I can say that my ESXi server is the heart of my lab, so before I got everything, I was doing some research to get the best deal. The easiest way to get it built, is to follow the VMware hardware guide to get a supported server, but it means a higher price and maybe, pointless features for our purpose like redundant PSUs. On the other hand, you will, unlike me, save some headaches with the supported path. I like challenges!
In my case, I wanted something small with support for VM Direct Path and of course, all the hardware embedded on the motherboard. Based on those prerequisites, I found the Asrock Z68 Pro3-M, a micro-ATX form factor motherboard.
– Motherboard: Asrock Z68 Pro3-M (Graphics and NIC on-board)
– CPU: Intel Core i5-2500 (note that is the non-K version, to take advantage of the virtualization features)
– RAM: 4x8Gb G.Skill Ares
– Case: Cooler Master Elite 342 MicroATX
– PSU: Tacens Radix V 450W
– HD: 1x Samsung SSD 830 128Gb – 4x2TB Seagate ST2000DL003
– Extra: Intel pci NIC.
I boot ESXi 5.0 from a USB pen drive and without doing anything, everything is recognized, the NIC Realtek RTL8111E included.