Shuttle SG45H7, with RAID, ESXi 4.0u1
I started off with a stock Shuttle SG45H7, which Tiger Direct had in stock last week. To it, I added:
Core 2 Quad Q9550 (2.83 Ghz)
8GB DDR2-800 RAM (4x 2GB) - the system can take 4x 4GB as well - update the bios first
LSI MegaRAID SAS 8344ELP (one of the HP OEM ones - flashed right up to latest firmware)
2x 1TB Samsung SATA disks (RAID-1)
Lite-on SATA DVD Burner drive (Newegg had them for $23)
Intel Pro 1000GT Desktop adapter (PCI)
The RAID card is a PCIe x4 card, which is fine at home in the PCIe x16 slot that the system comes with. I disabled the sound, firewire, ide and onboard ethernet in the bios. I set the SATA controller to AHCI mode as well.
Booted right up from the ESXi 4.0u1 CD, installed without any trouble, applied the latest patches and moved my VMs over from my 3.5u4 server, which has now been decommissioned, until I can turn it into a desktop PC for someone (it's another Shuttle).
The only way I'd like this build better is if the system had 2 PCIe slots instead of a PCIe plus PCI. Then I could have done multiple NIC ports. For me at home, the single gig port is enough, as I'm not running any external storage, and don't have a terribly complex network topology.
I did do a bit of cable modification on this build, but nothing too hairy. I removed the IDE cable as well as one of the two pre-run SATA cables. This opened up enough room for me to run the SAS-to-SATA breakout cable through the cable trench. I zip-tied off the 2 extra leads from the breakout cable to keep it out of the way.
This thing is dead silent, and is quite fast. Current workload:
Pri DNS, DHCP, Pri RADIUS Server - Debian 5 x86
Sec DNS, Sec RADIUS Server - Debian 5 x86
Asterisk 1.6/Freepbx Server - Debian 5 x86
FreeNAS 0.7.1 x86
Win Server 2k8 R2 Standard