My Dell XPS 8500 virtualization lab

I finally caved in a purchased a new desktop. For the past year I’ve been using my XPS 15 as a lab machine and my primary day to day workstation. It is definitely much more capable than my XPS 420 but it’s not the bump in performance I was looking for in a lab PC. Since my last couple of machines have been Dells, I really didn’t search around for a machine outside of a Dell. I considered an iMac and MacBook Pro with Ritna but the XPS 15 is comparable to the MBP and I still like the comfort of a full desktop opposed to the iMac. Interesting enough the iMac is capable of holding just as much RAM as the XPS 8500.

The main reason for choosing the 8500 was it’s ability to be upgraded to 32GB of RAM. I’ve said it time and time again that your cpu bottleneck is a virtual environment that will almost always be RAM and/or disk. Understandably, not everyone is going to get this straight away, which is why doing some research could be of assistance. I can promise you that you can buy as much RAM and as fast disk as you can afford and look back and wish you could buy more. So, I also ordered a 256GB OCZ SSD to replace the 2TB 7200 RPM HD as the system drive. The CPU is an Intel i7 3770 running at 3.7 Ghz. Dell didn’t offer the 32GB upgrade so, I had to purchase after market memory. I installed Windows 7 Pro a few nights ago and I’m currently allowing all the 3rd party equipment to burn in before I jump all the way into using this beast.

Each chip is 8GB

One note is that I’m not very impressed with the system case. The case on my XPS 420 is really nice with a lever on the top making it a tool free case. The sheet metal of the new case seems thinner and the fastener for the cover is a thumb screw. It seems like a step back in fit and finish.

Published by Keith Townsend

Now I'm @CTOAdvisor

10 thoughts on “My Dell XPS 8500 virtualization lab

  1. Dear Keith,
    I am considering purchasing a Dell XPS 8500 and I would like to know what your thoughts are, regarding your 8500. Could you offer any pros/cons for your 8500? Are you still pleased with your purchase?
    Any insight from you would be very appreciated!

    Paul Williams

    1. Overall I’m pretty happy with it. My biggest complaint is the case is not tinker friendly.

      I wish Dell would consistently offer the 32GB option. I know I’ve send it on the site bit it wasn’t an option when I ordered my system. However it is more expensive than getting the upgrade post purchase.

  2. Dear Keith,
    Thank you so much for your speedy reply!
    My research into the 8500 series has also shown that it is not tinker-friendly, as you so mentioned. I am considering this particular model—XPS-Desktop—8GB-Memory—1TB-Hard-Drive/5773411.p?skuId=5773411&id=1218694833241 for my purchase. Since I am on a limited budget, I am thinking that, after running the numbers ($899), it will suit my needs. My only concern is that for future upgrading of the video card, as I do not know exactly what power cabling options are available for future video card upgrades. One HUGE plus is the ability to upgrade the RAM to 32Gb and that the HDD can be swapped out for an SSD easily.

    Thank you again for your reply!

    Much regards,

  3. Hello Mr.Keith,
    I am considering to purchase XPS 8500 with intel i7-3770. I found out that this processor supports vPro ,VT-x ,VT-d and so on. I am just confusing about the chipset that comes with XPS 8500 which is intel H77 and I think it doesn’t support virutalizations like for instance intel Q77 or Z68.
    I am right ? Your help is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.

  4. Just wondering if you stuck with Windows 7 on the 8500 and did all type 2 hypervisor lab stuff, or if you ever installed ESXi 4/5 right on the 8500, like you had in your XPS lab? The whitebox lists I’m seeing are mostly old old equipment, so I can’t confirm if ESX works on an 8500.

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