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Intel NUC Windows Server

Building a Windows Server Lab with an Intel NUC

With the release of Windows Server 2019, which includes a ton of Hybrid Cloud integration features, it was time to build a new lab environment. The plan is to create a lab and demo environment for my presentations and workshops. Until today, I was still using my hardware from 2011, which was built from Cisco C200 and HPE ProLiant servers. This was, more or less, datacenter grade hardware, it was using a lot of electricity and made a lot of noise. Not really the thing for a home lab on your desk. With some pretty good deals out there, I decided to buy a brand-new Intel NUC. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, which is a small, light, cheap and not very noisy computer, which gives you the latest Intel CPUs and ports. Mostly used as desktop or media computers. However, the price and the features, are also making it a great option for a lab running Hyper-V.

If I look at the hardware our customers are using today, there is not really a good way to build a cheap home lab based on datacenter hardware. And with my workloads mostly running in Azure anyway, the Intel NUC seems to be a great option. For most of my demos a single server running Hyper-V should be enough. For demos on Storage Spaces Direct or Clustering I can still use Azure with Nested Virtualization.

Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

I decided to get an Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH – Bean Canyon with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7-8559U
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 EVO
  • Intel Wireless-AC 9560 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Thunderbolt 3 port

Unfortunately, the Intel NUC is limited to 32GB of RAM and this version does not have a TPM chip. The good thing, it runs Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center just fine. So far I don’t have any issues, except that there are some missing drivers for Windows Server 2019. We will see how it works out in the next couple of months.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Toms Workplace 2018

My Workplace 2018 – How does yours look like?

Last week I was browsing the web and I found a lot of cool looking home office setups. I realized it is quiet interesting to see how people workplaces look like. With that I want to give a quick look at my home office and my workplace setup. Secondly, I would like to share your setup as well. If you want to share yours write a blog, link it in the comments or show it on Twitter, what ever you like.

This is it, this is my workplace if I am not on the road.

  • My main machine today is the 15-inch Surface Book 2 attached to a Dell curved-ultrawide monitor (Dell UltraSharp 38 Monitor – U3818DW), which with Windows 10 and the Snap feature is absolutely great to use.
  • I also have a Surface Pro as a company work machine, which I use mostly on the road when I need a real mobile work machine. It has enough powerful to do serious work and still gives you a mobile work experience.
  • I am obviously using a lot of Surface accessories like the Surface Precision Mouse, the Surface Pen, the Surface Dial and the Microsoft Modern Keyboard.
  • I also use some wireless Bose Quiet Comfort 35 headphones, not only for travel but also in the home office
  • I like the Surface Pen on my Surface Pro to draw some quick stuff or take some notes in Onenote.


Surface Pro 3

My next work machine – Surface Pro 3

I am a Surface Pro user since the first hour, the Surface Pro replaced my laptop. After I got my Surface Pro 2 I replaced my Surface Pro it started to become my daily work machine, which I use for my work, university and at home. With the release of the Surface Pro 2 Microsoft fixed the kickstand and the battery life issues, which really made a huge difference to the first version Surface Pro. My biggest issues with the Surface Pro 2 was the size of the screen. When I worked at university or at a customer the small screen wasn’t really perfect to work for 8 hours. Of course weight and thickness could be better, but for me was never a killer issue, because it was already much lighter and smaller than my laptop. One of the things I liked the most about the Surface Pro was the Pen which was really great for taking notes or during customer workshops.

Yesterday Microsoft announced the new Surface Pro 3 with a lot of great enhancements. The most important changes for me was the screen, they not only made it bigger with a higher resolution, they also changed the ratio from 16:9 to 3:2 which I think makes it even better. I never was  a fan of the 16:9 ratio. Microsoft also made the Surface Pro 3 lighter and thinner than without compromising on performance and battery life.

Surface Pro 3 Specifications

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: Surface Pro 3 292mm x 201.3mm x 9.1mm vs Surface Pro 2 275 x 173 x 13,5 mm which makes it 4.4mm thinner (32%)
  • Weight: Surface Pro 3 800g vs Surface Pro 2 900g which makes it 100g (11%) ligther
  • Screen: 12” ClearType Full HD Plus Resolution: 2160 x 1440 Aspect Ratio: 3:2 Touch: Multi-touch vs a 10,6” Full HD Display on the Surface Pro 2
  • Battery life: up to 9 hours
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB storage with 4GB RAM and 256GB or 512GB storage with 8GB RAM
  • CPU: 4th generation Intel® Core i3, i5 or i7 with TPM Chip for enterprise security
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: 4.0 Low Energy technology
  • Ports: Full-size USB 3.0, microSD™ card reader, Headset jack, Mini DisplayPort, Cover port
  • Cameras: 5.0 megapixel rear-facing camera and front-facing camera

macbook-air-surfrace-pro-3

 

Microsoft not only released not only the Surface Pro 3 they also released some new accessories for it.

  • New Surface Pro Type Cover which is thinner and got a better and larger track pad
  • New USB Ethernet Adapter with Gigabit Ethernet
  • New Surface Pro Docking station which is larger with more USB 3.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet
  • New Power Adapter
  • New Surface Pen which has an even better integration with OneNote and with over 250 levels of pressure sensitivity and Palm Block technology.

Since I am a huge fan of OneNote I really like how the new Surface Pen integrates with OneNote. The new Pen as a “OneNote” button. Pressing the OneNote button opens a new note in OneNote even the Surface is looked. There are even more features but I am sure you just have to try it out.

It is great to see how Microsoft is building this great synergy between products such as their cloud offerings with OneDrive, software products such as OneNote and hardware. This and mainly the larger screen makes the description to upgrade to the Surface Pro 3 very easy.

The Surface Pro 3 will be available in Switzerland in August.