My company was getting rid of a large number of HP 7800p small form factor PC’s for $100 each. Googled around and discovered that the mobo on the machine could take upto 8GB RAM, did the math and the total price came up to about $400, bit the bullet and bought one.
Here’s what I am using to lab my way through to the VCP 5 certification.
Processor: Intel E6550 dual-core at 2.33Ghz.
RAM: 8GB DDR2
HDD: 2 x 2TB Western Digital
Not the fastest machine by any stretch of imagination, but does the job. I didnt have the money to drop on an i7 machine with tons of RAM so went the affordable option. I might be able to snare a DL380 G5 server with ESX specs (you know with lots of RAM, dual-Xeon, all that jazz), but that remains to be seen.
I didnt have the option to enable VT-x in the BIOS of the machine, which I figured needed a BIOS update to fix. So after a BIOS update, I got the option to enable VT-x, which I did and the machine was ready. So if you cant find VT-x in your BIOS, do a BIOS update and that should do the trick, provided your processor supports it. Research before you buy!! Any processor above an Intel E6500 supports virtualization, but it wouldn’t hurt to check on their website.
Here’s my ESXi setup. I have two nested ESXi servers running inside ESXi 5. Apparently this wasn’t possible before this iteration of ESXi, I guess it makes sense for VMware to support their own OS as the guest OS. But running nested ESXi wasn’t painless. After days of wallowing around, I came across this post: http://communities.vmware.com/thread/330152 . A few minutes later I had 2 nested ESXi VM’s running!