Yet another, Perfect vSphere 6 Home Lab

The time has come once again to update my home lab. I’m currently running Shuttle DS81 units and a Synology DS1515+. I plan to keep the NAS unit and upgrade my hosts. I have decided to move back to Intel NUCs this time. I have used them in the past and similar to the Shuttle boxes they are low power, relativley inexpensive, small and quiet. Everyone asks me about cost and generally these can be built for $650-750 USD.

Lets start with a parts list. For simplicity we will focus on building a simple standalone host, however you mind find it nicer having 2 or 3 of them. I will let your budget decide that!

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1 x Intel NUC 6th Gen NUC6i3SYH (Intel i3) or 1x Intel NUC 6th Gen NUC6i5SYH (Intel i5)

  • Be sure to update to at least BIOS v44. NVMe devices can be used after the BIOS has been updated. Anything prior to that and you’ll wonder why they disappeared or are unavailable.

These Intel NUCs are nice in that they don’t require any out of box drivers to be loaded like the Shuttles required. Use the vanilla ESXi 6 install media and you will be fine.

2 x 16GB DDR4 Modules

NOTE: The disks below are only required if you’re planning to use vSAN, you can simply install ESXi to USB stick if you’re going to use some kind of NAS device like a Synology. For a basic no vSAN homelab.

1x Samsung NVMe 128GB SSD

  • This can be used for a vSAN cache disk.

1x Samsung 500GB SSD

  • This will be used for vSAN capacity disk.

1x Cisco SG300-10 Port Managed Gigabit Switch

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  • Because the NUC only has a single network adapter with no real way of expanding or adding additional adapters, you’ll want to ideally setup a few vLANs to segment your network traffic.

William Lam runs a very similar setup and has additional vSAN details on his page.

This entry was posted in Home Lab, vSphere, vSphere 6, Whitebox. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Yet another, Perfect vSphere 6 Home Lab

  1. Bob Degnan says:

    Sir,

    I lost internet connection at the end of class today.
    I wanted to say the course was very good and I had fun.
    Thanks for taking the time to teach it!!!
    Bob Degnan

  2. Andrew Ridenour says:

    Oh man, I just ordered a set of NUCs based on your recommendation. You might be the only person in the world who can understand my excitement! 🙂 Can’t wait!

  3. Pingback: ESXi 6.5 Home Lab / Whitebox Options | Ryan Birk – Virtual Insanity

  4. Victor Miranda II says:

    Ryan
    Hope you doing well? Finally I have order all the pieces to build my home server. I also subscribe to vmug. Question, which product of vmware allows me to run vcenter on the vsphere and doesn’t require me to run vcenter on a separate server??

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