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#1 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:19 AM

So, my boss has agreed to buy a new computer for my office, so I can use VMs for testing software. This was the result of me wasting 2 days last week trying to run VMs on different machines, and turning up empty handed.

I was wondering what you guys would recommend, for minimum requirements. I'll be using VirtualBox, and need to run all versions of Windows (32 and 64 bit): Win 8, Win 7, Vista, and XP (that's all we will support). Here is what I was thinking:

64 bit
Quad core processor (what speed?)
6 G RAM (upgradable)
500 GB HDD

Is that good enough? I can build it myself if I need to. I'm trying to keep costs down, but still have the computer easily handle what I'm asking from it without slowing down too much.

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Replies To: Machine specs for testing software

#2 jhouns  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:25 AM

It definitely is dependent on what software you're testing and what tests you intend to run, for example at work we have performance servers set up without VM's to accurately gauge speed, but we do a lot of bug testing and general QA on multiple VM environments that can be rebuilt as needed. If performance is being measured then you need a greater investment in hardware, if not, then something that's usable is a win. But like I said, it's mostly software dependent.
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#3 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:27 AM

Well, the software we're concerned with right now is a pretty simple WPF desktop application using SQLite & C#. Performance isn't an issue (although I suppose it could be eventually). Right now we just want to be able to test/debug in all the environments we plan to support.
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#4 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:30 AM

Obviously faster is better, but a 3rd Gen i5 should give you the processing power needed. How many machines will be running concurrently?
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#5 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:30 AM

The host OS and 2 VMs, tops.
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#6 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:35 AM

At least 12GB of RAM. Go for 16GB if you can. With my laptop and home PC, I've got 8GB, but most of the guest environments that I run require at least 4GB. With 4GB going to the VM, and Visual Studio (and sometimes SQL) hogging the other 4GB, it makes for a lot of disk thrashing due to page faults.

For diskspace, consider that each of your VMs will be taking up at least 30GB. I usually allocate a dynamic size of 75GB per VM because of the environments I run within the VM. Additionally, you'll probably be taking advantage of snapshots, so probably an additional 10-30GB per snaphot. If 500GB is enough, stick with it, otherwise move up to 720GB.

The key though, is speed on the hard drives. SSDs would rock, but I still feel the price point is not quite there yet. On the other hand, if your boss is not paying you to wait around, then make him pay for the SSDs. If not SSDs, go far 10000 RPM, but at least 7200 RPM. Go for Raptors if it fits in your budget. Settle for Barracudas if not.

For CPUs, at least 2.7 GHz. My laptop at 2.5GHz is sufficient, but you'll probably want faster.
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#7 jhouns  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:42 AM

I think, as astonecipher said, that an i5 should do the trick CPU wise. If your boss is willing to stretch it, an i7 wouldn't hurt (looking more at future expansion) but I wouldn't see it as an absolute necessity. The RAM should be increased to at least 8GB or 12 if you can as well. Other than that it all sounds to be pretty good to me but bear in mind although I work with VMs all day, I do so through VSphere to groups of VMs hosted on server cluster, so smaller scale VM usage requirements are far harder for me to judge.

Astonecipher seems to be your man for this more than I. Good luck.


EDIT: Disregard this, see post above mine for a much better solution.

This post has been edited by jhouns: 02 December 2013 - 07:43 AM

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#8 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 07:47 AM

Thanks you guys!! I have a $400 budget LOL. May have to beg for more.
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#9 AdamSpeight2008  Icon User is online

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:01 PM

It should the same specification that the customer / client has.
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#10 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:41 PM

The actual guest VM should match the customer/client specs (or as closely as possible). I think that she is asking about the host machine that will host her VMs.
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#11 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:43 PM

Adam is always so helpful, I was giving him a pass LOL.

BTW.. I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving! Or if you're not in the States, hopefully you had a great weekend.
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#12 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 08:02 PM

View PostSkydiver, on 02 December 2013 - 08:35 AM, said:

For diskspace, consider that each of your VMs will be taking up at least 30GB. I usually allocate a dynamic size of 75GB per VM because of the environments I run within the VM. Additionally, you'll probably be taking advantage of snapshots, so probably an additional 10-30GB per snaphot. If 500GB is enough, stick with it, otherwise move up to 720GB.


Personally I say "That's way small and drives are cheap"

I just bought a 4tb drive for $180.
Get the giant drive. Partition it if you like.
Now you can have 10 times as many VMs. Because you might want to keep them in various combinations just for convenience, but keep pristine copies so you can roll back. For example:

Windows7x64 - With .NET 4.0
Windows7x64 - With .NET 4.5
Windows7x64 - With .NET 4.5.1
-- All three of those with Admin rights and then copies of all those in limited user rights
-- Then copies of all those at the OEM install level and another set with the latest updates available from MS Update

See how the number of permutations for testing can grow exponentially?

For less that $200 just but the big 4tb drive from Frys.com and not have to worry about space for a year or so.
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#13 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: Machine specs for testing software

Posted 02 December 2013 - 08:32 PM

Good point. I forgot that I have a separate drive where I keep my VM images for long term storage. I just copy them over to my faster Barracudas when its time to use them. I was cheap and bought the eco-friendly 5400 RPM large capacity 2TB drives. Great for sequential access, but but not so great for the random access patterns that I was seeing from my guest VMs.
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