Virtual Machines or Real Devices: Build A Homelab


When developing apps, software, and websites to work across a wide array of electronic devices, it’s important to test across devices for consistent and reliable results. Is your solution virtual machines or testing on real devices?

Testing On Virtual Machines 

A Virtual Machine is a software that emulates devices other than the physical device it is running on. By using virtual machines (often emulators and simulators), developers and testers can monitor how the software is performing on a specific device. However, virtual machines limit the type of hardware simulation that is available for testing. Disadvantages include: 

  • Creating a virtual lab with multiple virtual machines can be time consuming.
  • Virtual machines are less efficient than testing on real devices because they access the hardware indirectly.
  • Running software on top of the host OS (operating system) will slow down usability because they need to request hardware access from the host.
  • When multiple virtual machines are running on the same host, the performance may be delayed if there is insufficient power in the host machine/device. 
  • If there are issues with the host machine, then the virtual machine is also affected.  

Testing On Real Devices

Compared to virtual machines, real device testing allows users to accurately monitor software performance. Instead of receiving a false positive through a simulator, users will immediately catch errors by testing on real devices before deployment. Users will be able to detect potential errors such as UI (user interface), system, and performance bugs. 

For software companies that need to test their applications on a variety of devices and operating systems, real device testing is a great way for developers to observe what end-users will see. Developers will be able to test physical devices in real-time and evaluate battery performance, unexpected behavior of the application, functionality, and more. 

Building A Device Lab 

By setting up your own device lab, you will have the ability to test on multiple different physical devices allowing you to tap, type, rotate and test functionality and user experience. To keep organized you can set up multiple charging stations in a desktop rack where devices are easily accessible and accounted for at all times. To help you get started, you should look into these factors: 

Choosing Devices: What devices and generations will you need to test on? Before you gather the devices for testing, it’s important to analyze what you need based on the manufacturer, screen dimensions, OS version, WiFi-capabilities, device availability, and cost. Depending on the device type or version that you need, you can look into purchasing old or used devices. 

Testing Devices: According to TechBeacon, you should investigate how many members of your team will need mobile testing devices and how long they will need those devices. For larger teams with slow development cycles, they will be more successful with a small number of devices. Smaller teams with faster delivery cycles will either need a large in-house test lab, or potentially a device lab service provider.  

Setting Up Your Homelab For Device Testing 

Our Modular Rack Shelf is designed to house multiple devices on a single shelf with flexible options based on your testing needs, increasing density and scalability. By pairing our Modular Rack Shelf (4 Post, Cantilever, or Combined Shelf) with device brackets, you will be able to easily set up a homelab and manage your devices without a headache. If you need a rack for the Modular Rack Shelf, our highly configurable Open Frame Desktop Rack allows you to organize all of your testing devices and save space. 

To help you manage your devices, we offer a full selection of mobile, home entertainment, and computer brackets that you can choose from. If you have a handful of devices, our device brackets allow users to easily find the device they need, along with returning the device to its original placement. By utilizing these device brackets, you can group your devices by size or operating system, which will help those who are testing for responsive designs or troubleshooting bugs. The device brackets that we currently have support the following devices:

  • Mobile Device Brackets: Smartphones, Tablets
  • Home Entertainment Brackets: Apple HomePod, Apple HomePod Mini, Apple TV  
  • Computer Brackets: Laptop, Mac Mini, Intel NUC, HP Mini, Dell Micro, Lenovo Tiny

The device brackets are completely adjustable to fit a variety of devices depending on the width and depth. As long as there is space on the shelf, you can mix and match multiple device brackets for your testing needs. By simply keeping your devices and cables organized, you will be able to thoroughly test physical devices in a real environment and gain accurate results. 

modular shelf for test devices
Modular Shelf For Test Devices

Looking For More Way To Organize Your Devices?

  • 2U Cable Management Arm: If you need to secure and route your cables, the CMA will help you manage cables and easily slide your equipment out of the rack. 
  • L-Bracket Accessory Pack: As a flexible alternative if the brackets do not work, the L-bracket mounts 1-2 devices per pack and can fit multiple devices on the Modular Shelf.
Virtual Machines or Real Devices: Build A Homelab
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Virtual Machines or Real Devices: Build A Homelab
When developing apps, software, and websites to work across a wide array of electronic devices, it’s important to test across devices for consistent and reliable results
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racksolutions modular shelf for test lab devices