Tag Archives: NUC

Solution: ESXi Installation with USB NIC only fails at 81%

When you try to install ESXi 7.0 with a USB NIC only, the installation fails at 81% with the following error message:

Exception: No vmknic tagged for management was found.


Some homelab systems like the Intel 10th Gen NUC are not equipped with a compatible network adapter. As a workaround, you can use a USB NIC and create a customized image to install ESXi. The installation fails as the ESXi installer can't assign the USB NIC as a management adapter because it specifically searches for a "vmnic#", not "vusb#" adapter.

This article explains how to proceed with the 81% installation error and get the system to work.

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How to Install or Upgrade ESXi 7.0b on 10th Gen Intel NUC

To get ESXi installed on a 10th Gen Intel NUC you need a customized image at the moment. How to create the custom image is explained here. The problem is that the ne1000 driver, which is bundled in ESXi 7.0, is not compatible with the NUCs Gigabit Network interface. When you now try to install the latest ESXi patch, the driver is overwritten with the non-working default ne1000 driver.

The solution is quite simple. You can either install the working driver again after patching or create a custom ESXi 7.0b image. The method described here is specific for ESXi 7.0b but might also work for future releases, as long as ESXi 7 is not equipped with a ne1000 driver supporting Intels latest I219-V.

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Homelab - Will ESXi 7.0 run on Intel NUC?

esxi-on-5th-gen-NUC5i3MYHEVMware vSphere ESXi 7.0 is here and while you might want to wait before you upgrade your production, it's time to explore the new features in your Homelab. I've received questions on whether it is safe to upgrade and some folks are already having trouble with the upgrade.

First of all, short answer:
Yes - ESXi 7.0 will run on 5th - 10th Gen NUCs.

Long answer...

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Export-ESXImageProfile fails with WinError 10054

When creating an ESXi ISO Image from VMware's Online Depot by using the PowerCLI command Export-ESXImageProfile -ExportToISO, the creation might fail with the following error message:

Export-ESXImageProfile : [WinError 10054] An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host

Creating an offline .zip bundle (-ExportToBundle) works without any problems. To work around this issue, create the .zip bundle first and then create the .iso file from the local software depot. Read more »

Intel NUC Latest BIOS Version as Table and JSON (Daily Updates)

An Intel NUC BIOS Version overview is now available at virten.net. The page displays the latest version from all BIOS types and their corresponding NUC models. The page is updated every day. You can access the page in the "Homelab" menu.

The latest BIOS Version list is available as a table and JSON file. Read more »

Intel NUC Recommended BIOS Settings for VMware ESXi

The following BIOS settings are recommended for Intel NUC Systems running VMware ESXi. The list was created based on the latest 10th Gen Frost Canyon. Available options may differ with older NUCs.

To enter the BIOS, press F2 after powering on the system. Read more »

VMware EVC Mode to Enable Intel Gen5-Gen10 NUC vMotion

Many VMware Homelabs are based on Intel NUCs. It is also very common that generations are mixed which can lead to compatibility issues when trying to vMotion VMs across different generations. This is typically where VMware EVC comes into play.

VMware EVC creates a baseline of CPU instructions for virtual machines running on ESXi hosts. When you add newer Hosts, EVC hides the new CPU instructions to the virtual machines. While this works great for Xeon CPUs used in professional servers, it has some limitations with consumer CPUs used in the Intel NUC ecosystem.

The problem has become worse with the latest 10th Gen Comet Lake/Frost Canyon NUC. Despite having a 10th generation CPU, it requires the EVC baseline to be configured to "Sandy Bridge", which is the 2nd generation of Intel Core-i CPUs:

  • NUC10i7FNH/NUC10i7FNK (Intel Core i7-10710U - 6 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC10i5FNH/NUC10i5FNK (Intel Core i5-10210U - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC10i3FNH/NUC10i3FNK (Intel Core i3-10110U - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

When you try to activate VMware EVC higher than Sandy Bridge, the following error message is displayed:

Compatibility
The host's CPU hardware does not support the cluster's current Enhanced vMotion Compatibility mode. The host CPU lacks features required by that mode.

When you try to add the Host to an EVC Enabled Cluster, the task fails:

Operation failed!
The host's CPU hardware does not support the cluster's current Enhanced vMotion Compatibility mode. The host CPU lacks features required by that mode.
CPUID faulting is not supported.
See KB 1003212 for more information.
Host is of type: vendor intel family 0x6 model 0xa6

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ESXi on 10th Gen Intel NUC (Comet Lake - Frost Canyon)

Intel's Comet Lake-based 10th Gen Frost Canyon NUC series is currently rolled out and after some initial problems with the NIC driver, it is time to take a look at their capabilities to run VMware ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many homelabs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. The Frost Canyon is available with i3, i5, and i7 CPU. It's the first series that is available with a Hexa-Core CPU and full 64GB Memory support. Besides that, there are only minor improvements compared to their predecessor, the Bean Canyon.

  • NUC10i7FNH/NUC10i7FNK (Intel Core i7-10710U - 6 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC10i5FNH/NUC10i5FNK (Intel Core i5-10210U - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC10i3FNH/NUC10i3FNK (Intel Core i3-10110U - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

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ESXi on 8th Gen Intel NUC (Coffee Lake - Bean Canyon)

Intel's Coffee Lake-based 8th Gen Bean Canyon NUC is an ideal candidate for running VMware ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many homelabs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. The Bean Canyon is available with i3, i5, and i7 CPU. It's the first series where the i5 is also equipped with a Quad-Core CPU, so both - the i5 and i7 - are ideal candidates for ESXi.

  • 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)

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Intel NUC with 64GB Memory Support (6th - 10th Gen)

Intel NUCs can go up to 32GB Memory for about 5 years. With the growing memory requirements of VMware Software, these numbers have become a problem in NUC based Homelabs. Luckily, single 32GB Modules are available and affordable now which boosts many NUC generations up to 64GB.

At the moment, there are a few vendors providing single 32GB DDR4 SO-DIMM modules. I highly recommend getting the Samsung M471A4G43MB1 module, which is not only very affordable and available but also listed on Intel's compatibility list for 10th Generation NUCs. A single 32GB Module costs about $130 on Amazon at the moment. The price has dropped massively in the last 12 months. In February 2019, a single module was available for $380. The lowest price was around Christmas 2019 at $112. Currently (March 2020) the module is available for $124.
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