To help me study and learn like many others I have had to build a lab that will be small, quiet and well suited to home use. This has now changed as I needed moar power.. so what I have now is a little different from the original lab I had built a few years ago.
The Dell Poweredge C6100 is not the quietest option on the market but it is available for a very good price if you know where to look. I opted for one with 4 blades, each with 2x CPU and 24GB RAM. IN the near future I will utilise the drive bays for a VSAN build to compliment my Synology NAS.
The Brix’s come without ram or mSata drives so its entirely up to the user how they want to configure them. The back plate is easily unscrewed and access to the memory slots and mSata slots is excellent I had no trouble at all fitting the extra components.
I used a portable USB powered CD-ROM to install the ESXi hypervisor with no problems at all. Everything was picked up which made life very easy.
Recently I have upgraded to a Synology DS412+ (supports VAAI) and I am using the built in SSDCACHE feature that the Synology DSM offers.
I am currently running iSCSI rather than NFS (which I know is popular with a lot of homelabs atm)
I am using a Cisco SG300-20 (20 port Gigabit Manager switch)
This is one of the most popular switches for homelabs and for good reason it is virtually silent and packs a lot of features and can be run in layer 3 mode!
I am utilizing many VLANs to separate out management, storage, vMotion and any other traffic I wish to isolate and to emulate any given work environment.
Frankly you would be hard pressed to find a better switch for the money (that is silent), you can even disable the LEDs if you so wish.