Home Lab: Hardware

Let me get this out of the way first. I, Tim, am an idiot. There. I said it. I’ll get into this more momentarily.

I have needed a home lab for a while. I have a work lab, and its huge and fast, but it has morphed into some production lab environment, where I can’t do everything I want when I want. I’ve been following a company on eBay for a while that was selling refurb high-power workstation PC’s off-lease. I snagged up a Dell Precision 690 workstation.


I had forgotten how huge these things really were. It dwarfs my full-tower Hackintosh. This PC came loaded up pretty good, and I snagged it for under $170.

CPU: Dual Xeon 5160’s (3.0Ghz)

RAM: 32GB DDR2 667

Graphics (Quadro 1700)


OS: None




Really, not too shabby for the price. To copmlete the lab, I tacked on a Samsung EVO 850 250GB SSD.


I setup the base OS with ESXi 5.5 Enterprise Plus with one of my existing licenses. I am now a VMUG Advantage member, which gives me access to a whole huge set of EVALExperience software. This is what is going to be in the lab. My plan was to nest a 3 host v. Sphere 6 lab with the VCSA 6, and then host a full Horizon Advanced lab, vCloud lab, and necessary AD / DNS infrastructure inside. Here is where the me being an idiot comes in. The dual Xeon 5160’s are great processors. They fully support VT -x. Do you know what it doesn’t support? EPT. What does this mean? I can nest ESXi inside the base OS all day long. I cannot, however, deploy 64-bit VM’s under those nested ESXi hosts. EPT allows the nested hypervisors to pass along the hardware VT -x  to allow 64-bit VM’s.

I guess this isn’t a HUGE problem. I just can’t put the Horizon, vCloud, and Windows labs inside the vSphere 6 lab. It won’t stop me from having the labs separate. I’ll fix that in Home Lab 2.0.

This will be a series of posts regarding the setup of the home lab. From the base hardware, to the vSphere / VCSA 6.0 lab, to the Horizon lab, etc. I also got a copy of the new @PernixData Freedom software, and plan to get a Lab Edition license of the F5 BigIP virtual appliance. Should be some good learning!