The differences between the VMWare VM Hardware Versions are fairly well documented across the Configuration Maximum documentation produced by VMware. Some one asked me if there is any difference as far as a user would be concerned, specificaly was it worth upgrading a VM for any performance gains and simply I had no idea.

The configuration maximums are:

HWv4 (ESX 3.x):

  • 4 vCPU
  • 64GB RAM
  • 4NICs
  • 128MB Video RAM
  • IPv6 Support
  • Paravirtualized Guest OS (Dropped in vHW8)
  • Enhanced VMXNET
HWv7 (ESX 4.x):

  • 8 vCPU
  • 255Gb RAM
  • 10 NICs
  • 128MB Video RAM
  • VMCI
  • SAS virtual device for MSCS
  • IDE virtual devices
  • VMXNET3 Gen3
  • VM Hot Plug Support
  • MDirectPath
  • Paravirtual Controllers
  • USB 1 & 2
HWv8 (ESX 5.x):

  • 32 vCPU
  • 1TB RAM
  • 10 NICs
  • 128MB Video RAM
  • E1000e
  • SVGS 3D Hardware Acceleration
  • USB 3.0
  • UI for multi-core VPUs
  • Mac OS X
HWv9 (ESX 5.1):

  • 64 vCPU
  • 1TB RAM
  • 10 NICs
  • 512 MB Video RAM (vGPU)**
  • Guest OS Storage Reclamation
  • Nested Hardware Virtualization (HV)
  • CPU Performance Counters
HWv10 (ESX 5.5):

  • 64 vCPU
  • 1TB RAM
  • 10 NICs
  • 512 MB Video RAM (vGPU)
  • Guest OS Storage Reclamation
  • Nested Hardware Visualization (HV)


So I built a VM with the following spec and ran PassMark’s Performance Test on the VM, upgrade the virtual hardware through PowerCLI

vCPU: 2×1
HDD: 10GB (Thick and Lazy Zeroed)
OS: Server 2003 Std
Virtual Hardware: Version 4


set-vm (get-vm -name My-VM) -Version v10

Basically there are no notable performance difference other than an acceptable amount of drift between tests. This all makes sense but I had assumed their would be a slight difference as optimization and bug fixes were introduced

Everyone should downgrade to HW version 4

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