Using Hyper-V for a high-end desktop computer

Using Hyper-V for a high-end desktop computer

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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).

Cheers,
Ben

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  • I didn't know about that issue on Hyper-V and that makes me ask this question:

    How is that issue going to impact virtualization servers with Hyper-V that use Xeon processors that doesn't have the MMU when they'll be using the RemoteFX technology?

    And how that already impact on Xeon 5500 and superior processors that have that MMU?

    Cheers,

    Akuma

  • Hi Akuma,

    RemoteFX requires that your processor has SLAT support.  If you try to use it on a system without SLAT support we will not let the virtual machine turn on at all.

    Cheers,

    Ben

  • Is there any way to run Window Media Center on 2008 R2? Specifically I'm interested in support for Cablecard tuners like is available on Windows 7.

  • Single monitor? Multiple monitors?  Is this with RDP or VMConnect or...?

    My big four "problems" with Hyper-V as a development machine has been:

    1) Running Multiple Screens with Aero (i.e. WPF development) didn't work.

    2) Using RDP into your "Microsoft Office" machine meant nasty things with Terminal Services versions.

    3) Attaching USB devices to VMs.  I hear RemoteFX solves this?

    4) Laptop won't go to sleep (not a problem for the non-portable systems, but try to keep things the same).

    Any suggestions to improve life here?

  • Running multiple screens it is the biggest problem for me to run windows server hyper-v on my dev machine, since Windows Server 2008 R2 doesn't support multiple screens.

    In addition, it seems impossible to get the screen resolution that I want to work with: 1920x1080. (I installed the ATI drivers).

  • Ben

    Whats the rest of the spec of your PC? Sounds like a tempting project!

    Thanks

  • I am curious how much of the Hyper-V / RemoteFX work has trickled down to Windows 7?  My idea is to have a Windows 7 MCE HTPC in my theater but I would like to ocassionally game on it.  I don't want to install a high end GPU in the HTPC since 95%+ of the time it would just be a waste of power and extra noise.  If I have another Windows 7 machine running with a high end GPU can I RDP to it and get the benefits remotely?

  • On Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1: Right now the only way the public can get the RTM is using torrents. Why is it taking so long to officially release when Sandy Bridge already came out with AVX that requires SP1 to use, and Hyper-V on Sandy Bridge also requiring it?

  • Andrew Fidel -

    Not that I have been able to figure out

    Tharen -

    I have 4 monitors, two of them in portrait mode, being driven by two NVIDIA cards.  And yes - USB redirection does work with RemoteFX.

    Itzik -

    I have three of my monitors running at 1920x1200 - but I am using NVIDIA.

    VMWareGuy -

    Intel Core i7x980, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480, 12GB RAM and 256GB SSD (plus spinning media for virtual machines).  It is very nice :-)

    yuhong2 -

    I cannot comment on that.

    Cheers,

    Ben

  • In the VM's, how do you handle USB devices like webcams, flash drives, external HD

  • My question now would be is there really any reason to not run Hyper-V as the main operating system for day to day use?

  • My question now would be is there really any reason to not run Hyper-V as the main operating system for day to day use?

  • @awedio i think its working easily to passthrough removable devices, it's a setting in the RDP connection configuration.

    However i do wonder how to handle fixed devices such as a laptop(!) webcam/mic. I had the following scenario in mind: I'd like to move away from running everything on a laptop directly, and instead run an RDP session to my (much more powerful) hyper-v machine. But for this i would like to use the laptop's webcam for running skype et al. I wonder if that could be possible...

  • How do you deal with mouse issues with running a 3d intensive applications such as a game or AutoCAD?  When we run a game or AutoCAD with our setup the mouse is lagged inside AutoCAD and the mouse is really weird inside first person shooters.

  • I'm running Windows 2008 R2 server enterprise on a Dell T110 power edge server with a quad core xeon and 16gb ram running hyper-V as it's primary role.  The server has an ATI 5450 pci-e video card installed and I am running dual monitors.  No sound card installed yet (hope to get one soon).  I have two VMs going.  One Win 2008 R2 server enterprise guest OS, and one windows 7 guest OS.  

    I was contemplating installing and playing some games on the Win 7 guest OS.  Specifically some FPS games.  I read that this may not be possible because Hyper-V does not support Direct X in the guest OS.

    Am I dreaming?

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