Building a Consumer Grade ESXi Server with ASRock Z87M Pro4, Intel i7, Corsair Non-ECC RAM

Here is my consumer grade Haswell ESXi server. It’s consumer grade as I am not using traditional server components such as ECC RAM, Intel Xeon processor or a server motherboard. Let me break down the components and why I chose them.

Case + PSU

I picked the “Temjin series” TJ08E Black mATX Case from SilverStone. First and foremost, I wanted a mATX case that wasn’t too tall but capable of supporting a minimum of 4 3.5″ HDDs. The second reason was that the TJ08E has a 180mm fan in front of the 3.5″ HDD cage and comes with an easily removable dust filter. A tip with this case, install the PSU first, it’s a royal pain trying to install after the motherboard. For the PSU, I selected a 450W “Antec” Neo-Eco PSU for no particular reason other than having the necessary number of SATA power plugs and being certified as Haswell ready.

TJ08E Specs, image courtesy of SilverStone
TJ08E Specs (image source: SilverStone)

Motherboard

Next on my list was a consumer grade motherboard which was mATX and supported VT-d for ESXi as I need to do some hardware passthrough for one of my VMs. Not a lot of VT-d information is available with the new Z87 series range of ASRock motherboards but if they are anything like the Z77 series, it shouldn’t be an issue. So, I selected the ASRock Z87M Pro4 board for this little project.

Note: The onboard nic was not supported by ESXi 5.1 at time of writing.

ASRock Z87M Pro4 (image source ASRock website)
ASRock Z87M Pro4 (image source ASRock )

Processor

I was originally going to get the Xeon 1245v3 but it’s not available yet and I don’t really need ECC support for this machine. So, keeping in tune with a consumer build, I went with the i7-4770. This gives me similar performance but without ECC support or the wait until released.

Intel Core i7 (image source: Intel)
Intel Core i7 (image source: Intel)

RAM

As this was going to be an ESXi server, I wanted as much ram as I could get. My supplier only had Corsair so I grabbed the  Corsair 32GB (4x8GB) DDR3 1600MHz CL9 (9-9-9-24) DOMINATOR® PLATINUM memory kit as they were listed on the ASRock site as being supported by the motherboard. It’s been a while since I’ve had to buy PC memory but these modules look pretty damn good.

Corsair Dominator® Platinum (image source: Corsair)
Corsair Dominator® Platinum (image source: Corsair)

As for the other components, I’ll be bringing the P410-512 RAID card and 4 x 2TB HDDs over from the HP Microserver. A quad port gigabit NIC is on the way. The core of this box has already been assembled and currently undergoing RAM stress testing. I’ll install the NIC when it arrives, and the rest of the gear will transfer as soon as I get a SFF8087 mini SAS to SATA breakout cable for the P410 RAID card.

Post Author: Noeneel Sharma

Australian born tech expert, Noeneel, is the founder of the GeekLingo. He has over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology (IT) world. As an Information Technologist, he has a Bachelor in Information Technology, MBA and a Master of Business Process Management. He has professional working experience working across reputable industries including telecommunication, legal, accounting, banking, and most recently electricity. He spends most of his time with his gadgets as he enjoys photography, researching and runs the popular aquatic forum SKF Aquatics. Connect with Noeneel on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

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