My Mini-ITX build completed
There are quite a few threads discussing potential hardware choices for Mini-ITX builds. I thought some of you might like to see what combination of parts I settled on for my own home NAS project. Along with glamour shots. Component prices are Canadian $, before tax, from Aug 2012.
Case. Chenbro SR30169, 4-bay ($148.98) http://www.chenbro.com/corporatesite...il.php?sku=195
Took some time to find a case for this project. I bought this based on reviews without having touched it, and am pleased to report it is very solid and looks good. The plastic front wouldn't suffer much abuse, but the rest of the case is heavy steel. The included power supply leaves something to be desired. I may replace it in the future with something more efficient. The plastic drive caddys are certainly not enterprise-grade, but they won’t but shuffled very often. I like that the drive bays are arrayed horizontally.
chenbro.jpg chenbro front.jpg chenbro exposed.jpg
Mainboard. Intel DH77DF, Mini-ITX ($135.99) http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/...77df.html.html
This board has just about every kind of I/O currently in vogue. And a x16 PCI Express slot. And a nice BIOS. And, blessedly, no legacy ports (go to hell, parallel). My one wish is that it had two Ethernet ports.
CPU. Intel Celeron G540 ($46.99) http://ark.intel.com/products/53416/...Cache-2_50-GHz
This dual-core 2.5GHz chip is low power and runs cool, and supports VT-x. I love that it was under $50. The mainboard supports quad-core i7 and Xeon chips if I need more speed (and heat and power consumption).
Memory. Kingston 8G DDR3-1333 ($42.99)
Starting out with 8 GB (plus another 2 GB stick I scavenged). Cheap and simple to double this down the road to the board’s 16 GB maximum.
OS drive. OCZ Nocti 120GB mSATA ($89.99) http://www.ocztechnology.com/ocz-nocti-msata-ssd.html
This is a bit of a luxury; I’d intended to install the OS on a USB stick. But, this Nocti was on sale and my board has a slick little mSATA port. And look how adorable it is.
Storage. I'm reusing some 1 and 2 TB drives I have around for now. When drive prices come back down to earth, I will look at 3 or 4 TB disks.
Software. FreeNAS by itself is not very demanding, and the hardware in this little thing is quite capable, so I've decided to run VMware ESXi, with FreeNAS in a VM. Disks are passed through to FreeNAS using Virtual Device Mapping, so storage behaviour and performance is very close to bare-metal FreeNAS. And, crucially, disks can be exported to another ZFS-aware system. Goodbye HFS+, ext3, NTFS!
Last edited by professorpolymath; 10-11-2012 at 12:45 PM.
Wow, so much nicer looking then my huge metal case. Nice tiny little package, something a girlfriend / wife would be more ok with havig in the house.
If I were you I'd use that mSATA SSD as a cache or ZIL drive, as the OS is stored in RAM upon bootup and that fast little SSD is only used during bootup. It's not even written too except for logs and config changes I believe.
If you want you could even slice it and give a 2GB ZIL and the rest cache. Just a thought though, awesome build!
ahh, running FreeNAS in a VM, nvm about the FreeNAS specific tip then..
True that FreeNAS doesn't need to be run from a fast disk. That's also true of VMware to an extent. But my intention here is to have other virtual machines (such as Windows Server) that will benefit from the fast primary storage. And the SSD makes both FreeNAS and ESXi much snappier and more pleasant to work on.
Originally Posted by Joshua Parker Ruehlig
With respect to augmenting ZFS with SSD-based cache and log, I think there would be little practical benefit for my scenario: my file collection is >90% static, I'm not using RAIDZ, and there are only ever one or two clients connecting to shares.
I hope to follow up with some benchmarks and power consumption data.
That's a pretty interesting build you've done there - would you mind if it was used on FreeNAS.org as an example? We've just launched a page to display community-designed "FreeNAS Mini" devices at http://www.freenas.org/mini, and it seems like yours would fit right in. You can submit it using the email we've set up or just respond to me here.
Congrats, very nice setup. Here it is mines.
Edit: A mod should move this into Resources forum, is a nice build.
Last edited by TECK; 09-14-2012 at 07:48 PM.
Wow, very nice build! I would like to see something that can handle more than 4 drives, but that little mSATA drive is pretty sweet. Also a bummer it doesn't have the two ethernet ports, mine and TECK's have the 2 onboard Intel NICs.
Still, very awesome, thanks for posting!
I was keen to keep the case really compact. I'm counting on hard drives growing in capacity to accomodate my growing music collection.
Originally Posted by protosd
I would love to have a second NIC to run pfSense, that other incredible FreeBSD-based appliance. I could slap a second NIC into the PCIe slot to make that happen.
Is that power supply serviceable? Meaning, can you change it to commodity PSU?
The power supply is standard. Measures 15 cm x 14 cm x 8.5 cm (5.9" x 5.5" x 3.4").
Originally Posted by ACGIT
The way it's mounted in the case is a little unusual though: with the typical "rear" of the power supply pointed up into a small cavity at the top of the case. A short pigtail connects the AC from the actual rear of the case to the PS power input. Heat from the case interior is exhausted into the little cavity and out the back of the case.
At idle, with four disks installed and spinning, the system consumes ~47 W as measured at the wall.
During typical disk and CPU activity, consumption goes up to ~55 W, depending on intensity.
Just after power on, consumption briefly spikes to about 110 W as the disks spin up.
I haven't discovered how to get VMware to let the disks spin down after an idle period. FreeNAS is set to do so on the VDM-attached disks, but the command seems to be ignored; one of the drawbacks to using ESXi at the moment. If I can figure this out, the idle power consumption should drop by ten watts or more.
Another minor drawback to the ESXi abstraction is a lack of sensor data on temperatures, voltages, fan speeds. The current release doesn't retrieve these values from this motherboard's (Intel DH77DF) management controller.
Last edited by professorpolymath; 10-09-2012 at 12:11 PM.
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