NVMe uses PCI Express to finally unleash the true power of NAND flash memory

Above image courtesy of Samsung's SATA to PCIe article, excerpt here: When the 8 channels in typical applications are multiplied by the 400 MB/s transfer rate spanning multiple NAND Flash memories, the result is a 3.2 GB/s data transfer speed. This transfer rate is out of range for SATA to…

Apr 22 2015

NVIDIA 560 Ti to 750 Ti GPU upgrade makes Core i7 Z68 system quieter, faster, cooler, using half the power

Our family's gZilla gaming system is based on an Intel Core i7 2600K and an ASRock Z68 motherboard, from mid 2011. This system started life hidden in our basement, with 2 video cables running up to the family room's 55" TV one floor above it, and to a 24" monitor next to the TV, where the…

Aug 19 2014

Intel's Haswell-E X99S and Atom can handle 64GB of memory, affordability TBD

VMware ESXi or Microsoft Hyper-V home labs crave RAM. Lots of RAM. It's likely the bottleneck you'll bump into first. It's also not easily upgradeable, once you hit your CPU/motherboard limits. So we continue to wait for possible solutions. My own 2011-vintage Z68 based vZilla build has 32GB of…

Aug 11 2014

VMware Purple Screens of Death can spring up from improper eSATA cabling

One my shortest, simplest articles ever, but of high value to the fellow home lab enthusiast that may be afflicted by the occasional PSOD. Alas, over the past 23 months of running vZilla, it hasn't all been roses and sunshine. One vexing, intermittent problem that cropped up mid 2012 had to do with…

Apr 10 2013

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…

Aug 23 2012

VMworld 2012 presentation proposals include "Build Your Own VMware vSphere Home Lab Using Commodity Hardware" (cast your vote by June 8th)

Before voting closes on June 8th, please consider the sessions you'd like to see presented at VMworld 2012 this August 26th-30th in San Francisco CA: www.vmworld.com/www.vmworld.com/cfp.jspa Also consider voting for a session I proposed called: Session 2358  "Build Your Own VMware vSphere…

May 30 2012

ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 BIOS 2.10 released May 10 2012, DO NOT USE 2.X BIOS if you're staying on a Sandy Bridge CPU!

I've been watching the beta firmware levels, knowing that support for Ivy Bridge CPUs was coming in a new BIOS that ASRock was cooking up for users of the ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 motherboard, such as my TinkerTry.com/vzilla and TinkerTry.com/gzilla systems. Thanks to Roy's comment…

May 17 2012

Drezilla - Allan Dresner's Core i7 X79 Home Storage and Virtualization Server, your thoughts?

This article is rather unique, because it's entirely contributed by a site visitor. Allan happens to have started out with the Commodore VIC-20, as did I! That's right, I couldn't afford the Commodore 64, but this article isn't about me. Allan's enthusiasm for sharing is incredible, and his story…

Apr 5 2012

Sandybridge Z68 versus Ivy Bridge Z77 motherboards, LSI 9265-8i versus 9266-8i RAID adapters: would I change how I'd build vZilla this year?

With the LSI 9266-4i/9266-8 RAID adapter expected next month, and new Ivy Bridge motherboards arriving this summer, I've begun to wonder: If I was setting out to build my virtualization system today, would I choose different parts than I did back in June of 2011? Read/write caching using SSDs seems…

Mar 25 2012

32GB of memory on the ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 Motherboard

Feb 22 2012 Update: $207.99 USD after promo code, ends midnight eastern time tonight! Here's the purchase link: www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231487 Here's my DIMM drama. An intriguing tale of a month or so of oh no, followed by 32GB of sweet oh yeah! When purchasing a 4 DIMM…

Feb 13 2012

Build your own VMware vSphere ESXi 5 Datacenter, starting with 1 PC

Finally, here it is, one of my most useful videos to date, hopefully you'll agree. It's particularly helpful for those who have never taken the time to get NTP and hosts files working in a no-DNS home router environment, or never deployed the VMware vCenter Server Appliance. This step-by-step…

Jan 24 2012

Passing a USB 3.0 card through to a VM can be tricky, especially if all 4 ports aren't recognized

As you may recall, I had success with configuring VMDirectPath for all 4 USB 3.0 ports on my HighPoint RU1144A, as I detailed here, with screenshots and a video walk-thru. I even told HighPoint about this success with ESXi 5.0 pass through, on my recent visit to their booth at CES last week. I've…

Jan 21 2012

Fractal Design at CES 2012: overview by Ryan Heimbuch, Technical Support Manager

I have two videos to share, from the guy who is responsible for supporting those Fractal Design USB 3.0 upgrade kits. Actually, just last week, I installed the USB 3.0 upgrade kit in vZilla, which took all of 10 minutes, and was quite straight forward. These cases all have a lot of drive bays,…

Jan 16 2012

“vZilla” Z68 virtualization and backup system is completely alive!

At last, the parts list is finalized, the USB 2.0 ports on the Fractal Design case are upgraded to USB 3.0, the RAID is configured, and VMware ESXi 5.0 is humming along nicely with many VMs. It's good to finally have the entire physical layout completed, the cables managed, and the basic settings…

Jan 10 2012

USB 3.0 Speed can be accelerated using ASRock's XFast USB Utility

I prefer to perform my own tests, rather than just trusting marketing hype, when determining which utilities and tools I'll consider for my backup and virtualization server. There's a lot of information about ASRock's XFast USB Utility out there, and I used the latest version 3.02.19 from ASRock,…

Nov 21 2011

How to get into LSI's RAID WebBIOS on an ASRock Z68 based system

Turns out that getting into the RAID configuration screen can be tricky on Z68 consumer-oriented motherboards (affordable), versus server class motherboards (expensive). For my TinkerTry.com/vzilla virtualization lab/backup server project, I had finalized my choices of RAID and motherboard: LSI…

Nov 17 2011

32GB of RAM is the sweet spot for VMware ESXi 5.0 Free Hypervisor

Feb 28 2012 Update: Great news, with some patience and careful shopping, ~$200 USB can now get you 32GB of RAM that works great, given 32GB is what the free Hypervisor 5.0 supports maximum anyway, good deal! TinkerTry.com/32gb-memory-on-asrock-fatal1ty-z68-professional-gen3-motherboard I cannot…

Nov 16 2011

gZilla Gaming System allows Boyo to excel at StarCraft 2

Clearly he's got mad skills.  And yes, school and homework are always first with Boyo, where's he's also excelling. Once he proved himself with growing SC2 skills this past spring of 2011, it became clear his 4 year old laptop was holding him back, even with its discrete graphics. First, we…

Nov 5 2011

“gZilla” Z68 Gaming System – built for speed and fun

Mar 14, 2012 Update: For more pics, see also TinkerTry.com/gzillacompleted. For more backstory, see also tinkertry.com/boyobio. For boyo's new site, see boyostarcraft.com. Back when creating vZilla, I decided to standardize on this same motherboard I've become quite familiar with, for a gaming…

Oct 1 2011

Why using an old SSD for Intel Smart Response Technology RAID0 caching might not be a great idea

It would appear to be a bad idea to use an older SSD if you're trying to speed up a 3x1TB RAID0 array.  Let me explain/demonstrate. I recently looked for an SSD for RAID caching, on my Z68 mobo with Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT), and/or LSI 9265-8i RAID.  I already had the three 1TB…

Sep 24 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad W520 Saga

I'm very happy to have finally received my ThinkPad W520.  Set original preload drive aside for a bit, to play with Windows 8 Developer Preview for a bit fun first, seen here: https://tinkertry.com/windows8onw520 Now back to getting this laptop ready for work. 1) Memory I needed to upgrade to…

Sep 15 2011

Good RAID Controllers with SSD caching and ESX support

Here's the original title of this article: "RAID controllers with >2TB drive support, 6Gb/sec (SATA3) support, and various levels of SSD caching: results of my taking both the LSI 9260-8I and the Adaptec 2405Q out for a spin" Kind of a mouthful, eh?  Hopefully my new title is both…

Aug 13 2011

In the midst of crankin out photos/videos about vZilla...

I may have launched TinkerTry.com/vzilla nearly a month ago, but the vZilla documentation wasn't really complete.  I need to add far more build details (photos, storage configuration, video of building RAID array, etc), and reorganize the way that I present the information. Now that I've…

Aug 7 2011

Power efficiency of a Z68 motherboard system (with ten 3.5" drives), using a CyberPower UPS's LCD Display to measure watts

I recently learned that there may be some special considerations when shopping for a new, efficient, and properly sized power supply/UPS combination.  I don't know for sure, but it didn't really cost me significantly more money, and I now know first-hand that my UPS seems to work fine with my…

Aug 5 2011