When deciding on my home lab, I wanted something small, quiet and powerful. Fortunately, the Intel NUC fits that bill for me. It’s not a perfect option, as they only have one network port and are limited to 16Gb RAM.
The configuration I am using here may not be the best, it may not even be right for you – but it works for me and I am happy with it. If you like to add your thoughts or comments, please do.
Table Of Contents
This will be a multi-part post, as it covers a lot of topics…
- NUC Specs, and build information,
- Building a custom ESX image that includes drivers for the NUC’s network card and SSD,
- DHCP, PXE booting and automatic installation scripts,
- Synology configuration for VMware datastores,
- Networking, VLANs and getting it to work,
- Installing ESXi
- Any other configuration,
- Final (random) thoughts.
The following list shows the components I have for each of my three NUCs…
- Intel Wilson Canyon NUC D54250WYK – Link
- Crucial 8GB DDR3 PC12800-1600MHz SoDimm
- Intel 30GB 525 Series SATA 6GB/s 25nm mSATA SSD
The install of VMware ESXi doesn’t take up much space, so a 30Gb SSD is fine for my needs. If you want to install Windows or Linux on it at a later date, you might want to invest in a larger drive. Some models of NUC are built to hold a 2.5inch drive at the bottom, so this may be another option for you.
Since the NUC will take a maximum of 16Gb of RAM, we might as well take it all. Male sure you use the correct RAM for the model you are buying. For the one I am using, the RAM has to be the 1.35 volts type.
Once your NUC is built, we need to create an installation image to put on it.
Don’t forget however, make sure you download and install the very latest BIOS update for your particular NUC model. For the three NUCs I have, the download page is here.