In keeping with the naming of my other devices, the name for this build is Contents. My desktop has always been "Box" and my other tech has expanded from that over the years (laptop is lid, phone is latch, tablet which is used as a head unit in my car is called wheels, etc.).
Back in March I built a new desktop PC (link here) to replace my 7 year old x58 i7-920 build. In the old PC I had an Adaptec 6805 RAID card and (4) 3TB Seagate drives in a RAID 5 array. For a number of reasons, I didn't want this setup in the new desktop:
*The Seagate drives were terribly unreliable. Each drive failed at least once. It even got to the point that I had an extra spare in case a second drive failed before I received a replacement from Seagate. I wanted to try a different drive and add additional redundancy.
*An extra 4 hard drives creates a lot of extra noise and heat. I sleep only a few feet away from my desktop and wanted it to be quiet.
*It wasn't the prettiest setup to look at through a case window. Keeping this out of the new desktop reduced a lot of clutter and cable management.
While I did my research and to hold me over, I put a 6TB hard drive in the new desktop to hold the most critical data from the RAID array. I kept the card and Seagate drives just in case something happened to the 6TB drive in the interim.
There are a number of options out there for network storage. I wanted to do it right so I decided on building a small NAS vs buying a pre-built Synology/Qnap. For not much more money I ended up with a much more powerful system built with server grade hardware that is capable of much more. At the moment the only purpose for the NAS is file storage. In the future I intend on using it as a media server and perhaps recording for a surveillance system.
FreeNAS has a bit of a learning curve. Aside from some struggles the first few days with the setup, it's been rock solid for two months now.
As far as hardware goes, I followed the recommendations of those on the FreeNAS forums:
CPU/Motherboard - Supermicro X10SDV-4C-TLN2F with integrated Xeon D-1521. The most popular options for NAS systems are an integrated Atom processor, integrated Xeon D, and a traditional LGA 115x socket/Xeon E3. I feared the Atom would not be enough power and knew the Xeon E3 would have been overkill and more costly. This fit right in the middle from both a performance and price standpoint.
The passive heatsink for the processor relies on ample airflow in the case to keep the processor cool. A number of people had stated good airflow simply wasn't enough. I added a 60mm Noctua fan and creatively mounted it to the heatsink for additional cooling.
The motherboard was a perfect fit for this system. It had enough SATA ports for my needs, a USB 2.0 header for mirrored USB boot drives (with the StarTech adapter), IPMI for remote control over the network (no mouse/keyboard/monitor necessary) and dual 10gb ethernet ports for the future.
Memory - Samsung 2x16GB DDR4-2133 Unbuffered ECC. FreeNAS strongly recommends unbuffered ECC memory when using the ZFS file system. The ZFS file system also tends to be a memory hog. 1GB per terabyte of storage is recommended. This Samsung memory was one of the two sticks listed on the qualified vendor list from Supermicro. (2) 16GB sticks were more cost effective than (4) 8GB sticks. This also allows for future growth if necessary.
Storage - (2) Sandisk 32GB flash drives and (5) Hitachi Deskstar NAS 4TB hard drives. FreeNAS loads the operating system from the boot drive to the RAM at startup. A 16GB flash drive or SATA DOM is recommended. The flash drives are a bit cheaper than the SATA DOM (though less reliable), but the USB drives can be mirrored. If one fails it can boot off the other. 32GB drives were less than a dollar more than the 16GB. It's completely unnecessary, but for the money 16GB drives didn't make sense. To prevent accidental removal the drives are attached directly to an internal USB 2.0 header with a USB 2.0 to (2) Type A adapter.
I learned my lesson with using consumer drives in a RAID array. The most popular options are either the WD Red or Hitachi Deskstar NAS drives. From what I found while researching the Hitachi drives have a lower failure rate. With (4) 3TB drives before I had 9TB of storage since one was used for redundancy. This time around (5) 4TB drives will give me 12TB of storage with two drives for redundancy. I am hoping this is a better option for keeping the data safe. The most critical 6TB of data will be backed up to a drive in my desktop.
I am looking into a cloud backup as well. Carbonite, Crashplan, and Backblaze all offer unlimited cloud storage for ~$5 per month. Cloud storage is painfully slow when dealing with a lot of data. For the data that is truly irreplaceable this is a potential option. Short of a fire/flood or a freak electrical surge that takes out both the NAS and desktop I don't anticipate having any issues. You can never be too careful though! A cloud backup is more accessible and reliable than backing up to a hard drive and storing it at a friend's house offsite.
Case - Lian-Li PCQ25B. This was a no brainer. It's setup perfectly for a NAS. The only other case in the running was the Fractal Design Node 604. Overall the footprint and layout of the Lian-Li worked better for me. The only thing to note is Lian-Li states this case will accept an ATX power supply. It will, but I would say 150mm max in length, non modular. I wanted a modular power supply to reduce cable clutter. An SFX power supply with an ATX to SFX adapter bracket is highly recommended.
The stock Lian-Li fans are a bit loud. The NAS is in an unfinished area in the basement with the furnace/water heater/etc. Noise was not really a concern, but upgrading the stock fans to Noctua helped keep the temps down and coincidentally helped with the noise.
Power Supply - Corsair SF450. Many people opt for the Silverstone SFX power supplies. The Corsair has additional connectors, is modular, and is compatible with the cables from the HX1000i in my desktop. The included SATA and Molex cables were too short for how I wanted to route them. I am glad I had the extras from my desktop build. This thing is seriously tiny! I've included a picture with my Logitech G700 mouse for reference. It's mentioned above in the case section, but to use this power supply in this case it required an SFX to ATX adapter bracket.
UPS - CyberPower CP1000PFCLCD. For whatever reason, the area I live in is subject to numerous brief power outages. The UPS allows the system to stay running during a brief outage or shutdown safely during an extended outage. A lot of newer power supplies have issues running off a UPS. This model outputs a pure sine wave which is fully compatible compatible with newer active PFC power supplies.
On the off chance that someone actually read through all of this, I hope it was helpful. If you're considering a similar build and have any questions let me know. I will do my best to answer them!