I am one of those IT people who has a little home server. Some time ago I decided it would be a great idea to install VMWARE ESXi on it. Basically turning it into a small data centre. At the time I could get a PowerEdge T110 from Dell with 16gb of memory pretty cheaply and it has served me well. I have some virtual Windows servers, a Solaris server and a Linux server all together.
With this kind of combination you can test new software, install different versions of Windows, check out new stuff and not affect the laptop I use day to day.
All this was good but what you can't do (easily) is run Microsoft's virtualised environment (Hyper-V) inside VMWARE ESXi. You can in theory and there a few Internet articles on the topic. Some are a little dated but mostly you end up doing unsupported processes on ESXi.
So I came to the conclusion that I needed another little home server. I begin to feel like I am building a larger data centre in my home now. I got down to some reasonably priced alternatives and settled on a HP Proliant Microserver from ServersPlus.
The two issues I had were; Would it run Windows Hyper-v virtualisation and could I stack it with 16gb of memory as it specified on most of the adverts I had seen that it only worked with 8gb.
Yes was the answer to both queries. it comes with barely 2gb of memory but you can install 16gb (8 x 2 slots). Hyper-v on Server 2012R2 didn't work out of the box but the latest firmware upgrade fixed that.
it's not going to win any speed awards but if you want a home server for educational purposes then it fits the bill.