VMware ESXi 7.0 Update 2 on Intel NUC

VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0 Update 2 has been released this week and before you start to deploy it to production, you want to evaluate it in your testing environment or homelab. If you have Intel NUCs you should always be very careful when updating to new ESXi releases as there might be issues. Please always keep in mind that this is not an officially supported platform.

Within the 7.0 releases, there are many issues with consumer network adapters, like the deprecation of VMKlinux drivers and thus the missing support for Realtek NICs, and the up and downs with the ne1000 driver.

To be on the safe side, I'm doing a quick checkup on which NUCs are safe to update and what considerations you have to take before installing the update. Also, I'm quickly explaining the options to workaround the crypto64.efi issue.

ESXi 7.0 U2 comes with a new ne1000 driver but from my first observations, it is only a repacked driver without any changes to NUC compatibility.

The driver works out of the box with the 10th Gen NUC and all previous generations, except the 8th Gen. Unfortunately, the Intel I219-V (6) network adapter used in the 8th Gen Bean Canyon NUCs still requires the Fling Driver. If you already own an 11th Gen NUC with the 2.5Gbit NIC, you also need the Fling Driver.

For reference, these are the two drivers we are talking about:

ne1000 0.8.4-11vmw.701.0.0.16850804 <- ESXi 7.0 Update 1
ne1000 0.8.4-11vmw.702.0.0.17630552 <- ESXi 7.0 Update 2

Upgrade Consideration

Before you start the upgrade, check that the following issues do not affect your environment:

  • The USB Nic Fling does not work with 7.0U2 yet. Remove it and reboot your ESXi Host, prior to installing the upgrade. [Update Jun 14, 2021: The USB NIC Fling Version 1.8 supports ESXi 7.0u2]
  • To workaround the crypto64.efi issue, the only update options are with Upgrade Baselines using Lifecycle Manager, or offline upgrades (Boot with Installer ISO). See this article for further information.
  • VMware has pulled the Update Bundle from their repository so you can't create Custom Images at the moment. If you have the 8th Gen Bean Canyon or 11th Gen NUCs, you should wait until VMware has published an update.
  • If you want to explore new features like Tanzu with the Advanced Load Balancer or Kubernetes 1.19, just update your vCenter Server to 7.0 U2 and keep ESXi Hosts at 7.0 U1.

ESXi 7.0 Update 2 with Community Network Driver (8th Gen Bean Canyon / 11th Gen NUC)

  • NUC8i7BEH/NUC8i7BEK (Intel Core i7-8559U - 4 Core, up to 4.5 GHz)
  • NUC8i5BEH/NUC8i5BEK (Intel Core i5-8259U - 4 Core, up to 3.8 GHz)
  • NUC8i3BEH/NUC8i3BEK (Intel Core i3-8109U - 2 Core, up to 3.6 GHz)
  • 11th Gen NUC (NUC11PAQi7, NUC11PAHi7, NUC11PAKi7, NUC11PAQi5, NUC11PAHi5, NUC11PAKi5, NUC11PAHi3, NUC11PAKi3, NUC11TNHv70L, NUC11TNHv7, NUC11TNHv50L, NUC11TNHv5, NUC11TNKv7, NUC11TNKv5, NUC11TNHi70Q, NUC11TNHi70L, NUC11TNHi7, NUC11TNHi50W, NUC11TNHi50L, NUC11TNHi5, NUC11TNHi30P, NUC11TNHi30L, NUC11TNHi3, NUC11TNKi7, NUC11TNKi5, NUC11TNKi3)

Download the Update Bundle and Fling:

  • VMware-ESXi-7.0U2-17630552-depot.zip (Note: The Bundle is no longer available for download. If you downloaded it on GA day, it is safe to use for your NUC.)
  • Net-Community-Driver_1.0.0.0-1vmw.700.1.0.15525992_17594603.zip (Community Networking Driver for ESXi Fling)

New Installation
If you want to do a fresh install of ESXi 7.0 U2, you have to create a custom image, including the Community Driver.

Use the following PowerShell commands to add the community driver to the stock image.

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\VMware-ESXi-7.0U2-17630552-depot.zip
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\Net-Community-Driver_1.0.0.0-1vmw.700.1.0.15525992_17594603.zip
New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-standard" -name "ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC" -Vendor "virten.net"
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC" -SoftwarePackage "net-community"
Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC" -ExportToISO -filepath ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC.iso

Use the ESXi-7.0.2-17630552-NUC.iso image to install ESXi 7.0 U2 on your NUC. Do not create a .zip bundle to update with ESXCLI!

Update
Due to the crypto64.efi bug, you cant work with .zip bundles to upgrade ESXi. The only update options are with Upgrade Baselines using Lifecycle Manager, or offline upgrades. See this article for update instructions.

ESXi 7.0 Update 2 on any other Intel NUC

Any other NUC can be upgraded like normale supported hardware. See this article for update instructions.

22 thoughts on “VMware ESXi 7.0 Update 2 on Intel NUC”

  1. how can install to NUC 11th?
    I need to create 7.0u1 ISO and then upgrade using standard 7.0u2 ISO and add driver back?
    Thanks

  2. Hi,
    I built the custom 7.0U2 image with the PowerShell commands.
    But my NUC11TNKv7 always runs into Exception 14 when booting from the installer image.
    I also tried 7.0U1 custom image with the community net fling.

  3. Great run down of the current networking situation with the 11th Gen NUCs and ESXi 7.x. I’ve run into a problem though with the Intel I225-LM onboard network card in the Tiger Canyon NUC Pro. Using the Community networking driver I am able to build a custom image and install fine but my 2nd NIC always crashes when turning on 1600 byte MTU on a dvswitch. The issue occurs with either a plain dvswitch or an NSX prepared switch, booting again clears the error until the final phase of the yellow part of boot up. I’ve reported it in the comments of the Community Networking fling but not had any reply yet. It would be great if you could verify my findings! Thanks

    Do you have a similar scenario working? My management port is on NIC 1 and works fine with vSAN and regular networking over 1500 byte frames but you

  4. I'm looking to setup a homelab to run EXSi on and host a couple of Windows servers (one as a production server 24/7 mainly for just AD authentication and the other open to the web as and when) and some other VM's for random spinning up and testing.

    I was looking at the NUC11TNHv50L as it has Dual-Lan (I could do VLANing using a single NIC but like the idea of a physically seperate network for the machine which is open to the web)

    So was wondering if anyone had any suggestions whether I should avoid this kit and go for a different model, recommended CPU (their are i5 and i7 options with and without VPRO) and would go with 2x16Gb 3200 RAM along with a 500Gb nvme for starters (maybe a second 1Tb SSD)

    I want to place this in my comms cab so something that runs as cool as possible would be a big plus. I'm being cautious on my selection as so many issues seem to get reported getting ESX installed, I get I may well need to do a custom install (unless the latest release includes updated drivers) just want to try and get this right out the gate and this seems like the place to be :)

    TIA

  5. OK, so:
    NUC11PAHi7
    VMware-ESXi-7.0U2a-17867351-depot.zip
    Net-Community-Driver_1.2.0.0-1vmw.700.1.0.15843807_18028830.zip

    Tried booting the stock iso, and got the "No Network Adapters Found" screen.

    So I slipstreamed the driver as per instructions above. The resulting iso is about 250kb larger than the stock one, and the only difference appears to be an extra file - netcommu.v00.

    I still get the "No Network Adapters Found" screen upon trying to boot.

      1. in my case, after reboot it can only survive once.
        when shutdown or reboot esxi it cannot detect the network adapter anymore.

    1. I've been lucky to pick up a NUC5i5MYHE and a NUC6i5SYH for peanuts on the bay and thanks to Florian and you all blazing the trail I clean installed 7.0U2 on both without any additional requirements other than Rufus.

      The UBS Nic fling updated early June to support 7.0U2 and I've installed a couple of £12 Amazon Basics USB ethernets on them also without issue other than they can be cable picky to recognise gig duplex.

      Now just trying to winkle big as I can memory for each of them out the non-existent budget and I can start using it properly to help study for my VDC exam without risking the nice customers shiny stuff.

      Thank you so much to all of you who leave info, updates and examples on here for people like me, hope this info helps someone.

    2. I got mine working when i created a new custom image with the drivers slip streamed into the ISO.
      I created a bootable USB with Rufus and the custom ISO and then i booted up the NUC on the USB installer and chose "Upgrade" on the existing installation drive.
      After the installer finished, everything was back to working.

      However, i noticed that the drive cannot handle the 1000 Full Duplex, its locked down to 100 Full Duplex (via auto-negotiate) and if i change it the OS stops responding and i have to manually restart the NUC via the power button.

      Any ideas how to fix that?

      Thanks for a great guide, wonder how long it will take before the NIC works again OOTB?

      1. The only NUC I ever had auto-negotiation issues is the 8th Gen Kaby Lake-G/Hades Canyon. Which NUC do you have and can you try another Switch? (Or just cross-connect with another device to verify that it is not an Switch-Issue)

        1. It’s the NUC 8th gen, so sounds like that is where the problem is.
          It worked at 1gbit before I upgraded to 7.0U2 (I think it was on 6.5 or 6.7 before)

          Any easy way to downgrade the network driver or something?

      2. Hi, thanks for all the info. I'm up and running :)
        What have I done wrong if everything works, but my nic is only 1Gbe and can't be changed?
        I didn't notice for a week...

      3. These instructions worked for me, I originally tried installing 7.0.3 on a NUC8i3BEH (8th gen) but it failed complaining about missing network card. I re-created an ISO, burned to a USB stick and the NUC booted and recognized the ethernet card.

        Thank you for these instructions!

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