Intel Gen 10 NUC (NUC10i7FNH) and ESXi 7.0 for Home LAB
I have decided to build a home lab and started researching on NUC systems as I have been seeing posts on these systems a lot for home lab deployments. The important issues was for me to have virtualization, and of course, fast cpu, lots of memory and storage, and low power consumption/heat and so on…
The bare models comes with CPU and there are boxed versions with memory, cpu, and disk. Depending on CPU models it has different SKUs, I will briefly go over i7s.
NUC10i7FNH or NUC10i7FNK has i7-10710U with 6 Core, up to 4.7 GHz. FNH is the tall version which can take 2.5inch drive and M.2 which seems to be perfect for me to be able to support VSAN along the way (if I can expand with 2 more later this year), one for Cache layer and one for Capacity layer. And also these systems are now supporting 2 SODIMMs up to 64GB (2×32) which is perfect. So I opted in for NUC10i7FNH, and wanted to choose its components by myself instead of getting boxed versions. There are also i5 and i3 models, 4 core and 2 core respectively.
I ordered the bare NUC and 64 GB (2*32) from Amazon. The RAM I selected is “Corsair Vengeance SODIMM 32GB (1x32GB) DDR4 2666 C18 1.2V for Intel 9th & 10th Gen Systems, Black”, and decided to select M2 and 2.5 SSD from local shops when I need them. For the first setup phase, I decided to go for a single SSD and purchased Crucial BX500 1TB.
And finally my toy has arrived (for people ordering the default NUC10i7FNH internationally, do not forget to power cord suitable for your country’s plug)
Now time to install vSphere:
Per ESXi 7.0 requirements below, if you are planning for VSAN, please be aware, there is ESX-OSData (old “scratch”) requirements so you may need to plan to use additional 2 USB’s 1 for boot and 1 for ESX-OSdata (scracth partition) in addition to M2 for cache and SSD for capacity. As I only have one NUC at the moment, no issues for me. LINK
“Installing ESXi 7.0 requires a boot device that is a minimum of 8 GB for USB or SD devices, and 32 GB for other device types. Upgrading to ESXi 7.0 requires a boot device that is a minimum of 4 GB. When booting from a local disk, SAN or iSCSI LUN, a 32 GB disk is required to allow for the creation of system storage volumes, which include a boot partition, boot banks, and a VMFS-L based ESX-OSData volume. The ESX-OSData volume takes on the role of the legacy /scratch partition, VM-tools, and core dump destination.
The recommended ESXi 7.0 install options are the following:
•An 8 GB USB or SD and an additional 32 GB local disk. The ESXi boot partitions reside on the USB or SD and the ESX-OSData volume resides on the local disk.
•A local disk with a minimum of 32 GB. The disk contains the boot partitions and ESX-OSData volume.
•A local disk of 142 GB or larger. The disk contains the boot partitions, ESX-OSData volume, and VMFS datastore.
Installing vSphere 7.0:
If you install ESXi from original iso, you will probably get an error about network driver as the driver for the NIC is not included in the ESXi images. Please refer to this link and this one on the issue. So we have to create a customized ISO image.
CREATING Custom ESXi Image and bootable USB
1. Download NUC 10 NIC driver offline bundle Intel-NUC-ne1000_0.8.4-3vmw.622.214.171.12469922-offline_bundle-16654787.zip.
2. Install Powershell CLI: (LINK)
install-module –name VMware.PowerCLI
3. Create custom image with
# Download ESX Image
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.0-15843807-standard" -ExportToBundle -filepath C:\ESX\ESXi-7.0.0-15843807-standard.zip
# Remove Depo Remove-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
#Create Custom image with the new driver Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\ESXi-7.0.0-15843807-standard.zip Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\Intel-NUC-ne1000_0.8.4-3vmw.6126.96.36.19969922-offline_bundle-16654787.zip
New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-7.0.0-15843807-standard" -name "ESXi-7.0.0-15843807-NUC" –Vendor "Bulent" Remove-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.0-15843807-NUC" -SoftwarePackage "ne1000" Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.0-15843807-NUC" -SoftwarePackage "ne1000-intelnuc 0.8.4-3vmw.6188.8.131.5269922" Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.0-15843807-NUC" -ExportToIso -filepath ESXi-7.0.0-15843807-NUC.iso
Now we have the iso for ESXi 7. We will be using Rufus to create a bootable installer on USB.
Once you boot NUC with this USB, you should be all good to go! More Later… Good luck.