BUILD Hardware suggestions NAS for home storage

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by NCJason, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Offline

    NCJason

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1
    Message Count:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    NCJason, Mar 13, 2013

    I hope to build a NAS box to replace multiple shared external drives. I have been researching the hardware requirements and have gotten completely overwhelmed. I currently have about 2TB of data that will get moved onto the box. The main use will be data storage with some media streaming to a couple of devices. I hope to build a box I can get a lot of use out of before I need to upgrade components.

    I was looking at an i5 quad core processor but did not know if that was overkill for my needs.
    I'm not sure what features I should be looking for in the motherboard.
    I was planning on using 4 3TB Red hard drives, but I am open to suggestions.
    Should I max out the RAM or is that just an overkill?
    Are there any cases that are better or worse for this?
    Are there any cooling issues I need to be aware of?

    Is there anything I should be aware of to get the most longevity out of my build?
  2. Offline

    cyberjock Forum Guard Dog/Admin

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2012
    Messages:
    12,507
    Message Count:
    12,507
    Likes Received:
    625
    Trophy Points:
    113
    cyberjock, Mar 13, 2013

    I don't think anyone can really answer that question. It's all about you understanding what you can and can't do with FreeNAS. The best advice I can do is read the manual, read the stickies, and read the FAQ. Then if you have any questions ask very specific questions.
  3. Offline

    SkyMonkey Newbie

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    56
    Message Count:
    56
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
    SkyMonkey, Mar 13, 2013

    Here are my two cents, as I recently went through a similar process. For what it's worth, it took me over a year of occasional research before deciding on what I wanted out of a NAS system, and then a good hard 40 hours or so of detailed reading and research to settle on the build. The physical build itself probably took another 40 hours (modding and routing cables, swapping fans, figuring out how to best build in a mini-ITX case etc). Configuration of the NAS (from the bios to the software) is another ~50 so far, and likely another 20 from full deployment, but I am pretty new (well, new again) to Unix type systems of any flavor, so there is some learning curve here involved with writing the first shell scripts I've touched in over a decade (not strictly required, but useful to get to know how to use things from the command line in case you need to use it someday). Any fooling with plugins is additional time and effort.

    For me, the priorities were as follows:
    1) Data security
    2) System stability
    3) System longevity
    4) Speed
    5) Plugin features (DNLA, etc)
    6) Ease of use/configurability
    7) Everything else (noise, form factor, etc)

    Items 1 and 2 on the above list led me to ZFS (RaidZ2 or better) and a stable distro with good docs and a large user community. They also required the use of a server class motherboard, and a large amount of ECC RAM (also helping goal 3). Goals 1, 2, and 3 additionally create the requirement for well supported (by FreeBSD in the case of FreeNAS), quality parts, which leads me to Intel server class parts, NICs, etc, and a solid HBA, controller, or JBOD card.

    Item 3 addresses quality fans, good cooling, and scalability of the system (adding or swapping drives in the future).

    Items 5 and 6 led me to FreeNAS.

    Item 4 was less of a direct driving concern, but more of a secondary consideration when picking parts. Item 7 led me to a nice Lian Li case and good quality fans with long warranties.

    All of that resulted in the following:

    Code (text):
    1. Case:   Lian Li PC-Q25B
    2. PSU:    SeaSonic SS-300ET (OEM)
    3. MB:     Intel DBS1200KPR
    4. RAM:    16GB Kingston ECC ValueRAM (KVR13E9K2/16I - 2x8GB kit)
    5. CPU:    Intel Celeron G555
    6. Flash:  Mushkin Mullholland 8GB (USB FreeNAS boot)
    7. HDDs:   6x Western Digital 2TB Red (WD20EFRX)
    8. HBA:    Highpoint Rocket 620 (2 ports)
    9. HSF:    Noctua NH-L9i
    10. Fan #1: Noctua NF-P14 FLX (Intake 140mm)
    11. Fan #2: Noctua NF-S12B FLX (Outflow 120mm)
    12.  
    Some explanations:

    The Lian Li case is a high quality, tool less, mini-ITX design with great cooling and 5 hot swap bays with room for at least 8 total drives (I've seen configurations with up to 10 drives).
    SeaSonic power supplies are rock solid, high quality units. 300W is more than enough, and I modified and sleeved the cables for best fit in the small case.
    Motherboard is an Intel server unit with dual Gb network ports, support for 16GB of ECC RAM, a single PCI express slot. The CPU itself is the highest clocked (important for CIFS speed and future proofing) Sandybridge-based Celeron, supports ECC RAM, and was less then $75. Quad cores and Xeons are overkill for NAS use, but this motherboard supports both if I ever feel the need for more power.

    The HBA is on the recommended list for supported controllers for ZFS under FreeNAS, and was all of $15. If I wish to grow beyond 6 drives, I can always pick up a M1015 and support up to 12 drives total (more than I could indeed fit in the case).

    The WD Red drives (providing a bit over 7TB in a RaidZ2) were a good match for my current and future data sets, without breaking the bank. Nearline or true server class drives are recommended, but I cannot justify the cost. I should acceptable MTTDL and failure tolerance with this system, and I spread out my drive purchases between three different vendors and over about 3 weeks to reduce risk of getting a set of drives from a bad manufacturing run or a dropped pallet. My current data set that will be hosted here is less than 2TB, so I have plenty of space to spare at the moment, and multiple upgrade paths if I need more in a few years. All data is backed up elsewhere as well (via cloud for offsite) and will continue to be backed up to on site disks and the cloud going forward.

    Noctua fans are high quality, very quiet, and have long warranties. While I've not really loaded the system up yet, the drives sleep (spun down) at less than 5C over ambient (lowest I've seen is 22C). Running I've not seen them go above 35C. CPU hasn't hit more than 42C or so, and idles around 32C. I actually will be turning down the fans a bit to reduce noise and total temperature swing on the drives before I finalize the build.

    Performance in testing under CIFS is >75MBps read and write sustained on large (2-5GB) files. iSCSI is better; write I've seen stay over 100MB/s. These are not controlled benchmarks, but were good enough for me to call the build working. I likely won't really bother tuning the system that much given the performance I was seeing, but we'll see how things go as I start to load up the system.

    The use of this system is for a home NAS storing media of all sorts, backups of local PCs, drive images, and maybe an iSCSI share to screw around with. It will also serve media via DLNA to multiple devices, and eventually will be the backend storage for a XMBC system.

    The only issue I've experienced so far is interrupt storms when I have a wireless USB keyboard plugged in, but as it will be running headless and without input devices in deployment, I've not worried about it.

    Hope this helps. My suggestion is to really read read read read, think about your real needs and priorities (come up with a list), and then spend the cash for quality parts if you can.

    Good luck!
  4. Offline

    mikeintexas

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2013
    Messages:
    6
    Message Count:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    mikeintexas, Mar 14, 2013

    Nice writeup, SkyMonkey. It will be very helpful in answering a lot of questions for those thinking of building a FreeNAS box.
  5. Offline

    KMR FreeNAS Aware

    Member Since:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    178
    Message Count:
    178
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    IT
    Location:
    Great White North
    KMR, Mar 15, 2013

    I'll toss in my two cents here as well because I'm currently in the middle of building and sorting my own FreeNAS box. You haven't mentioned a budget or angry spouse so I will assume there is a little wiggle room on component selection as it relates to price.

    - I tried to do things in stages by re-using an old PC. This has already cost me some files (nothing that I can't re-rip, fortunately), so I would bite the bullet and use new components.
    - A RaidZ2 configuration with either 4 or 6 drives is best for a variety of reasons, although I have also heard that striped mirrors are good too. Do some reading to decide which configuration is best for your application. With that capacity (4 or 6x 3TB) you can grab 2x 8GB sticks of ram at a reasonable cost and be able to upgrade to 32GB later when you expand capacity. If you have the money to throw at 32GB right away go for it, but if your budget is restricted in any way there are probably better places the money could go at that capacity level.
    - If you are just using the box for streaming and storage a dual core is probably a good match. If you are using CIFS/SAMBA to share out the files a higher clock speed is best.
    - I have found out that cooling is an important consideration. Make sure you have lots of fans and pick a case that has excellent airflow. My system is in a rack so my options were more limited.
    - Regarding a motherboard, you should try to find something with built in Intel NIC's; they are widely understood to be the best. Past that, I would consider a motherboard with ECC support. The use of ECC is contested by some in a home server application, but I will be using it when I order my new components. Do some reading and make the decision for your application.
    - Some other considerations:
    A quality PSU is important. Seasonic has a good reputation. I assume this will be a 24/7 device so something with a good energy efficiency rating will be important. If you are spending a bunch of money on this box you will want to protect the investment.
    A UPS is also an important consideration. I am still in the process of researching this component for my setup. I have multiple systems so it makes this more difficult. Again, research should give you some answers.

    If you decide on ECC I will be posting another thread on Intel vs AMD build options that you might want to check out. I am still new here so if I have any errors I would appreciate someone correcting me.

    Have fun!
  6. Offline

    joeschmuck Old Man

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,517
    Message Count:
    2,517
    Likes Received:
    78
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Electrical Engineer, Data Analysis, and Management
    Location:
    Virginia
    joeschmuck, Mar 15, 2013

    If you want a good quality UPS, go with APC and get one that could power your system for at least 30 minutes (my personal preference). Mine system configuration is listed in my tagline.

    Do not skimp on the PSU or you will likely pay for it in unexplained crashed and possibly worse, lost data [as in all of it].
  7. Offline

    CAlbertson

    Member Since:
    Dec 13, 2012
    Messages:
    36
    Message Count:
    36
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    CAlbertson, Mar 15, 2013

    No the i5 is not over kill. But there are many i5 processors. Pick one that uses the least amount of power. At 20 cents per KWH you can pay much more for the power then for the CPU. So do look at power. If you don' watch it a server can cost you $30 a month to run but if you select all low power parts it can be under $10/month

    Max out RAM? Not if your motherboard accepts 64GB, if it accepts 16GB then "maybe" but be sure and get at least 8GB if you are using ZFS and RAIDZ.
    As other have said use Intel NICs this can make a 10X difference in performance.

    Next think of a way to back up your data, best to plan for that now.
  8. Offline

    joeschmuck Old Man

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,517
    Message Count:
    2,517
    Likes Received:
    78
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Electrical Engineer, Data Analysis, and Management
    Location:
    Virginia
    joeschmuck, Mar 15, 2013

    With an i5/i3 you likely will not need an Intel NIC. You might even consider an i3 CPU, it's cheaper and still more than enough CPU for the NAS. Remember that many people are using ATOM CPUs with very good results. I'd recommend not spending any money on a NIC and use whatever is on the MB. Test it out, if it's slow (slower than 100MB/sec writing, 70MB/sec reading) then post your problem. You might get better throughput but you won't know until you build the system. We should be able to help you narrow down the bottleneck, it could be the NIC or could be something else. Also with respect to power consumption of the CPU, FreeNAS will typically slow down an Intel CPU without issue when minimal work is being done which lowers energy consumption. RAM, 16GB if your MB supports it, you won't be sorry. Hard drives, I'd try to stick with the WD Red 2TB version if you can. If you want to know how many drives you will need for a certain pool makeup then visit this site, it has an easy online calculator. http://www.servethehome.com/raid-calculator/

    As for cooling and cases, get a case that is large enough to hold all your components. Cooling would be nice if you could use larger 120mm fans so it keeps the noise level down. If you can keep space between your drives (like one open slot) to create a nice air gap it would keep the drives cooler allowing them to dissipate heat better.

    Once you build it, play with it, I mean the configurations. Place data on it but have it backed up because you will likely change something. You might start with a RAIDZ1 and then figure out you wanted a RAIDZ2 which means you have to destroy the pool and all your data. It sucks you just can't add a hard drives and call it Z2, if I could, I'd do it. Or you may want to reorganize your data layout which is some much more fun when you don't have to transfer a lot of data around and you can blow away a Data Set without any worries.

    Post the parts you are thinking about buying, we will comment on your selection.

Share This Page