The lab question


The lab question. Ok so this comes up a lot in conversation “what are you running at home” now up until recently I had a whitebox pc with an AMD 4 core processor (an phenom or something I think it was called) with 16 GB’s of RAM, the white box also had a 500GB sata hard disk and a couple of smallish SSDs. I used VMware workstation for virtualization on my whitebox.

Also side by side with the whitebox I had 2 HP N40L’s both loaded with 16GB’s RAM with a SATA disk and modest SSD one with XenServer installed and one with ESXi.

This has generally worked well however one thing this set up has never been is agile. Generally when I want to lab something out I have a limited time to do it and despite having a Gigabit network when copying things between hosts has been a pain and quite slow compared to the time I would like it in.

I’ve used the link clone technology in workstation and templates in hypervisors but still found copying setup files and the hassle of keeping an eye on the space utilized by the VM’s in the SSD’s to be a bore.


So I’ve finally bitten the bullet and have now upgraded a few components in my whitebox pc to hopefully give as much as of an all-in-one solution as possible.


I’ve purchased an Asrock Extreme4 970 motherboard (had good experiences with Asrock in the past) and a AMD FX-8350 which has 8 cores and 8MB of cache 32GB’s of crucial RAM and a cheapie XFX graphics card. Finally I’ve also got purchased Kingston V300 480GB SSD for the workstation VM’s to live on.


So this obviously wasn’t cheap but the nice thing about the motherboard is that it supports upto 64GB’s of RAM (obviously dependant on the fitted processor).


I’ve not been into the PC customization game for a good few years now giving up on PC gaming on favour of an XBOX because I just couldn’t be bothered to be comparing graphics cards every six months just to play a new game.


Couple of things I did notice while looking around is that 32GB’s of RAM is still the default maximum for more motherboards which I think is quite restrictive and there are also many where the max is 16GB which again isn’t that agreeable to a labbing environment. SSD’s have considerably dropped in price recently while RAM seems to have gone up.


Also most surprising to me of all is PS/2 is still a “thing”, there are loads of motherboards that still have the ancient PS/2 keyboard and mouse technology inbuilt. Why the devil this is I don’t know because its not hot swappable so the keyboard and mouse have to be plugged into a device before starting it to be recognized (something I’d abandoned thinking about years ago). Also in the old days as a PC repair guy the amount of customers bringing their desktops in with broken PS/2 ports because someone had forced something in the wrong way round is incredible.


So motherboard manufactures next time I need to buy a motherboard please get rid of PS/2 and give me 2 extra usb slots instead please.


Author: Dale Scriven

2 thoughts on “The lab question

  1. What I have been told in the past for the reason to still have PS/2 ports (this was for workstations) was due to security. The USB ports could be disabled within the BIOS but PS/2 peripherals still be used. Good feature I guess for government, financial and business concerned about IP leaving on a thumb drive.

    1. Yes I guess when you put it like that then its pretty good, although it must be the only part of a motherboard that hasn’t significantly changed for 20 years after the old DIN connectors!

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