Old Hardware vs New Build

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I'm a new user and i've been running unraid on a laptop for a few months, really enjoyed the experience, but as i start to get more into it, i'm running up against some of the limitations of using a laptop (namely no GPU pass-through, so no Windows 10 VM's, so no ConBee II, so no ZigBee in HA)


My current uses:

- Home Assistant + ConBee II

- Photo/Video backup (via iDrive container) ~ 5TB current, set to grow to upto 12TB

- Frigate AI object detection (2 cameras - low settings - Coaral purchase planned)

Ideal world:

- Video Editing Windows VM (windows specific software)

- Gaming Windows VM (nice to have)


I've got some existing hardware that i've been trying to utilize:

- (old laptop) HP ProBook 470 G2 (Current unraid server)

- One quirk is its an old work laptop and i don't know the admin bios password - could look at getting it - but it might be tough.

- (old desktop) Windows 11 desktop (i5 4670K - 8GB ram - No GPU)

- Video editing + light gaming

- (new laptop) Beefy Linux Work laptop (Daily driver)

- Can use for games, but prob needs a windows VM (?)

- Bunch of internal/external harddrives of various ages/sizes (2* 4TB, 3 * 500 GB, couple others)


I think i've got three options:

1) Persist with the laptop, use a docker container like zigbee2MQTT to communicate to HA

- Keep using the existing desktop for video editing/light gaming


- Less work/uncertainty (short term)

- Keep desktop free for editing + other stuff server can't do

- Built in UMP ;)



- Still a laptop, limitations will bite at some stage (?)

[Could even run HA on the desktop? Power consumption might be a issue here...]


2) Upgrade the desktop - use as server


- Free's up laptop as a client

- Uses existing hardware (can use Desktop for video editing)



- Power consumption having older desktop on all the time

- Enough ports? Recent enough CPU for h.265 encoding(Which i maybe need?), just kicking the can down the road?


3) Greenfields a new server build, use laptop and desktop as clients


- Less uncertainty with server built out (more standardized, less issues, cheaper hardware)

- Makes Gaming VM more viable


- Costs(?) [Maybe considering power over time this will be less of an issue??]


I'm a software dev, but i'm rubbish with hardware, given my rather limited knowledge of hardware/unraid, i could be missing something here. i'd really love a more educated perspective on this problem.


In writing this out, 3) seems like the preferable option, if that is the case, any recommendations or things i really need to consider? There is lots of information out there, i'm just struggling to find the best options

I'm not afraid of making an investment for the right solution here

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