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Taking the Hyper-V Plunge

Or at least I’m getting ready to take the plunge into using Hyper-V. In my machine dilemma, I decided to look at new machines. My first stop, as usual, was Dell. They have a lot of choices, but in terms of desktops, I struggled to find a good machine that would by 64-bit, run Hyper-V and not cost and arm and a leg. Actually my first step was trying to find something to run 8GB of RAM, and there were few choices there.

I went to the Hyper-V and Windows 2008 sites, but it wasn’t completely clear what specs I needed in hardware. They mention hardware virtualization support and trusted execution stuff, but putting this together in terms of the choices out there for CPUs isn’t easy. I wish it were as simple as a Pentium I, Pentium II, etc. Instead there are multiple flavors of dual and quad cores, various AMD chips, etc. Sempron, Xeon, Athlon, Phenom, Q8200, Q6600, it’s nuts.

I quickly decided this was a bad idea. I checked the C|Net Reviews, but they are mainly for people wanting to run Vista, and they don’t have a lot of info to help me. I wanted to wipe a machine, get Hyper-V installed and then do what I want. It seemed in the mainstream world there was a Dell deal for about $900 that had 6GB of RAM and a 64-bit CPU as well as a Gateway that had 8GB for about $800. However I wasn’t sure any of these would run Windows Server 2008. I priced out an HP that might have worked, but it was also up in the $1000 range.

I posted a note on Twitter as well and got a few recommendations, but most of them were “build your own” and that didn’t appeal to me. It’s not worth saving $200 or more if I have to spend hours trying to mix and match the proper components. I found a few more builders online, but none of them wanted to sell me a good systems, but without lots of bells and whistles.

In some searching around for information about the various CPUs I could get, I stumbled on ecollegepc from somewhere. They looked like a reasonable builder, and while they’re not local, they just attracted me as a nice, easy to use site.

I believe in instincts and they struck me as a good place to shop, so I checked out and priced a basic 8GB quad core. No keyboard, no mouse, no speakers, no OS, just a machine. It came in around $700.

Since I wasn’t sure what I needed, and what would match, I emailed them, telling them this story:

“I'm looking to replace my desktop and your company was recommended to me. I haven't purchased a desktop in quite a few years, but here are some things I'm looking to do and was looking for some advice.”

I was pleasantly surprised to get an email back in less than an hour, telling me that I would want to use the Q6600 Quad core, not any of the others, and a Gigabyte motherboard. I had a few more questions, including moving my current nVidia display adapter over and ended up exchanging 3 or 4 emails with their tech. Or maybe the owner, not sure who it was, but he was helpful, and quick to respond.

The whole process and advice just felt good and so I placed an order. I got:

  • 2.40Ghz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 8MB Cache FSB 1066
  • ASUS P5Q Pro
  • 8GB (2GBx4) PC6400 DDR2 800Mhz Memory
  • 2 x 500GB 7200RPM SATA
  • 22X LG SATA Lightscribe Dual Layer DVD1RW DVD-RAM
  • 1GB nVidia GeForce 9500GT GDDR2 PCI Express DVI/Tvout

I also got a fancy LED lit case that will impress the kids. It might annoy me enough to put a something over it, but for now it will be in the desk.

Once it comes, I’ll move stuff over to it and then install Windows Home Server on my existing Dimension E521. It’s a 64-bit desktop with AMD chips that should run that fine. I have 2 SATA drives in there and might add another to give me most space for backups.

The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Posted by nite_eagle on 14 May 2009

Hi Steve,

Make sure it's branded vPro otherwise no Hyper-V allowed. I went through a long search looking for an affordable notebook that would allow me to run Server 2008 and Hyper-V. Business class all the way. HP and Dell $3000+. I ended up with a Toshiba (my second one) Tecra A10, explore.toshiba.com/.../A10-S3501. Running Windows 2008 Server R2 RC with about 10 different dev and testing VMs on Hyper-V. Integration is seamless. I like it much better than VMWare Server. (No java and Tomcat)

Have fun.



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Posted by Steve Jones on 14 May 2009

I checked, and asked the question. I went with a Q6600 CPU, which should handle the Intel VT technology and allow me to run Win 7 and the XP mode if I were to go that way.

Posted by Jack Corbett on 14 May 2009

I'll be interested in hearing how it all turns out with eCollegePC.  I've never heard of them, but they sound like they might be a good company to do business with.

Posted by Steve Jones on 15 May 2009

The machine arrived as spec'd, works well so far, and is quick. They were good about answering questions in a timely manner and shipping things out.

As good as, or better than, my experiences with Dell.

Posted by Anonymous on 13 January 2010

A great Hyper-V blog here at Accentient Blog . I was searching around for information on setting up Hyper

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