Hot Shot
Hot Shot

ESXi 7 / Intel NUC / Laptop Docks

Hi folks:

I'm just putting this out here as an FYI for those of you who might be using Intel NUCs with ESXi for a home lab or something.   I recently got an Intel NUC11TNHv7 that I'm going to put in a remote location, running ESXi 7, and just for the heck of it during my testing I tried hooking up my Lenovo Thinkpad laptop dock to the thunderbolt port on the NUC to see what happened. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that ESXi recognizes the dock and allows the devices attached to the dock to be assigned to VMs as USB devices.   It appears that any actual USB devices show up as individual devices to ESXi just as if you had plugged them in to a regular USB port.   There is one other device that you can connect to a VM as a Host USB Device which is identified as the dock itself.   It appears that this USB device contains all the other devices on the dock other than actual USB devices.   In my case when I assigned the dock itself to a VM, it gained access to the ethernet adapter on the dock.  I think it also gained access to the hdmi and display ports, but I don't think they would be usable in a VM unless it had an actual graphics card assigned to it as well.   As the NUC only has one graphics adapter I was reluctant to enable it as a PCI passthru device out of fear that ESXi wouldn't boot without a graphics card and I'd be hard pressed to undo that change if that happened.   

Anyway, I just thought I'd post this as something interesting for folks thinking of using a NUC for their home labs or in some capacity where it was OK to have a technically non-supported device running ESXi.   

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