Your thoughts on setting up a vmware Esxi 5.1 U2 server

i have a customer with 2 servers one is old at least 7 years and the other is 5 years old. The Main DC Servers Roles are DNS, DHCP, AD, Printing, and File Server. The customer doesn't use a lot of space (less then 300GB of data). The Secondary DC's Roles are Print, DHCP, and DNS.
Main Server Specs are
Chassis - Intel SC5299BRP
Mobo - Intel S3420GP(LC)
PSU - Dual 610W
CPU - Intel® Xeon® Processor X3430 (8M Cache, 2.40 GHz)
RAM - 12GB
RAID - Intel SRCSATAWB
HotSwap Cage - 6 Drive Hotswap Cage
HDDs - 6 - 500GB SATA Enterprise 7200 RPM Seagate Constellation ES ST3500514NS FW SN11
Bios and Firmwares are at the latest as of today.

Secondary server specs are just basic server that i will leave as a backup DC.

I would like to reuse the Intel Server since its in good shape and i have spare parts for it. I would like to setup Esxi 5.1 Update 2 since that is what is in the compatibility list. I did install 5.5 Update 2 and tested it with 2 VMs and it seemed to work fine in a test environment but i dont think i should do that in a production env. What are your thoughts would you go with esxi or just a standard windows server 2008 install?
noclavAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)Connect With a Mentor VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If you are using the FREE version of ESXi, it does not really matter whether supported or not on on the HCL, because you have no support!

You will have to assess the RISK to the Business of using an un-supported server for ESXi.

A handful of components does not make a Certified server on the HCL.

VMware Support will find it difficult to support you, and will refer you to Vendor, if you ever have a stability issue with the OS, because they do not have a verified certified server, you have a handful of bits.

I've been involved with ESX/ESXi for 16 years or more, and most of the hardware issues we have personally seen,  like with storage controllers, motheboards, network interfaces, are down to unbranded WhiteBox Servers, these have a place for Labs and Test Gear, but not for production - in our opinion!

4/5 years here on EE Answering Questions, this topic comes up from time to time, and the issues observed with PSOD (purple screen of death) comes down to storage controller, firmware, bios, motherboards, and in the end, the Asker, has had no choice but change the hardware, despite many hours, discussing "the motherboard is compatible with ESXi, because the vendor says so".

This is what we have observed from experience.

Microsoft Windows Server, if drivers are available is a better "supported" environment.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
To be honest, we would not use *ANY* hardware for ESXi in PRODUCTION for a Client, if the hardware was not on the HCL.

So with my current spec, which is not on any list, I would not have though it matters....whether it's 5.0, 5.1 or 5.5.

For new installs, I would often recommend going with the very latest 5.5 U2(x) on certified hardware.

So, Windows OS.....2008 or 2012 R2....with Hyper-V as this has support for most.
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noclavAuthor Commented:
Hi Andrew
The Mobo is on the compatibility list.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
But the server is not.

Components do not make a certified Server use Hyper-V.

Are you using a free version ESXi.
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noclavAuthor Commented:
i was going to use the free version of ESXI 5.1 as for the HCL i see the mobo, raid card on the list. I dont see the cpu but if the mobo is on there i would assume the cpu is compatible. Is it because the case is not on the HCL that is why your saying its not compatible.
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noclavAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the clarification. I was hoping you were going to respond to my issue cause from what i read you are the expert. I trust your knowledge so i will ditch the vmware :( and go with Hyper -V 2008 since that is supported on this. From your experience can you recommend any good servers that you use in production that are compatible with Esx 5.5 as i will needing to propose a quote to the customer. I usually use Intel or lenovo servers but I am new to vmware so i rather get a recommendation from someone who deals with this daily.

Thanks again for your input.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Sorry to be blunt, and honest, but I've seen too many "heated discussions" on the comparability of bits, because ESXi, is built on a small footprint! I'd rather you have the full facts at hand, to make a qualified decision!

The HCL is the Bible.....anything on the HCL is compatible, do not purchase or quote, if it's not on the HCL.

Check the VMware Hardware Compatability Lists HCL here

The VMware Hardware Compatibility List is the detailed lists showing actual vendor devices that are either physically tested or are similar to the devices tested by VMware or VMware partners. Items on the list are tested with VMware products and are known to operate correctly.Devices which are not on the list may function, but will not be supported by VMware.

http://www.vmware.com/go/hcl

AND, also get a statement from the vendor, in an email, it's compatible with ESXi 5.5 U2 etc as added insurance, should you need to claim!

To be honest, we are a HP, shifting to Dell shop, IBM (Lenovo), Fujitsu...

If you have a particular model, in mind, ping it by me, and I'll check...and advise!
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