VMWare ESXi - Least Expensive hardware to run

Hi, I'd like to build a system (rather than purchase pre-built) whose main purpose would be to install ESXi to host a few desktops. I have reviewed the HCL list but this seems limited to more expensive server systems and hardware. In particular I'd like to be able to run off of a normal SATA drive rather than SAS or SCSI. Is this possible? Reasonably easy to do? This isn't a production system, I will use it personally in lab so I was looking for ways to save a little $$ and still use ESXi. Does anyone have a similar setup and would like to explain their experience?

Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
I am using a HP DL320 G5 with a dual core 2.4 CPU.  Ebay cost was $400 and an upgrade to two 300GB SATA Drives and memory to about $600.

You can always look at this site for a whitebox config.


The following link lists all motherboards and unsupported servers that work with ESX 3.5 and / or ESXi 3.5 Installable: http://www.vm-help.com/esx/esx3.5/Whiteboxes_SATA_Controllers_for_ESX_3.5_3i.htm

Here's another tip: Boot ESXi via USB - http://www.vm-help.com/esx/esx3i/Boot%203i%20from%20USB%20flash%20drive.html

Let me know if you need additional instructions with the setup. It's fairly straight forward.


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Tried ESXi on garbage collection (Single Celeron on ICH7, 3GB RAM, 5x SATA 250GB) with  spare LSI. Uptime some 2,5 months.
Determine the Perfect Price for Your IT Services

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden with our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Download your free eBook now!

I've tried this on two laptops with SATA drives. I get "Unable to find a supported device to write VMWARE server..."
Just tried it on HP Proliant ML330. It won't boot the CD. I get "isolinux: Disk error F3"
All seem to be related to disk. Any ideas?
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Try to download and reburn the ISO.  I've had it fail on me before
goldylamontAuthor Commented:
i will try out the USB booting option at some point however it looks like I will need iSCSI storage; I have SATA which is the problem. thanks for sharing your experiences though.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.