ESXi White Box Adventure – Part II, The Shopping List

For this project, I did all of my shopping at Micro Center.  There are a few reasons for this, but the most important ones are that I have shopped there for many years and like them, and they are local and I like supporting local businesses.  What this means is that these are not going to be “rock bottom” best of the web prices, but they are decent and I got to see and shop the stuff in person before buying.  That said, anyone seeking to duplicate this setup exactly, for whatever reason, can most likely find these parts cheaper.  I’ve included some references to that end.

The List

  • Main System: Gateway SX2801-01e – $429.99 refurbished – “RecoupIT” had these guys for $389.99… Not sure who these guys are, but sounds like a recycler
  • RAM Upgrade: 2x4GB kit (2×2), 1333 DDR3, MicroCenter white box – $39.99 each kit – the Gateway comes with 6GB of RAM installed as 2x2GB 1333 DDR3 and 2x1GB 1333 DDR3.  I decided to take both up to 8GB (4×2).  – a 2GB DDR3 1333 DIMM is about $17-$20, so the 4GB kit at $40 is about standard
  • Video Card: 2xSaphire ATI 5670 512MB – $79.99 each on sale – These guys are key to my insane VDI strategy.  For this build I plan to try to push DirectPath IO and see what is possible in terms of GPU in VDI.  There is a $15 rebate for this part also, but only applies to one of them. – these guys can be found for $70 all over, so dollar cost averaging the rebate across both, it’s pretty close
  • KVM: IOGear USB 2 port KVM – $25.00 on sale – I like having a console handy so have decided to put a cheap KVM on these two.  This thing can be found for about $20 if you look around.
  • Keyboard: Generic USB mini KB – $9.99 – Sure the Gateways come with keyboards, but they’re full size and I have a weird fixation with miniature hardware.  $10 makes this thing slightly more than a Big Mac Combo, so not a big decision.
  • Network Upgrade: Cisco SLM 2008 802.1Q capable switch – $139.99 – I want to do VLAN segmentation via 802.1Q tagging this go around, so it was time to add some new capability to my existing GigE LAN (Cat 6 throughout the house, DLink unmanaged switches) – Buy has this guy for $100, so MicroCenter was pricey here, but again, price isn’t primary for me and it was just this one part that was incongruous.


Posing for the pre-build shot!

In addition to the above, rounding out the build is some existing gear I will be re-purposing.

Re-Purposed Gear

  • NAS: ReadyNAS Ultra 6 (12TB) – For the first time I am really wishing I had gone for the ReadyNAS Pioneer Pro model for the VLAN tagging and NIC teaming support, but that said, I do like the Ultra a lot and it has 2 GigE interfaces.  I will use the Cisco to create segments and drop the Ultra into the storage VLAN untagged.  At least it supports iSCSI which is the main thing.
  • Gigabit Switch: D-Link DGS 2208 – I have a ton of these things.  I will cascade the Cisco off of the one in my main study and split the Ready NAS across both switches so it can server iSCSI to the vCenter while still serving CIFS to my (untagged) home network (gaming PC, PS3, 2 XB360s, 2 Tivos, iTunes, Macbook, wife’s notebook, kids notebook, iPhones, iPad, Amiga 4000T (!) and a Partridge in a Pear Tree)
  • AOC 16″ Monitor:  Again, the fixation on mini-PC gear rears its ugly head.  I got this little monitor on sale at Target a while back for like $50 and I always look for excuses to whip it out (pun maybe or maybe not intended)
  • APC Smart-UPS 750: We do get occasional brownouts, but to be honest, I mainly got the UPS so I could populate the “managed UPS” section of the NAS manager.


D-Link, Netgear and APC oh my!

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