Choose your hardware carefully. Search online for ESXi whiteboxes or HCL's. Some drivers for hardware will have been included with a particular version of ESXi, other versions will have dropped it.
Google for other people's whitebox setups. When I first started this, it was a lot harder to piece things together. The internet is full of successful ESXi whitebox success stories now. https://www.google.co.uk/search?client=opera&q=esxi+whitebox+hcl&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
I've found that 5.1.0 works best for me however I have never been able to get GPU pass-through working correctly, which is a bummer.
Below is my setup.
• Motherboard : Asrock Extreme 6 • CPU: Intel 3770 • CPU Cooler: Corsair H100 • RAM: 32GB - 4x Corsair 8GB PC3-12800 • PSU: Corsair 1000w RMx • Case: Coolermaster HAF-X • Syba SATA III PCI-e • CLS 3 port USB 3.0 + 1 Port GB LAN • 2x 4TB WD RED • 2x 3TB Seagate Barracuda • 8x 2TB WD GREEN / 2TB Seagate • 1x 8GB Transcend JetFlash USB
This hardware was found and hashed together after years of trying to build the perfect "all in one" virtual infrastructure. I spent ages pawing over forums and PDF's trying to get GPU passthrough working, so I could have a SAN, gaming rig, workstation and whatever other server I felt the need for in one box. After trying 6 different GPU and 3 Motherboard combinations, with varying results, I gave up and focused on the storage and service side of things. I have a mid-range workstation that doubles as my rig now.
Things to note:
• K series Intel processors won't work (earlier k series CPU's didn't support VT-d) • Motherboard must support VT-d / IOMMU This allows us to passthrough PCI/USB slots • PSU needs enough Amps to fulfil the load when booting In total, I think my system at load probably draws no more than 600w However when cold booting, the 12v rail needs enough power to get everything powered up especially the HDD's. I've found rebooting isn't a problem.
• sign up at myvmware, google for ESXi and download it from myvmware at TOW 6.0 is the current release however earlier versions are still available • write the ISO to a USB (or CD\DVD)
there's a pretty comprehensive guide here http://www.virten.net/2014/12/howto-create-a-bootable-esxi-installer-usb-flash-drive/
• boot from the USB or CD • follow the wizard, I use the 8GB USB as my OS disk • reboot • remove install media • login using the creds entered in setup • set a static IP in the network configuration
Accessing the Console:
• using a web browser go to the IP address on screen • download the v-Sphere client • update the packages as needed • log in
open the hypervisors console