GATEWAY DX4200-09 VMWare VSphere Whitebox

I built a VMware VSphere environment using 2 Gateway DX4200 machines, the machines were relatively inexpensive in 2009 and provide enough horsepower for my home lab. First thing I upgraded was the memory in each machine from 4GB to 8GB, then I disabled the on-board NICS and purchased Intel Pro 1000 Dual Port NICS. I purchased the 64 bit server NICS and found that you can use them on your 32bit non server motherboards, this is great because the server cards are far less expensive.

I recently upgraded the processors from the stock 1.8 GB Phenoms to 3.2 GHZ Phenom II's, found the procs on sale at Microcenter for about $95 a piece. I was worried that the procs would not work because the motherboards have socket AM+ and the new procs are AM3. The processors work fine but I do get a message from the BIOS stating AMD unknown processor and so ESXi reports the same thing. Unfortunately Foxconn never released any newer updates for the BIOS so I will always see this message but everything works perfectly.

The Gateway offers no on-board RAID controller which is good because most non-server motherboards on-board RAID controllers will not work with VMWare ESX. I used 2 Kingston 4GB USB drives to install ESXi 5.0 on and have no hard drives in my Gateway machines, this provides a very low power solution when combined with my IOMEGA IX4-200D NAS storage.

The machines currently host about 10 Virtual Machines, most running Windows Server 2008R2, I host a couple of websites in this environment but for the most part pretty low traffic. Performance is acceptable for me, I do get the occasional stutter or slowness but for the most part it runs great, I've never taxed the hosts so much that I was seeing performance degradation. 

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