Help with FreeNAS build

Hi guys,
My parents are in need of a good backup solution for their videos/pictures, so I'm thinking of building a NAS for them to store everything with confidence. (They're currently using a couple of external consumer HDDs as storage). I have these parts picked out so far, but I was wondering if I can build a comparable FreeNAS system for possibly less.

Parts so far:

  • MOBO + CPU: ASRock Intel Avoton ($400)
  • RAM: 16 GB Crucial DDR3 1600 ECC-unbuffered ($150)
  • HDD: 3x HGST 4TB NAS drives ($165 each)
  • PSU: Silverstone 450W 80+ bronze ($60)
  • CASE: Fractal Design Node 304 ($65)


I was hoping that I could get a CPU and MOBO for less than the Avoton (something like an AMD quad core) and still have a decent number of SATA ports and good performance with a ZFS array. Ideally, I would like to bring the cost down to below $1000.

Thanks in advance.

The only two things I would say to drop the price is the fact that FreeNAS to my understanding would not utilize the 16Gigs and would run fine on as much as 1Gig (id delve more into this but thats what Ive been finding as I have wanted to make a NAS soon). Also I would also add that you could probably be safe going withe 4Tb WD green drives for their lower power consumption. Yes they are 5900 RPM but they use less power and are "Green" so just food for thought.

If you have that much to spend, why not go the ECC route and get appropriate RAM and motherboard?

This page from the FreeNAS site has hardware requirements and systems on the market that meet them. You could use that as a guide.

EDIT: Also, here's a link to a FreeNAS community guidelines on hardware. It's from last year so maybe a little out of date but still very useful.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the parts he has picked, in fact the Avoton CPU is on the recommended FreeNas list and the RAM he has chosen is ECC ram.

"Intel Atoms (Avoton generation)The new Intel Atoms kick butt. They use ECC RAM and can be loaded with 64GB of RAM if you buy special 16GB UDIMMs.The Asrock C2750D4I ($250-300 but sometimes as high as $400) is pretty popular. The Marvell SATA ports have been known to be problematic for some people but the mainboard has built-in IPMI, 6 SATA ports on Intel SATA, dual Intel Gb LAN and has a single 8x PCIe 2.0 slot for expansion. This CPU has 8 cores (no hyperthreading) and seems to be very powerful despite its size. It is capable of doing transcoding of video streams with Plex and is the board found in the FreeNAS Mini. A review of what this board can do is available at Cyberjock's Blog. A 4-core version exists, the C2550D4I and is slightly less expensive for those looking to save a little money with a less powerful box."

To the OP looks like a solid build to me, it should work out just fine, I would recommend a high quality USB stick (8-16g) to install the OS on, other than that it looks good and a side effect you probably haven't thought of is will use very little power so it'll be cheap to operate.

Oh yeah my mistake, I misread his RAM!

There really isn't much to change to save a couple bucks you could go with the quad core and save $100, but it uses DDR3 so it may or may not save you money on the memory side.

ASRock C2550D4I Mini ITX Server Motherboard DDR3 1600/1333/1066

And I guess if the server's only role is going to file storage this would be ok, but if you have any intention to store media on it and do streaming then you have already chosen the correct board for a low cost build.

Your understanding of FreeNAS seems to be flawed. FreeNAS will use as much RAM as you can give it, and the more RAM you feed it the happier it will be.

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Wow, FreeNAS has an Owncloud plugin. Rock on!

LOL...yes it does along with other nice things, FreeNas is one of the great things about computing in 2015, the ability to build a fairly robust server with a secure file system for what really isn't a lot of money is why I run two of them.

ZFS uses quite a bit of RAM.

WD green hard drives will not work in a RAID configuration unless you know how to alter the firmware on them so that it doesn't interfere with the RAID - even if you succeed at that, it won't save any more power than a WD Red at that point since you have to change it to run non-stop.

Since you're looking at RAID, i'll link Backblazes newest HDD performance study. It may help decide your HDD vendor.

Backblaze HDD Study, Q1 2015

Whoa, so many responses lol. Thanks a lot!

@pchawk I'll look into the HDD study, thanks.

@blanger The server's only going to be for file storage, but we may want to slideshow some photos or play back some videos from time to time. So I guess I'll stick with the C2750.