HW for NAS/Home server

Hi All!

Writing from Spain.

I have a machine I want to use to create a NAS/Home server and I have lots of questions.
I already have everything except the hard disk drives, but I don’t want to make a bad decision and throw money away.

What I want to do with it:


  • (urgently) Install FreeNAS with ZFS and ‘secure’* my data.
  • Actually learn to use ZFS and available ways to share storage over the network.


  • Install PiHole for my TV.
  • Put a Torrent client.
  • Use it like some kind of media server. ( wanted to test Plex if I can easily install it within FreeNAS )
  • I work as a Java Dev. so I would like to use the machine also as a server ( git repo, learn to use containers, virtual machines, etc ).
  • Learn bash and re-do everything without FreeNAS.

The HW I already have is:

PSU ( 750W plus gold )
MB MSI X570 Tomahawk Wifi
AMD Ryzen 3600x
32GB RAM Cruzial Ballistix 3600 ( non ECC )
DD 500GB SSD (that I will put in an USB external case until I have a NVMe)
GPU Nvidia 770 4GB


The MB has 6 SATA ports and I don’t want to buy an ‘HBA Controller’ so my buying plans are:


  • Buy 3 SATA SSDs ( I would love to them to be 2TB each, but I might end up with 1TB ones because of price )



  • Buy 3 5400rpm SATA HDs ( About 4 tb each.)

WD Red Plus (WD40EFZX) (111€)
WD Red Plus specs sheet

Seagate IronWolf 4TB (ST4000VN006) ( 109 € )
Seagate IronWolf 4TB (ST4000VN008) ( I only find it more expensive than the 006 which I don’t know if makes sense according to the specs, does it? )
Seagate Ironwolf spec sheet

Much much later:

  • Buy a NMVe 2TB ( For the SO, Storage and cache )


  • ( Thx in advance for your understanding XD ) May I assume I will have ~2/3 of usable space if I put the SSD drives in a ‘group’ of three units where I can restore my data if one of them dies?
  • Does it matter the type of mechanical disk used for ZFS like for RAID? ( I mean, should I check if they are CMR, SMR, … ? )
  • Is it good enough to use the SATA ports provided by the motherboard? I don’t plan on adding more drives. (My main purpose is to store my data and to learn; also my network is a 1Gbps.; I would not mind buying one in the future but for now it doesn’t seem logical )

Also any comment about the HW and HD models suggestions will be highly appreciated. ( And any other suggestions and advice too :slight_smile:

Thank you very much!

*I know having ZFS it’s not enough to secure my data. But I have to start anywhere… :slight_smile:

In my experience the Marvell 88SS1074 is a solid option but I’m not sure why you’re not utilizing NVME instead?



Not sure why you need 3 SSDs? I would highly recommend you to go 2x or even 1x 2TB instead if budget allows instead of 1TB devices.

Same with the HDDs, why 3? Go with 2 and larger capacity and use a mirror array

Avoid SMR like the plague and the SATA controller on your motherboard is fine

I know you’re on a budget but if you know that you’re going to need storage space you’re much better off getting larger drives from the start such as these https://www.idealo.es/precios/201591067/toshiba-sata-8tb-mg08ada800e.html (they will be 7200 rpms and it’ll be fine).

Given your plans I’d say that running a regular OS on bare metal and a hypervisor would be a better setup from the start but that’s up to you.

Ditch PiHole, just run blocky or adguardhome and call it a day (requires less processing power and you don’t need to muck around with anything else)
If you want to learn scripting you’re much better off learning sh (not bash) and something like python or lua depending on what you want to accomplish.


I expect to buy a NMVe in the future but I already have the SATA SSD and the USB case so I thought it was better to save the money for now.

Also I wanted to ask before purchasing it if I/O instructions would matter if I expect to use it as cache. ( In order to go for a faster pcie 4 unit or a cheaper pcie 3 one )

Thank you! I’ll follow those models and also look for others with the Marvell controller.

I thought 3 SSDs and 3 mechanical drives to be able to make raidz1. ‘I still don’t know what I’m doing’ but I got it from here zfs link :slight_smile:

Noted! Thank you very much!

Yeah, I’ll probably end up doing everything with an hypervisor but I wanted to start with something ‘easy’ until I learn to properly use the terminal.

Thank you! I won’t waste time with PiHole then.

I said bash because I previously used it but I’ll try to check for sh documentation. I was going to read this one The Linux Command Line but it uses bash.

Would you recommend any good source to learn sh?

Thank you very much!

PCIE 3.0 vs 4.0 wont make a difference in practice unless you’re going for a dog slow PCIe 3.0 device(s)

Raid-z1 doesn’t make much sense with 3 drives, just do a mirror with 2 devices instead.

I dont have a good recommendation but a few references that seems to be well regarded in general

https://www.amazon.com/Shell-Programming-Unix-Linux-Developers/dp/0134496000 (this appears to be the updated version)
Introduction to POSIX shell (this is more why than teaching about it)
POSIX Shell Tutorial

Edit: NVME drives are as cheap if not even cheaper than SATA so unless you have a good reason to stick with SATA just go for NVME? :slight_smile:

2 drive mirror, much cheaper in the long run.

Don’t give ZFS whole drives (you’ll thank me in a few years) - instead, leave about 10G free before the first partition on each drive, and e.g. if you get 8T or 14T drives, make the first partition about 45% of total capacity.

The space at the beginning is for installing a different OS once your flash stick dies.

The 45%, is in case you change your mind about settings after you get a few terabytes onto drives, and in case you decide to do ZFS within encrypted luks containers, or with large capacity nvme writeback caching using LVM or something.

You can always extend the partitions and fill up drives later.

Also, for pricing, look at hagglezon and geizhals.eu, it might save you a penny.

Alternative, but requires more advanced knowledge setup for lots of media is to use Linux with snapraid - unlike ZFS, it enables you to add disks one by one, of different sizes and the more disks you have the more efficient it gets. It’s described here.

Thank you very much for the links! ( It seems I’ve got work to do :slight_smile: )

How do you mean? Setting the graphics card to 8x and buying some adapter for NVMe drives?

You have two slots on your motherboard according to MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI | RETURN TO HONOR so just use those?

Yeah, its a possibility if I use 2 drives. I was still thinking in 3.

Ok, for now I think I’m going to buy the 3 Ironwolf 4TB mechanical drives and wait to understand the possibilities better before purchasing the SSD drives.

I’m going to test raidz1 and then, most probably, I will end up setting 2 of them in mirroring mode and use the third one as cold storage.

Great tip! Thank you!

I understand up to ‘within’ :rofl:

Thank you! Added to my bookmarks.

In Spain they extended the warranty for electronic products to 3 years, do you know if it is the same period for the rest of EU or it is still 2 years?

It’s not 3 years warranty throughput EU yet.

Why would you boot of a flash stick when the hardware allows for proper storage?
Not sure what you’re saying with that 45% stuff, that would also generate quite a bit of overhead?

Later on you have to decide on OS (FreeBSD or some Linux distribution) and how you want to run things. Personally I’d run FreeBSD as “host os” and use bhyve for Linux guests and run containers etc within those guests if needed. Other will prefer to use for example proxmox and use VMs for everything, this has both pros and cons however it is generally discouraged if your data is of value.

Yes. Exactly.

45% … just to prevent ZFS from accessing more than half on each drive until you need it, and until you’re certain of the pool settings, so that you can either copy data off of ZFS or make another ZFS pool using the same drives.

Why 2 drive mirror is cheaper on the long run? It is only due to power efficient or there are other benefits?

Because RAID5/Z scales poorly (storage space) with only 3 drives and doesn’t provide you with redundancy improvements over mirrors rather the opposite.

Ok. I’m going to stop busting your [email protected]||s and I take your advice. :rofl:

I found these for about 160 € so I thinking to buy 2:

Should I avoid this model for any reason? Is it a good choice price-specs wise?

I’ll also buy a bunch of cheap pendrives to test the different raidz configurations ( and if they die soon, the better, this way I can learn to restore stuff :slightly_smiling_face: )

For the mechanical drives, I will wait a little. I will follow the toshiba drives, but the 8TB ones are still a bit out of my range ( and the only places where I could find it under 190 have a lot of ‘friends’ in reviews webs )

Thank you very much!

The P2s are fine for light work but they’re not workhorses, you might want to consider P3 / P3 Plus if you plan to hammer these drives.

You don’t really need to by a “bunch” och USB flash drives, just get a few that doesn’t perform horrible.

These perform pretty decent in general, https://www.amazon.es/Kingston-DataTraveler-Elegante-metálica-capuchón/dp/B08KHTRF61/ but it’s hard to find “fast” USB drives these days…

Best regards,

If you want a lot of storage buy a case of 10 SAS drives. I bought 10 3TB Hitachi for £80. You need a ZFS compatible HBA card and SAS cables.

TrueNAS core is excellent as a file server but TrueNAS scale is better if you want to run VMs of some kind.

You can install TrueNAS on a pair mirrored USB sticks and that works very well. It saves on drive bays and SATA ports.

The VMs should be on SSDs and NVMe are the best choice for price and speed. Also saves drive bays.

HDDs offer the best capacity and are fine for file servers but poor for VMs.

16GB RAM is enough for a TrueNAS file server, it works perfectly fine. However you should aim for 32 or 64. Go nuts and get 128GB if you want, TrueNAS will find a use for it. ECC is obviously good but ZFS will never write bad data so don’t fret about it.

PS, buy more hard drives than you will fit. That way if one goes bad you can swap it out. TrueNAS has a button you press to make that simple.