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Joshua Saunders

Logic Luminary, Data Druid, Cloud Navigator

My Home Lab Setup – Episode 1, The Hardware

(Contains affiliate links)

So I’ve wanted a home-lab/media server setup for quite a while and I finally decided to start setting one up, inspired by my co-workers and YouTube channels like Hardware Haven and Network Chuck. So I figured I would share this process with anyone that cares, starting with the hardware.

I first bought a Beelink Mini PC with 16 GB RAM and a 1TB NVMe drive and a Silicon Power 4TB external SSD with USB 3.2. This setup was decent, but for that price, I knew I could get better.

I then found an old HP Elitedesk 800 G3 SFF with a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, and a 256 GB NVMe drive for around $100. Which is small enough to fit on the end table my router sits on, but also big enough to hold additional drives. Also, If you’re looking to run a home media server like Plex or Jellyfin, you’ll want to make sure you get at least a 7th Generation (KabyLake) Intel CPU. It’s needed to perform H.264 10-bit transcoding, which is necessary for 4K streaming.

I also purchased a cheap Orange Pi Zero 3 ($30) to run Pi-Hole (for now), which is basically a very small DNS server that acts as a DNS black-hole for ad blocking, malicious site blocking, etc.

So that’s about $150. Then I bought two HGST 8TB 3.5-inch HDDs ($130), for storage. There is a spot inside the Elitedesk 800 G3 SFF that fits these perfectly. However, I did also have to order some HP-style hard drive mount screws to mount them correctly ($6) and some 90-degree SATA cables ($5) due to the way the drives sit in the frame. I also replaced the 256 GB SSD with a Patriot P300 M2 PCIe Gen 3 2TB SSD ($80) and an additional 16 GB of DDR4 RAM ($25), bringing the total RAM to a respectable 32GB.

So the total spend so far on this project is right around $380. Not ideal, but not terrible. Luckily, I have an Amazon Store Card and got six-months to pay for it with no interest.