Category Archives: Lab

Home Lab – Reloaded!

Right.  I have a new home lab.  Still have the old one but the new one is SO much better.

I decided to bite the bullet and buy new.  Restrictions included:

  • Price – it is a home lab after all
  • Power consumption
  • WAF
  • Size
  • Normal operating volume

I really liked the Supermicros but at the price point and with DDR4 being the price it is, they were just too expensive.  So before Christmas I did some extensive research, and stumbled upon the HPE DL20 Gen 9.  They are on the vSphere 6 HCL, They use the E3 v5 Xeons, and its the cheapest server I could find with the E3-1230-V5, the lowest powered of the E3 family with hyperthreading.  So I bought 2.  And was surprised to find them arrive with rapid-rail mounting kits!  Its all good!  And I am a very very happy camper!

And as far as the WAF goes – well she said that I could dip into savings to build my lab, but it MUST be future-proofed.  And I MUST be happy with it afterwards.  Would be rude not to comply.  After all….

The story so far:


  • 1U shallow 15″ depth.
  • 2 x PCIe 8 slots on daughter board
  • 2 x M2 headers on the Mobo
  • 2 x 1gbs NICs – one shared with iLO
  • Mine came with 16GB – 1 x DDR4
  • They are whisper-quiet, the fans do spin up occasionally and it sounds like they are breathing.  VERY Quietly!
  • Booting off a SanDisk 32GB USB 3.0 drive from the onboard socket
  • ESXi 6.0U2 – HP Custom Image
  • No CD but who uses them these days?  I have a USB BluRay player anyway if I need it.

Only negative is the inclusion of 2 x USB 2 ports on the front – but no VGA.  Odd.  2 x USB 3.0 on the rear with a VGA there though.  In a tight rack its a tad frustrating having to pull the server out to struggle to plug in the monitor though a small gap at the back in but I have resurrected an old 2-port KVM to use with them so that’s not necessary any more.

They come in 2 storage configurations – 2 x 3.5″ SAS and 4 x 2.5″ Hot-swap SAS.  I opted for the 2.5″ hot-swap for greater flexibility.  However no drive caddies.  This IS HP don’t forget.  However – Amazon to the rescue – £12.  Not HP genuine but have the spinney round LEDs.   I bought a pair of WD Red 750GB 2.5″ NAS drives.  There are reasons for this:

  • They are SATA – but consumer-grade SATAs are not designed for 24×7 operation.   The WD NAS Drives are.
  • They are designed for hot-swap and RAID – so can handle failing properly and being removed from a RAID without taking the whole set down.
  • I already have 2 of the 3.5″ WD Reds in 3TB versions and really like them.
  • Its a HOME LAB not an enterprise production datacenter.  SAS drives are just too expensive.  These were a good price.  Don’t care about massive performance differences.
  • NAS can present NFS datastores and run VMs happily.   So these should do fine.
  • I also run iSCSI from both servers to a 3TB WD Red in a Synology NAS.

This is the basic setup.  I will add other posts to separately detail the further enhancements – USB 3.0 NICs, 10Gbs NICs, VCSA 6.5 and so on.

These little servers just keep giving and I’m really happy with them.