Home Lab

In the years before 2013, I ran my Home Lab on VMware Workstation. I mainly used my desktop for this task, but after some issues with ballooning VMs and performance issues it was time for me to create a shopping list for a more serious Home Lab. The combination of the items on the shopping list had to meet the following requirements :

– Max performance with power efficiency
– Has to be silent
– Minimum of 2 hosts
– Minimum of 32GB per host
– Multiple NICs
– Space for a SSD drive
– And of course the WAF was quite important

For whoever doesn’t know what WAF is, damn you’re lucky… But here is a pretty good explanation : link

Then the search began, googleling I came across some good blog post with helpfull information.

Erik Bussink : 2013 Homelab refresh
Kendrick Coleman : Green Machines 5.5 Home Lab Update
Eric Shanks : Baby Dragon Home Lab

At the moment this is the current logical design of my Home Lab :

Home Lab

And it consists of the following hardware :


After going through a lot of options my eye fell on the Shuttle SZ86R5. It offered a good base to run ESXi from, the Shuttle SZ86R5 is compact and is really quiet. Standard the Shuttle SZ86R5 has room for 3 disks and can be easily expanded. It even has enough room to play around with a NVIDIA Grid card!



The Shuttle SZ86R5 features an Intel Z68 Express Chipset which supports the LGA 1155 socket Intel Sandy Bridge Core i3/i5/i7, in other words loads of choices there. My max performance with power efficiency requirement let me to the i7-3770s (@ 3.10GHz) processor, this bad boy has 4 cores (without HT) and a TDP of only 65watt. Not bad for Home Lab.



The Shuttle SZ86R5 supports max 32GB (8GB*4) DDR3 at 1333 MHz. With that limit it was a no brainer, the only thing I had to do is fill that baby up to the max!



Because the Intel S3700 wasn’t out yet the next best thing was a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB 2.5″.



Standard the Shuttle SZ86R5 has a Realtek RTL 8111E onboard. But because I also want to play around with multipathing I expanded the config with an Dual Port Intel 82576 1Gbit NIC.



For switching I went with the HP 1810-24G v2. This no nonsense layer 2 1Gbit switch offers me all the functionality that I was searching for, like :

– Had to be a managed switch
– Jumbo frames
– And best of all no annoying fans


NAS Storage

I already had an “old” QNAP TS-439 Pro II with 4*3TB SATA Western Digital Red disks in RAID-5, which is actually still doing a great job serving iSCSI LUNs to the hosts.



Because I want to get the biggest punch from my Home Lab and I’m a PernixPrime I’m able to run my hosts under the PernixData FVP NFR Wh00t!

But there was one small problem, Shuttle doesn’t set a BIOS UUID so all Shuttle PCs have the same all 0s UUID and guess what PernixData FVP is using for identifying a host.

It is possible to set the BIOS UUID by executing the following steps :

  • Download AMIDMI.EXE tool (link)
  • Download FreeDOS and put it onto USB stick (link)
  • Copy AMIDMI.EXE to the USB disk
  • Boot the Shuttle PC from the USB disk. Enter the fdos option 4.
  • Run amidmi /u command
  • Reboot the Shuttle PC and check the BIOS UUID with : esxcfg-info | grep “BIOS UUID”
  • Marco van Baggum

    Marco works as a Staff Consulting Architect at VMware. Want to learn more about Marco? Check out Marco's About page.

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