Advice for a home virtual lab

baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
Well, finally got some money for a new build and for certs. I decided to take MCSA 2008, then upgrade to 2012 and later get MCSE.

So, here is a build:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks


CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($379.00)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($40.00)
Motherboard: Asus Z87-PRO ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($223.00)
Memory: Kingston Beast 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 Memory ($155.00)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($166.00)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($73.00)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 w/Window (Titanium Grey) ATX Mid Tower Case ($145.00)
Power Supply: SeaSonic M12II 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($146.00)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) (Purchased For $0.00)
Monitor: Asus VS248H-P 24.0" Monitor ($221.00)
Monitor: Asus VS248H-P 24.0" Monitor ($221.00)


Total: $1769.00
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-08-18 10:32 EDT-0400)



I think this will be good lab, except 2 things...

1. 4770k doesn't support VT-d. Should I go with 4770 because of VT-d? I'd prefer 4770k because I plan on OC my build.
2. Will the integrated HD4600 be enough for running VMs?

Comments

  • baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
  • sratakhinsratakhin Posts: 818Member
    I have i5-2500k which also doesn't support Vt-D and it has never been a problem in any of my lab VMs.
    I also would get a bigger SSD. Trust me, you'll want your VMs on the SSD ;) The videocard won't matter unless you want to play games on the VMs, which is kind of odd anyway.
  • baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Nope, I don't plan on playing games on the VMs, but AFAIK if I wanted to play, I couldn't because my CPU doesn't support VT-d...

    Well, SSD are quite expensive right now, but I guess I could bump it to 256GB. Thanks for the reply!
  • terryferaterryfera Posts: 71Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    For a virtualized lab you're going to run in to memory/disk IO bottlenecks before you run in to a CPU bottleneck. If you're planning on running this for mostly lab work then I would say don't bother overclocking since the gain won't be all that noticeable in VMs. I run a stock 2700k and haven't bothered overclocking since the performance is great even without it.

    I see you're doing a 2x8GB memory kit which leaves you open to upgrade to 32GB in the future which is handy for running some larger labs (or nested lab) but you're going to run out of room on the SSD quickly at 128GB. There are benefits to running the Pro series Samsung but if you go to a lower line you can get a 240GB easily for the same price. I run a Sandisk Extreme and it's been awesome. At least go with a couple smaller WD Blacks for storage for VMs (more spindles will help) if you don't want to get a bigger SSD.

    Integrated video will be fine for running VMs.

    Overall though it's a good build with some good parts that will last you a while.
  • baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks!

    For now build will be used for a learning, but later I plan on OC and video rendering/gaming, etc. That's why I chose "better" parts.

    I have 2 more HDDs, WD Black (2x1TB), I guess I'll save some more money and go with 256GB SSD.
  • ITMonkeyITMonkey Posts: 200Member
    Most definitely: have at least a 120 GB SSD. There are ways of cutting corners on the amount of virtual disk space utilized by your guest VMs. Significantly cutting corners, so 256 GB seems extravagant to me.

    There was no mention about software you'll need. I assume then that your hypervisor will be VirtualBox or Hyper-V. Having used both in the past, I've moved on to using VMware's products (both Workstation 9 and ESXi). If I had to do it all over again, I'm pretty sure I would have paid the extra dollars for a Workstation 9 license. ESXi might be too much of a challenge to start with; and it amazed me how well WS9 performed. I was even able to nest hypervisors in it to lab failover.

    I was also thinking that there was no mention of future expenses. What books, training classes, educational material are you going to purchase, now that you have a lab machine up and running?
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Just on the memory I would go with 32 GB and not go with overclocked RAM - you probably won't see a difference with OC RAM but you will notice an extra 16GB. Also the RAM isn't on the compatibility list - you should be OK but it's better to get compatible RAM when the price is not too different.

    You are based in Europe so why are you getting items from the US? You'll have major import duties on top of that price.
  • netsysllcnetsysllc Posts: 479Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Running the VMs from SSD will make a bigger difference than just about anything. if it is for labs the VMs likely wont be more than 10-20GB each. The next difference will be memory.
  • Xenith19Xenith19 Posts: 21Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    My advice: download and install GNS3 (graphical network simulator). It's mostly geared for CCNA study, but it's immensely useful for labbing with MS server and clients, especially since it integrates with VirtualBox. You can set up separate networks connected by routers, use wireshark to actually see server and client traffic, set up domains and subdomains, primary and secondary DNS servers...basically anything you would actually do in the enterprise. It just serves to make everything less abstract. And there's a ton of good tutorials on youtube. I was a complete noob and I hammered through all the kinks after about two days. I'd be happy to go into details about my setup. I'm studying for the 70-410 incidentally.
  • WagnaardWagnaard Posts: 124Member
    I'm looking at GNS3 now. Looks cool, but where could I get the Cisco IOS images?
  • stealthgeekstealthgeek Posts: 4Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    If you have Windows 8 installed, you can configure your lab to use Hyper-V, which is beneficial since most of the course is geared around Hyper-V, but I know you can nest Hyper-V servers with VMWare too.....
  • baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Asif Dasl wrote: »

    You are based in Europe so why are you getting items from the US? You'll have major import duties on top of that price.

    Because pcpartpicker isn't Europe friendly, so I just picked components and entered my price, that's why build is like +$500 in comparison to the US/CANicon_sad.gif
    If you have Windows 8 installed, you can configure your lab to use Hyper-V, which is beneficial since most of the course is geared around Hyper-V, but I know you can nest Hyper-V servers with VMWare too.....

    Thanks, Yes, I do have windows 8 Pro and I was gonna install Hyper-v, but I'm not sure if it's gonna work with 4770k...

    ITMonkey wrote: »

    I was also thinking that there was no mention of future expenses. What books, training classes, educational material are you going to purchase, now that you have a lab machine up and running?

    I have cbt nuggets, Windows server 2008 self-paced kit, also some cram books...
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Thanks, Yes, I do have windows 8 Pro and I was gonna install Hyper-v, but I'm not sure if it's gonna work with 4770k...
    4770K only has VT-d disabled according to this review. VT-d is I/O virtualisation which is different to VT-x which is processor virtualisation which is used by VMware/Hyper-V etc. I am seriously considering going for the 4770T for my new lab because it supports VT-d as well as running on 45 watts - it's powerful & cheap to run, hard to get though.
  • Xenith19Xenith19 Posts: 21Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I'd provide the link from which I got my IOS images, but it appears to be off the air. I'll see if I can't find another source.
  • sacredboysacredboy Posts: 303Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    baconpancakes what software you're going to use for virtualization?
    Best, sacredboy!
  • Xenith19Xenith19 Posts: 21Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I use an image for C2691 routers. Just google that image and you should find it.
  • baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Asif Dasl wrote: »
    4770K only has VT-d disabled according to this review. VT-d is I/O virtualisation which is different to VT-x which is processor virtualisation which is used by VMware/Hyper-V etc.

    Can you give me more info about vt-d, I've read all I could about it, but as far as I understand vt-d is must have if I want to more NIC or GPU to play games in VMs... I would like to try Hyper-V, but I'm not sure if I can use Hyper-V without VT-d support?
    Also, do I really need another NIC to use in VM, I know that will be easier for a setup, but VMware has a virtual network which I can setup.
    sacredboy wrote: »
    baconpancakes what software you're going to use for virtualization?

    Well, I guess VMware, but I wanted to try out Hyper-V too (if it's possible to do that without VT-d)?
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Can you give me more info about vt-d, I've read all I could about it, but as far as I understand vt-d is must have if I want to more NIC or GPU to play games in VMs... I would like to try Hyper-V, but I'm not sure if I can use Hyper-V without VT-d support?
    Also, do I really need another NIC to use in VM, I know that will be easier for a setup, but VMware has a virtual network which I can setup.
    You can read the spec or something less technical. I've never heard that VT-d limits the number of NICs so I would be interested to hear where you found that. You mostly just use 1 NIC anyway unless you are running an IDS or something. VT-d just improves efficiency of I/O to the VM so it's not a deal breaker AFAIK, if it was I think you would here more "Don't go near that 4770K processor". I'm not sure how useful playing games in a VM really is but if it concerns you that much just go with a 4770, 4770S or 4770T. You can use Hyper-V without VT-d, it has only just added support for it in Server 2012.
  • baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Well, I've read somewhere that if I buy one more NIC and put it in PCI slot, I won't be able to use it in VMs unless I have VT-d... I don't plan on playing games on a VM.
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    I've an AMD system at the moment (so no VT-d) and I've got a HP NC364T 4 port GigE NIC and can use the NIC for different VMs in VMware workstation & vSphere, haven't tried Hyper-V yet but I doubt I'd have a problem.
  • baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Then I guess I've read something incorrectly or maybe your AMD CPU supports AMD-Vi?
  • baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Hm... It looks like AMD-vi depends on chipset...

    [img][/img]http://www.overclockers.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/890fxarch.png

    It doesn't matter :) I was asking because I thought that having more NICs would be good to have for running VMs (I know that I can run "virtual" network). Thanks for your help! I guess I'll go with 4770k!
  • terryferaterryfera Posts: 71Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    The only time you need VT-d or IOMMU is if you were trying to pass through the piece of hardware exclusively to the guest VM. Say you wanted to pass a storage controller or network adapter through to the VM and not have the host use it at all.

    If you're going with something like VMware workstation or Hyper-V I wouldn't worry about it (my 2700k doesn't have it) and you can use any NIC in your system still with the VMs, you just present them as virtual NICs and configure their settings from the host. I have a dual port intel NIC in my desktop to attach to more networks and it works as you would think without needing VT-d.

    If you're runniong vSphere you would still do the same unless you had a reason to pass the hardware directly through, say a storage server where you want the OS to have direct access for ZFS or Windows Storage spaces.
  • baconpancakesbaconpancakes Posts: 10Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks terryfera!
  • sacredboysacredboy Posts: 303Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Guys, please, forgive me my curiosity, but why do you need the home/vurtual lab for MCSA/MCSE?
    And which roles are usually tested in such lab?

    Would appreciate the detailed answer as I'm going to start to become Microsoft certified.
    Best, sacredboy!
  • WagnaardWagnaard Posts: 124Member
    I've not taken any MS exams, but I've been in IT for a long time. Any kind of development lab is nice to have, even just a small one. Unless you are alerady very familiar with the material, and more importantly, the recommended MS way of doing things, it'd be a big help to go through the steps of installing the server; setting up roles; configuring DHCP scopes; and all the other stuff.
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