I often get asked what my recommendation is for a high-end desktop computer for the virtualization enthusiast. The root problem that causes this question is the well noted issues with Hyper-V and high-end video cards.  Thankfully – this can now be a problem of the past.

With Windows Server 2008 R2 we added support for processors that have second level address translation (Intel EPT or AMD RVI).  On these systems everything “just works”.

Something that I can now attest to. 

As an avid virtualization junkie and a gamer – I have been frustrated by the Hyper-V graphics issue, and dealt with it using a separate Hyper-V server for virtualization at home.  But in October last year I decided that it was time to update my desktop computer.  I now have a computer with an Intel Core i7x980 (with EPT – as all Core i7 processors do have) and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480.

I have Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 installed on this system – and it does everything that I need it to.  It is always running at least three virtual machines under Hyper-V (and often times – many more than that).  It is almost always playing media (I like to have TV playing in the background while I work – at the moment I have Mythbusters playing on a side monitor).

It has also proved its metal as a gaming system – as I have been able to happily play many games – including:

  • Fallout 3
  • Blur
  • Torchlight
  • Civilization V
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Street Fighter IV

And most of these have run perfectly at their highest settings.

An interesting thing to note here is that when I tried to use Windows Server 2008 as a desktop computer there were a lot of games that would not run, and needed a lot of tweaking.  With Windows Server 2008 R2 most of my games have “just worked”.

In fact – the only notable things that I needed to do to make this work well as a desktop was to install XBMC as an alternative media center (so I could watch movies in the background).