Windows Server 8 Beta is released, if you are looking to build a low cost, Low power PC which can server as 24×7 W7 HTPC as well as Windows Server 8 Hyper-V (Beta) or ESXi5 Hypervisor than this is what to start with…

I have got lots of questions about the test lab setup, where DBA’s can try and test various scenarios to try out SQL Server 2012, I am sharing my setup which has been tested for Windows Server 8 & ESXi5 Hypervisor, low cost and lowest power 24×7 running….

Key considerations & Features:

  • All key components are highly power efficient
  • Low power consumption in idle mode 20 Watt
  • Max 45 Watt power consumption in full load
  • Supports Windows 7 HTPC (Play Blu-Ray/WMC/Netflix with ease)
  • Supports Windows Server 8 (Beta)
  • Supports ESXi5 Hypervisor
  • This desktop supports booting ESXi5 from USB (No Need for hard disk)
  • This desktop supports booting Windows Server 8 Hyper-V server from VHD’s
  • Supports 4 VM’s with low load (fine for test VM’s)
  • **This configuration does not support windows 2008/R2, network driver not supported (hack and made it work can do though Hyper-V will not be stable)
  • **Supports Windows to GO (New Windows 8 Feature booting windows from USB), though its very slow as this motherboard supports USB 2.0 only

In an ideal combination you can have this box running windows 7 HTPC as default and boot to windows 8 Hyper-V or ESXi5 for testing as and when needed, or can be run exclusively for any of these systems…

Component Price
Antec Mini ITX Case ISK300-65 Watt Adaptor This is one of the smallest case for Mini ITX motherboards and have external power adaptor of 65 Watts, supports one thin external drive as well $71.74
Corsair Vengeance Low Profile 8 GB CML8GX3M2A1600C9 Low height RAM 2 modules each 4 GB $49.99
Foxconn Intel H67 Mini ITX H67S-B3 Lowest power consuming H67 ITX motherboard (Very stable for this setup) Didn’t want more features as they consume additional power, No USB3 or Data 6GB $59.99
Core I3-2120T (Low power 35 watts CPU) $128.00
Hard Disk (use any available) use notebook hard drive for low power consumption, I had one available thus used. Not Included
Total Cost $309.72


Caution: Don’t expect this box to run full power 3-4 VM’s, test low performing VM’s will do just fine

My Usage:

  • I usually have 10+ VM’s configured with diff versions of windows and start only the ones I am testing to get best performance
  • Runs ESXi-5 Hypervisor from USB stick
  • Run Windows Server 8 Beta from VHD
  • Run 24×7 with 20Watt idle power consumption

Next Article will talk about configuring Windows Server 8 Hyper-V (Beta) running from VHDx (new Windows 8 Hyper-V format) to test SQL Server 2012…

Look forward to hear your Thoughts/Questions/Suggestions….

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About Prakash

Prakash Heda works as Manager (Database Team) at SS&C Advent Software. His expertise includes Automation, Performance Tuning/Troubleshooting, high availability, SAN configuration and windows administration. He has 13+ years of experience managing enterprise-wide data needs in both high volume transactional and data warehouse environments. Prakash holds certifications for MCDBA and MCITP. His background includes administration & development using VB/ASP/SSIS using SQL Server 2000 to 2016. He is an active member of PASS, SQL Saturday. He’s a frequent presenter at user groups, SQL Saturdays, and other community events. He is also an avid tweeter, blogger and runner.