Building a VMware ESXi Whitebox

As part of my day job I work a lot with virtualisation , the vast uptake in this in recent years has opened up wonders to IT infrastructures and as it advances it brings along new areas such as software defined networking and virtual SAN technologies.

At home I also work with the virtualisation to test various technologies and also gain more knowledge to help me in my job. Right now my home lab (if you will) consists entirely of Hyper-V running on Windows Server 2012 R2, and although I have used VMware in the past I have tended to stick to the Microsoft route mainly due to having TechNet licenses.

In my work environment however we are a VMware house and currently utilising vSphere 5.1 with vCenter and High Availability. Although I know enough of the environment to get by, an upcoming upgrade to vSphere 6.0 and the possibility of a VDI implementation had me feeling it was time to dig deeper into VMware’s offerings.

For this I set out to build an ESXi whitebox for a simple home lab. The main focus was to put together something that was powerful enough to run multiple heavy-ish virtual machines and at the same time stay quiet and low powered (No 2U rackmount jet servers thank you)

Originally I had planned on going with a Xeon E3-1230 V3 setup using one of the Supermicro mATX Mothetboards, however going with 32GB of DDR3 ECC memory was putting the overall cost up considerably, especially when I was sticking to a budget.

The components for the build are as follows:

  • Intel Core i7 4790 Haswell CPU
  • MSI Z97M-G43 mATX Motherboard
  • 2x16GB Corsair Vengeance Blue DDR3 1600MHz Dual Channel RAM
  • 120GB Kingston SSDNow V300 SATAIII SSD
  • 2x2TB Western Digital RE4 SATAIII HDDs (Re-certified)
  • Intel PRO/1000 PCI-E Gigabit Dual Port Server Network Adapter
  • LSI 9211-8i HBA RAID Controller (already owned)
  • Antec EarthWatts 380W 80 Plus Bronze Power Supply (already owned)
  • Silverstone Precision PS07B mATX Case

All parts purchased from with the exception of the network card and Hard Drives which I picked up from eBay at £24.00 and £99.00 respectively.

With everything due to arrive shortly I will update this post with pictures of the build progress 🙂


One Reply to “Building a VMware ESXi Whitebox”

  1. Hi,

    do you have any experience with the power consumption of your whitebox server?


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