I have build a desktop very recently for labbing purpose and I want to share my insights on things to consider while building your first home lab.
What to choose?.
If you are travelling most of the time try choosing a better laptop for setting up the home lab. Portability is very important since you are travelling most of the time. We will talk in detail about choosing the components.
1. Processor: Always go for a ‘non U processor’
U Processor: eg: 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-8650U processor: Main problem with these kind of processors is that these are meant for normal daily tasks and not for bigger workloads. These are ultra low power processors.
Non U Processor: eg. 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H (6-Core, 9MB Cache, up to 4.1GHz w/ Turbo Boost)
Always select Corei5/Corei7/Corei9 processors. When choosing i7/i9 laptops make sure that you need need to go though multiple reviews online and make sure they are not having thermal throttling, airflow and other thermal issues.
2. Memory: Always go for atleast 32GB of DDR4 RAM. You have to decide the RAM based on the type of softwares you are going to test on your lab.
3. Battery and Charger: Battery backup may not be that great on these high end laptops due the heavy workload and the associated heat generation. Another problem is you have to carry bigger adapters all the time.
4. Screen size: Always go for 14 inch or higher screen size laptops.
5. External monitor: Consider plugging laptop onto external monitor when at home as this can increase the productivity. Try plugging to 2 no’s of 24 inch IPS grade monitor’s. My personal preference is Dell. I am using the same 22 inch monitor from Dell which I purchased while I was preparing for my CCIE.
6. Accessories: Most of the laptop now a days have USB C ports. You can easily get hold of a USB-C to HDMI/RJ45/USB 3 Hub which will come handy all the time.
7. Storage: Try buying at least 500 gb of Sata 3 SSD. If possible go for NVME based SSD as this can greatly improve the performance of the machine under all conditions.
We have discussed about the components of the laptop and let’s discuss which laptop to go for. Following are the options.
- Dell Alienware
- Dell Precision
- Thinkpad P Series
Any gaming/workstation grade laptops are good for home labs.
Cost is the main concern when it comes to using Laptops for running home lab. Power utilization will be much lower for laptops when compared to Desktops and Servers.
We will discuss about choosing Desktop components for building home lab in the next part of this guide. If I have missed anything in this please let me know so that I can add that as well.