Setting Up a New ESXi 7 Home Lab

This hardware list was assembled in February 2022 and ran smoothly using ESXi 7.0.  The installed version is ESXi-7.0U3c-19193900-standard.  Network speeds were tested at slightly over 6 GPS using the Samsung 870 EVO.  Note: As of 3/2023 prices have dropped on much of this build. It continues to perform flawlessly.

I wanted to stay on the cheap because even though this supports many of my work projects, the cost is something I pay out of pocket.  After going down this path, I’m unsure how much “cheap” is involved, but I have put together my costs for this project and listed the components.
VMWare ESXi 7.0 Host ( ESXi-7.0U3c-19193900-standard)

Permanent VMs
VM 1: TrueNAS for storage.  I want this to run off an NVMe drive and be connected with an SFP+ 10GB card.  16g of ram, 4 cores.*
VM2: pfSense router for DHCP and monitoring.  Both the Ubiquity and my old HP ProCurve are Layer 2 switches. I should be able to tune the network and keep the load off the router.  This design will run 1gbe to the cable modem and SFP+ 10gbe to the Ubiquity switch.
VM3: This will be a Windows Server 2022 machine that will be the PDC for the domain
VM4: Windows 2016 R2 for work hosting. SQL Server.  This machine will be migrated from the old VMWare server.

Homelab Hardware List ($612)

  • Supermicro X9DRD-7LN4F-JBOD Dual LGA-2011 E-ATX Motherboard
    • Mine came with two E5 2609V2 4 core processors and 16g of ram ($199 eBay). I ended up tossing the ram and cpu’s for upgrades
  • 2 ea Intel Xeon E5 2640 V2 8 core processors, matching pair, ($20 eBay)
  • 64GB (4x16GB) PC3-8500R DDR3-1066MHz ($100 eBay)
  • 4U Server Case (prior purchase from many years ago.)
  • 2 ea Noctua NH-D9DX i4 3U, Premium CPU Cooler for Intel Xeon ($59 Amazon)
  • CPU 8 Pin Splitter ATX CPU 8 Pin Female to Dual 8(4+4) Pin Male ($13.99 Amazon)
  • EVGA 220-P2-0650-X1 SuperNOVA 650 P2, 80+ PLATINUM 650W ($138 Amazon)
    • I could have saved money here but I wanted a platinum ps.
  • (3-Pack) COMeap LP4 Molex Male to ATX 4 pin Male Auxiliary Power Adapter Cable 9.5-inch ($11.99 Amazon) Dual M.2 PCIe Adapter Card for NVMe/SATA SSD – Support PCIe 3.0 x16 x8 x4 ($11.87 Amazon)
    • Could have been better choices but this was recommended.  I didn’t check it rst and found out it only works with a single NVMe drive and it requires the use of a SATA cable.

Media ($243)

  • Kingston A400 240G Internal SSD M.2 2280 ($33.95 Amazon)
    • ESXi 7.0 host
  • SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 2TB – M.2 NVMe ($209 Amazon – note now $129)
    • TruNAS Server

Networking ($768)

  • 1 ea Intel 82599EN-Based Ethernet Network Interface Card, 10G Single-Port SFP+, PCIe 2.0 x8 ($179 (workstation) Intel X710-BM2-Based Ethernet Network Interface Card, 10G Dual-Port SFP+, PCIe 3.0 x8 ($289 ESXi 7 box
  • Fiber Optic cables and transceivers ($212
  • Ubiquiti UniFi Switch Aggregation | Managed Layer 2 Switch with 8 SFP+ 10G Ports (USW-Aggregation) ($279 Amazon)
    • 2 ports are trunked to the SFP ports on the HP ProCurve but are limited to 1gbe each.

Migration was only mildly painful and that was due to the extremely long process of copying les between data stores.  I did install Veeam tools and I was running a trial copy of vSphere but in the end, it was just easier to copy the files manually.  It took about 72 hours to copy 1.6 tb of files.  Part of the time was consumed by having to copy the first VM twice.  VMWare has a prompt that specifically asks you when you re-register if you “copied” or “moved” the machine.  The default is copied.  I chose the default the rst time and it was a total mess.  After going back and choosing “moved” all the VMs red up without issue on the new host.

*Note: After reading some more about TrueNAS I wanted to experiment with hosting it on a dedicated server with the two Western Digital Red NAS drives that were in the old Synology box.  I’ve decided to repurpose the old Dragon Box (my former VMWare host) and add an SFP+ card to it along with some other modifications.