Mini computer to create home virtual lab?

Discussion in 'Proxmox VE: Installation and configuration' started by FedericoCoppola, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. FedericoCoppola

    FedericoCoppola New Member

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    Hi all,
    I am not an expert in this world, and I would ask you a little suggestion about the choose of right hardware platform to create a small virtual home lab to run some Virtual Machine. At the moment I do not think more than 4/5 VMs at the same moment. Typically 2/3 VM.

    I have seen on-line that there are some mini PC very power full, such as MINI PC Intel NUC.
    Another mini PC that I suppose could be interesting is this one GB-BRi5H-8250 (i could not post the link).

    Or do you prefer other solution?

    Thanks
    Federico
     
  2. t.lamprecht

    t.lamprecht Proxmox Staff Member
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    Totally dependent on what the VMs need to do. Do the a lot of compute, may they need quite a bit of memory or could they do heavy IO?

    For just for experimenting and such small VM counts you should be good with both suggestions you posted, though.

    But, IMO, for the same price of a NUC you can also get a self build µATX setup, while a bit bigger you're much more flexible.

    As an example:

    Current NUC i5 (cpu: 4c/8t) generation costs at the time of writing about 360€, memory and disks not included.
    Lets take a AMD Ryzen 5 2600 (6c/12t) (~ 160€), a good µATX mainboard with AM4 socket is in the range of 60 - 100 € (so lets say 80€), plus a µATX case, which with 50€ you get a good case with space for a few disks and at last you need a power supply (about 40€ and you get a good one (i.e., bequiet), for such purposes at least). So all together we're now at ~ 330€, without disks and memory (same as with NUC).

    With the µATX you can expan easier, e.g., start with two memory sticks and you can add another two if you need more later on. Adding a few disks is also easier, as on the NUC you can have only one M.2 and one 2.5" sata.
    Some disadvantages of this proposal could be:
    * no wifi/bluetooth (normally not an issue for a homelab)
    * it's a bit bigger (only an issue if you are very space restricted)
    * you need to build more yourself (for some, like me, this can be even a feature ;) )

    If you settle with an older generation of NUC you may get cheaper, but you will also have (a bit) reduced performance...
    Just my personal opinion, as I'm also planning a small home lab for offsite backup/compute in my home town, I started to think about getting something like a NUC too, but soon switched my plans to a self build, cheaper and more flexible got me there.
     
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    AlexLup, Gaston Senac and DerDanilo like this.
  3. FedericoCoppola

    FedericoCoppola New Member

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    Hi,
    Thanks for your reply!
    My idea is to build a small lab to test and make some experience woth Windows server or Linux Domain controller mainly.
    I am a junior network administrator, and I want build a home lab to imorove my skills.

    Probably in future a VM as firewall or for pentesting.

    Thanks so much for the hardware list to set up a server.

    Thanks
    Federico
     
  4. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep New Member

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    I use a Dell PowerEdge T30 for VMs. It's not a "mini" computer, but it was inexpensive. However, you'll need to spend more money adding RAM (mine currently has 32GB) and drives (I added two SSDs).
     
  5. FedericoCoppola

    FedericoCoppola New Member

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    @t.lamprecht I have made some research about hardware to build my Proxmox Computer.
    I have found this:
    - CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600c (I like your suggestion about CPU)
    - Motherboard: GA-AX370M-DS3H, this mobo support raid 0,1,10
    - RAM: PSD416G24002 (16GB)
    - SSD: (where I will install Proxmox): Kingston 64GB 2,5 Sata 3
    - HDD
    (where save the vm): Toshiba DT01ACA100 1TB to start I can be enough
    - PowerSupply: I have a power supply of 350W/500W (I will must check) that could be compatible with the connection of motherboard
    - Case: I should have one or Case Micro-ATX GS-2490 (with PowerSupply of 500W)

    At the moment I do not think about CD Drive or other stuffs as Wi-Fi aren't important at the moment.

    What do you think about this choice?

    @Nyarlathotep thanks for your suggestion too!
     
  6. AlexLup

    AlexLup Member

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    I have a cluster of 3x workstations I got from work. And the one thing I always bump in is that even when maxed out, RAM IS NEVER enough :)

    So get more RAM, make sure its DDR3 so its cheap!
     
  7. FedericoCoppola

    FedericoCoppola New Member

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    So get more RAM, make sure its DDR3 so its cheap!
    Yes, but with AM4 the compatibility is only for DDR4, or will change the CPU and motherboard
     
  8. Gaston Senac

    Gaston Senac New Member

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    It all depends on your usage and expectations. I think all the options mentioned above are valid, but the comment for RAM is valid because Windows use at least 3 to 6 GB per VM and if you plan to use ZFS it will use as much as it can :eek:
    It's fair to say that in today's standards the main bottleneck for a home Hypervisor would be RAM.
    With hardware you can go fairly new (good performance but more expensive) or old (cheaper but lower perf).
    In my case I've bought a used Dell R310 server with SATA disks because I'm having my storage there so I wanted cheap HDDs.
     
    #8 Gaston Senac, Jan 14, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019 at 06:09
  9. FedericoCoppola

    FedericoCoppola New Member

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    At the moment I will run not more than two windows VM (one Windows Server and one Windows 10) and really probably another one/two Linux VM, but notnot together.
    I suppose that the quantity of ram in my case is good.
    As you all dipends your usage and expectations.

    Thanks
    Federico
     
  10. LnxBil

    LnxBil Well-Known Member

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    For simple home setups and "play around" systems, just use some old desktop or laptop you've laying around. Almost all computer made in the last 10 years are able to run PVE.
    If you're going to buy a system, go with used server hardware. It is cheaper than new desktop components and better suited for testing, because RAM is very cheap and server components are better supported than new desktop stuff. The only drawback is the noise level and power consumption of those systems, but otherwise totally fine.
     
    Gaston Senac likes this.
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