Question Server Class Build - ESXi, FreeNAS, Development


Feb 1, 2016
I'm looking for advice on a server build to host an ESXi installation. I have two primary requirements.

First: ESXi supported PCI device passthrough to give FreeNAS direct access to (8) 3.5" HDD.

Second: At least (2) M.2 drive slots for boot and VM datastore.

Purpose: The server will host my FreeNAS installation and have direct access to my NAS harddrives to manage the ZFS system on its own. In addition to FreeNAS, I want to be able to spin up new VMs and Containers for local development purposes. I'd like to do this all on one ESXi (or some other hypervisor) host.

Background: I built a PC using desktop class components (X470, AMD Ryzen 3), and have had all sorts of issues with trying run server-class OSes and applications. I should of built or bought a server in the first place. I've looked at a lot of options, and started to settle on the HP ML30 platform, but its just so basic and only has (4) 3.5" HDD slots. I would prefer to just have to buy a new server-class motherboard and CPU and install it using the case, memory and drives I already have.

For CPU/Mobo or Complete Chassis:
  • Budget [$400-$1200]
  • Server Class architecture
  • Intel CPU
  • 8x SATA or Expandable storage
  • 2x M2 SSD slots
  • On board graphics with HDMI output (if possible, i keep seeing VGA on server boards)
  • [nice to have] PCI3.0x16 for GPU