4 NAS solutions compared - which one to go for?

I want to build/buy a NAS. The raw storage space isn’t a priority - the most important thing is reliability, but power efficiency is also important.
The goal is to have a reliable fileserver that I can access through ssh no matter where in the world I happen to be. Software-wise I plan to run plain FreeBSD on it and set up ZFS by hand(using four mirrored 6TB drives).

Now when it comes to hardware things are getting a bit more complex.
I have compared four configurations. Two of those are Qnap solutions, and two are DIY builds.

All four builds feature 16GB ECC ram and enterprise class micron SSD as the system drive.

Due to the fact that it’s hard to compare the performace of whole systems that are presented below I’ve decided to use passmark cpu scores to assess the performance.

Most people say that it’s cheaper to build your own than to buy a prebuilt NAS, but the comparisons below indicate that it’s not that simple.

QNAP TS-473A QNAP TS-h686 DIY ASRock Xeon DIY ASRock Ryzen
Component Price(CHF) Component Price(CHF) Component Price(CHF) Component Price(CHF)
Base system 892,98 Base system 1759,78 ASRock E3C226D2I Intel LGA 1150 176 ASRock X570D4I-2TAMD AM4 660
SSD Micron 7400 PRO 480GB M.2 141,1366 SSD Micron 7400 PRO 480GB M.2 141,1366 CFI A-7879 V2 Mini-ITX enclosure 147,4 CFI A-7879 V2 Mini-ITX enclosure 147,4
2x Transcend 8GB DDR3L 1600Mhz ECC-DIMM 2Rx8 140,8 2x Micron 8GBDDR4 2666Mhz ECC-SODIMM 1Rx8 178,2
Xeon E3-1230L v3 222,2 RYZEN 5 PRO 3400GE 254,6808
SSD Micron 5300 MAX 480GB 2.5’’ 217,492 SSD Micron 7400 PRO 480GB M.2 141,1366
Noctua NH-L9i 50,6 Noctua NH-L9i 50,6
Total(CHF) 1034,1166 Total(CHF) 1900,9166 Total(CHF) 954,492 Total(CHF) 1432,0174
CPU PassMark Score 4588 CPU PassMark Score 2459 CPU PassMark Score 4764 CPU PassMark Score 8269
PassMark Points/W 286,75 PassMark Points/W 91,07 PassMark Points/W 190,56 PassMark Points/W 236,26
PassMark Points/CHF 4,44 PassMark Points/CHF 1,29 PassMark Points/CHF 4,99 PassMark Points/CHF 5,77

A few additional notes regarding the configurations presented above.
DIY ASRock Ryzen - seems to be the most performant one, but it might also be the most problematic because of the pretty exotic motherboard chosen(AM4 platform that uses an LGA1156 mounting for the cooler, no direct sata ports on the MB - has to use OccuLink instead).
QNAP TS-h686 - the most expensive and the lowest performing of the bunch. That was a surprise.
PassMark Scores - some are more reliable than others. Some of the CPU’s had only a very small sample size.



Additionally I’ve normalized both scores to 100 and averaged them.


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was there a specific reason for choosing that weird AM4 mainboard?

are you going to be running containers or VMs on the NAS?

will the NAS do anything out side of ‘remote file server?’

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Have you considered a cloud approach? Is VPS+backblaze not reasonably priced for something you want to be reliably accessible everywhere?

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I’m not planning on running any containers or VMs. It’s just going to be ZFS with compression and deduplication, as well as encryption(both for ssh and data at rest).
The weird AM4 motherboard was selected because it is a server board, and not a consumer one, so it’s more likely to work reliably for the next several years while running 24/7. IPMI is also a nice feature to have.

It’s important to me to have control over as much of the infrastructure as possible. Simply put I prefer to roll my own.

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the ASRock Rack series has several B550, B450, X470, and B450 boards most of them are still available in retail.

same goes for the CPU, i would look for a 2200ge PRO CPU.

also, the CPU benchmarks are not useful for you. maybe some disk perf benchmarks would be better, but any of these builds will last 10 years as a NAS in your use case.

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If I were you, I’d go for a Xeon Build, but newer than what you anticipated and go used.
DDR3 and Third Gen E3 is much too old to be worth buying, no matter whether used or new.

Xeon E3 V5/V6 and a Supermicro ITX Board should be easy to find on European eBay and would give you better price/performance and features than most other solutions.


All of the ASRock rack motherboards that you mention are in form factors other than mini-itx, and of the AM4 mini-itx boards the minimum supported Ryzen CPU’s are 3000 series and up.

Disk performance benchmarks won’t tell me much, because I’ll saturate the 1Gb/s link in any of those configurations.

You might be right. So I’ve slapped together another configuration using a Xeon E3 1240L V5. I’m not the biggest fan Supermicro, and besides, staying with ASRock rack makes the whole lineup more consistent.

DIY ASRock Xeon v5
Component Price(CHF)
ASRock E3C236D2I 454,1988
CFI A-7879 V2 Mini-ITX enclosure 147,4
2x Micron 8GBDDR4 3200Mhz ECC-DIMM 176
Xeon E3-1240L v5 173,8
SSD Micron 5300 MAX 480GB 2.5’’ 217,492
Noctua NH-L9i 50,6
Total(CHF) 1219,4908
CPU PassMark Score 6173
PassMark Points/W 246,92
PassMark Points/CHF 5,06

New 2133Mhz DDR4 modules seem to be unavailable, so I went for what I can get in this configuration.


So it seems that Xeon E3 V5 is really nice! Much closer to the DIY Ryzen and QNAP TS-473A than the other Xeons.


A few points of advice / things to consider:

  • Supermicro is far cheaper and has feature partiy if not better. If you don’t care much about money, go for AsRock.
  • There is some Xeon V5 chips that have an iGPU. This could come in for very power-efficient transcoding, in case this server will ever run Jellyfin or the like.
  • Make sure you have ECC UDIMMs, not RDIMMs
  • You could consider going with a very good NVME SSD instead, e.g. Samsung Pro Series if you’ll use it for more than just the boot medium.

If power use & reliability are key I would seriously suggest you go the route of a TrueNAS Mini (a variety of options based on your needs). You’ll likely have a hard time matching or beating the minimal power use. They can support a 10G link as well if you even need that. Based on your use case all of the passmark data you mention is probably useless since you can’t push the system hard enough under normal file access operations to even max the system out. I am also a bit confused as to why you’d want to do ZFS by hand as opposed to using something like TrueNAS core/scale. Especially when reliability is a concern. Having easy access to the snapshot functionality and backups seems extremely useful. Maybe I am missing something…

PS: All of this comes from someone that did build a custom TrueNAS storage server but I had some different requirements than your needs. If they were simpler I wouldn’t have bothered with the hassle of building something custom.

All the best with your NAS selection process!


I’m the guy in the room that knows less than everyone else, but just a thought, perhaps an i3-9100F (4C/4HT) + ECC RAM + SuperMicro board. It’s low power, but if you’re only after reliable storage and no VM’s, it might do you? I just figure if you’re using a reliable file system, you could add a bit of reliability with ECC?

For super low usage, some pre-made NAS’s have the G4560’s (I think that’s what they’re called), really low power and ECC friendly.

I’m sure you’ve factored it in, but a UPS would be a welcome addition.

This message comes courtesy of one of my setups for TrueNAS (Credit to Yorick on the TrueNAS forum):

Motherboard: SuperMicro X11SCL-F (6 x SATA Ports + 1 x NVMe)
CPU: Intel Core i3 9100F
RAM: 1x 16GB ECC
PSU: 550W Corsair RMx
UPS: Riello iDialog 600VA 360W UPS with 4 AC Outlets (very TrueNAS compatible)


the same company as the case you are using makes an MATX version that is only slightly larger than your ITX case.

my point on the performance is for your use case, these are all more than enough so logging CPU metrics is not very useful.

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Yes, whichever set up I decide to go with is going to be connected to a UPS and use ECC ram. Also - SuperMicro X11SCL-IF(pretty much the mini-itx version of the mb that you’re using), would be my choice for the DIY Xeon v5 configuration if I decided to go with SuperMicro.


Well, I’ve checked out TrueNAS Mini, and getting it here is difficult. The shipping alone would cost me almost 500$US. Also all of the TrueNAS solutions look like rebranded SuperMicro boxes(just look at here and here)

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Yes, they do use SuperMicro boards & parts but its the overall fit & finish and reliability testing you pay for. Could you build the exact same thing maybe a little cheaper, probably but maybe not. Definitely not when you factor in your time. All of this counts towards overall ease of operation, the value of your time, etc.

I spent way more building my own system. Power levels are much higher too. It really all depends what you are looking for, not trying to sound harsh, but quoting passmark numbers and focusing on that when you say you want reliability & low power seem like you are focusing on the wrong metrics.

What location are you in, this is definitely helpful to provide.



I have the TS-h886 and TS-h973AX. Purely for storage, both saturate my 10 gig cards. Both are a year and close to a year with no issues.

I also have an ASRock Rack (mATX variant) AM4 that’s been in 24/7 operation for about 2 years. Not a NAS, but I run a bunch of VMs and containers in my lab. The IPMI features were one of the reasons I picked it. The few times I had to use is, it would have been a pain to drag a monitor over to the rack.

Either way, I don’t really see a bad option in the bunch as far as your round up and the other suggestions made.

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If you’re not going 10GBit Ethernet, any performance metric is superfluous. Any single old HDD with an old dual core CPU can address 1GBit ethernet bandwidth and a 5$ USB drive for the OS. Or get a 2-4 bay cheap pre-built NAS. Way less trouble and probably the least amount of power you can get. Reliability is also the sum of moving parts in a system. Installing everything yourself is the source of many errors.

Save yourself the money for that OS drive. There is a reason for microSD slots on some server boards and why so many people use USB drives. It just isn’t under use except for KBs worth of logs once in a while. Get a Ryzen 5000 (5600x on ECO is 45W TDP with insane boosts) or memory or L2ARC or whatever.


Maybe I should have clarified, because this point keeps getting brought up.
Both PassMark scores and TDP(unreliable as both of those may be), were used calculate PassMark/TDP, that I thought would at least help me assess the efficiency of each configuration.
I was never comparing performance by itself. What I tried to do was compare efficiencies and performance/unit of currency(basically “bang for the buck”).

Honestly at this point Qnap TS-473A is the most appealing of the whole lineup - the CPU is the most energy efficient, and the price is relatively low compared to others. The energy efficiency seems to be confirmed by this STH review of the 8 bay variant, where idle power consumption was 26W and max observed was 58W, and that’s with 8 x 8TB Seagate IronWolf drives.

I used to have a system with the operating system on a USB stick, and I’d rather avoid repeating that experience, but considering that I want to run this NAS together with a UPS, maybe supercaps on the OS drive aren’t that crucial, and I could go with a cheap 35CHF(or 36.71$US :wink: ) ssd instead.

Reliability is the one thing that makes me hesitant about choosing Qnap TS-473A. I’ve never used their products, but on top of negative opinions about their reliability that I’ve read online, my friend(who’s a professional computer janitor) also said that the quality of Qnap hardware is questionable. But I think it’s conceivable that they had several dodgy products in the past and the popular opinion just stuck. I don’t know - I simply don’t have enough experience with their stuff.

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That’s a new one for me. You need only look a few ServeTheHome hardware reviews. Perhaps he was just dealt a bad hand. Personally I have owned or operated 20 QNAP devices and build quality wasn’t much of an issue. The low end plasticy single and dual bays I could see, but not the ones discussed so far.


I’m sure had positive experience with QNAP, but I’m kind of surprised that you haven’t heard those opinions. Even after casually browsing L1 forums I’ve already run into this exchange(and I wasn’t looking for it, I was actually interested in running OpenBSD on RockPro64):

We’re also running two QNAP NASes at my workplace, and they’ve been running without any issues for a couple years now, it’s just that negative opinions like those quoted above make me a bit anxious, and none of the options that I’ve mentioned are exactly cheap.

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