Tiny low power lab computers

Anyone using really small and low power computers in their labs? I’m thinking about something with a J4125 Celeron processor, maybe even something like this:


I don’t currently have the option to bring my XCP-NG servers home, too much noise and too much heat.

I have a bunch of old Atom D525 based machines that I keep pressing into service, and they are really showing their age now. I really need a couple machines that support 8gb of ram and draw less power. Also Windows XX Pro so that they can join a domain is really useful for some situations. I have a couple of Raspberry Pi’s, but even the 8gb Pi4 holds me back sometimes, not all things you want or need are available for ARM Linux (e.g. Cisco Packet Tracer, Windows remote server tools, etc.).

I also need to build myself a physically small/quiet/low heat Truenas machine, still working on that.

Was running proxmox on a 6th gen Lenovo m900 tiny, I’ve since installed Openmediavault on it as I needed more ethernet ports. However, I really like them, before covid you could get them quite cheaply.

Servethehome have been looking at these type of systems on their youtube channel over the last year. I’d say they compare well against a pi when fully priced up.

Intel NUCs are my go to, but they’ve become popular lately and can be hard to find now and prices have increased signigicantly

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Don’t get stick format computers. You can get basically the same device in a cube shape for the same price by looking for something like the Chuwi Larkbox. I have one and just bought two more. Like many things, supply is limited right now, for the two more at a good price I had to go to AliExpress. I’m not using these for a lab though, but as tiny desktops. The cube systems are able to have bigger fans, and don’t assume they will be plugged into a monitor.

If you specifically want your lab to be focused on balancing between nodes then systems like this are fine. Celerons though don’t just have low core/thread counts and clock speed though, they also have small caches and limited I/O expansion.

Even when considered about power efficiency, if you look at used 9th and 10th gen systems with Core i5 or i7 CPUs you can get much better performance per dollar and similar performance per watt. Look up ServeTheHome’s TinyMiniMicro series for idea of the used systems to go for.

I have been buying NUC"s off of Ebay and the prices are going up. I was really upset when my company got rid of digital signage and our policy is to “pulverize” devices and have them recycled. The nuc’s were only 3 years old and would have been great for lab work.

Thanks. I started reading the comments about the stick linked above and found it was clock limited because of cooling and started to look at other box style devices with a fan for the reasons mentioned.

Still on the fence about what I’m going to do.

Consider a Protectli Vault at protectli.com. I’m running pfSense on one and Proxmox on another. There are several processors from which to choose.

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Thanks for the protectli reminder, didn’t know you could get 4c/8t processors in them. Configured out to 64GB and it comes to $1000 which is a lot. There are a few of the newer AMD machines with 8c/16t in that price range that I’d like. I think I’m going to have to just keep using old servers or low power singles for this lab.