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….