Help with PC for penetration testing

tedjamestedjames Scruffy-looking nerfherdrMember Posts: 1,174 ■■■■■■■■□□
I've been thinking about buying a new PC. I want more processing power, and I want it to be faster. I'd like for it to be able to handle multiple virtual machines without bogging down.

I've been looking at some custom PCs on Newegg. I want 64 GB of DDR4 and a 1 TB SSD. Regarding CPU, what's better, i7 (or other Intel) or Ryzen? I'm not into gaming at all.

Comments

  • Infosec_SamInfosec_Sam Security+, CCENT, ITIL Foundation, A+ Madison, WIAdmin Posts: 519 Admin
    I think RAM is probably going to have the most impact on VM performance, but it's definitely worth looking into the CPU since AMD released its 2019 line. I'd honestly be willing to consider taking something like the Ryzen 7 3700x over the i7-9700k because of the 8 cores/16 threads over Intel's 8cores/8threads. Benchmarks put them about dead even, so I'm sure either of them will last you quite a long time before bottlenecking your system.
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  • tedjamestedjames Scruffy-looking nerfherdr Member Posts: 1,174 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Thanks for the info. A friend also recommended the Ryzen because of the 8 cores/16 threads. At the moment, I'm just not able to get all of the other features I want (W10 Pro, optical drive, etc.) from Newegg. I need to look at other vendors. I don't want to settle just because they don't have exactly what I want. I don't really want to go over $1500 for a PC, either. If you have recommendations for other vendors, please share. Thanks!
  • bigdogzbigdogz Member Posts: 873 ■■■■■■■■□□
    @tedjames You may want to go with a 2TB drive. It really helps when you have multiple VM's working for Pen Testing and Forensics
    I know that you don't want a gaming machine but the I/O that you are looking fore may require it. I am browsing laptops to replace my existing 32 GB Dell Precision M6800.
  • tedjamestedjames Scruffy-looking nerfherdr Member Posts: 1,174 ■■■■■■■■□□
    bigdogz said:
    @tedjames You may want to go with a 2TB drive. It really helps when you have multiple VM's working for Pen Testing and Forensics
    I know that you don't want a gaming machine but the I/O that you are looking fore may require it. I am browsing laptops to replace my existing 32 GB Dell Precision M6800.
    Good info. I was already planning for a 1 TB SSD. I'll have to check prices on 2 TB SSDs. I've also seen some PCs that come with a combination of SSD and SATA drives. Trying to figure out why that is a thing.

    I'll check on gaming machines. Could be that I would benefit from a heftier CPU. I just want to keep from spending a fortune. I have no debt and tons of credit, so the temptation is there. Must...resist!
  • bigdogzbigdogz Member Posts: 873 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Thanks.
    IMHO if you need a beefy box, get it. To upgrade may cost you down the road. Just an FYI, I am sure you know about the SSD's... when they go, they go quick, no warning. Make sure you have backups!
  • yoba222yoba222 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,207 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Rather than a single 1TB for VMs, I'd consider 2 or 3 512GB drives so you're not I/O bound to the one drive. This way you can put a couple VMs on each drive. I feel as if core count is king when it comes to many virtual instances running simultaneously, so Ryzen all the way.
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  • tedjamestedjames Scruffy-looking nerfherdr Member Posts: 1,174 ■■■■■■■■□□
    This is all great information. I clearly have a lot to learn. @bigdogz Good point about SSDs. Backups are essential.  @yoba222 Interesting, re: multiple drives. I never would've considered that. I'll be doing more research. I'm not in a hurry. I know I'm tired of being limited to what my old PC can handle.
  • stryder144stryder144 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,675 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Do you plan to use software such as Eve-NG?  If so, you will need to purchase an Intel CPU if you want to guarantee compatibility.  My recommendation is to look at the types of software you plan to run and make sure that the CPU you buy will be able to run the software.  Aside from that consideration, most every other hardware decision should be relatively generic.  If you can pick up a motherboard with NVME drive support, consider purchasing as many of those drives as you can fit, as they will be a lot faster than standard SATA-based SSDs.  Also, @yoba222 makes a great point about using multiple SSDs for the VMs.
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  • tedjamestedjames Scruffy-looking nerfherdr Member Posts: 1,174 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Do you plan to use software such as Eve-NG?  If so, you will need to purchase an Intel CPU if you want to guarantee compatibility.  My recommendation is to look at the types of software you plan to run and make sure that the CPU you buy will be able to run the software.  Aside from that consideration, most every other hardware decision should be relatively generic.  If you can pick up a motherboard with NVME drive support, consider purchasing as many of those drives as you can fit, as they will be a lot faster than standard SATA-based SSDs.  Also, @yoba222 makes a great point about using multiple SSDs for the VMs.

    I hadn't heard of Eve-NG. I just checked it out. Interesting! I might have to try out their free community edition.

    Good point about the CPU/software compatibility. My focus will be on VirtualBox-based VMs and Visual Studio.

    I agree about the NVMe drives. My wife just bought a new laptop with an NVNe SSD, and that thing screams! Kinda jealous...
  • Mike7Mike7 Member Posts: 1,081 ■■■■□□□□□□
    As I already have a PC, I bought a Intel NUC8i7BEH with 64GB RAM and 1 TB M.2 SSD and installed ESXi on it to run VMs.  The advantage is that I have a inconspicuous and portable server  for learning. 
  • bigdogzbigdogz Member Posts: 873 ■■■■■■■■□□
    edited January 15
    ... with a power supply that keeps you nice and warm! LOL ... I have one as well.
  • thomas_thomas_ CompTIA N+/S+/L+ CCNA R&S CCNP R&S/Enterprise/Collab Member Posts: 959 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I came across SuperMicro the last time I thought about building something for a lab.  I’m not sure if it would fit in your budget.  I’ve heard a lot people get pretty good deals on actual servers though I’m not sure how they are for power, space, cooling, etc.  I second the NVMe drive.  
  • bigdogzbigdogz Member Posts: 873 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Servers require more space, power and at a minimum will require 2 fans not including the power supply/supplies. A micro rack would be able to hold 20 - 36 U's.
  • DZA_DZA_ Untitled. Member Posts: 438 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Mike7 said:
    As I already have a PC, I bought a Intel NUC8i7BEH with 64GB RAM and 1 TB M.2 SSD and installed ESXi on it to run VMs.  The advantage is that I have a inconspicuous and portable server  for learning. 
    How many VMs do you generally run simultaneously? You've got me thinking now buying a NUC. Seems totally reasonable and it's not that expensive given all things laid out. 
  • bigdogzbigdogz Member Posts: 873 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I run between 3 and 6. At times I can run 9 but the VM's start becoming slow and / or unresponsive.
  • wd40wd40 CISA, eJPT, MCP, MCTS, CompTIA x 6 Member Posts: 1,016 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited January 21
    I think if you don't need the portability and have the space then a Desktop CPU would be much better than the CPUs that you have in a NUC.

    I have been planning to replace my Desktop purchased in 2013 (4770k + 16 GB Ram and all SSDs) for several years now but I can't really see the need, a 7 years old desktop CPU is capable of running several VMs with no issues, the only limitation is RAM.

    So for the next build I will have at least 64 GB of RAM which should cover my needs for at least 10 years.

    For one of the Labs I have windows server 2019 as an AD, 2 windows 10 clients and kali linux VMs. all running smoothly.
  • tedjamestedjames Scruffy-looking nerfherdr Member Posts: 1,174 ■■■■■■■■□□
    wd40 said:
    So for the next build I will have at least 64 GB of RAM which should cover my needs for at least 10 years.
    That's my main requirement. Right now, that kind of limits the available pre-built systems, but that'll change. I've seen a very few out there with as much as 512 GB of RAM, mostly for gaming. While that would be cool, I can't justify that expense.
  • Mike7Mike7 Member Posts: 1,081 ■■■■□□□□□□
    DZA_ said:
    Mike7 said:
    As I already have a PC, I bought a Intel NUC8i7BEH with 64GB RAM and 1 TB M.2 SSD and installed ESXi on it to run VMs.  The advantage is that I have a inconspicuous and portable server  for learning. 
    How many VMs do you generally run simultaneously? You've got me thinking now buying a NUC. Seems totally reasonable and it's not that expensive given all things laid out. 
    Currently 4 to 6. A mix of Windows, Linux and Kali. I have yet to stress the system. With 8 vCPU, 64 GB RAM, 1 M.2 and 1 SATA SSD, CPU is probably the bottleneck here. If you have the cash or are trying to learn VMware ESXi, you can buy another NUC or two and setup vSAN cluster. Intel did release new NUC with up to 8 physical/16 logical cores. 

    They are not cheap but I need something portable, silent and support ESXi. 



  • Mike7Mike7 Member Posts: 1,081 ■■■■□□□□□□
    wd40 said:
    For one of the Labs I have windows server 2019 as an AD, 2 windows 10 clients and kali linux VMs. all running smoothly.
    I remembered running 5 Windows 2000 VMs on 2 GB RAM Pentium 4 while studying for my first MCSE.  :blush:
  • shochanshochan Member Posts: 939 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I've ran across some fairly inexpensive servers (used) on eBay...I haven't bought any yet, but did pickup a managed switch recently & everything works.  I believe they are probably out of warranty but still in decent shape.
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  • Mike7Mike7 Member Posts: 1,081 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited January 27
    SuperMicro kits are another option if you want sever class hardware and is ok with some noise
    https://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2018/11/supermicro-e300-9d-sys-e300-9d-8cn8tp-is-a-nice-esxi-vsan-kit.html

    Picture from site


    Here is a good SuperMicro vs NUC comparison
    https://lab-rat.com.au/2017/04/01/supermicro-vs-intel-nuc/





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