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FreeNAS Media Server MK


Been a couple years since I last posted about this, and now that it’s finally feasible for me to actually build a FreeNAS server, figure I would run this by the forums once more for a final check.
So, I’m planning on building one in the next few months, and here’s the current parts list I have set:
This thing is going to serve a few purposes:

  1. Storage server for myself, and potentially other family members if I can figure out the best way to do it.
  2. Plex server, using ripped media to stream for myself and friends (mostly remote, but would still need to service a few 720p streams (no higher since I don’t have the best upload speeds)).
  3. Random little things like PiHole
  4. SteamCache

Some parts may change, but here’s the current reasoning I have for all the stuffs:

CPU: Ryzen would offer me a good upgrade path should I need it, and the 3600 seems like a nice balance between performance and price, especially since at time of writing it’s only £50 more than the 3100x. (Cooler note: will be using stock until I can take the D15 out of my main rig)

Motherboard: I’ve so far heard mostly good things about ASRock, plus it has ECC memory support, 8 SATA ports, and an Intel NIC. From what I gather, the onboard controller should be fine for general use, and I’d only need a HBA to add more ports down the line.

Memory: 16GB should be enough to start with, and the speeds are okay enough for Ryzen to get decent performance. While ECC might not be necessary, I’d like to take any steps I can to keep all the data intact. I know the typical advise is “1GB per 1TB of storage”, but I’m going to monitor it first and upgrade if required. No point spending if I don’t need to. Motherboard only supports Unbuffered, and there aren’t many options are higher speeds (at least on Scan, haven’t checked elsewhere yet).

SSD: One of the PNY’s is set, the other is flexible. I’ll be using NVMe for the boot drive (any that seems decent at low price), and the PNY as a SLOG/L2ARC. I see iXSystems recommend Power Loss Protection, but I’d like to get this thing build soon as possible, so I’ll leave something like Optane for a future upgrade. This drive seems to have good sustained write, and relatively decent performance for the price.

HDD: I’ve opted for 6x6TB in a RAIDZ2 as a nice balance. Not as bothered about write penalties as the SLOG can help with that, and it allows me to build it fairly soon whilst offering capacity for more than double my current usage (and a bit extra for SteamCache). Seagate seems really good, though not entirely sure whether to go for the Pro’s; that depends on pricing at the time and whether the extra feature are worth it for such a small project.

Video Card: a spare I have lying around that will mostly serve as a video output for setup. May leave it in for some hardware encoding.

Case: Having used the Define R5, I’m very much a fan of Fractal. This one offers nice sound dampening, which will be great as it’ll be just a few meters from me, and room for 12 HDD’s (so I can eventually throw in another x6 drive zpool later on).

PSU: Solid quality from Seasonic, and have to go modular to keep it tidy. Just cos it’s a server doesn’t mean it should be messy.

NIC: A great 10Gb SFP+ card I’ve found on eBay, seems to be not just be compatible with FreeNAS, but recommended. From what I’ve found so far, I should be able to saturate that kind of connection with a good SLOG, and the MikroTik switch I’ve seen on places like Craft Computing means it’ll be much cheaper than the ethernet alternative.

Extra notes:
I’ll be purchasing the hard drives a couple months after the main build, mostly for budget reasons, but also so I can stress test the hardware and make sure it’s fit for purpose (and so I know what I’m doing).
I’m hoping to build this thing soon as possible so price is definitely a factor; likely be taking advantage of Black Friday/Christmas deals to help with that.

Let me know what you all think of it.
Any advise would be appreciated.

Lord of Time

The ram requirements depend on a few things. How much ARC you want, and the features you choose to use in ZFS dictate your usage. I would swap that samsung for kingston KSM26ED8/16ME if it’s available to you because it’s super robust for pushing clocks… Assuming of course you’re in to that sort of thing :wink:

I think the rest of the build looks solid. I like the asrock rack boards better for this use case but don’t blame anyone for picking a consumer board.


I have your mobo and CPU so I can tell you that I’ve had only 1 issue you probably wont run into. I added u.2 drives through a pcie card and that caused the bios to reboot after first power on and then run normally. I couldn’t find a cause but I pulled them (2) out and haven’t had a single problem since. Its been pretty great! Good luck with your project

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