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  • Writer's pictureJD Wallace


Updated: Nov 23, 2020

The best way to gain experience with any technology is by getting your hands dirty. Install, try, break, and do it all again. The way I enjoy doing this is by building and running my own #HomeLab. There are a variety of setups out there from the very small to the outrageous. Mine focuses on delivering lots of storage (no surprise if you know much about my experience) and like most is a perpetual work in progress.

Design Philosophy.

I've seen a lot of different designs over the years. Some are a built on repurposed enterprise hardware scavenged from surplus while others rely on brand new consumer grade kit. I've never been a fan of running a full rack in my garage (it would take too much valuable space away from my beer brewing setup) so for me something compact enough to sit on my desk was preferred. There are certainly less expensive ways to get the same amount of power, but ultimately I opted to spend a little more for compact design and settled on the Intel NUC platform.


ESXi Host 1 (2018)

Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH $484

2x Crucial 16GB SODIMM CT16G4SFD824A $127 each (retired)

2x Crucial 32GB* SODIMM CT2K32G4SFD8266 $164 for pair (new, Oct 2020)

Western Digital WD Blue 2TB SATA SSD $230

Western Digital WD Black (2018) 500GB NVMe SSD $100

* Technically not supported on this model of NUC but it works.

ESXi Host 2 (2020)

Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH $549 (Irritating how much the price went up since 2018)

2x Samsung 32GB* SODIMM M471A4G43MB1 $130 each

Western Digital WD Blue 1TB SATA SSD $120

Western Digital WD Black SN750 500GB NVMe SSD $100

* Technically not supported on this model of NUC but it works.

ESXi Host 3 (2020)

Intel NUC DCP847SKE $0 (Free from a good friend's junk drawer!)

2x Crucial 8GB SODIMM CT102464BF160B $38 each

Kingston 480GB UV500MS/480G mSATA SSD $80

ESXi ARM Host 1 (2020)

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Basic Starter Kit with Fan (8GB RAM) $105

Old 8GB Micro SD card I had lying around $?

Old 1TB USB 3.0 HDD I had lying around $?

SHTECH Powered USB 3.0 4 Port USB Hub $29

Shared Storage

Synology DS916+ (8GB) with DX513 expansion cabinet $599 + $460

7x Western Digital WD Red Pro 10TB SATA HDD (RAID 6) $336 each

Western Digital WD Blue 2TB SATA SSD (Read Cache) $230


Intel NUC, memory, and Synology sourced through and

Western Digital components sourced directly through Western Digital. At the time I was working for WD and taking advantage of their generous employee discount. I'm not sure of the rules of disclosing that price, so for the BOM I will list current MSRP as of the time I'm writing this.

Microsoft Software and Azure credits are sourced through my Visual Studio Professional subscription.

VMware licenses sourced through my VMUG Advantage membership and as a vExpert benefit.

Veeam licenses are available for free through the Community Edition program.


Ross Wardrup
Ross Wardrup
Dec 17, 2021

I'm looking to migrate from my R720 based cluster to a NUC based setup like you have. What are you using for a switch to connect them all? I'd like to get rid of my server cabinet but I hate having networking equipment just sitting on a shelf.

JD Wallace
JD Wallace
Dec 17, 2021
Replying to

It's nothing fancy, just a little tp-link.

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