NAS build need help

Hi there community.

So I have decided to build a NAS. My initial plan is to run FreeNas and install several modules including bittorrent sync, possibly plex etc. Mainly I want to have a machine where I can have ALL my files and access them through my other computers from the local network as well as remotely through the web.

So regarding the hardware. I have already gotten 6x 5tb HDDs which I will be running in zfs z2 to keep it safe but also be left with tons of storage. I am trying to search for the rest of the hardware but I am not really sure what I should use since I want to keep it as cheap as possible, meaning maximum 150$. I have found the following used storage server which would work perfectly :

However I am not sure if I can run freenas on it since it is a server and there might be incompatibility issues. As well as whether it supports 5tb size HDDs.

My other option is to build a tower pc using:

  • lga 1156 Motherboard with ECC support

  • Xeon x3430

  • 32 gb of ECC ram

  • NZXT source 210

  • Some kind of cheap but well known PSU

Can anyone who has some experience with rack mounted servers help me a bit.

Thanks in advance everyone!

The problem you might have with either option is I'm not too confident either would likely support drives that are larger than 2TB. That's actually a 'new-ish' feature. You could go with the second build and try to find a HBA card that supports drives larger than 2TB

If you're talking more than 4 drives, the go-to HBA is the LSI 9211 8i flashed to IT mode. However that alone takes up roughly 2/3 of the OP's budget, and then you need the SAS -> 4x SATA cables

Yeah your right, I just don't know of a cheaper way to do this if he doesn't want to forgo ECC and the 32gb's of ram. He could go with a used Z87 board and I3, but that's still pretty expensive. I don't see really any way to make this fit in $150.

I wont point specifically at a server but ZFS comes from Solaris, so while FreeNAS is Freebsd based and has a lot more drivers than Solaris does you might have better luck compatibility wise with a Sun server. Have a look at Sunfire servers they usually already have a LSI sas controller in them. Don't get the older LSI 1068 based controllers they only support up to 2tb the newer LSI 2008 controllers supports greater than 2tb.

As for the desktop box option. You will probably need unbuffered ECC (i'm not sure on that cpu/mobo) memory and that stuff is not that common or cheap. Just have a look on ebay for registered ECC and you will see how cheap that stuff is.

Thanks a lot for the replies.

First lets say the budget goes to 200 which is not a huge bump but important enough I think
ok I then have a few questions if my choice of components is not valid lets start from scratch. The only things I have now is the 6x5TB HDDs and the 32gb of ECC ram.

-For the case I think that the NZXT 210 or 220 would be pretty good since they can hold up to 8 drives and 4 more if I ever need in the 5.25 bays with an adaptor.
-For CPU a used Xeon should be great since the prices are low, they support ECC and are more than powerful enough
-For mobo probably some old used server mobo
-PSU probably a new one

In regards to a server now. Would something like this work as a base to build upon?

Also do you guys know if the LSI 9211-8i IT supports 5tb size drives? If not what is the cheapest controller that supports 5tb drives for 6 or 12 drives in HBA mode?

Thanks for the help

Out of curiosity, why are you only linking rack mount servers? They tend to be very loud and take up quite a large amount of space?

I was just looking for the cheapest solution and from I have seen on ebay rack mounted solutions tend to be relatively cheap. I am completely open to all suggestions as soon as the land on or at least close to my budget. I would prefer a tower build since it would be more practical and quiter.

So if I build a tower NAS do I absolutely need an HBA card? for example if I use a motherboard like the one bellow which has 6 sata ports would it just work as is?

Thanks in advance

I'm rather sure that board probably won't support drives larger than 2TB, which is the reason why an HBA or newer board is required. Your 5TB drives are no good if your mobo can't support them...

I see. Thanks for the info I had no clue about this "detail". Do you know any affordable HBA card that would support at least 6 HDDs (prefferably 12)?

ok so I think I start to kinda understand a bit about the NAS hardware so I made the following list of hardware. Can someone point any errors, suggestions or corrections?

MOBO: SuperMicro X8SIL -B
CPU: Intel Xeon X3430
RAM: 32gb ECC DDR3
PSU: anything above 400w according to extreme PSU calculator
COOLER: anything cheap. any opinions on this :

plus any appropreate HBA card. I was thinking about the LSI-9211 but I am not sure if it will work well with the 5tb HDDs and how many it can support

I would look into the LSI that you mentioned, you basically just need a true HBA that will support as many drives as you want. Its important that its a true HBA, and not a raid card that has HBA-esq functionality. The problem with a raid card in HBA mode is that a raid card doesn't pass through all the necessary information to FreeNas even when its in HBA mode. FreeNas Needs unrestricted, transparent access to the drives in the array in order for the ZFS File System to properly function.

I am using a Dell Perc H310 flashed to the IT firmware for my file server. I know it supports 2TB drives because I have eight of them attached to it. The Perc H310 is a rebranded LSI 9211. I got mine used off ebay for $55. The cables on amazon are $9 each, and you only need two.

I have no idea if the controller can support 5TB drives. According to this people were using 3TB and 8TB drives:

If you do go the Perc H310 route, this is the guide I used to flash the firmware:

The rest of your system looks good. Never heard of that CPU cooler. I got two Cooler Master Hyper T4 coolers for my system and they work good.

Is your FreeNAS machine dual socket? If yes do you think there is a benefit to dual socket for the relatively basic applications, mostly such as video streaming, file sharing ?

So the LSI 9211 is not a true HBA card by default?

The cpu I will use only disipates 30W so I think the cheapest tower cooler should do a good enough job.

I am not running Freenas. I tried to use it for awhile a year or two ago and just didn't like it. Felt too restrictive. I am running Fedora Server. And yes, it is a dual Xeon system. But I am going to have VMs running on it, possibly a gaming VM for steam in home streaming. I am also going to use it as sort of lab as well.

But in your case, no, there isn't any benefit to a dual processor system.

As to the card being an HBA by default, I would say no it's not. You have to flash a different firmware to it so it can be an HBA. My card didn't show any of the drives to my OS until I flashed it. To be honest the flashing process isn't that bad. The instructions in the guide I linked were very easy to follow.

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I'm an amateur that built a FreeNas sever for the same purposes as you a year ago.

According to ark, that CPU only supports max 16 GB of ram. Are you sure it can support 32GB? The CPU should be fine for what you plan to do otherwise.

I found that FreeNas is a great to start out on. It's pretty user friendly and I found that I was never over my head because of the good documentation. I recommend you stick to this if you are also an amateur like me.

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Thanks for bringing that to my attention actually that is a completely wrong cpu. I made the correction.

I might be wrong about this, but I thought those disk size limitations were just for booting from disks larger than 2tb?