My Own Home Lab

erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
Well, after much internal debate about whether or not I was going to build or buy, especially reading knwminus' Build or Buy thread, I decided that I was gonna drop my loot on a new HP ML110 G6. For the price of an extremely barebone solution, it's not terrible. The processor has both Hardware VT and has Hyperthreading (an i3-530...more than enough for me). Maximum memory is 16GB and after researching the memory on my favorite site since my time at the help desk, www.crucial.com, I not only found the memory I needed, but got it much cheaper than Crucial's (which is always the case...Crucial is where I go just to get the specs quickly. I almost feel bad that I pretty much never buy from there icon_sad.gif ...but if they were never around, that would mean I'd have gone to HP's site anyway. LOL ). I'm going for 2 Kingston's KVR1333D3E9S/4G RAM chips so I get 8GB for now, and will get the final 8GB a short time later. This vendor, "Next Warehouse", seems pretty reputable, and they had both the best price and wasn't crazy with shipping. I'm pretty much gonna deal with SATA drives, as I don't need RAID and plus I am going to need the performance for my VMs. So I'll spread them out. 250 GB drives should be silly cheap, so maybe I'll just get the 4 and keep the 160 that will come with the box around incase I need it (or maybe put it on ebay...who knows). Looks like I'll be buying these though

Because I'm gonna need an external monitor, I'm going to hold off on getting a Technet subscription (for now). I'm gonna need an HDMI port so that I can watch cable TV too. (for the price I'm spending on a monitor...I might as well... :) ) After I make up for that cost, I'll get a Technet subscription, along with 2 more 250GB drives to finish off my 4 drives.

What I will do compensate for lack of RAID is get a disk imaging solution like Ghost or Acronis and put the images of the host OS on my external USB terrabyte drive. I will also buy at least one or two extra drives just to keep around in case one dies. (Poor man's RAID... :) ).

So what do you guys think? I have time before I pull the trigger, but this is pretty much one less thing to worry about. Did I forget anything, hardware (or even software)-wise? While I'm waiting for my Technet subscription, I can always use Dreamspark to get started on Standard Windows Server 2008 R2 (I'll have to do that anyway to test the hardware and make sure stuff is ok and then go Enterprise via TechNet when the money is right again. The current hardware after all is said and done will come out to $755 (not including the monitor). That's just the server, 2x4GB RAM, and 2x250GB drives. I can even borrow (yes, REALLY borrow) a monitor from work until I procure my own with the HDMI inputs... :).

I'm just finally glad I am back to doing this kinda thing now. Yeah, sure, I should've (and could've) built one from scratch, but after looking at all those motherboards, cpus, cases, etc, my money and time was better spent on just creating the VM environment and setting up the virtual infrastructure. I probably won't even start that until I get Technet. (No sense in doing all that twice...lmao).

Comments

  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Looks good so far. I saved on the monitor as I just RDP to my lab computer. I just hooked my extra monitor (crt type) up while doing initial setup and then set up RDP.
    It's good that you're getting fast HDs as that is what usually bogs you down when running a lot of VMs.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • tierstentiersten Member Posts: 4,505
    erpadmin wrote: »
    Because I'm gonna need an external monitor, I'm going to hold off on getting a Technet subscription (for now)
    Check which version of Technet you need. They recently made a new version called Technet Standard which is cheaper but doesn't include some of the software.
    erpadmin wrote: »
    What I will do compensate for lack of RAID is get a disk imaging solution like Ghost or Acronis and put the images of the host OS on my external terrabyte drive. I will also buy at least one or two extra drives just to keep around in case one dies. (Poor man's RAID... :) ).
    RAID isn't a backup which is what you're doing with the extra drives.
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    tiersten wrote: »
    Check which version of Technet you need. They recently made a new version called Technet Standard which is cheaper but doesn't include some of the software.


    Technet Professional without the media. ~$261 with discount. The standard doesn't have everything in Enterprise, so rather than mess around with that, I'll go with the Professional. Also, I don't need media....iso files will work just fine. :)
    tiersten wrote: »
    RAID isn't a backup which is what you're doing with the extra drives.

    Let me clarify. I won't have any redundancy from the disks. So, while yes, RAID isn't a backup solution (and I never meant to imply that it was), I would need to have disk imagining in place so that if a drive does fail, I have an image to refresh from as well as an extra drive to replace the failed drive while the old one gets replaced (hopefully) via warranty/other means. :) Never meant to imply that RAID was a backup...lol.


    EDIT OH! You probably thought I was talking about the 4 250 GBs being RAIDed 0 to turn into a 1TB when i mentioned the TB drive! LOL. I meant I would save my images on my external 1.5TB USB drive that I have! LMAO. Sorry about the confusion. I'm gonna fix that now.
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    earweed wrote: »
    Looks good so far. I saved on the monitor as I just RDP to my lab computer. I just hooked my extra monitor (crt type) up while doing initial setup and then set up RDP.
    It's good that you're getting fast HDs as that is what usually bogs you down when running a lot of VMs.

    Yeah I plan on RDPing from the laptop as well. I kinda wanted an external monitor anyway though. The 14" screen isn't cutting it anymore. LOL.
  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I just have 2 -17" Acer monitors. They ran me less than $100 each. Forget where I bought them from but Amazon lists them for about $130.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    earweed wrote: »
    I just have 2 -17" Acer monitors. They ran me less than $100 each. Forget where I bought them from but Amazon lists them for about $130.

    I looked at Acers on Newegg, how are they? I had a Viewsonic LCD that died on me after 2 years....of course, neither the manufacturer or credit card (my Visa matches the 1 year warranty on purchases) could help me....
  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    They work just fine. My original HP monitor died after 2 years also. These Acers have been with me 2 years now and are still working fine. They're the models w/o the built in speaker is why they're so inexpensive.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • steve13adsteve13ad Member Posts: 398 ■■■■□□□□□□
    If your looking for an Monitor/TV, I've been eying this. It's only $300 plus tax, and you can finance it for 36 months.

    Get an DVI to HDMI adapter and your golden!

    Server looked pretty sweet for the price. Sometimes it's just as easy to buy instead of build.
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    steve13ad wrote: »
    If your looking for an Monitor/TV, I've been eying this. It's only $300 plus tax, and you can finance it for 36 months.

    LOL....that's a bit too big for my desk (and I don't want to mount it on the wall either...lol). Biggest I can deal with is 24". Smallest, about 19." Would also like a DSub so I can deal with hooking it up regularly to the VGA port anyway without converters. But an additional HDMI port would definitely be sweet since I'm spending money.

    EDIT: Oh I see what you meant about the DVI to HDMI converter...I gotta see how well that works.

    steve13ad wrote: »
    Server looked pretty sweet for the price. Sometimes it's just as easy to buy instead of build.

    My thoughts, exactly. It's all about time at this point/stage in the game.
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    earweed wrote: »
    They work just fine. My original HP monitor died after 2 years also. These Acers have been with me 2 years now and are still working fine. They're the models w/o the built in speaker is why they're so inexpensive.


    I'm about narrowing it down to a couple.....man the reviewing/pricing is tough....lmao.
  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    If you want to go dual monitor eventually (and believe me you should) then 19" may be the biggest you'd want to go. 2 17" monitors takes a lot of space.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    earweed wrote: »
    If you want to go dual monitor eventually (and believe me you should) then 19" may be the biggest you'd want to go. 2 17" monitors takes a lot of space.


    Well, I have decided on my initial pick after all. I just wanted to avoid doing a stereo setup with the cable box, but f' it; the TV was just secondary anyway.


    I'm getting this: Acer P205H 20" Widescreen LCD Monitor | Staples®

    I believe I can buy it and pick it up from whichever store I want (the Staples by my house, or the Staples by my job...lmao). For the price I can't beat that. If I do end up needing another one, I can get one later. My helpdesk buddy has the two monitor setup and W7, so I've seen what that looks like. Of course, two monitors is nothing new...I did some contract work at a trading desk many moons ago.....they needed 2-4 monitors sometimes for those trades.

    For the TV setup, looks like I'll need a stereo to hook up to my cable box. I'll Radio Shack that one; pick up that and RCA cables and of course the DVI to HDMI cable (I now understand what Steve meant...).

    Man, this was the rough part. I'm so excited about setting this stuff up. Now I get to mull it over after an hour before I pull trigger. Gonna watch some True Blood with the wife now. :)
  • tierstentiersten Member Posts: 4,505
    steve13ad wrote: »
    If your looking for an Monitor/TV, I've been eying this. It's only $300 plus tax, and you can finance it for 36 months.
    1366 x 768 <-- eww
    steve13ad wrote: »
    Get an DVI to HDMI adapter and your golden!
    Does that TV support HDCP? You might have issues if it doesn't.
  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    @erpadmin- nice price on that.....hmmm
    How do you set up 3 monitors..lol
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • MentholMooseMentholMoose Senior Member Member Posts: 1,524 ■■■■■■■■□□
    earweed wrote: »
    How do you set up 3 monitors..lol
    Typically you buy extra video cards since most only support two outputs. However AMD has some video cards that have up to SIX outputs... look for cards that have "eyefinity" support (I think the minimum is three outputs for these cards).
    MentholMoose
    LFCE - MCITP: EDA7, VA, SA, EA - MCSA:S 2003 - CCA (PVS 5, XD 3 / 4 / 5, XS 5 / 6) - VCP 4 / 5
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    earweed wrote: »
    @erpadmin- nice price on that.....hmmm
    How do you set up 3 monitors..lol


    At the time, we used multi-VGA port cards and the onboard for 3+ monitors. They were very expensive, but traders needed them. Then the display gets set same as you would in W2K, XP, etc.

    I'm about to pull the trigger on my new baby. (plus that monitor....).
  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    So I could use my onboard and the 2 on my video card....man my ADD will go wild with 3 monitors at once. With 2 I've got TE on one anddoing a practice test on the other.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,736 ■■■■■■■■■■
    earweed wrote: »
    So I could use my onboard and the 2 on my video card....man my ADD will go wild with 3 monitors at once. With 2 I've got TE on one anddoing a practice test on the other.

    Well now I don't feel so guilty anymore... icon_lol.gif
    Currently working on: Linux and Python
  • steve13adsteve13ad Member Posts: 398 ■■■■□□□□□□
    earweed wrote: »
    So I could use my onboard and the 2 on my video card....man my ADD will go wild with 3 monitors at once. With 2 I've got TE on one anddoing a practice test on the other.

    Maybe, I've had Dells that the onboard graphic doesn't play well with an "extra" card.

    On my desktop, I've got two Nvidia 9300 running three 19in Acers. It's pretty nice!
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    Well it's done....grand total $872.68....better than the laptop I was gonna buy for this a long time ago. After about a month, I'll finish off the RAM and 2 HDs for a total of 16GB and 4x250 GB drives.


    DreamSpark will definitely have to do for now.....lol. Hopefully, there will be an even better Technet discount....this should hold me over for labbing until I get it. I can get a head start on the MS stuff while I work on my GE classes for WGU.

    I gotta get a binder at work and print the Server 2008 R2 guide Earweed found ... :)

    Man, am I in for fun times. :D
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    steve13ad wrote: »
    Maybe, I've had Dells that the onboard graphic doesn't play well with an "extra" card.

    Any Windows OS after XP requires the same driver to be used for video cards: Windows Display Driver Model - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I currently have two 24s that do 1920x1200. I'd like to trade those in for a single 30". I'd lose a little screen real estate, but I'd de-clutter my desk a bit. I rarely need to look at everything that's taking up both monitors, and I think virtual desktops with a larger monitor would be an ideal setup for me.
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    Hmmm...this brings new questions....

    I had wanted the simplicity of an onboard card (partly the reason I opted not to go for a build as there was just too much going on) so that I wouldn't run into the Hyper-V issues in this thread:

    http://www.techexams.net/forums/mcts-mcitp-windows-2008-general/54193-70-649-lab-hardware.html

    From re-reading Earweed's link, I see now that some cards won't give Hyper-V a hard time, especially if I don't get one of those gaming cards.

    Do we have a list among us of which video cards I can get that will not give me those problems highlighted in that thread? Especially if I want to go the dual monitor route at some point? Right now, this isn't an issue. But much later I want to kind of nip that in the bud. :)
  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Yeah, tried to plug an old CRT monitor in the onboard and it didn't work. Guess I'll stick to 2...lol
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • wd40wd40 CISA, eJPT, MCP, MCTS, CompTIA x 6 Member Posts: 1,017 ■■■■□□□□□□
    erpadmin wrote: »
    Hmmm...this brings new questions....

    I had wanted the simplicity of an onboard card (partly the reason I opted not to go for a build as there was just too much going on) so that I wouldn't run into the Hyper-V issues in this thread:

    http://www.techexams.net/forums/mcts-mcitp-windows-2008-general/54193-70-649-lab-hardware.html

    From re-reading Earweed's link, I see now that some cards won't give Hyper-V a hard time, especially if I don't get one of those gaming cards.

    Do we have a list among us of which video cards I can get that will not give me those problems highlighted in that thread? Especially if I want to go the dual monitor route at some point? Right now, this isn't an issue. But much later I want to kind of nip that in the bud. :)

    I have an OC'd Nvidia GTS 250, I installed Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V and I had no graphics issues.

    Using a 22" 1680 * 1050 + 26" 1920 * 1200 monitors.

    But if I am going to build a new machine I would get 2 much smaller graphics cards "for a 3 monitor setup", I don't need to play games or videos, powerful cards use a lot of power, produce heat and are noisy.
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    earweed wrote: »
    Yeah, tried to plug an old CRT monitor in the onboard and it didn't work. Guess I'll stick to 2...lol

    You might want to review the BIOS and see if that's behavior you can adjust. Sometimes they default to disabled when you install a real graphics card.
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    Well, I picked up my monitor today. Using it right now on my laptop until the ML110 shows up. It's working out pretty well. I'm definitely glad I have this in case I decide to do another Online Proctored Exam....I may give that one more shot.

    Once I get into playing with virtualizing, I'll start another thread in the Virtualization forum. I haven't been this excited since I started PC hobbying, though this time I get to tie it into work. I already had to spec out VMs for a development environment with the main system administration guys. My boss (who is driving the project), myself and them will review the specs for the DL380 G6 boxes we'll have to buy. They will be the ones to set up the VMs though, which is fine. My job is to deal with what I have to do with them in the PeopleSoft test/dev environment. My main concern will be doing my own thing with my own lab, this way I will set it up at work at the next go around...as a MCITP: EA :D (and hopefully a college graduate...lol). That's really the whole reason for the lab.
  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    dynamik wrote: »
    You might want to review the BIOS and see if that's behavior you can adjust. Sometimes they default to disabled when you install a real graphics card.
    Yeah, it's disabled if I use a graphics card. I guess I'll just stick to 2 monitors. 2 monitors are plenty. The only thing 3 might be good for is if I am running more than 2 VMs RDP'd and it would make it easier switching between them. Not that big a deal.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Member Posts: 2,991 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Ugh ok this thread motivated me big time lol. I am currently remodeling my computer room into an actual "office" since I will be working from home mainly. I am chucking the desks, repainting even getting new curtains lol.

    I want it clutter free since I get distracted when crap is laying around. I want to get another server to be my test box to setup virtual networks for study purposes. I am chucking all my spare crap out of the closet and installing some shelving where I want to put the cable modem, router, home server, switch etc. etc.

    Making a list to get my thoughts down, researching power consumption but mainly heat. Don't want much heat from the box. Want to probably setup a max of a few Windows servers for the Microsoft track. Probably will have a Linux virtual box that will be always running though. I want it to run headless in the closet.
  • jschreckjschreck Member Posts: 63 ■■□□□□□□□□
    tpatt100 wrote: »
    Ugh ok this thread motivated me big time lol. I am currently remodeling my computer room into an actual "office" since I will be working from home mainly. I am chucking the desks, repainting even getting new curtains lol.

    Wow, I am jelouse of your cave. I am still setup in the living room ;-(
  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I was set up in the bedroom for a long time so don't feel bad.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
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