Looking to build my first NAS!

    So have decided that I am going to build a NAS to store all my music (Most of them being from my dad's insanely huge collection), store my movies/tv shows, & just generally store everything. I have undoubtedly decided on using FreeNAS as my software of choice. I wouldn't want to go over $500 initially. I would ideally like to run at least 4 TB to start, & then add more down the line if need be. I'm now going to need to decide on the motherboard, CPU, and memory; something I am kind of unsure about. How much power do I really need? Should I go ATX or mATX? (ATX would be better I'd think because it'd most likely have more SATA ports.) I've heard that about 1Gb of RAM per TB of storage is usually recommended, but since I plan on upgrading I figured I should probably get at least 8 GB anyways. I have a Corsair 650W PSU from an old build that I can use, but I still need to pick a case. 

If any of you guys have any suggestions or can answer my questions, please let me know.

I would say that $500 is on the low-end for a FreeNAS box considering you want ECC RAM for ZFS as well as a motherboard that supports it.

I built my NAS with the an ASrock board featuring the new Avoton Atom quad-core (you can get an octa-core as well, I believe Wendell used one in a build video). It's pretty sweet but will run you about $250 (actually, looks like it's on sale currently). It's mini-ITX so it makes for a great home NAS form factor and even has crazy features like IPMI and tons of SATA ports.


  • Intel Avoton C2550 Quad-Core Processor
  • DDR3 1600/1333 Dual-channel Max. 64GB
  • 2 x SATA3 6.0Gbps, 4 x SATA2 3.0Gbps by C2550
  • 4 x SATA3 6.0Gbps by Marvell SE9230, 2 x SATA3 6.0Gbps by Marvell SE9172
  • Dual Intel i210 Gigabit LAN ports (with Teaming function)
  • 3 x USB 2.0 ports (2 rear ports + 1 via headers or 1 rear ports + 2 via headers controlled by USB_SEL1 and USB_SEL2 jumper)
  • 1 x PCI-E x8 slot

Many people use Fractal or Lian LI cases. I opted for hot swap functionality and went for a U-NAS. The website looks kinda sketchy but I received the case and it's not half bad. Still need to upgrade the cheapo PSU it came with. If I was going to build it again I would probably just go with one of the former since I don't really need to use the hot swap functionality like I do with servers at work and WD RE drives are generally pretty rock-solid, though a bit more expensive.

Generally you want 1GB of RAM per TB of HDD storage IIRC though I think you might need more for deduplication functionality. Make sure it's ECC!

Check out the FreeNAS hardware forums and irc for more info, good luck!



I know you said you wanted to use FreeNAS, but maybe take a look at Open Media Vault. Its not as good as FreeNAS but it'll work on much lower end hardware since it doesn't have to deal with ZFS.

If you need data integrity badly go with FreeNAS though

I'd suggest something along the lines of 8 GB of ECC RAM (Mushkin and Crucial have decent prices for new RAM), a couple 2 TB drives, and a Node 304/804 as a base. For CPU/Motherboard, that Avoton entropy posted is a good deal, and the next tier up in my opinion would be the ASRock E3C226D2I and an i3 of some sort. Maybe an i3-4360 since they're on sale for pretty cheap on Newegg right now.

So I've got a preliminary parts list, let me know what you guys think:

Motherboard: http://search.ncix.com/products/?sku=AS2222157336 

CPU: http://www.ncix.com/detail/intel-pentium-g3220-dual-core-90-89866-1034.htm 

RAM: http://www.ncix.com/detail/crucial-8gb-kit-4gbx2-ddr3-ad-96934.htm

PSU: Corsair 650 Watt I already had. 

Case: Still undecided.

Running total before hard drives & case: $379.17

Hard drives:

Option #1:

- Get two of these and add more later. This would bring the total to $659.15 (Starting to realize I might end up spending more than $500):


 Option 2:

- Get two of these and add more later. This would bring the total to $609.15:


I personally would rather go for Western Digital Black, RE, or SE hard drives. They're more expensive, but they are faster and have two more years of warranty.

Well the Reds are the one's made for use in a NAS, that's why I chose them.

Make an informed decision keeping the specs and warranty in mind, don't just buy it because they say it's for a NAS. For more hardware suggestions I can't recommend the FreeNAS forums enough, especially this post:



You want a cheap NAS then go the AMD route. They have more cheap boards and cpu's that can deal with ECC memory. Also those Avoton boards from Asrock are nice but yeah a bit on the expensive side.

Also the 1 GB per TB of data is a myth and depends mostly on what kind of storage you have and how often you use it. I currently run a  80 TB ZFS server on 16 GB. It takes about 4 days on a LAN to fill the memory up and it serves the data through a Gbit port continuously, but I mostly have big files.

That said I would say 8 GB as a minimum though and just get them in 8 GB sticks so you can expand easier.

Also I personally run ZFSguru here but FreeNAS works well too so run what you feel comformtable with. As for a case. Just get one that fits your needs I had to make mine from cratch in the end as I move it to some LAN Parties as well and well 4U racks tend to be freaking heavy ;)

As for drives... I run a set of Greens (can be used without a hitch IF you run WDidle3 and disable or expand the headparking time.) the original 7 seconds will destroy your drives fast. A second set are a bunch of Hitachi 5K4000 Those are awesome but nowadays impossible to find :( My last set are a Bunch of WD Reds and they work great as well. I personally don't like Seagate drives as I had numerous issues with them in the past.

Lastly about hardware... IBM M1015 SAS card is about the best expansion card you can get. Cheap and good and if you want to big the HP SAS Expanders work great with them.

In terms of Raid/Pools if you go the ZFS route do note the following for optimal pools usage however it's not mandatory.

RAID-Z: 3, 5, 9, 17, drives
RAID-Z2: 4, 6, 10, 18, drives
RAID-Z3: 5, 7, 11, 19, drives

enable 4K sectors and use v28 or V5000 when making the pool.

Another note you CANNOT expand a made raidz with more drives. This is the main drawback of ZFS. You need to decide beforehand how many drives you should use. So you cannot buy 3 drives and later decide to add 3 more to the same raidz. you need to make a second raidz for it to work. You can however expand the drives. so you can upgrade from 2 to for instance 6 TB drives later on. Just pull one out plant the 6 TB in let it rebuild and do it with the next and repeat. Slow but works like it should.