ESXi and Eve-ng/GNS3/PnetLab study Lab - Hardware Options

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New Member
Aug 15, 2021
Sydney, Australia
Hello Everyone,
I saw a similar thread in the past(about 4 years old) on a similar topic, but I feel like we need a version 2.0 for that thread - perhaps that previous homelab on steroids!

We are a group of 5 network engineers, who have set a goal of achieving CCIE in next 12-18 months.
CCIE Enterprise(3 person), CCIE Service Provider(1 person), CCIE Datacentre(1 person).

We had a decent blade server that we 5 were using, but due to change in circumstance, none of us 5 can put that server in our home now(too noisy - apartment dwellers). Now we thought, this is a good opportunity to sell that and build something that is apartment friendly(tolerable noise/wife friendly).

But as we started looking at YouTube videos, reading random articles in the Internet, we figured we are out of our depth. Servers are not really our strong forte!

This is what we were thinking(we think we are wayyy off!) Please help point us if this is looking alright, or if there is much more better alternative - or if this attempt makes no sense and we should take a completely different approach:

ESXi 7.0.2 (older version will do as well)
5 x VMs of Eve-ng/GNS3/PnetLab (each with 128GB of RAM) and 32 vCPUS
1 x pfsense for OpenVPN
5 x Windows 10 management VMs (8Gb/ 4 vCPU each)
Few Grafana, Graylog, Windows Server instances
Few Centos/Ubuntu VMs to play around

Solution approach(prices in AUD):
We thought of buying parts from eBay etc and our list is as follows:

CPU : 2 x AMD EPYC 7401 P/N PS7401BEVHCAF @ $500 each ($1000)
Motherboard : Supermicro MBD-H11DSI-B @ 900
RAM : 32GB DDR4-2400 ECC RDIMM @$3200 . We are not sure if this is compatible.
Storage : 5 x 1TB Samsung 980 (MZ-V8V1T0B/AM) @ $850 and $100 for pci-e adapter
  • Dual nvme adapters to carry 4 x 1TB nvme drive
  • 1 onboard nvme drive to carry 1x1TB drive
Power Supply : Corsair RM1000x Gold 1000W Power Supply @ $300
Might add graphics card in future.

Case : Phanteks Enthoo 719 D-RGB TG Full Tower Case Anthracite Grey @ $300

  • Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 x 2 = $370
  • 7 x Noctua NF-P14s redux-1500 @$140

Total : $7160

Our old blade server was IBM x3850 x6 with 4CPUs and 512GB or DDR3 RAM with 4x1TB SSDs and 1x1TB nvme(one drive per person) and it was less than $3000 total.
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