My home lab setup

My current homelab in ESXi

The last few days I have been busy with creating my new home lab. For years I had the possibility to use my employers or customers test/lab environments, to test new technology and reproduce/troubleshoot issues. I have started working as a freelancer earlier this year and needed my own test environment.

Why a home lab

For me, I use my home lab almost daily. To try and reproduce customer issues and verify their setup or to setup and test new software/settings but most of all to study and gain/improve my knowledge and get my certifications. I will combine my home lab with an Azure environment.

My gear of choice

I want my lab environment to be available 24/7 with low power consumption and I want it to be (very) quiet. I also wanted it to have a dedicated GPU. I did not want to build my own custom computer (takes to much time for me) so I wanted a pre-build computer. Intel offers a large choice of pre-build hardware with good specs!

I have chosen to buy the Intel NUC Hades Canyon. The Hades Canyon offers a good dedicated GPU, fast CPU, M.2 SSD and 32/64GB of memory and a small form factor. The exact specifications of my NUC:

CPU: 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-8705G (quad-core, 8MB Cache, up to 4.1GHz)
Graphics: Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics (4GB HBM2 VRAM), Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 2x Kingston HyperX 16GB DDR4
Storage: Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB M.2 SSD

The Intel NUC Hades Canyon

The Hades Canyon is in my opinion currently one of the best pre-build systems to get for a homelab environment. The dedicated GPU allow me (for example) to configure and play with GPU Passthrough in an RDS environment.

My laptop

Besides my homelab I have a 2019 Apple Macbook Pro and a Microsoft Surface Pro that I take with me at work. In my homeoffice I have an extra Intel NUC with Windows 10.

  • Apple Macbook Pro 15″ Touchbar (mid 2019)
  • Intel Core i7 (2,6GHz QuadCore)
  • 16 GB RAM 2400Mhz DDR4
  • 265GB SSD
  • Radeon Pro 555x 4GB

This laptop is running a Windows 10 Virtual Machine and applications like Edge Chromium (love it!), Office 365, RoyalTS, 1Password..

My current VM’s

My current homelab is running 6 VM’s with enough space/memory available to run more. This NUC will be able to run roughly +- 8 VM’s easily.
Currently i’m running a full (hybrid) RDSH environment with a few Azure components. All the VM’s are running on Windows Server 2019 except for the Ubiquiti VM, which is a Ubuntu VM.

  • 1x Domain Controller/DNS/Azure AD Connect/SQL Server.
  • 2x RDS Server (RemoteDesktop and RemoteApps).
  • 1x RD Web/RD Gateway.
  • 1x Management/Fileserver/RD Broker.
  • 1x Ubiquiti Unifi and UNMS server (which currently manages 3 different sites with routers/access points).

Besides this I have a Site2Site VPN to from my homelab to Azure, AD Connect and a few virtual machines, like a Windows 10 desktop for Windows Virtual Desktop and Azure storage for FSLogix profile containers.

Intel NUC5PPYH and Kodi: Play movies with DTS-HD, Dolby TrueHD, DD+, etc.

For the owners of the Intel NUC5PPYH; With the default drivers that are available on the Intel site or the Windows installation, it wasn’t possible to use other sound sources than Dolby Digtal and DTS. with this driver from Intel, it will be possibile to use Dobly Digital Plus, DTS-HD, Dolby TrueHD, etc. on Windows 10!

I have already been able to confirm that this works perfectly. I am using the NUC in combination with the most recent stable Kodi release with audio passtrough enabled. I have already enjoyed a movie with DTS-HD Master Audio last evening.. 🙂

UPDATE: I have updated the download URL because the driver is now out of beta and a production driver!