IT Blog

Building Cheap Virtual Test Environment PART1: Choosing hardware

by on Nov.17, 2008, under Virtualization

I’ve deicided that it is time for me to build my own testing environment at home. I’ve been playing around with Vmware server and MS Virtual server for a while and they work OK to some extent. With Vmware I had 2 VM running with server os, but the speed of the whole system was quite slow as the hard drive LED was constantly on. To make thing better I’ve bought external USB drive and was creating VMs on it and that improved performance a lot, but then if I tried to create a VM with DB on it then things were getting slow again.
So after VMware made ESXi free I was thinking of getting my own server that I could use as a virtual testing lab :)
I was not willing to splash thousands of Euro fot the system so initially I wanted to build my system myself out of separate components. But after spending some time googling arround and reading about ESXi I’ve found that ESXi has limited hardware support and that is why I’ve decided to go for HP ML110 G5 or ML115 G5 server.
The next step was to find who is selling them in Ireland. The cheapest I could get was arround 400 Euro for ML110 G5 with 250GB SATA drive and 512MB of RAM. Well this is no exactly the best config for Virtual Environment.
After cheking Ebay I’ve found that I can get the same server with more RAM and shipping for 300Euro so I went for it. The box arrived 2 day later.
The first thin I needed is to beef it up so I’ve ordered 8GB of RAM(this is the max it can take) and two 500GB SATA drives. This costed me another 230Euro with shipping. The RAM I’ve ordered was not ECC but it works fine I had to remove the original 1GB of RAM that came with server as it would not work with the new one.

So the whole system costed me 530Euro pretty good isn’t it?
Here is the config:

  • Processor:
    • Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® processors 3065
  • Memory:
    • 8 GB PC6400 DDR2
  • Storage Controller:
    • SATA Models: Integrated 6 ports SATA controller with embedded RAID (4 ports available for Hard Disks)
  • Internal Drives
      • 1x250GB SATA drive
      • 2x500GB SATA drives
  • Network Controller:
    • Embedded NC105i PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Server Adapter
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