Laptop for VMware

neo468neo468 Senior MemberMember Posts: 123
I'm thinking about getting a laptop for VMware instead of a desktop for the portability and power usage. I know there are some of you on here running it on your laptops with 4GB RAM, but should I get a laptop with 6GB for better performance. Also looking at getting a laptop that has SSD drives in a raid 0, which would be 2 128GB SSD drives. Anyone have experience with them yet? For processor I'm looking at using a centrino 2 T9800 2.93MHz. What do you guys think, will this be sufficient for 5 to 6 systems on VMware.
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  • dynamikdynamik Senior Member Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    You're not just going to get better performance by simply having more memory. If you only use three gigs, it's not going to matter whether you have four or six. You can easily run 5-6 VMs with four gigs. I can get a dozen going with that. If you're going to be running a lot of things like Exchange, SQL Server, etc., then you may need more. I think the SSD drives would be fine, but they're going to increase the cost dramatically. I'd map out the memory requirements for you plan on doing over the next couple of years and buy something appropriate for your needs.
  • JDMurrayJDMurray Certification Invigilator Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 12,844 Admin
    I understand the attractiveness of toting around a quad-core 64-bit laptop with 8-16GB of RAM that can run a half-dozen VMs with 1GB of memory each, but the power consumption and heat generation of such a rig might be limiting factors if it can only run an hour and the CPU and hard drives are always above 70C.

    Also, RAID 0 offers better read speeds and poorer write speeds, especially if software RAID is use. And RAID 0 has no fault tolerance, so if a drive crashes data is still lost.

    Have you found any blog articles from people who've put together a killer VM latop and the problems they had? Product reviews with comments are a good place to look as well.

    This is a nice machine: Dell Precision M6400 Mobile Workstation
  • tierstentiersten was here. Member Posts: 4,505
    JDMurray wrote: »
    Also, RAID 0 offers better read speeds and poorer write speeds
    Poorer write speeds than a single drive?
  • neo468neo468 Senior Member Member Posts: 123
    Yes the SSD drives add significant cost to the laptop. Has anyone used one yet, is the additional cost really worth the performance gain.

    I agree a raid 0 setup is a bad idea for a machine running vmware.

    I am not looking to have a machine to flaunt around, I want something with solid performance that if need be I could take with me. I've read on the forums of guys running a basic laptop running vmware with a few os and haven't had any issues. The vmware will have images running for my labs in the security realm. I'm not sure yet that I will need intensive virtual machine such as exchange, so 4GB @1000Mhz RAM will probably be sufficient.

    What do you recommend as the core os for installing vmware onto?
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  • RTmarcRTmarc Senior Member Member Posts: 1,082 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Personally I wouldn't was the money on SSD drives for nothing more than what you are wanting to do. I couldn't justify the cost versus the performance increase.

    My Lenovo T61P running Vista 64 with 4GB of memory does just fine for the VMs I run. A lot depends on the memory allocation you configure for the VMs. You can't forget about the resource overheard associated with each VM too. Don't think you are going to run 3-1GB VMs on top of your OS and it perform like a champ.

    OS selection is your perrogative. If you are comfortable with Linux, go for it. You'll get slightly better performance out of it due to the drop in required resources needed to run the OS. If you aren't too hot on Linux, the hassel of getting everything setup might not be worth it to you.
  • msteinhilbermsteinhilber Senior Member Member Posts: 1,480 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I use my notebook often for doing labs on the go. It's an HP 6910p with 4GB ram and a Core2 T7700 (2.4ghz). I use Vista Business x64 as the host and VMWare workstation. Works very well for me, I typically have no more than 4 or 5 VMs at a time on it but it performs great. It can be a bit sluggish if I start more depending on the configuration of the VM, but for this I typically VPN to my home lab where I work if I need to setup a much larger lab on a couple quad core 8gb RAM machines.

    I couldn't be happier with it, everything I was looking for as it's fairly portable with the 14.1 display and gets excellent battery life and great performance. I do wish that I had something with the resolution of my T60p or near it (1600x1200) but since my T60p wouldn't read 4GB and doesn't utilize a Core 2 it didn't perform well with a lot of VM's and everything with a nice resolution was out of the price range my employer was willing to invest. I haven't been looking around at notebook lately to see what's out there with the capability of more than 4gb, but when I was buying my HP I saw they had some with support for 8gb (two 4gb modules) and at that time it was very expensive. I'm not sure I would run that many VM's on a notebook though, I would do as I did and build a dedicated machine built for VMs and access them remotely. Stick ISO's of any CD's you'd need to build a VM remotely and you're set to do what you need anywhere.
  • tierstentiersten was here. Member Posts: 4,505
    SSDs aren't a universal replacement for HDs. They have different performance and operational characteristics than a regular hard disk. This is mainly due to the need to erase entire blocks to perform a write and the wear leveling algorithm used to extend the usable life of the underlying flash memory. The SSD controller will try to hide these issues as much as possible but there is only so much it can do with the limited amount of cache memory it has. Some SSDs don't even have any cache memory in them.

    In some cases a SSD will cause your system to be slower. If your system is doing a very large number of small writes then a SSD will not work well.
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