Re: Build it and they will come...
It's been a while since VMWare established a requirement for a microprocessor having virtualization capability. I've forgotten exactly when this happened and a cursory search didn't turn it up.
VirtualBox still provides for software emulation of an x86 CPU and doesn't require hardware-based virtualization support.
ESXi is even stricter on the hardware requirements, as I found out recently when trying to shoehorn it onto a dusty old Dell Optiplex 755 with a C2Q 6600. (My intention was just to tinker around with it, as opposed to any serious use.) Even after finding an older version that would still consent to running on such hardware, it turned into a death by a thousand cuts kind of experience.
Yes, people really do this. My reasoning is that it works and is paid for.
I wish VMWare would have taken a different stance here -- instead of out-and-out prohibiting it, they could have said "you can do this, but we don't recommend it at all". I'm sure it would have been fine for casual tinkering.
I stopped caring mainly because I had previously found ESXi's web based virtual machine client to be pretty buggy. Keyboard input reliability in particular was pretty horrible.