The Shuttle XH61V Ultra Mini vSphere Lab

As many of you know, I’ve been running my standard homelab on the Shuttle SH67H3 platform for awhile now. I love the flexibility it gives me with up to 32GB of RAM. Although, I know there have been many of you asking about even smaller units. So I wanted to do a review about another alternative platform that runs ESXi 5.x. The Shuttle XH61V. The reason this unit is a homelab option is that it comes with two NICs onboard and supports Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors.

To build 1 complete ESXi host, you’re looking at the following list of components. The components can be swapped out as pricing changes, but these components seem to work very well but in theory, as long as you’re buying supported hardware, it should work!

Some hardware specs of the units:

xh61v_large xh61v_back

FORM FACTOR Mini-ITX MB
3.5 L chassis
PROCESSOR Support Intel Sandy Bridge / Ivy Bridge 65W CPU
CHIPSET Intel H61
MEMORY 2 x 204 pin DDR3 SODIMM slots,8GB per DIMM (Max 16GB)
Dual Channel DDR3 1333 Mhz
ETHERNET Realtek 8111E X2
IEEE 802.3u 100Base-T specification revision 1.0
1Gb/s operation
Support Wake-On-LAN function
ONBOARD CONNECTORS (2) SATA connectors
(2) 1×5 pin USB 2.0 header
(1) ATX main power connector
(1) ATX 12V power connector
(2) set 4pin fan connectors

One benefit of these units is they’re very quiet and use a very small amount of power. You really don’t hear them running whatsoever, especially if you’re using an SSD.

A couple other things to think about. You will probably need to build a custom ESXi 5.5 iso if you plan to use ESXi 5.5. ESXi 5.1 will work out of the box. You can use the steps I have laid out for you over here. Just navigate halfway down to the “fresh install” section for instructions on how to build in the Realtek driver. It’s very simple to do.

Now remember, you might have some USB sticks laying around, so you might be able to avoid that and in regards to the SSD, it’s not required but given the coolness factor of VSAN, you might be kicking yourself down the road if you don’t install an SSD. You could also not buy the I7 and purchase a slightly cheaper processor but remember that you might lose out on the Hyper Threading. Just be sure to check the compatibility list over at the Shuttle site.

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8 Responses to The Shuttle XH61V Ultra Mini vSphere Lab

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year! | Ryan Birk – Virtual Insanity

  2. James says:

    Wow, great looking lab boxes. Thanks for sharing. I will have to look into these as I replace my lab.

  3. justme says:

    Hello,

    From what I see, XH61V has only SATA II . Isn’t a drawback having a SSD and SATA II ? Or am I missing something.

    Thank you.

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  6. Evan says:

    Does this box max out at 16 or 32 gb? conflicting messages

    • Ryan Birk says:

      From everything I have come across they are 16GB max. The ones I tried were 16GB max. Shuttle might have released a newer revision that I don’t know about though, but it’s not on their site.

  7. Pingback: Intel NUC: Perfect vSphere 5.5 Home Lab | Ryan Birk – Virtual Insanity

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