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Lab update – Shuttle XH61V

July 1, 2013

Mrs Chris’s blog has been spending a bit more time at home during the day lately (long story), while I have had my VMware lab cranked up.  I have been running on a couple of HP ML110’s for some time and although they are not loud, if you are sat in the same room trying to watch netflix (ahem) the noise can be a little off putting.  The ML110’s also max out at 8GB RAM and this was starting to restrict me on what products I could try out on them.

So after a bit of a search around I came across a great article from Erik Bussink describing his recent acquisition of a couple of Shuttle XH61V PCs and decided to give them a go.  I ordered one a couple of months ago and I could not be happier.

The XH61V is a PC built around laptop components (memory, disk, DVD drive) except for the processor which takes a full blown desktop 3rd Gen (Ivy Bridge) I3/I5/I7 processor.  The PC has two gigabit Ethernet ports (no jumbo frames), space for two 2.5″ SATA drives plus an additional mSATA port and can take a maximum of 16GB of 204-pin SODIMM.

For my config I went for an I5 processor (more than enough for my needs) and a shopping list is below (for UK readers)…

  • Shuttle XH61V PC (around £160 from Amazon UK).
  • Intel Core I5-3570 3.4 GHz Processor (around £160 from Amazon UK).
  • 16GB (2x8GB) 204-pin SODIMM RAM (around £80 from Crucial).
  • Existing SSD Drive.

The machine runs extremely quiet (helped by just two near silent case fans and a laptop style external power brick).I started with off with a single SSD drive inside and the noise was barely noticeable in a quiet room sitting a few feet away.  Adding a hybrid SSD drive into it changed the noise level hardly at all (and nether did the later mSATA addition though I wouldn’t expect this to!).

As mentioned, I started with an existing SSD drive (OCZ Vertex 3 120GB) and then added the following:

  • Intel mSATA 120GB SSD (around £115 from Ebuyer).
  • Seagate 750GB Momentus XT Hybrid (around £75 from Amazon).

Both disk recommendations are direct from Erik’s page and both are spot on.  Don’t be tempted by either the larger capacity 1TB Seagate drive (it is much slower) or the Crucial mSATA which seems to be the only alternative to the Intel drive right now (poor reviews).

In summary, I am extremely pleased with the box.  Though for some lab scenarios 16GB of RAM can still be a little tight, I think two of these boxes will give me a good upgraded lab.  Two is a good number not only for the additional RAM but also some lab scenarios call for a completely separate ESXi host to install onto.

I hope to add box number two in the very near future, and will run it with just a couple of regular SSD drives I have (to make things a little easier on the pocket).

In the long term I see a pair of these boxes acting as a management cluster to either a single or pair of higher power machines such as a Baby Dragon II, possibly with some high end Synology NAS storage (like a DS1813+) as shared storage.  I need to save a few pennies first for that though!

A pic of “man cave corner” is below….see how small that XH61V is!

Erik, of you are reading this, thanks for the recommendation!




From → Home Lab

One Comment
  1. Hi,
    Thanks a lot for your post! I’m looking for a lab too, but I seeking for more than 32GB of RAM. Do you know a shuttle or a motherboard for that? Thanks

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