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Hardware Configuration

You certainly need a powerful computer, but I don't mean powerful in the sense of lightning speed and overclocking performance, I mean powerful in the concept of handling the virtualisation load. I just will describe here the workstation that I built myself which has proven to be very efficient; you may decide to tailor my specs to your own needs

My budget was:

  • £60 - 750W PSU
  • £80 - Server chassis from ebay
  • £140 - Intel DX79TO motherboard from dabs.com
  • £300 - Intel Xeon 2620 2.GHv from scan.co.uk
  • £200 - 64GG of DDR3 ram from scan.co.uk
  • £150 - WD 2TB from misco or dabs, avoid eBuyer!

That comes to a total of over £900, a decent holiday I know, but think of all the fun we're going to have virtualising!

 

1- Power Supply + Chasis case

The power supply unit (PSU) is often the most neglected part when you decide to build a computer, and yet the absolute critical component to operate it efficiently, specially once you start adding hard drives, graphics cards, etc. Space to add all the components should also be taken into consideration, and rest assure that what you are expeced to have now will duplicate tomorrow, blue ray drive for example? no, I don't need it, you might think (right, tell me about it in a few months), but better have the room for it just in case.

I got myself and old server box from ebay and a power supply unit from one of the IT shops in Tottenham Court Road, in London, a 850Watts JeTech.

 

2- Motherboard + CPU cooling

Oh yeah, I went for an intel DX79TO, solid piece of kit that only comes with 1built-in network card but that should be ok for us

Got myself as well a shinning Intel cooling CPU, see the pipes on the bottom-right corner of the picture ;-)

 

3- CPU + memory

It has to be a Xeon 2620 2.GHz. With 12 cores it provides all the goodies needed for virtualisation and much more, not given the hearts to play games perhaps but surely being rock solid at the time of delivering virtualisation workload

And for the memory, I admit I went a bit crazy and got 64 Gb of RAM for this mobo, covering its full capacity, cost me well over £200 but ey, no regrets whatsoever, at the end of the day I work a lot on my system and this is it, got it up and running now for months and not a single hang, BSOD or anything like it

 

4- Storage

I have a 128 SSD for my local C:\ drive, where I installed my Windows 7 Ultimate edition that I got it free in Wembley, back in October 2008 where it was launched ;-)

But for the virtualisation lab, I'm doing everything on a 2TB WD red drive

 

5- Graphics card + Monitors
I've got 2 x LG Flatron L1752S monitor and a NVIDIA Quadro FX570 card, not designed for games as I don't play any online or offline games, but solid and stable output perfect for the time when I used to play with Maya ages ago
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In summary, your hardware should be a balance of top quality and money, remember that you only buy a CPU once in a while, so if you can afford it going for 2.4 GHz instead of 2.2 Ghz, do it, computing processing and demands will always grow, and don't make the mistake of getting yourself a system for your current needs and expectations, get it for the needs and expectations that you'll have in 2 or 3 years' time.

For example, I upgraded from 8GB to 64Gb and my fellows went crazy: "Would you ever use the 64GB??" They are right, I probably would never use it, but so far my system has been eaten up to 54GB while playing with virtualisation, so the more hardware you can get always the better: avoid to be the obvious bottlenecks in your system