ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M Motherboard works nicely with ESXi 5.0

I’m still rather fond of how tinkertry.com/vzilla turned out, but I realize that those buying new are likely to shop around for a Z77 based system with decent ESXi 5.0 function. While I cannot speak from first hand experience, I can say that this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of the continued ESXi / VT-d success for ASRock motherboard buyers. See also tinkertry.com/z77-vmdirectpath and the very useful comments below the post.
Here’s 2 emails I received, published below with permission of the overseas author, with full name/email removed, and some URLs added.
Note also that the enthusiast had the right attitude going into this, stating I’m going for an Ivy Bridge setup. I know, it’s brand new and can have risks.
We are, of course, entirely unsupported by going with motherboards not on VMware’s HCL, but as we’ve also discovered, it can also work out pretty well, with considerable cost savings.
 

—–Original Message—–

From: Karel
Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2012 5:12 AM
To: tinkererguy
Subject: Re: [Tinkertry] Windows Server 2012 Beta Essentials is availible
Hello,
In april 15 I sent you a email from <> with subjet UPS
working in Vsphere ?
There I told you that I was going to build my lab PC.
Well, I hope I can assemble my PC this weekend. I did a little ESXi on a
HP Elite 8000 desktop.
No, I did not apply the patch.
Here is the PC I’m going to build:
I also ordered a HP Microserver N40L to use as a backup/NAS for windows
(normally Windows Home Server but will test with Windows server 2012
essentials.
Nice to hear that you got software for easy use of your Cyberpower UPS.
As a mentioned in april I have a few consumer UPS from APC and that is a
real nightmare to let it work.
Keep up the good work.
Kind regards,
Karel

From: Karel
Sent: Saturday, July 21, 2012 3:21 PM
To: tinkererguy
Subject: Got my homelab working !

Hey,

Today I finally got my server running.

Installed ESXi, then applied the patch of july 12 (with help from your update1 video, thanks).
Then installed Areca driver to let my 1882i work in ESXi.
I will contact Areca because the latest driver (2011) let my 1882i see as a 1880i model.
And my Crucial M4 512 SSD is recognized as a non-SSD.

The Asrock motherboard is great, even Vt-d works.

The 50GB is a iSCSI LUN on my Synology DS1010+ NAS.

BTW, installed Win server 2012 essentials on my also new HP Microserver N40L. During install I saw also a 2012 Storage server. Can’t wait for that too.

Kind regards,
Karel

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  • kthree

    I also have the Z77 Extreme4-M and have had success with it passing through an IBM M1015 and other various cards in ESXi 5.
    However, seems like this board have issues with GPU passthrough, searched around but I cannot find any success stories involving ASRock boards with GPU vt-d in ESXi. Though it is confirmed to be working with Xen.
    I remember you posting about GPU passthrough a few months back and wondered if you had any success?

  • Karel

    Nice to see my email. This is indeed a nice motherboard. (picture above is the ATX version, not the m-ATX) I haven’t tried GPU passthrough yet, USB works fine.

  • Karel

    @kthree. GPU passthrough is not yet a stable feature with VMWare, Just a few GPU cards are working fine on other brands then Asrock.

  • tinkererguy

    That is great, thank you for the ATI+ASRock success story!

  • Vancrof

    Hi Paul!

    Are you check your system if it support vMotion and FT with this link:

    http://www.vmware.com/support/sitesurvey/help_2_5_3.html#install

    Regards

    sorry mi english is not good! :s

    • tinkererguy

      I approved your post, and made a screenshot of the Site Survey results: http://www.tinkertry.com/files/vZilla-Site-Survey.png

      • Vancrof

        Thanks :-)

      • zaki

        HI Paul,

        In the picture I see that your CPU doesn’t support FT. I’m buying this mobo to test esxi features. Is this issue due to the CPU or mobo

        • http://TinkerTry.com/about Paul Braren

          Honestly, I haven’t researched this in nearly a year, and just don’t know for sure. I’m sorry zaki!

  • MooTrader

    Z87 Extreme3 works great too.

    • Johny

      Also the NIC?
      (in regearding to ESXI).

      • MooTrader

        No the NIC drivers are not included by VMware (or WIndows 7 on bare
        metal). It may be possible to slip them into the ISO, but I already have
        some NICs to use so I didn’t bother. Cant log in with my name for some reason

        • http://TinkerTry.com/about Paul Braren

          Darn, thanks for the heads-up on the comment login.
          Which browser? Which login method did you try, the usual Disqus one, or one of the more recently implemented single sign on partners like Google+? Sorry to bug u, wish to fix it (although I could not replicate the issue).

          • MooTrader

            Disqus. Turns out it works fine in IE, but not in Firefox 24

          • http://TinkerTry.com/about Paul Braren

            Phew, glad you got by it, thank you for the heads-up, will report to Disqus. Any chance you have an add-on that could be related to the behavior? Don’t take it as an insult, just that I’m expecting Disqus will ask me (I’m unable to replicate any login issues on my Firefox 24). If you’d much rather play with ESXi than deal with Disqus, I completely understand, don’t bother replying, no worries of course.

          • http://TinkerTry.com/about Paul Braren

            https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/960600#answer-466394
            points the finger at HTTPS Everywhere 3.3.1 add-on, for example. I dunno, just throwing an idea out there.

          • http://TinkerTry.com/about Paul Braren

            Of course, Disqus Support has asked me to send you this troubleshooting boilerplate for Firefox, just in case you happen to have Avast! Online. Please don’t take offense, and I’m just the messenger, I completely understand that you may not wish to take any of these steps. I should also point out that my site still allows unregistered users to make submissions, although it’s a lot clearer/cleaner to follow the existing wonderful Disqus threads already under MooTrader. I suppose using another browser for commenting via Disqus is by far the easiest option for now. FYI, generally the only moderating I do is for submissions that have URLs, other posts show up nearly immediately along the top right of my entire site.
            Again, so sorry for the Firefox issue, thank you for hanging in there!

            =============

            Hi Paul,

            Sorry to hear a site visitor is having trouble with Disqus loading properly.
            There are currently no known issues with Disqus, however, from the FF support
            forum you linked, it appears that Avast! Online Security 8.0.1489 may cause
            conflicts.

            To get to the bottom of this, we recommend the site visitor try the
            following:

            - disable all plugins, extensions, and add-ons in your browser, as well as any
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            - enable third-party cookies, following this documentation: http://help.disqus.com/customer/portal/articles/466235-enabling-cookies

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        • http://TinkerTry.com/about Paul Braren

          For after ESXi is installed, adding additional NICs, there’s many resources:

          http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1034782

          http://www.vmguru.nl/wordpress/2010/03/add-additional-drivers-to-esxi/

          For injecting NIC drivers into the install ISO itself prior to install, here’s one approach:
          http://www.v-front.de/p/esxi-customizer.html

          that sure is simpler than the “Prior to a new ESXi installation” technique here:
          http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2005205

          Not sure about support, but of course, home labs generally have no support anyway.

  • http://TinkerTry.com/about Paul Braren

    Here’s a much newer Haswell home build, but it has the 32GB maximum ram limitation:
    http://www.vladan.fr/haswell-esxi-whitebox/