Home Lab on a budget: 32 cores – 96 GB RAM – 2 TB SSD = 661 euro

After a couple of busy months and a long holiday, I want to share with you a little project that I was working on:

  • A very own Home Lab! I want to be able to play around with new VMware products, test out different use cases and scenarios in my own separate environment and mess it all up!

I’ve been using VMware Hands-on-Labs for a while now and I’m a huge fan! Great initiative, good way to try out new products & challenging labs!! But on the other hand: nothing beats your own lovely Home Lab…

So here is my setup with cost breakdown:

Item Specs Price with leftovers at Home (in Euro) Price without leftovers at Home (in Euro)
HPE ProLiant DL360e Gen8 (used) Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2450L 0 @ 1.80GHz
16 CPUs (32 logical) @ 1.8Ghz
HP Smart Array P420/1GB FBWC 6Gb 2-ports Int SAS Controller 6GB/s SAS 32,37
8 SAS Physical Links across 2 internal x4 wide port connectors
1 GB 72-bit wide DDR3-1333MHz Flash Backed Write Cache
7 x Kingston SA400S37 SSD 240 GB 237,21
1 x Kingston SA400S37 SSD @Home 240 GB 0 30,1
1 x SanDisk Ultra SDHC 16GB Card @Home 16 GB – Class 10 0 6,27
8 x HP SAS HDD Tray Caddy Gen8 60,4
TOTAL 660,97 697,34

All the above mentioned prices are including shipping costs.

Some pictures:

A hobby of a friend of mine is to scout the universe for deals! Thanks to him I bought the used Gen8 server via an auction on ebay. The reseller has different auctions going on every day for all kinds of servers. Shipping within Europe is 19.99 euro + the service was great! The other pieces were bought directly, without auctions.

A quick overview where I bought all the pieces:

  • HPE ProLiant DL360e Gen8 (used) – via auctioning: ebay reseller
  • HP Smart Array P420/1GB FBWC 6Gb 2-Ports Int SAS Controller: ebay
  • Kingston SA400S37 SSD: Amazon FR
  • HP SAS HDD Tray Caddy Gen8: ebay

You might be wondering if Gen8 servers can run ESXi 6.7? Well, not officially. But if you attempt the following magic, it seems to work fine so far:

  1. Go to https://www.hpe.com/be/en/servers/hpe-esxi.html and download the ESXi 6.5 U2 Sept 2018 – Last Pre-Gen9 Custom image.
  2. Install the HPE ESXi 6.5 image on your Gen8 server via the ILO.
  3. Download the New* ESXi 6.7 U2 Apr 2019 – Supports Gen9 Servers and forward image.
  4. Upgrade your Gen8 ESXi server via ILO and mounting the ESXi 6.7 image.
  5. Enjoy ESXi 6.7 on your Gen8 server!

Screenshot 2019-10-24 at 11.39.12

Please note: installing and running ESXi 6.7 on this Gen8 server is for my own lab / demoing purposes only. Please always consider the official guidelines from your vendor and do not attempt this in production environments without proper testing. 

The lab is currently running:

  • vRA 7.5 minimal install
    • vRA Appliance + Windows Server 2016 (SQL + IaaS)
  • vRB 7.5 for cloud
  • VCSA 6.7
  • Windows Server 2016 – Domain Controller
  • Linux Server serving magic purposes – CentOS 7
  • 2 deployed Windows Server 2016 Virtual Machines with vRA as a test.

The Power Consumption of the server is around 140W:

Screenshot 2019-10-24 at 12.14.53

I hope it might help you in building your own Home Lab. You don’t always need the full blown 2-5k euro scenario to get you started and I hope this might proof a worthy alternative.

Good luck! 🙂

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