Haswell low power whitebox for ESXi and Hyper-V

I was searching for a new whitebox for my home lab.  I had the following requirements for the new whitebox:

  • Low power consumption for 24×7 running
  • >16 GB memory
  • Expansion slots for PCI(-E) cards
  • Good performance
  • Low noise

A couple of weeks ago Intel released the new 4th generation Haswell CPUs that consumes less power. Seems to be interesting option for building a low power consumption whitebox. So I did some research and ordered the following hardware components:

CPUi5 4570S Boxedfoto-7_thumb1
MotherboardGigabyte GA-Z87-D3HP
MemoryCorsair Vengeance 4 x 8 GB DDR3 PC3-12800 (DDR3-1600) 32GB
Power SupplySeasonic G-360 80 Plus Gold

The following components I reused:

  • The case
  • 2 Intel PCI-e NICS
  • A SSD drive

CPU

Haswell is the codename for the 4th generation Intel Core processors. One of the big improvements of the Haswell CPUs is the idle power consumption. The Intel S-version is also a low-power CPU.  It contains 4 cores and has a 65W TDP. The processor supports vPro, VT-x, VT-d, EPT etc.   A CPU cooler is in the box included. For the full specifications look here.

Motherboard

The Gigabyte GA-Z87-D3HP is a socket 1150 motherboard. The board has  4 memory sockets that support  DDR3 memory up to 32 GB.  It has onboard graphics , 6 x SATA 6 Gb/s connectors, a Intel WG-217v LAN adapter and the following expansion slots:

  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4
  • 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
  • 2 x PCI slots

Memory

For the memory I choose the Corsair Vengeance CML32GX3M4A1600C10 4 x 8  PC3-12800 (DDR3-1600) CL10 kit. All the four memory sockets on the board are filled with a 8 GB module (total = 32 GB memory).

Power Supply

The Seasonic G-360 power supply has a 80 Plus Gold certification. This is a great power supply with high efficiency and low noise..

 

Hypervisor support

I tested VMware ESXi 5.1 Update 1 and vSphere 5.5 and Microsoft Windows Server 2012 with the Hyper-V role installed.

VMware ESXi

The onboard Intel I217-V NIC is not recognized  by ESXi 5.1 Update 1. To get the I217-V NIC working in ESXi5.x read the blog post found here. I reused 2  Intel PCI-e NICs, one for LAN and the other for iSCSI and NFS traffic. The onboard SATA controller  (Lynx Point AHCI) is recognized. I use an existing SSD for booting ESXi and running some important VMs. But is is possible to boot ESXi from USB stick. The other VMs are on NAS device. Passthrough is supported by the CPU and motherboard.

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Microsoft Windows Server 2012 with the Hyper-V role

I tested Windows Server 2012 with the Hyper-V role enabled. The The onboard Intel I217-V NIC is not recognized by default. In the “Enable the Intel I217-V NIC in Windows Server 2012” blog post I explain how to enable the I217-V NIC Windows Server 2012.

 

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Power consumption

The whitebox consumes a maximum between 40-50 W. When idle (and that is often) it consumes only 28 a 29 W!

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The whitebox components cost about €615. and will be used for running VMs 24×7.  The whitebox meets all the requirements I had.

4 thoughts on “Haswell low power whitebox for ESXi and Hyper-V

  1. I built a beefy box with an AMD FX-8320 (8 Core). It’s not low power consumption like your’s but I needed something that can run quite a bit (10+ VM’s). Building another whitebox here shortly to do vMotion and more. I think I built mine with 32GB RAM, 4 port NIC and running ESXi 5.1 off a USB for like $700 US.

  2. Passthrough in ESXi is not available for your “Lynx Point AHCI” controller.

    Which is a bit of a pity, you need a seperate card for this.

  3. What do You think about this build?

    CPU i5 4570
    MOBO GigaByte GA-Z87M-D3H
    Case. NOX NX-1 Evo
    PSU LC Power 550W 6550GP V2.2 120mm
    RAM 2 x Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3 1600 PC3-12800
    HDD 2 x Seagate 1TB Barracuda 7200rpm 64MB SATA 6.0Gb/s
    Cooler ARTIC COOLING FREEZER 7 PRO REV.2

    Thanks

  4. Hi,

    I’m using almost the same setup as you. Did you already manage to passthrough the SATA controller in esx to a VM.
    I want to run XPEnology (virtualization of synology) and passthrough my 2 x 2TB disks to it, so SMART features are available..
    Using RDM is possible but no SMART..

    Maybe I will have to buy an extra controller do achieve this. But has to be one supported by esxi 5.1 U1 and XPEnology..

    Grtz,
    Kenny

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