VMware ESXi barebone homelab

A perfect VMware ESXi barebone for a small environment or homelab

Are you looking for an inexpensive VMware ESXi host for a small environment or homelab? You need look no further than the Supermicro barebone E300-9D. It’s a beautiful small computer which offers all the features you need in an ESXi host. It runs ESXi 6.7 right out of the box.

I was on the hunt for an inexpensive computer for a small project with a tight budget. The requirements: a server with at least two LAN ports, space for 2 HDDs: one SSD, and one SATA. The motherboard should support at least 32GB memory. The Supermicro barebone E300-9D met all these requirements.

The Supermicro SYS-E300-9D-4CN8TP is equipped with the Supermicro mainboard X11SDV-4C-TP8F. For more details, please see this link. It’s simply great that the mainboard has an M.2.2280 slot for an SSD hard drive. From the description on the Supermicro website, it was not entirely clear if the mainboard supports an M.2 slot. I asked my supplier to confirm that with Supermicro. Besides that, you can install a 2.5″ SATA HD. The mainboards support up to 256GB memory.

Something I love about Supermicro mainboards is the IPMI remote interface to manage the system remotely. Finally, this board supports HTML5 for the remote console. You will certainly remember a time when IPMI needed the Java environment. It was almost impossible to get Java working on Chrome or Firefox. At times like that, I was always glad the good old Internet Explorer was still around.

I bought the E300-9D with these parts.

Please note the suggested Supermicro E300-9D with the Intel XEON processor has only 4 cores and is not listed on the Vmware ESXi HCL list. However, the same mainboard with the Intel XEON 8 cores does appear on the VMware HCL.

The little Supermicro server is also perfectly suitable for a small VMware vSAN environment. Use the SSD disk for the caching tier and the SATA disk for the capacity tier. A perfect setup to test vSAN with at least 3 Supermicro barebones as ESXi hosts. Four is better, offering full failover in case an ESXi host is completely down.

Intel NUC computers are a less expensive option for ESXi hosts. But some tweaks to the LAN driver are needed. Please read more about it here. William regularly updates his blog with the latest information about the NUCs and the situation with the latest VMware ESXi versions. The NUCs only have one LAN port, which is a bit of a drawback compared to the Supermicro server.

Please see my recent blog “Proxmox to VMware“.

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