You may be contemplating of building a quick test environment using a free virtualization solution on a high spec PC. This is quite a cheap but effective solution, even in large organizations where an IT department or an individual entity can build a test platform isolated from the production environment. Say, a core i7 CPU computer with 6/8GB of Ram and 4TB of storage space would make a perfect test lab! Check Deb’s superb article about setting up a base test setup here. Whether you will be using Microsoft’s Hyper-V, Citrix’s Xen or VMware’s ESX make sure that you reduce the threats that a test lab may introduce to your network resources.
In the event you will be using Hyper-V as your test environment then I recommend that the virtualized host machine (PC) is NOT joined to the organization’s domain but if your admin workstation (Hyper-V Manager) is part of the domain then go for a setup that resembles Client-domain and Server-workgroup as denoted in the Hyper-V Remote Management Configuration Utility web page.
To assist you with the installation of Hyper-V from Windows 7 follow this great video by David Davis on VirtualizationAdmin.com – It is very important that with this scenario you might need to set the IP address of your Hyper-V host PC or server in your Windows 7 hosts file. Since, the virtualized host PC or server is not in the domain it may not register itself with the internal DNS! So watch out for DNS issues if you fail to connect remotely and start getting RPC error messages.