More Power is on the way

P50For the past several months, I’ve been debating about what to do for the next iteration of my Hyper-V network.  I rely on it heavily for my writing, course-ware development, and training.  For awhile now I’ve been traveling with a Yoga 2 Pro which runs a few virtual machines, and a Gigabyte Brix unit with 16GB of RAM and an i7 CPU for everything else.  Because of the two units I also tend to travel with a small 4 port switch plus all the necessary power  supplies and cabling. Even though the Yoga 2 is really light, by the time I pack everything up, as they say, “not so much.”

I also have realized that there are a few more virtual machines I’d like to add to my running network which meant I needed to expand my Hyper-V setup. I was torn between building a mini-ITX solution with this motherboard which could have supported up to 128GB of RAM. I thought that if I needed to travel with it, a mini-ITX wouldn’t be that much of a burden.

Or, I could stick with a laptop. I knew that Lenovo was coming out with a new line of ThinkPad workstations.  So I kept waiting. And waiting. The ThinkPad P50 and the ThinkPad P70 promised to be beasts. At least the specs I wanted. For my purposes, what was most tantalizing was the ability to get a Xeon CPU in a laptop that would support up to 64GB of RAM. Yeah, the unit would be a bit bigger than what I had now at 5.6 lbs but if I maxed out the memory (and why wouldn’t you!), I would only have to deal with a single item at conferences and classes. So I did.

I put in an order for a P50 (the P70 is a 17″ version which was bigger than I really needed).  Even though Lenovo, like most vendors, offers plenty of upgrades, I opted to keep this unit as base as possible. I did get the Xeon CPU and upgraded to Windows 10 Pro (even though I eventually plan to run Windows Server 2016 on it). I also opted for a 2 year warranty with accidental damage  to hedge my bets. Not that I’m expecting any issues but I travel and things happen.  I decided to do my own memory and drive upgrades so save a little money. Right now I’ve invested about $2100 including tax.  I think the memory will be about another $400.  I have a spare drive I’m hoping will work in the P50.

My plan is to set it up as a Hyper-V server in my test domain. When I need to go to a conference, I’ll replicate the VMs I need and go.  The schedule is tight, but I’m hoping to bring it with me to Techmentor so if you will be in Las Vegas and want a P50 tour, be sure to find me.  If nothing else, it should be joining me at the PowerShell Summit.

I’ll be posting pictures, impressions and notes on upgrades as they happen. Much more to come.

My Mobile Training and Presentation Setup

IMG_6530 As many of you know, I typically travel with a mobile Hyper-V setup using a mini-server housed in a Gigabyte Brix unit. I also have a brand new Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, which I’ve also written about. During the recent PowerShell Summit my intent was to use this gear during my presentations and demos. Sadly, I forgot the power cord to my Brix. Fortunately, Don Jones was inspired by my setup to build one of his own so I was a able to borrow his power cord for my second demonstration. But then this roller coaster brought me back down as I couldn’t get network connectivity to work using an old 4 port switch. I ended up re-working demos to do everything on my Yoga 2 Pro, which wasn’t too bad since it has 8GB of RAM. But I really wanted the additional virtual machines.

When I returned home I decided the switch was the core of my problems and needed something that my laptop would recognize as a valid network device, even if it was the first device plugged in. I found a Netgear ProSafe Plus 4 port (GS105E) switch from my local Staples. Love it. I plugged my Yoga 2 Pro in, I bought a USB3 ethernet dongle, and right away Windows said I had a 1GB network connection, albeit without Internet which was fine since I don’t rely on the Internet for my demos or training. I plugged in the Brix, fired it up and it just worked. That’s all I ever wanted: plug it in and work.

Here’s my setup, plugged in and working just as it would be at a conference or training site.


For the record, I have a USB 3 Toshiba drive plugged into the Brix that holds ISOs, backups and other large, static files. I have a USB 3 hub and another Toshiba USB 3 drive for my Yoga 2 Pro, although right now I don’t need that as part of my demo/training setup. The mouse is a Logitech Bluetooth mouse that is compact and just works. I tried other Bluetooth mice with varying degrees of success. I also like that the mouse gets like an hour of run time even when charged via USB for literally one minute. Very happy to finally have a setup I can rely on. I’m looking forward to trying it out next week while I am on the road.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.