Calling All Computer Science Students! Why a TechMikeNY Server Makes the Perfect HomeLab to Advance Your Studies and Career.
At TechMikeNY, we have a very diverse breadth of customers: from small business owners to crypto-miners to hobbyists. While we love all our customers, we have a particular affinity for a certain segment: higher education students – specifically, Computer Science students. We were once students, too – and we know between textbooks, meal cards, and midterms, the struggle is real!
While many computer science students are familiar with the benefits of having a HomeLab, we thought it would be helpful to list the considerations and advantages of why a refurbished TechMikeNY server is the ideal hardware companion to supplement your studies.
A HomeLab is essentially any computer that allows you to build and experiment independently. Experiment is the key word here. Thomas Edison once famously said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
A HomeLab allows you to make every mistake in the book and learn from it in the safety and privacy of your own home/dorm room. HomeLabs – if configured properly – allow you to set up multiple virtual machines where you can run all manner of programming and technical projects. And if you screw up, as long as you contain everything in a nice, neat VM, you can get pretty experimental as you can just spin up a new VM and try again! (It is essential to have a separate system that contains any important data such as personal files, sensitive information, etc. Remember, this server/lab will be your playground.)
Why Refurbished Servers Are the Way to Go
There are many iterations of HomeLabs, from super basic machines like Raspberry Pi to repurposed tower PCs and even configured NAS devices. We may be slightly biased, but we lean towards the refurbished Enterprise server route. Why?
Refurbished Enterprise servers offer the most versatility – in possible configurations and future upgrades should you need them – at an affordable price point. In other words, refurbished Enterprise servers allow you to get robust specs at your college student budget!
UNIVERSITY LABS ALSO LOVE TECHMIKENY. In addition to college students, we are hardware suppliers to several university research labs. If you are a university lab admin, technician, researcher, or even a university procurement department member, reach out to us at email@example.com – we have special deals for universities and educational institutions!
While we don't hold back on the advantages of a refurbished Enterprise server as a student HomeLab, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. After all, this is a serious piece of IT hardware.
You should account for Environmental factors like heat and sound. Servers can generate a lot of heat – especially during heavy lifting. The more heat they generate, the more their fans kick in to cool the system. Those fans, in turn, create most of the sound the machine makes.
- Make sure you have a location that provides good airflow for the HomeLab. A machine with constrained airflow will get hotter, forcing the fans to work harder.
- Make sure you have an environment where the server's sound will not be disruptive to you or others.
- Consider the electricity usage of the machine. If you plan to have it on all the time or run labor-intensive programs, make sure to account for what that will do to your electricity bill.
Resources, Resources, Resources!
To the above points, we've researched and written extensively on Enterprise server environmental factors. These Quick Tip Guides can offer a helpful primer:
Hot Tips for Keeping Your Server Cool
Sound Tips for Keeping Your Server Quiet
Efficient Tips for Minimizing Your Server's Electricity Bill
Finally, see our Server Guide page, where we took some of our most popular servers and measured their performance in energy consumption, heat output, and sound level.
Let's Talk Specs
Now that we have the fundamentals covered let's cover some basic specs that would work for a student HomeLab.
- Server Model – based on our Server Guides, the HP ProLiant DL360 G9 performed the best when it came to energy efficiency.
- Processors – We added energy-efficient Lv4 processors. Again, we want you to save on your electricity bill. Furthermore, with virtual machines in mind, we emphasized cores over speed.
- RAM – Based on our availability, you can select Low Voltage (LV) RAM for additional energy savings.
- RAID & Storage – We selected a mid-level RAID controller. Although the amount, volume, and types of drives are entirely up to you. Check out our helpful primer if you are new to the SSD vs. HDD debate.
You can adjust any of the above specs based on your needs!
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR PROJECTS TO IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS? We love this article in hackr.io that lists several projects, categorized by difficulty level, that you can create to develop your tech proficiencies.
For our computer science students, who are tomorrow's future techs and admins, a refurbished server tower can offer the ideal machine to experiment, fail, and experiment again. Failure is part of the process of realizing success!
Additionally, once you complete your studies, your HomeLab can continue to be your sandbox, and you can put it to use as a media server, security system server, or any of the limitless applications an Enterprise server can offer.
Are you a computer science student and have more questions? Leave a comment or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!