i5 or i7 for ESXi

I’ve ordered an i5 9400 for a computer I’m going to build and put ESXi on.
I’ve been thinking, would it be better to return the i5 and get in 9th gen i7 instead? Cuz I’m just wondering if 6 cores and 6 threads isn’t it enough.

I know most people will say get a Xeon and a refurbished server, but I’m very new to the server realm and I don’t want to invest an incredibly large amount of money into a machine while not knowing what I’m doing and get the wrong parts or simply spend more money on this than I need to at the moment. The current build I’m looking at is going to be about 700. If it doesn’t turn out, I can convert it into something else without much hassle.

Call me crazy, but I’d like to try running some games in a VM and I’m not so sure that six cores is enough to split between the ESXi and the Windows VM to run the games.

What are the general thoughts on if I should return the i5 and get an i7 instead?


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  1. Esxi itself does not need too many resources, if you only have one vm and it’s the windows vm you’ll probably be fine. If you want to run other vm’s while gaming on your windows vm your going to want a higher core count and hyperthreading which will logically double the amount of cores. So a cpu with 6 cores and hyperthreading technically has 12 cores yo divvy up between vms. Hope this helps.

  2. Esxi doesn’t take anything noticeable away from the guest/host interaction. If you want your game VM to run with 4C, no problem, if you assign all 6 you might as well skip esxi alltogether and deploy Workstation. I7 likely won’t improve much, not enough to give you two 6 core performance gaming machines.

    Unless you have the correct SKUs You will have to run a few tricks in esxi to get GPU passthrough to work and your only way to manage the OS afterwards will be via RDP/SSH. No console.

    If this is primarily going to be a Steam Server try using Workstation on top of your OS install for your other VMs.

    Either way RAM is the bigger problem the more VMs you run.

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