How to install ESXi on an Intel NUC (video)

Running a home lab with ESXi doesn’t require a big heavy server that consumes a lot of power. I wanted to build a lab machine that could be portable so I could take it along with me if I’m traveling. Fortunately, this machine also is tiny and consumes with very little power.

Here are the details for the NUC:
The Intel NUC is an awesome little PC with a tiny form factor and small power footprint. You can use this for a great media player, desktop, or even a server! I will be using it as an ESXi server.

Here’s the list of components that I bought to build it:
D54250WYKH (Core i5 with 2.5″ slot) – $ 350
Crucial 16GB Kit (2x 8GB) DDR3 1600 Mhz – $ 160
Samsung 250GB mSATA SSD – $ 150 – Fast storage for quick deployment, swap space, temp files, etc.
Seagate 1TB Hybrid SSD – $ 100 – Slower storage to store other VMs that will have a lot of data at rest. Since it’s a Hybrid disk, chances are, the active data will be on the SSD portion of the disk.

So, I did a little bit of research when trying to figure out whether or not ESXi ran on the NUC. I read through a number of blog posts and the one that helped me was this one:
http://www.virten.net/2013/09/esxi-5-x-installation-on-intel-nuc-fails-with-no-network-adapters/
Here’s a shameless copy/paste of the resources required:
– ESXi 5.x U1 ISO image (from VMware downloads)
– ESXi-Customizer (ESXi-Customizer-v2.7.1.exe)
– Intel Driver (net-e1001e-1.0.0.x86_64.vib) (3rd Gen NUC)
– Intel Driver (net-e1000e-2.3.2.x86_64.vib) (4th Gen NUC)
– SATA Controller (sata-xahci-1.10-1.x86_64.vib) (4th Gen NUC) from v-front.de

Enjoy the video and please post comments!

6 thoughts on “How to install ESXi on an Intel NUC (video)

  1. Hello..

    Gone through video, appreciate your effort..

    I would like to setup a vSphere esxi home, lab for study purpose. Will you please share the NUM model you are using ? If you can share thoughts on NUM performance and issues that wil be great helpful..

    Is this NUM box capable to handle load like base os W2K12 on top of that vmware workstation with four gust VMs ?

    Thanks..
    Raj.

  2. Thanks for the response. Appreciate the feedback. Model has been updated in the posting – D54250WYKH. It can run probably 10 guest OSes, depending on how heavy they are. Since I loaded mine up with 16gb RAM, it can run a lot. You can run ESXi natively. There’s no need for Workstation.

  3. Thoughts on whether or not I could do the following:

    1) install esxi on usb flash drive
    2) Create Multiple partitions on SSD
    3) Install Win7 (desktop purposes) on one of said partitions
    4) Toggle boot between esxi or win7 on ssd

    Thanks!

  4. I’ve never installed Win7 on the NUC, but I think that you can do it. I wouldn’t bother trying to toggle boot. Why not just install ESXi on the USB stick, install Win7 on the internal HD and set the BIOS to boot with USB? That way, if you want to boot Windows, just pull the USB stick out.

  5. I’ve used both, the HDMI and the mini-VGA. The miniVGA could go into the Apple adapter to VGA and into a regular monitor. One thing is, nothing will show up on the monitor unless it showed up at boot, so if you’re running ESX and you see nothing on the screen, you’ll need to reboot.

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