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Woohoo, I made it! Let’s recap where we are and what I have running:

  • Windows 10 Pro VM running on the free version of VMWare ESXi 7 vSphere
  • Xeon Silver 2.20 GHz 8 vCPUs (max for free ESXi) Dual Processors
  • 12 GB dedicated RAM (dedication required for GPU passthrough)
  • NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB (refurbished) graphics card
  • Dell UltraSharp 27″ 144hz 2560 x 1440 Monitor (U2719D)
  • Insignia HDMI 2.0 cable (4K HD 18Gbps w/ethernet)
  • Logitech Unifying mouse & keyboard via USB receiver
  • Windows is running the Ultimate Performance power plan

This has been a long, but satisfying, process! Let’s get to the good stuff–the games!

Genshin Impact

I’ve been able to spend about 3 solid hours playing this game and I adore the Breath of the Wild similarities! This is the first PC game I have ever played so I am still struggling with not having a controller and converting to the keyboard and mouse functions. I’ve got the graphics set to the high settings. The Not Lawlors had me install MSI Afterburner and here is a screenshot:

They tell me it looks great on my setup and I am really enjoying the game.

Subnautica: Below Zero (Steam)

I don’t know anything about this game, or Steam. One of the Not Lawlors setup family sharing so that I could download this small game to test my VM. I guess the kids would need their own Steam eventually. The graphics are set to high settings.

I could tell there was a difference in “smoothness” when panning the camera in this game versus the other. It wasn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, but I could tell the difference loading them up back to back.

The Verdict

My little wimpy, old GPU is perfect for right now! I am going to spend some time playing Genshin Impact. It will definitely scratch my Breath of the Wild itch! An interesting thing I repeatedly came across while trying to get all of this working was that Genshin Impact “can’t be played on a VM.” Well, it clearly can be. I played it both over RDP and via the GPU HDMI output without any problems.

I’ve proven to myself that a Gaming VM is entirely possible and have worked out almost all of the kinks to make it happen. There still exists the unknown of the KVM hardware. But, until the Not Lawlors move back out, the server has to remain in my office and getting the kids setup with their own gaming stations isn’t going to be possible. I will either buy a KVM switch or the external fans next. After 2 hours of playing Genshin Impact, the Not Lawlors said my temperatures we all perfectly fine.

The PowerEdge T640 can support up to four 300W GPUs. This GPU will eventually be given to Ubuntu/Plex when I look at migrating that off my QNAP. Until then, I will research the best GPU to buy for the kids and then start watching prices.

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5 Responses

  1. thank you for sharing your idea and experience.
    I am thining of some similar idea to combine my server and desktop/ gaming pc.
    Due to raise of energy cost, I wonder how much power draw comes on top.
    I assume eventhough your windows VM is not even turned on, you will have higher power consuption, due to built in VGA (even when off)

    Would you mind to check if there is more power draw (or even if any) and how much?

    Scenario 1: ESXi on without built in VGA
    Scenario 2: ESXi on with VGA built in, but VM off
    Sceanrio 3: ESXi on with VGA built in, VM on

    the total consumption varies, depending on hardware but the delta of these 3 scenarios would very interesting!

    So would be happy if you could find some time and take the 3 meassures.

    Greetings from Germany, Mike

    • Hi Mike. I am not opposed to testing this. However, I can’t think of a way to measure the electricity draw of just my server with one card. I also don’t have any kind of meter that can show the power consumption. I currently have three graphics cards running in the server: one for Plex transcoding in Linux and the other two are for the Windows gaming VMs. I cannot see any scenario where this would save electricity, to be honest. I did this more for educational/entertainment purposes, for sharing of the resources and to manage the heat more effectively. My server room has a very large fan that sucks out the hot air from a ceiling vent and pumps it into the attic. I also have battery backups (one has a fan of it’s own). Maybe, considering everything I have running in my server rack, if all of that was running on separate computers this might be a more efficient use of power, but I don’t think it would be by much.

      If you have any ideas on how I could test this for you, please do let me know!

  2. Blech have been trying to research this because their stupid anti cheat keeps bluescreening my PC and I don’t want it killing all the other important stuff I have open. But I get the same issue where it starts for a second and closes.

  3. Did Genshin work plug and play on a windows 10 VM on ESXI?

    Genshin on my vm starts for maybe 1 second, and then closes, and I can’t figure out the issue…

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