After running my lab on 2 Dell Poweredge 1500 SCs (the Electric Company's Best friend!), I decided to switch to the HP Compaq D530 Desktop machines. Amazingly, these suckers are capable of running ESX 3.5 right out of the box! I purchased 2 of them from Craigslist for about $700 total including delivery to my house. I was all ready to install ESX onto the box but was getting errors creating Primary Partitions and installing VMKCore when I realized that I only had a 40 GB IDE drive in the box. The Compaqs come fully equipped with a SATA controller but these had IDE drives.
A quick trip to Best Buy and I returned with 2 Seagate 500 GB SATA drives. $280 Bucks after taxes.. Sweet. Installed the drives into the 'servers' and ESX was up and running in a flash! 5 VMs later and everything is still rocking along. Not bad for under a grand.
My previous Dells had two 1.1 GHZ procs while these desktops have one 2.8 GHZ processor each but will use about 1/8 the amount of electricity.
Everything said and done, I am very pleased with these boxes.. Next up, LeftHand's VSA for ESX to create a Virtual SAN with those 500 GB local Drives.