Power BI

Content by Charles Sterling

Ultimate demo machine for use with virtualization

One challenge working with community at Microsoft is you want to be able to show off the the latest and greatest…unfortunately often times these technologies just don’t work together.  For instance during the Dev10 push we kept leapfrogging with Silverlight…So it was pretty regular i would need to run our current build and our N-1 builds.

The answer is pretty straight forward –virtualization.

If you saw me at Code Camp Boise, Seattle or Portland last year you saw me wheeling around an HP Server…definitely not an optimal solution.   So when i got my last bonus i explored my options.  My research came down to two different approaches:

1.  A laptop based system

2.  A Micro ATX “luggable” based system

There are pro’s and con’s of each system. 

Lets take a look at each system

Laptop Based System

There several good/great laptops for Virtualization on the market.  What features makes it a good virtualization laptop?

1. Able to support TWO internal hard drives.

2. Capable of supporting LOTS of RAM –cost effectively.

With the availability of 15,000 and 10,000 RPM drives and cheap enclosures it seems strange that i would mandate a second internal drive bay …We did some testing on T61 Lenovo’s and a 2nd internal 7,200 RPM drive was faster than external SATA 10,000 drive AND as soon as you start adding external drives to the equation you start marginalizing some of the portability benefits. 

So what does one of these systems look like?

Price $4,937.00

ATX Based System

The technologist in me loved this solution as it is a Chinese menu that allowed me to pick and choose the components…Once again the criteria is similar to the laptop but since all “luggable” cases easily support two drives the primary concern for “luggables” is getting a case that truly is portable.  So the criteria now becomes:

1. Be portable

2. Capable of supporting LOTS of RAM –cost effectively.

So what does this system look like?

Price ~$2000



Hands down the luggable solution will be far far faster than the laptop BUT the laptop will be better in EVERY other regard: quieter, cooler, more reliable and MUCH MUCH MUCH more portable.  So which laptop did i get?

Turns out despite the fact the laptop is a better solution i ended up going with a luggable because of the cost…in retrospect i regret this decision as the luggable is just too loud for me to use on a regular basis and this means that i build my demos on a different computer and move them to the luggable for shows – which is even less optimal than my initial starting point – sigh.

I guess my next project is to get a silencer for my fire breathing monster! (Quieter video card, quieter internal fans, quieter power supply etc) –after I am done with this I will be approaching the cost of the laptops