Description

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!

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Comments

  • 42 months ago
  • 3 points

Your NAS cable management is astonishing, dude. You've worked a lot there. :) Congrats

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

So, out of curiosity, why FreeNAS vs UnRAID? I know that a key for UnRAID costs money, but its features definitely make it worth the expense (and it's even cheaper than a Windows activation key, if I recall correctly)

  • 42 months ago
  • 3 points

While I did look at UnRAID and some others, FreeNAS can do everything that I plan on doing with it. It's free, and the support/number of users is astonishing. I didn't need to ask anyone for help during setup, but was able to search and find solutions for the things I was struggling with.

  • 27 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! This guide helped me with my build. I copied some of from you. Parts are ordered now, I hope it turns out fine.

  • 4 months ago
  • 1 point

How didi it go mate?

I am trying to build like this one as well :)

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

I like it. Well done, sir!

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

This description is excellent, but I find myself wondering what you do that requires 6TB of absolutely critical data? I guess I can't really imagine because I know I don't need a NAS, but I really only have about 700 GB of total data for my wife and I.

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

To say that I have 6TB of critical data is a bit of an overstatement, but there's 6TB of data that I don't want to lose. :)

~2TB of the data includes all of my school work throughout college, photos, music collection that I no longer have CDs for, and projects for work (large architectural CAD files). I'd call this critical.

The rest is movies and TV shows that would be annoying to lose, but not the end of the world. I cleaned out a bunch of movies and TV series that I will never watch again to fit onto the 6TB drive.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Beautiful! Cabled perfectly. I can just sit looking at it all day. Using a SFX PSU to save space was brilliant.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

I dunno if I'd call it "brilliant" per se, given that it was their only option

; )

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

How was that the only option? The case uses a standard ATX and he went out and got an adapter to use a smaller PSU.

So it's brilliant :)

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Isn't it already an SFX mount? Or am I just not looking at it correctly?

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Take a look at the parts list and his description.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks, I missed the adapter in the parts list

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Great looking build! I have the same PSU and was just as surprised as you were at just how tiny it was

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

I swear the box it came in (with packaging materials, cables, etc.) was the size of my HX1000i, possibly even smaller.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Tbh I thought it was a microwave at first.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

It's a pretty sweet microwave. I can stick a Hot Pocket in there. Frozen to crispy in just under 6 minutes.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Excellent build! I am looking to build a FreeNas for home use and I appreciate the details you included in your write up.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Happy to help! It's been holding up great. Zero issues to date except for forgetting my IPMI password... everything I ever need to do is accessible through the FreeNAS console. I'll remember it someday or find the procedure to reset it.

  • 35 months ago
  • 1 point

How loud are the hgst hdd's? I'm torn between these and the WD Red's?

  • 35 months ago
  • 1 point

I can't say to be honest since I never hear it. My NAS is in an unfinished part of the basement in the same room as the furnace, water heater, water softener, etc.

  • 35 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice setup! Any reason you placed the front intake fan closer to the drives, rather than within the aluminum shroud closer to the front?

Edit: Nevermind. I just looked at mine and it's in the same place!!!

Again, what a nice setup! The sf450 is a great little PSU. Running unRAID on mine and installed a GTX 1070 passed through to a VM for gaming :)

  • 35 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I'm pretty sure that aluminum piece is riveted in place. There's no way to get the fan closer to the front. Also, the air intakes are on the side panels in front of the aluminum piece. If the fan did fit further forward it would block the vents.

  • 4 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey it's a great setup :)

like you're using ECC and XEON and pretty much server component in compare to standard desktop PC... Does it get noisy?

Is it cool or how does it cope with the temperature...

I liked your setup and I would like to build one with these specs... that's why I am asking these questions :)

Cheers

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  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! Fixed the link. :)

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