a link to installing ESXi 5.5 with RTL8111E support

In my last post, I covered my journey of finding a small, quiet, low-power virtualisation lab computer that can run nested virtualisation.

The final system

To summarise, here’s the system I ended up with, after much consideration:

  • Gigabyte Brix, Core i5 barebones kit (GB-XM11-3337) [Buy in the UK]
  • 16GB (2x8GB) SO-DIMM Crucial RAM
  • Plextor M5M 256GB SSD [Buy in the UK]

brix vs xbox controller

Virtualization Home Lab: Choosing a suitable computer (quiet, low power with nested virtualization support)

Recently, after about 2 years away, I’ve started to get back into Virtualisation. As part of that, like any true geek, I wanted to build a Home Lab.

I had some criteria for the homelab computer:

  1. Must be quiet
  2. Should be power-efficient/low power. Energy in the UK is expensive!
  3. CPU must support Intel VT-x with EPT, and VT-d virtualisation technologies
  4. Under £600 (roughly $1,000)
  5. System must be powerful enough to run nested hypervisors (enough RAM, CPU and Storage capacities)
  6. Minimal self-build. I don’t have the inclination to build a white-box solution. If you do, check out Chris Wahl’s awesome resources.

And some nice-to-haves:

  1. Compact physical footprint
  2. Preferably run VMware ESXi without any installer ISO hacks or driver mods
  3. It should have enough Storage capacity to host AutoLab and some Hyper-V instances, too.