x86 Tiny ESXi Lab Build

The home lab

As a systems engineer for Extreme Networks, I like to get as much hands-on lab gear that I can within a reasonable budget. I have quite a large lab setup at home as you can see.

home lab setup

One of my goals was to build something a bit more portable and powerful enough to run ESXi with a few VMs. I also like things that don’t take up too much power sitting idle.  My test lab configurations usually consist of different virtual network operating systems such as Extreme Networks EXOS as well as Extreme virtual Wi-Fi controllers, Extreme Control VMs, and a host of other VMs. I usually Continue reading »

Portable home lab virtualization server + gaming

Portable Options

I have a few PC’s that I use for testing, gaming, and other side projects. I wanted to pare down on a few systems, so I started looking into a portable gaming server VM home┬álab setup. I would like the system to be used for testing at least four different VM’s and also allow for some decent gaming performance utilizing VM hardware GPU pass-through.


I first pondered on the Intel NUC Skull Canyon. It’s pretty portable, tough looking, and powerful, but it lacked the ability to easily install an external GPU and the ability to install a hypervisor when it first launched. It’s also pretty expensive and I was trying to stay around the $500-$600 range. I started looking at a few mini ITX cases and remembered coming across the ASRock M8 Mini ITX design in the past. Continue reading »