The Pursuit of Homelabs, Part 1

Project_Homelab_Part1The last couple of weeks have been a flurry of learning, planning, and (for now) window shopping. Some earlier attempts at spinning up a few VMs at once on my desktop have been met with sluggish disappointment and a really warm office at best, and incompatibility and wasted time at worst. Despite being more than enough for gaming, it seems as though my desktop won’t cut it for what I’ve got planned. It’s for this reason that I’ve decided to look into expanding the resources at my disposal.

Great for gaming, bad for hosting 

As I mentioned above, my desktop won’t quite cut it. It’s got some great specs for gaming (16GB RAM, an 8-core Intel i7-2600K at 3.7GHz, a 980ti GPU, ~5TB total storage), but these resources don’t align well with hosting multiple virtual machines with a lot of up time. Keeping this monster (glancing nervously to my right at the full-ATX-sized computer case on my desk) takes up a lot of power for what it would offer in longer-term VM hosting and storage. If I wanted to play a game while hosting the VMs I’m planning to run, I’d run in to some trouble in the RAM department. If I ran this 24/7, then the bedroom we use as a shared office would stay pretty toasty. Plus, running a hypervisor (software used to create and manage virtual machines) from a consumer operating system like Windows 10 Pro would cause all sorts of headaches when restart-required updates come around.

Don’t get me wrong; just about any one thing you can do one the hardware I’ve been searching for can be done on most machines. When you’re getting started, or if your resource needs are small, then just about any computer can work great for learning purposes. Like a hermit crab, I feel like my projected needs have outgrown the resources at my disposal. Speaking of needs…

How much hardware DO I need? 

While planning some near-future projects and researching system requirements, I had some trouble figuring out what, exactly, I would need. I also had some “wants” on the list too, like not spending more than I needed for resources on my wish list. I also want a system that’d offer me some extensibility/room to grow so I’m not in the same place a year or two from now. Lastly, I also wanted to get some hardware that’d be a little more power efficient.