Hardware for Lab


I would like to get a hardware where I can lab/learn and test SD-WAN network along with CCIE and Juniper labs using EVE-NG virtualization.

I cant decide whether to go with Intel NUC 13 Raptor CPU or buy used refurbished server. What I like about NUC is that how small it is and low noise level. However I read there are some issues with ESXi. When it comes to the Dell server R710 or R730 stuff I dont like is how much space it takes and noise level.

Has anyone recent experience with building similar lab. Also give me some suggestions and recommendations please?

Hi Michael,

The problem with the NUC 12 and 13 is that these CPUs have performance and efficiency cores. Windows 11 supports this but ESX doesn’t.

This means you’ll have to disable the efficiency cores, leaving you with 4 cores for the NUC with an i7-1360p or 6 for the i7-1370p.

4 cores is not a lot for a large lab.

What I do like about the NUC is that the idle power draw is really low. You can add 64gb of RAM. This makes them very suitable if you want to run some docker containers and perhaps a couple of VMs.

If you want something that doesn’t draw too much power and still have some power, you might be better off building a regular desktop with an i7 or AMD equivalent.

As an experiment, i ordered one topton box which they discuss here:

This looks like a nice ESX box too. Low power, 8 cores, and 64gb of RAM.

I hope this helps!


Hello Rene,

Thank you for your quick reply and tips I have decided and I will go with building a desktop.

Best regards,


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Hi Michael,

A desktop build should serve you well. Make sure you look into ESX requirements. For example, many motherboards have a Realtek NIC that won’t work on ESX. There are some tutorials that explain how you can add certain drivers, but it’s possible that a certain NIC just won’t work. You might have to add a separate intel NIC. The same thing applies to storage controllers.