Budget madness!

I think one aspect of the unrealistic expectations issue is the fact that server hardware goes from vital to garbage for companies the moment they upgrade. I got my R620 free because a guy saw me talking about setting up a Minecraft server for neighborhood kids to play on. It was a key part of his business till last August and sat unused for months so he just gave it to me.

We know lots of stories like that and lots of labs start the same way, so I think some opportunistic people look at the cutting edge and start bidding at last decades mid-range. They'll either learn, get what they want, or get bored.
Deal of the day! Just curious, what specs?

Four disk configuration with a single E5-2620, 4GBx2 DDR3 ECC RDIMM, 4x250GB 10k SAS drives. It's way more than I need to serve the handful of kids in the neighborhood, was going to consider how else I can put it to use once I'm done with my own classes.
"Hey.. I just bought 4 loaded Dell R720's, with 128gb of ram each... but.. i don't know what to do with them.. can you help me out.. "

LMAO! I've seen stuff like that so many times and have no idea what they're thinking.

I think it's the curve of a hobby. It's talked a lot about in photography, there are graphs of the "curve" based on experience. When you start out you go through this reflection on your own capability and at some phase hit "gear gear gear!" As you get more experience and realize what tools you actually need, and having too much of this stuff just starts owning you, you pare down drastically. When I needed a forklift to make my last move, I decided I need to dispose of just about everything I own (in my defense, that was for moving a project truck!).

A lot of people confuse "lab" with "production" in home environments. Most of r/homelab is homeproduction. That's why it's always interesting when people are talking about destroying their network or something with their "lab". It shouldn't hurt your network at all, it should be a lab. Oh well.

I once accepted that P3 2U Intel rack server from work, thinking it was awesome to get a "real rack server". Got it home and turned it on--no thanks! Straight back out the door LOL.