Shuttle SZ87R6 VMware ESXi 5.5 Home Lab

Ladies and Gentleman. It’s time to update the Perfect vSphere lab!  You can see my popular post about the SH67H3 here. While that lab still works great with ESXi 5.5 and some people will still build them because they are a good value at this point, there is another Shuttle machine worth writing about these days. The SZ87R6. I was able to get my hands on one and install ESXi 5.5. It runs beautifully. (Well, it seemed to run beautifully. See notes above.) It includes support for Haswell chips and best of all has two integrated gigabit NICs. Now, in order to get the NICs to work, you have to create a custom iso that has the supported driver. The box does not work right out of the bat with ESXi 5.5. I’ve documented how inside this post. NOTE: At this point, we’re still waiting on a decent driver. Even if you follow these steps, the Realtek 8168 driver doesn’t appear to work properly on this box. Update: 8/1/2014: There are some updates though here in the comment thread which now appear that we’ve found a fix!

It’s a good easy build, good airflow and quiet like the SH67H3. 32GB of maximum RAM which I tested using this Crucial memory. The hard part is getting your hands on them as they’re fairly new.

One thing you’ll want to think about doing is adding another dual port NIC. This Intel adapter is a great one to pair it with. It’ll give you a total of 4 NICs!

Some specs about the SZ87R6:

  • Processor: Intel Haswell Core i7, Core i5 and Core i3 LGA1150 socket, 95w max.
  • Chipset: Intel Z87
  • Memory: DDR3 1333/1666, 4 slots, 32GB Max.
  • VGA: Integrated in CPU
  • Audio: Realtek ALC892 7.1 channel High Definition Audio
  • Ethernet: Dual Realtek 8111G 10/100/1000
  • Storage Interface: SATA 6G
  • Expansion Slots: Expansion slots: 1*PCI-Ex4, 1*PCI-Ex16, 1*mini-PCI-E(mSATA),1*mini PCI-E(short)
  • Onboard Connectors: (2) 4 Pin fan connector V, (4) SATA 6.0 connectors, (1) ATX main power (2*10), (1) ATX main power (2*2), (1) 2×5 pin USB header, (1) RS232 header, (1) Low Pin Count header, (1) SP/DIF header, (1) AUX-in header
  • Front Panel: (1) USB 2.0 Port, (1) USB 2.0 Port with mobile charger mobile device charger feature, (2) USB 3.0 Port, (1) External microphone jack 1/8”, (1) External headphone jack 1/8”, (1) Power button, (1) HDD Led, (1) Power Led
  • Back Panel: (4) USB 2.0 Ports, (2) USB 3.0 Ports, (1) eSATA port, (1) Line in jack 1/8”, (1) Line out jack 1/8”, (1) Side surrond out jack 1/8”, (1) Rear surrond out jack 1/8”, (1) Center bass out jack 1/8”, (1) RJ45, (1) CMOS clear button, (1) DVI-I Port, (1) HDMI Port
  • Drive Bays: (1) 5.25″ ODD bay, (2) 3.5″ HDD bay, Supports 2.5″ x 2 / 4 HDD, with accessory PHD3 x 1 /2
  • Power: 80 Plus Bronze 500W power supply
This entry was posted in Home Lab, vSphere 5.5, Whitebox. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Shuttle SZ87R6 VMware ESXi 5.5 Home Lab

  1. Pingback: We have a winner! | CinlorTech's Blog

  2. Chris says:

    I’m seeing a bunch of confusion about whether or not the Z87 supports VT-d, there is not even a clear answer on Intel’s website.

    Can you confirm or clarify?

  3. Keith says:

    Thanks for the update Ryan! Which processor did you go with in the new box?

  4. Breakingcustom says:

    I actually built two whiteboxes with Shuttle’s new SH87R6.

    Thing is, I’ve had the one PSOD a few times and the one that has never had issues did it last night.

    I’m running the i7-4770S with 32GB of G.SKILL memory in each. Just running ESXi 5.5 on 32GB flash drives. All storage is on a Synology DS1812+.

    • JD says:

      You say you have 2 whiteboxes of the SH87R6 running.

      So does that mean that you successfully managed to the the Realtek onboard 8111G to work? If so, please share how as others have not been successful and I have 2 on their way to me know. I am concerned that I wont be able to get the onboard NIC going.

      • Ryan Birk says:

        JD, the driver when you inject it into the ISO looks like it wants to work but fails. I personally installed it on a friends machine to test and it looked ok at first but no dice later and considering several of you have had the same problems, I went back and threw the disclaimer up regarding the 8111G driver. 8111E is the only one that seems to work. I’m keeping an eye on this thread.

    • justme says:


      Could you please help me with some advices. I’m currently trying to build the same for ESXi 5.5 ( SH87R6 + i7-4770S + 32 GB of RAM ) . This will be my primary host, and , when the wallet will allow me , get another one ( probably with i5-4570S + 16 GB of RAM , as a starter ) . Now comes the tricky part :
      1. Did you managed to use the onboard NIC Realtek 8111E without issues ? I got mixed signals regarding this ( it works constantly or )
      2. Does it or does it not support VT-d ? I contacted Shuttle support, they stated : “Unfortunately, the Intel H87/Z87 do not support VT-d. Only
      the older machine SX79R5, with high-end X79 chipset, support VT-d.” .

      From what I found out, the motherboard + CPU + BIOS ( I found BIOS manual of this exactly same model ) supports it. Could you please check this ? If passthrough is supported, and , if yes , are you able to map the SATA controller ? I don’t want to spend money on a storage box for now , so the storage will be internal mapped to a NAS4Free ( or something like that) . I know I can use RDM ( found some tutorials for using local attached storage as RDM ) , but I would like to use passthrough ).

      Thank you for your time !

  5. Pilow says:

    Hi there,
    Building two whiteboxes like Breakingcustom (SH87R6)
    ESXi5.5 is running if i inject Realtek 8168 drivers in the ISO (otherwise install do not pass the “no network card detected”).

    But anyway, network isn’t working properly (no ping in/out, but link is UP)

    No luck to make 8111G chipset work in Esxi5.5 for now…

    • Ryan Birk says:

      Yes, that’s what I noticed afterwards. The card comes up but no link. I initially did a base install. Generally if the card comes “UP” it’s probably going to work. I am going to say these boxes are a bust until a different driver comes out.

  6. zood says:

    so this SHUTTLE SZ87R6 works with intel server adapter just not with the on board nics? which intel adapter should i use?

  7. Blair Fritz says:

    – Good News! Was banging my head against the wall for ages with the 8111G not playing nicely with ESXi 5.5 but I updated the BIOS earlier tonight and it – apparently in a moment of pure awakening where ‘if I act up any more, I’m going to get tossed out the window’ – detected the NICs. So, those other individuals banging their heads against the wall with getting the onboard NICs to work: update the BIOS to 2.00 from Shuttle
    – Bad News! If you fill both the PCIe slots – in my case, the x1 slot has a Syba 2port GbE and the x16 has a Pro/1000 QP – the system will fail to detect the x16 device properly, believing it to be (what I assume) a graphics card and it does not function right. Even if you go within the BIOS and tell it to only use onboard for the ‘graphics device’, it is not detected and you receive no POST during boot. ESXi fails to even detect the device. I opened a ticket with Shuttle to get this addressed.

    • obviouspseudonym says:

      Any chance you could point me at some useful instructions on flashing my BIOS? I’m trying to follow the ones from shuttle’s website, and they’re absolutely shockingly bad. They say to use the AFUDOS exe but don’t provide it, they also describe the ROM file as being named SZ87R6.rom but their BIOS download zip doesn’t contain anything with that name. The AFUDOS files I can find from elsewhere (ASUS mainly) don’t seem to take commands in the format Shuttle describe, so even if I could figure out which the correct ROM file was, it wouldn’t work the way they tell me. I’m stuck, help!

      P.S. I’m the guy who just looked at your linkedin profile 🙂

  8. Cyril says:

    I would like to know this shuttle box can do a passthrough with a radeon graphic card ? (and some USB controler ?)
    I am looking at it for my desktop esxi/windows box if the passthrough work.
    (to do some gaming inside windows VM).


  9. Lordicus says:

    Has anyone tested whether a clean install of the newly released ESXi 5.5 Update 1 detects all the onboard NIC’s?

  10. Igor says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the work you have done – I am running ESXi 5.5 on my Shuttle SZ87R6 already for some week and everything is fine (I just required to inject network drivers as you described).
    I just wanted to ask: do you see same picture under Health Status (there are info regarding Processor and Software components only)?


  11. obviouspseudonym says:

    How do I confirm exactly which Realtek version I have? This thread seems to indicate that The SZ87R6 has an 8111G, but Shuttle’s website says it’s 8111E – what gives?

    Also my issue seems to differ slightly from what’s on here; after injecting the driver for 8169 and 8111, the NIC is detectedm knows when physical connection is made and is able to ping, but can’t reach beyond that – no DHCP, nor with a manually configured IP.

    Anyone got any updates?

  12. Richie says:

    This fix for the broken Realtek 8168 NIC showing connected but no traffic on the Shuttle SZ87R6 works:

    Flash the BIOS and then re-install the .vib driver for the NIC.

    These are the steps:
    1. Flash the BIOS. v2.01 was the version I used.

    2. Upload VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib to a datastore.

    3. SSH to the server.

    4. Remove .vib:
    # esxcli software vib remove -n net-r8168

    5. Reboot:
    # reboot

    6. SSH again to the server after reboot.

    7. Install .vib:
    # esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib

    8. Reboot:
    # reboot

    • Richie says:

      Point 7 has an one too many slashes. Sorry.

      # esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib

      • Richie says:

        I see why – the form is deleting some of the content!

        it should be:

        # esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/your_datastore_name/VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib

        • foo says:

          where do you get VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib?

        • Ryan Birk says:

          Thanks Richie, this is probably the most viable solution thus far! This would probably also assume that you have an alternative non-8168 NIC to log back in after you remove the vib since you’re still using SSH to get back in to install the network driver. For those without a secondary NIC, you might want to drop the vib to your local datastore and do it via the local cli after removing it. For those wondering, accessing the ESXi Shell requires exiting the DCUI back to the main screen (the ugly yellow/grey one) and then pressing [ALT+F1] on the keyboard. The keystroke [ALT+F2] will toggle back to the DCUI.

  13. Timo says:


    really nice post and fabulous comments :-).
    Complete different question. Has anyone made some power consumption measurement? I am really interested in such Shuttle instead of one of the new Intel NUCs.


    • Viki says:

      hi,i’ve been trying for ages to find out about the blue suits worn at the las vegas wedding. i’m getting married this september and really want to wear this suit, looks totally awesome!whilst most people consider them &#&si0;h2deou28#8221; i guess it takes all sorts could you tell me where they hired them from?thanks,john

  14. Ken says:

    I’m thinking of building two of these for my ESXi 5.5/6 Beta lab. What processor are you guys putting in these? I’m thinking I want an i7. A link to Amazon would be much appreciated.

  15. Jason says:

    Has anyone been able to get GPU Passthrough working on one of these? I’ve been trying for hours ripping my hair out. Any help would be very appreciated.

  16. Kal says:

    The memory link above “I tested using this Crucial memory” leads to Corsair
    is that the P/N tested with “Corsair XMS3 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1333 MHz (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory (CMX16GX3M2A1333C9)”?


  17. jaime says:

    does anybody tried with this? i’m very interested in the results

  18. Jeremy says:


    First off, thanks so much for this blog post, it’s a great guide for building a quality home-lab. I followed your various steps and have a similar configuration in my office now. Do you have update steps for how to get the SZ87R6 shuttles working with vSphere 6.0? I attempted the steps to build the USB bootable stick with the 6.0 bits, got lots of red errors scrolling basically saying the drivers where already in-place. I installed, booted, and everything seemed clean. After configuring the static IP info on the host, I’m unable to see the host from any system. I’m curious if maybe there is something else missing here? I’m checking the logs now to see if there is any self-evident errors.

  19. Bayu Wibowo says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Does this Shuttle SZ87R6 support vSphere 6?
    I am planning to buy some hardware for my homelab w/ vSphere 6


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