Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

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Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby Bill. » 7. Aug 2019, 12:50

Hi,

Short Story:

I want build a Windows 10 PC host with an Intel CPU and run VirtualBox and use hardware virtualization. I haven't found a Intel z370 chipset motherboard that supports virtualization.

Long Story:

I want my next PC to be able use VirtualBox with hardware virtualization. I don't have a specific need in mind today but want to be prepared incase I have a need.

My plan de jour is a CPU that supports VT-x like the Intel i7-8700 or i7-9700, or whatever replacement exists when I make my purchase.

For the chipset I picked the z370. It supports VT-d. Based on the following, I understand that VT-d is not VT-x:

A quote from forum topic 62339 (I am too new to include the link)
(VT-d/AMD-Vi) then that is a different thing.


For the motherboard, I have had ASUS and my current is Gigabyte, so I will stick with those brands with a z370 chipset.

And now my problem.

I looked at the owner's manuals for a few ASUS z370 motherboards. The word "virtual" did not appear. That made me think that the motherboard didn't support virtualization, therefore the CPU and z370 chipset couldn't do any hardware virtualization.

I traded email with ASUS. That was not fruitful. They said:
"generally, most newer motherboard supports VT-x and Vt-D. "

Oh really? I wondered why the owner's manual does not indicate that.

The ASUS response was:
"I'm sorry but the manuals are not updated yet. "

I then looked at a few of Gigabyte's z370 motherboards. The BIOS, Chipset section contained:
VT-d
Enables or disables Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O. (Default: Enabled)


Again, looking at the following, VT-d does not imply Virtualization:

A quote from forum topic 62339
(VT-d/AMD-Vi) then that is a different thing.


I did not find any BIOS option that contained "virtual".

Question: am I misunderstanding something or do I need to look at a different brand of Intel z370 motherboard to find a BIOS that lets me enable virtualization, not VT-d?

Thanks,
Bill
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby Martin » 7. Aug 2019, 13:33

You should be able to enable VT-x in the BIOS/UEFI Advanced Mode - advanced - CPU configuration, scrolling down to "Intel Virtualization Technology".
The manuals don't show all available options.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby mpack » 7. Aug 2019, 15:36

First, pay attention to what Martin has said.

I would only add that I wouldn't necessarily expect to find mention of virtualization in motherboard documentation. I assume the motherboard supports a number of different CPUs, and it's the CPU that has to support virtualization. The motherboard BIOS does typically have an option to enable or suppress the CPU's virtualization function, but again that would be a function of the BIOS firmware version, not of the motherboard. I'd expect motherboard docs to restrict itself to motherboard discussion points: socket types, bus type, bus speed, max RAM, number of PCI slots, number of SATA ports etc.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby Bill. » 7. Aug 2019, 16:45

Hi,

I do understand where to look in the BIOS/UEFI. But that assumes I have the motherboard.

Question: does that mean I have to pick a motherboard and then trust that the manufacturer's representative understand the idea of going into the BIOS.

Question: or maybe I should pick the motherboard and find a user and have them check?

Question: what motherboards are you two using?

Thanks,
Bill
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby mpack » 7. Aug 2019, 16:50

I'm using whatever motherboard is inside my PC. I don't care to know more than that, and don't see how that knowledge helps you either. When it comes time to enable VT-x I find out how to get into the BIOS settings (i.e. repeatedly press Del or F10 or whatever during boot), find my way to wherever the option is (usual wording is "Security" or "CPU features"), set it the way I want, save and reboot.

Then I forget about it because my next PC will be different.

I certainly don't fret about it in advance. Any PC made in the last decade will have the BIOS option, except maybe the cheapest of budget netbooks (and even then the option probably still exists, but is hidden).

If you find your CPU on ark.intel then the description will tell you whether the CPU supports VT-x (and it almost certainly does, even Celerons have it now). All members of the i7 family support it. If your motherboard advertises compatibility with that CPU then you can expect the BIOS to support the VT-x enable/disable feature.

I would fret more about the number of cores. The i7-8700 and i7-9700 (6 and 8 cores respectively) should be fantastic for VMing, i.e. you can allocate a couple of cores to a VM with hardly a dent in the capacity of the host.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby scottgus1 » 7. Aug 2019, 17:03

I have a Biostar T55 from some 8 years ago (?) It has VT-x.
I have an AMD motherboard that I don't rememeber what it's called, from about 6-ish years age (?), it has a Hudson-2 chipset. It has VT-x.

Chances are really strong that if you buy any motherboard to go with a Core-I7, it will have VT-x.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby Bill. » 7. Aug 2019, 20:41

.
Topic: A Gigabyte motherboard's BIOS that shows VT-d but NOT Virtualization

I'm looking at a video for the BIOS for the Gigabyte AORUS Z370 Ultra Gaming
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PYroA_whjU

In the Bios, Chipset menu

@6:57 into the video

shows VT-d and no Virtualization

These are some of the comments:

"I'm sorry but you did not mention virtualization technology on the mother board. I have the same mother board and i'm struggling with these option because I can't find it."

"there are no important features like virtualization. There is now no option to activate (only VT-d). "


That says that if I had bought the motherboard, I would not have virtualization support needed by the motherboard.

I will continue to look for someone who has a Gigabyte or Asus motherboard and has seen the Virtualization option in the BIOS.

Question: is it possible that Gigabyte is using the characters "VT-d" to imply/cover Virtualization AND Intel's VT-d?

Thanks,
Bill
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby scottgus1 » 7. Aug 2019, 21:20

I downloaded the AORUS Z370manual, only mentions VT-d. VT-d is not VT-x. I would carefully research before getting a board that has no mention of VT-x or "Virtualization Technology" or something. That said, VT-x may have become ubiquitous. Contact the manufacturer.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby Martin » 7. Aug 2019, 23:27

It seems that some "gaming"/overclocking motherboards don't have the virtualization option in BIOS.
I've seen some videos of ASUS Z370 board BIOS which show such an option.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby pt58 » 8. Aug 2019, 09:46

My Brother has a Gigabyte Z390-UD motherboard with an i7-9700 CPU and VirtualBox works fine on it (including 64 bit guests, so vt-x is definitely working).

In the BIOS there is only an option for vt-d (which is enabled by default) - no other mention of Virtualization or vt-x.

I can only assume that vt-x is always enabled and cannot be disabled in the BIOS.

My own system comprises an older Gigabyte B150m-DS3H with an i7-6700 CPU. Again there is no option for vt-x in the BIOS, only vt-d which is enabled by default. I just tried disabling vt-d as an experiment and VirtualBox still works fine with 64-bit guests, so vt-d doesn't get used by VirtualBox. Vt-x must be enabled permanently and there doesn't appear to be an option to turn it off.

I'm wondering if Microsoft have specified that all boards should support vt-x by default because they are using it in Windows 10 for so many other functions (sometimes to the detriment of programs like VirtualBox!)

Hope this helps.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby mpack » 8. Aug 2019, 11:30

pt58 wrote:I can only assume that vt-x is always enabled and cannot be disabled in the BIOS.

That's what I would assume too.

When the CPU feature was first introduced the concern was to ensure backwards compatibility, hence default to off and a BIOS option to turn it on. Now that the feature has been around for a decade that concern is no longer as important. Certainly I'm not aware of any downside to turning it on, except of course that Windows 10 now hijacks it for a whole bunch of things I don't care about.

Also, I personally can't think of any use a VT-d option would have in a PC that didn't support hardware virtualization. How can you redirect I/O to a VM if you don't have VMs?

And I'll say it one more time: VT-x is a CPU feature, you won't find it mentioned in a discussion of motherboard features. Please stop ignoring this. You may find mention of VT-d, presumably because redirecting I/O may require support from the I/O chipset on the motherboard.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby Bill. » 8. Aug 2019, 13:27

Thank you all for your comments. I feel like I am in a therapy session.

for pt58: re your brother's Gigabyte Z390-UD

Now I am really confused.

Earlier this year I asked Intel if the z390 chipset supported virtualization and I thought the answer was "no". I looked at that correspondence earlier this week, but I cannot find the text now.

This page does not mention virtualization:
https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/133293/intel-z390-chipset.html

These pages do:
https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/133284/intel-h370-chipset.html
https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/133282/intel-q370-chipset.html
https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/125903/intel-z370-chipset.html

I will start over with Intel and see what they say about z390 motherboards.

For mpack: re "VT-x is a CPU feature, you won't find it mentioned in a discussion of motherboard features. Please stop ignoring this."

I do understand that VT-x is a CPU feature and not a chipset feature.

I was thinking that the BIOS needed two options:
1: VT-d
2: Virtualization

but maybe the consensus now is that Virtualization is always enabled and can't be disabled.


This topic could have been avoided if Intel had added more words to this page:
https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/virtualization/virtualization-technology/intel-virtualization-technology.html
And the motherboard manufacturers had done the same for their motherboards.

I briefly looked at the "VBoxManage list" command.

Question: does "VboxManage list hostinfo" indicate if all of the hardware virtualization features, that VirtualBox wants, are enabled?

Thanks for the help,
Bill
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby pt58 » 8. Aug 2019, 19:14

I think we all get the fact that vt-x is a CPU feature, but it's a feature that needs to be enabled in the motherboard BIOS for it be usable.
I can understand the OPs concern that he doesn't want to purchase a motherboard which doesn't allow this feature to be enabled in the BIOS.
It appears that Gigabyte have taken the decision to remove the option to enable/disable virtualisation/vt-x in the BIOS of recent motherboards (100, 200 & 300 series chipsets) and leave it always enabled since all recent intel CPUs support the feature.

I have looked at the manual for a MSI Z390-A PRO and it's BIOS still has options to enable/disable both Virtualisation (vt-x) and vt-d.

Perhaps the OP should consider this or another MSI board since the manual specifically mentions the feature can be enabled.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby mpack » 9. Aug 2019, 11:12

Sorry, but that's nuts. All modern PCs have the feature, the modern market demands it: business servers these days are all VMs, and system security is based on hardware VM. Discounting a motherboard because it defaults to turning on a feature that you want to turn on... defies logic IMHO.
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Re: Motherboard for Windows 10 Host

Postby Bill. » 12. Aug 2019, 12:34

I sent a question to Gigabyte about their:
"Z370 AORUS ULTRA GAMING WIFI" motherboard
https://www.gigabyte.com/us/Motherboard/Z370-AORUS-ULTRA-GAMING-WIFI-rev-10#kf

My question:
I do not see a Virtualization option in the User's Manual.

Question: does it ALSO have an option named Virtualization, which is NOT the same as VT-d?

The Gigabyte answer:
The VT-d setting is under Chipset in BIOS setting, please.

**VT-d (Note) Enables or disables Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O. (Default: Enabled)

(Note) This item is present only when you install a CPU that supports this feature. For more information about Intel® CPUs' unique features, please visit Intel's website.


The person did not answer my question. Maybe the person didn't understand my question or maybe the person doesn't understand Virtualization.

This would have been an acceptable answer:
Virtualization is always enabled since all recent intel CPUs support the feature and therefore there is no explicit option to enable/disable it.


This is an example of my frustration with getting answers from the manufacturers.

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