My portable lab hardware

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Recently somebody asked via Twitter my what the make and model is of my laptop, used for Exchange testing environments. Well, 140 characters is not a lot of space so I decided to blog about it.

Our company uses Dell laptops as a laptop standard, but other vendors might have comparable configurations. The main model type is a Precision M4700, but for lab purposes the configuration has been customized:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-3820QM @ 2,70GHz
  • Memory: 32GB (4x8GB) 1600MHz DDR3
  • HDD1: 256GB SSD Full Mini Card
  • HDD2: 750GB 2.5” SATA 7200RPM
  • Battery: Primary 9-cell 97W/HR
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro K1000M /w 2GB GDDR3 (it can switch with on-board graphics which helps battery life)
  • Wireless: EMEA Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (802.11 a/b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth: Dell Wireless 380 Bluetooth
  • Optical: 8X DVD+/- RW Drive Slot load
  • Display: 15.6” UltraSharp FullHD Wide View Anti-Glare LED-backlit
  • Base option: Smartcard Reader
  • Palmrest: FIPS Fingerprint Reader
  • Camera: Integrated 1MP Camera with microphone

As operating system Windows 8 Enterprise has been installed. For virtualization VMware Workstation 9 is used with a company license. Unfortunately Hyper-V cannot be used at the same time.

With this configuration, I can concurrently run 1x DC (1vCPU and 2GB RAM), 3x Exchange 2013 (each 2vCPU and 4GB RAM), 1x Lync 2013 (2vCPU and 4GB), 1x Office Web App server (2vCPU and 2GB) and some additional virtual machines (Windows 8, linux router/firewall and virtual Load Balancers). Although I must admit that I turn of one or two Exchange server when testing with Lync and/or the Office Web App server.

To save space, I made several templates which are linked clones for the actual running servers. But even then 256GB is not a lot of space, so some machines are move to the significantly slower SATA drive. You do still get some speed benefit from having the template on SSD.

It’s possible that currently Dell does not provide the exact configuration anymore, but it’ll give you a sense what is (IMHO) necessary for a very decent lab laptop. For me this laptop was indispensable for testing proof of concept installations of Exchange 2013 environments. Key is memory and SSD.

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