NUC

ESXi on ASRock Industrial NUC 1100 Series (11th Gen Intel "Tiger Lake" CPU)

ASRock Industrial has a NUC-like small form factor (SFF) system in their portfolio, which is very similar to Intel's latest 11th Gen NUC Series. With the global shortage of microchips the availability of 11th Gen NUCs, especially the Dual-NIC "Pro" models, is still limited. While looking for alternatives, the ASRock Industrial NUC1100 Series came out as a great alternative to the original NUC Series.

SFF systems (also known as Barebone, Nettop, SoC, or Mini-PC) like Intel's or ASRocks's NUC are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in the homelab community. They are small, silent, transportable, and have very low power consumption, making them great servers in your homelab. The ASRock 1100 Series is available with i3, i5, or i7 CPU and supports up to 64GB of Memory. All models are equipped with two Network adapters, one with 1 Gigabit and a second adapter with 2.5 Gigabit support. Both adapters can be used with the latest VMware ESXi 7.0.

  • NUC BOX-1165G7 (Intel Core i7-1165G7 - 4 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC BOX-1135G7 (Intel Core i5-1135G7 - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC BOX-1115G4 (Intel Core i3-1115G4 - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

Will ESXi run on the ASRock Industrial NUC 1100 Series?
Yes. It is possible to install ESXi. Due to missing i219V and i225LM drivers in the original image, it is required to create a custom Image using a community-created driver. Instructions on how to create the Image are included in this article. This problem is not specific to ASRock's 11th Gen. The custom image is also required for Intel's 11th Gen NUC and some older models.

Read More »ESXi on ASRock Industrial NUC 1100 Series (11th Gen Intel "Tiger Lake" CPU)

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.

Read More »VMware ESXi 7.0 Update 2 on Intel NUC

11th Gen Intel NUC - Which is the best candidate to run ESXi?

Intel has finally announced their 11th Generation NUCs. For the first time, all three product lines are announced at the same time. The NUC series is very popular to be used in homelabs or for running VMware ESXi. They are small, silent, transportable, and have very low power consumption.

In this article, I'm going to take a look at the 3 different product lines and how they compare to each other and previous NUCs.

Read More »11th Gen Intel NUC - Which is the best candidate to run ESXi?

Will ESXi 7.0 Update 1 run on Intel NUC?

VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0 Update 1 is here. If you have Intel NUCs in your homelab 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.

Typically, you see problems with new major releases (eg. the Realtek problem in ESXi 7.0) but this time we seem to run into a problem with 8th Gen NUCs in the 7.0 U1 release. The Intel I219-V (6) network adapter fails to load after upgrading to ESXi 7.0 U1. When you try to do a fresh installation, it fails with the well known "No Network Adapters" error.

To be on the safe side, I'm doing a quick checkup on which NUCs are safe to update and where you have to implement a workaround.

In the meantime: Stay Calm, you can run ESXi 7.0 U1 on the 8th Gen NUC!

Read More »Will ESXi 7.0 Update 1 run on Intel NUC?

11th Gen NUC - First Details on Intels Tiger Canyon NUC

Details on the 11th Generation of Intels NUC have been revealed recently. Intel's NUC series is currently the most used system in the homelab market. They are small, silent, transportable, and have very low power consumption, making it a perfect system for labs or as a home server.

The 11th Gen is just around the corner and has, compared to its predecessor (Frost Canyon) which did not have outstanding innovations, a lot of cool new features.Read More »11th Gen NUC - First Details on Intels Tiger Canyon NUC

Black Screen when connecting a Monitor to Intel NUC running ESXi

When you are using an Intel NUC or other consumer hardware to run ESXi and connect a monitor to access the DCUI console, you see a black screen only. If you do not have a monitor connected during the boot process, you can't access the screen later. The screen will remain black, making troubleshooting impossible.

In Homelabs you usually do not have a monitor connected to all of your servers but in some cases (ESXi crashes or you need to reconfigure network settings) you want to connect a monitor to your system. A simple trick can help in that situation.Read More »Black Screen when connecting a Monitor to Intel NUC running ESXi

ESXi on AMD Ryzen based ASUS PN50

The long-awaited AMD Ryzen based PN50 by ASUS is finally available. The ESXi Homelab community is constantly growing. When you want to run ESXi in home labs you typically want to have a system that is small, silent, and transportable. To keep costs at a minimum, the power consumption is also a very important factor. The portfolio of Small Form Factor (SFF) Systems, also known as Barebone, Nettop, SoC, or Mini-PC, is enormous. Intel's NUC series is currently the most used system in the homelab market, but I'm always keeping my eyes on its competitors.

Today I'm going to test the ASUS PN50, which is currently rolled out. The PN50 is available with 4 different embedded CPUs:

  • ASUS PN50 Ryzen 7 4800U (8 Core / 16 Threads, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • ASUS PN50 Ryzen 7 4700U (8 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)
  • ASUS PN50 Ryzen 5 4500U (6 Core, up to 4.0 GHz)
  • ASUS PN50 Ryzen 5 4300U (4 Core, up to 4.0 GHz)

Will ESXi run on the Asus PN50?
Yes. It is possible to install ESXi on the Asus PN50. Unfortunately, Asus is using a Realtek based RTL8168 Gigabit Network adapter for the PN50, which will not work with ESXi 7.0. To install ESXi 6.x, you have to use a community-based driver. If you want to use ESXi 7.0, you have to use a USB-based Network adapter.

Read More »ESXi on AMD Ryzen based ASUS PN50

Tips for using USB Network Adapters with VMware ESXi

Running Intel NUCs and other SFF systems with ESXi is a proven standard for virtualization home labs. One major drawback is that most of the available SFF systems only have a single Gigabit network adapter. This might be sufficient for a standalone ESXi with a few VMs, but when you want to use shared Storage or VMware NSX, you totally want to have additional NICs.

This article explains some basics to consider when running USB-based network adapters with ESXi.

Read More »Tips for using USB Network Adapters with VMware ESXi

ESXi VMKUSB NIC Fling adds support for 2.5GBASE-T Adapters

The USB Native Driver Fling, a popular ESXi driver by Songtao Zheng and William Lam that adds support for USB-based Network Adapters, has been updated to version 1.6. The new version has added support for RTL8156 based 2.5GBASE-T network adapters.

Multi-Gigabit network adapters with 5GBASE-T are available for a while, but those 5GbE adapters cost about $100 USD. The new driver allows the usage of 2.5GbE adapters that are available for as low as $25 USD. The driver was released yesterday, and luckily I already own a bunch of 2.5GbE adapters, so I could give it a test drive immediately.

CableCreation USB 3.0 to 2.5 Gigabit LAN Adapter (CD0673)

Read More »ESXi VMKUSB NIC Fling adds support for 2.5GBASE-T Adapters