For the past year and a half I’ve been using the Intel i5 3rd Gen NUC’s in my ESXi home lab with great success. In this time several people have asked if I recommend anything newer, and while Intel had a few 4th gen models I wasn’t really sold on them as most CPU benchmarks put them the same as my 3rd gen or lower and only added support for a 2.5″ drive which at the time I didn’t need but then Intel released news about several Intel NUC 5th generation models!
If you use the VMware ESXi 5 ISO image and try to install it on an Intel NUC you’ll receive the following error during the install.
No Network Adapters
No network adapters were detected. Either no network adapters are physically connected to the system, or a suitable driver could not be located. A third party driver my be required.
Ensure that there is at least one network adapter physically connected to the system before attempting installation. If the problem persists, consult the VMware Knowledge Base.
The “No Network Adapters” on the Intel NUC error message during the ESXi install is because VMware removed a number of drivers (non-enterprise drivers) from their ESXi 5.x image and in order to use the Intel NUC as an ESXi host you need to create a customized ESXi image with the NIC drivers added to the image.
I typically use G.Skill memory in my NUC’s as I’ve had great luck with the brand in my desktop and laptop for years. However G.Skill has been increasing in price which made me look around for alternatives and came across Crucial DDR3 204-pin memory for less money, but days after I purchased it they too went up in price. However they are now back on sale and cost about $50 less then the G.Skill memory I have been using in my first two NUC’s.
I’ve been using the Crucial memory now for the last several months without any problems and even though they are rated at a lower voltage I can’t say I really see any difference in power savings or consumption compared to the G.Skill 1.5V. If you’re looking to upgrade now might be a good time to take advantage of the sale price.
A few days ago one of my hosts in my home lab was displaying an alarm message:
Lost connectivity to the device mpx.vmhbaXX:XX:XX:XX backing the boot filesystem /vmfs/devices/disks/mpx.vmhbaXX:XX:XX:XX. As a result, host configuration changes will not be saved to persistent storage.
The last part of the message (“persistent storage”) made me think it might have something to do with the USB drive due to the fact that a similar message appeared when setting up the home lab on the Intel NUC’s. After some research it appears my assumption was correct and that the USB flash drive I was using to boot from was indeed starting to fail.
In the past I’ve been using a single server to run my VMware ESXi home lab. it was slow, old, big and loud. I’ve been meaning to upgrade my home lab for a while and just never got around to it, until now! When looking for new hardware I wanted the servers to be as compact as possible, quiet, and low energy usage as possible while still having some horsepower.
I debated on going the whitebox solution as I build all my own desktops anyway, I also looked at several other solutions such as the HP ML310e server, Shuttle XH61V barebones machine, but ultimately decided to go with two Intel NUC i5’s.
Intel NUC i5 DC53427HYE Features:
- Uses very little energy
- Completely quiet
- Supports up to 16GB RAM
- A dual core CPU that scores nearly 3,600 in PassMark benchmarking
- Includes vPro which allows me to easily run both NUC’s headless
- Extremely small, nearly 4 1/2″ inch square footprint