Intel NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many homlabs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. I've posted a preview at the beginning of the year and got my first 5th Gen NUC up and running in February. Today all versions of the NUC, including the flagship with the i7 CPU, are available in the market. Time to give it a more detailed review
5th Gen Intel NUCs are available with an Intel i3, i5 or i7 CPU. The Intel i3 and i5 are available with and without 2.5" slot where the i7 is only available with 2.5". With the NUC5i5MYHE there is also a i5 model with a faster vPro CPU.
The Kits are shipped with:
- System board
- Processor (soldered)
- Power adapter
- Power cord
To get an ESXi Host installed you need:
- Memory (1.35V SODIMM Memory)
- M.2 SSD (22×24, 22×60 and 22×80), 2,5″ HDD or USB-Stick
In my opinion, the best candidates for ESXi are the i5, i5 with vPro and i7 models. You should definately get one with an 2.5" slot.
|no 2.5" Slot||n/a||NUC5i5RYK||n/a||NUC5i3RYK||n/a|
|Architecture||Broadwell (14 nm)|
|Base Frequency||3.1 GHz||1.6 GHz||2.3 GHz||2.1 GHz||2.1 GHz|
|Max Frequency||3.4 GHz||2.7 GHz||2.9 GHz||2.1 GHz||2.1 GHz|
|Cores||2 (4 Threads)|
|TDP||28 W||15 W|
|Memory Type||DDR3L SODIMM 1.35V|
|USB Ports||2x USB 3.0 (front panel)|
2x USB 3.0 (back panel)
2x USB 2.0 (internal)
|Storage||M.2 SSD Card|
SATA3 2.5" HDD/SDD
HCL and VMware ESXi Support
All NUCs have hardware support for virtualization and a 64-bit capable CPU. Therefore it should be compatible to VMware ESXi.
To clarify, the system is not supported by VMware (Not listed in HCL), so do not use this system in a productive environment. I can not guarantee that it will work stable. As a home lab, or a small home server it should be fine.
For ESXi 5.x you have to create a customized image or the installer will fail with an "No Network Adapters" error message. VMware ESXi 6.0 has the network drivers included.
Tested ESXi Versions
- VMware ESXi 5.0
- VMware ESXi 5.1
- VMware ESXi 5.5
- VMware ESXi 6.0
Delivery and assembly
The 5th Gen NUC is shipped in well designed box. The Box contains a short description how to open and assemble the components. The system is a little bit heavier than it looks and has a high build quality. The upside is scratch-sensitive, so be careful with it.
The installation is very simple. Remove 4 screws on the bottom and remove the lid which is also the 2.5" drive holder. The assembly takes about 5 Minutes to open the NUC, install the memory, M.SSD module and an 2.5" HDD.
The installation of VMware ESXi 5.x fails due to missing network drivers. ESXi 6 works out of the box, but there is a problem with the AHCI controller. Therefore you have to create a customized Image for all versions.
If you see a malformed Manufacturer and Model in the vSphere Client, here is a fix for you.
32GB Memoy with 5th Gen NUC?
There are reports that the 5th Gen NUC works with 32GB of memory if you use Intelligent Memory 16GB SO-DIMMs. I can't verify that with ESXi at the moment as these modules are not available here. I also doubt that it makes sense at the moment as the 16 GB I'M SO-DIMMS are very expensive at the moment, but technically it should be possible.
Power consumption differs a little bit based on the model.
i5 NUC: 7W (idle) - 33W (load)
i7 NUC: 8W (idle) - 45W (load)
During normal usage the average consumption is about 18W.
With that, the average operating costs are at about 3-4 Euros per month:
18 watt * 24 h * 30 (days) = 12,96 KWh * 0,25 (EUR) = 3,24 EUR
Consumption measured with Voltcraft Energy Monitor 3000
Crucial 16GB Kit (2x 8GB) DDR3 1600 MHz
M.2 SSD List
2.5" Hard Disk Drive List
SanDisk Cruzer Fit 8gb
Great update, are you using these at home? what does your setup consist of and how well are they performing (what sort of setup s/w wise have you gone for?)
How about your BIOS Performance Settings?
Do you have SpeedStep enabled and will it be used by ESXi?
Pingback: Adding a second NIC to a 5th Gen Intel NUC (Or other PCIe Cards) | Virten.net
My CPU info in Ubuntu show roughly 1600 mhz. Does ESXi support speedstep on its virtual machines? I know that you can set Power Management to High Performance, but i'd rather not, since it just draws more power.
Is it just because Ubuntu can't show a dynamic cpu speed or?
Kind regards Jacob
Pingback: 5th Gen Intel NUC with 32GB Memory | Virten.net
Just tried it with a NUC BOXNUC5I7RYH (i7 5557U) and two IM 16Gb module (so 32GB in total), a 1TB sata SSB + a 256GB M.2 ssd
Worked like a charme
ps : not sure about the cost efficiency of all that ... but I had the RAM and SSD not beeing used for anything ... so
Hi Florian, did you tested to upgrade a NUC already installed with ESXi 6.0 (custom image, custom ETH drivers) to the latest ESXi build) to 6.0U1 ? got the upgrade zip as well as the full 6.0U1 ISO file but i'd better do the upgrade once rather than having my host without network access.. Thanks a lot for your blog it's really a great resource. cheers. bd
Yes. My NUC is currently running on the latest 6.0u1:
[root@esx5:~] vmware -v
VMware ESXi 6.0.0 build-3073146
It does not remove custom drivers when you use the upgrade zip and install it with "esxcli software vib install -d [.zip]"
Pingback: Building a Single-Node VSAN | Virten.net
Thanks for this NUC walkthrough, very useful. However, I can't get my NUC to see the local M.2 SSD? Where am I going wrong? Using a Samsung MZHPV512HDGL-00000 512 GB Internal.
Can you see the M.2 SSD in UEFI?
Did you install the sata-xahci package?
I've managed to resolve it but don't fully understand exactly how/why. I followed the instructions here: http://www.virten.net/2015/02/how-to-install-esxi-on-5th-gen-intel-nuc-nic-and-ahci-workaround/ and it did not work, so I posted my question. I've since tried again and this time it worked :) (I must have typo'd first time) so up and running now, thanks.
@ Gael what are you running on you nuc?
Great article fgrehl
Pingback: Preview on 6th Gen (Skylake) Intel NUC for VMware ESXi | Virten.net
Pingback: [Kaufberatung] Stromrechnung erhalten - Homelab muss umgebaut werden - Seite 2
I'm running ESXi 6 on my NUC5i7 and it has been great but will occasionally becoming unresponsive and furthermore, it will cause a network issue to the point where I can't ping other devices on the network. If I unplug the NUC, pings restore. A reboot of the NUC brings it back online. Today I installed the latest patch 6.02, so I am hoping for some relief. This might happen once ever 1-2 months. I used the installation guide from this site and also applied the BIOS fix.
Sounds like duplicate ip address, potentially multiple DHCP servers on network.
Pingback: Additional USB NIC for Intel NUCs | Virten.net
thanks for all the information - my NUC is no running as an esxi server. I'm trying to get the vCenter Appliance installed on the server, but the installer is complaining about "An error occured during getting HW-informaitons from the esx-host" (The error message was in german "Beim Abrufen der Hardwareinformationen vom ESX-Host ist ein Fehler aufgetreten"). Any idea ?
If I connect via vSpeher Client, Model and Vendor is displayed as a long list of ?
das Problem ist ein falsches encoding der Modellnummer im BIOS. Lässt sich durch anpassen des BIOS mit dem Intel Integrator Toolkit relativ leicht lösen. Beschreibung hier:
Danke - hat geklappt :-)
Pingback: Which Intel NUC to buy for running ESXi? (August 2016) | Virten.net
Pingback: VMWare 6.5 Lab Upgrade | Digital Roadies
Pingback: Homelab – Will ESXi 6.5 run on Intel NUC? | Virten.net
Pingback: Preview on 7th Gen (Kaby Lake) Intel NUC | Virten.net
Hello, is it possible to make the bluetooth work on esxi 6.5 and an NUC5i5RYH ?
Is it possible to run free ESXI6.5 on NUC5i5RYK?