Are you exhausted from searching for the perfect hardware setup for your EVE-NG lab? Well, let me tell you a secret, the perfect hardware setup doesn't exist. Gasp! That's right, I said it. The truth is, searching for the perfect hardware is like searching for a unicorn. It's a mythical creature that doesn't exist in the real world.
So instead of chasing perfection, let's embrace imperfection and make the most of it with what we have. With EVE-NG, even a potato can be transformed into a powerful virtual network lab. So put down the hardware specs and pick up the potato, my friend. It's time to get creative and see what we can achieve with what we've got.
It's easy to get caught up in the search for the perfect hardware setup for your Network Labs. But sometimes, this can lead to a lot of wasted time and energy that could be better spent actually getting the work done.
I've definitely been guilty of this myself, spending hours searching the internet for the latest and greatest specs, comparing prices and features, and obsessing over every detail. But in the end, I realized that all of that effort was just a distraction from the real task at hand: Building labs and learning. While having a good hardware setup can certainly make things easier and more efficient but sometimes, it's better to just start working with what you have and make the most of it.
PC vs Server
When it comes to choosing between a PC and a server, there are a lot of factors to consider. In my case, the decision to go with a PC was largely driven by my specific needs and circumstances. At the time, I didn't have a desktop PC, and I needed one for a variety of tasks, including video editing and gaming. Rather than investing in a separate server and desktop PC, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and build a powerful desktop PC that could handle all of my needs. This allowed me to consolidate my computing resources and save money in the process. While a server might have been a better choice in some respects, given my particular situation and requirements, a desktop PC made the most sense.
EVE-NG Community vs Pro
Ultimately, the choice between EVE-NG Community and Pro will depend on the specific needs and goals of the user. For small labs and basic network emulation, the Community version may suffice, while larger and more complex labs may require the Pro version.
I've subscribed for the Pro license for various reasons such as hot-link-swaps and docker support. For me, the cost is definitely justifiable as I use EVE-NG a lot for my labs and blogs.
VMWare Workstation Pro
Even though you can absolutely install EVE-NG on VMWare Player, I bought the Pro license. Workstation Player is designed for a single graphical VM operation where as Pro is for running multiple virtual machines at the same time. Workstation Pro also supports configuring virtual networking and creating clones. My advice is to start with the player and move to Pro if required.
CPU - Intel vs AMD
Although I heard many positive reviews from AMD users who never had any issues with EVE-NG and touted their superior performance and affordability, I ultimately chose Intel due to some negative feedback about AMD where some of the nodes fail to start or work properly with it. I felt more confident sticking to Intel, which has a reputation for quality and reliability, and which I had prior experience with.
I built the PC back in 2020 so, went with Intel
i9-10900K which was the highest-spec consumer CPU at that time.
RAM wasn't a big issue for me because I can always add more in the future if required. I run a lot of Cisco ISE labs so, wanted to start with 64GB which should be able to handle 2 x ISE nodes at a time. The exact model I have is - Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (2x32GB)
Similar to RAM, I can always add more disk space if required. I decided to go with Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB for OS and Samsung 1TB 860 QVO SSD for EVE-NG and other VMs.
What can I build with this setup?
In my case, I've never had any resource issues when running a lot of labs on my PC. I've run labs that consist of multiple Linux virtual machines, two ISE nodes, Cisco FMC, Nexus, Junos, and more, and my PC has been able to handle it all with ease. Even when running multiple resource-intensive applications at once, my PC has never slowed down or struggled to keep up.
What has been not so good?
While my desktop PC has been a great performer overall, there is one issue that has been a bit of a drawback for me, fan noise. especially, since the fans on my PC tend to get quite loud as soon as I start running certain nodes, such as ISE. This can be distracting and irritating, especially if you prefer to work in a quiet environment. Maybe I should have gone with water cooling, too late now.
In my case, I've found that wearing noise-cancelling headphones can help to mitigate the noise, but it's still not an ideal situation. For anyone who values peace and quiet while working, I would highly recommend considering a server as an alternative. By putting a server in a separate room or garage, you can enjoy the benefits of powerful computing without the distraction of fan noise.
In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between a desktop PC and a server, or between different hardware components and configurations, it's important to remember that one size doesn't fit all. The right choice will depend on your specific needs, requirements, and preferences.
In my case, I chose to go with a desktop PC that has served me well for a variety of tasks, from video editing to networking labs. While there have been some drawbacks, such as fan noise, overall I've been very happy with my decision. That being said, if you value quiet working environments, or have other specific needs, a server or different hardware setup may be a better choice. The key is to start with what you have and build on it, making incremental changes and upgrades as needed to ensure that your computing setup is tailored to your unique needs and preferences.