New NAS/server ideas, future proofing

My current NAS is an Ivy Bridge Xeon E3 1265L v2 on an Intel DQ77KB MiniITX motherboard. It’s done be reasonably well over the years but now I’m thinking about potential upgrades.

It will function as a NAS with both mechanical drives and SSDs. So ideally multiple NVMe slots would be nice. I was thinking of maybe going for an ATX case and just using PCIe adapters for the NVMe, but even then most motherboards don’t have many 4x capable slots.

The main reason for NVMe is that there are decent deals on those drives and it looks like the future, but maybe if I have to spend a lot more on a mobo it’s not actually a saving.

On the services side I run Duplicati for backup, Cumulus for weather and other random long-running tasks. In the future I might also run Home Assistant in a VM. I do usually have at least one VM powered up. So nothing really heavy, main thing is ECC RAM would be nice, say 32GB but I’d settle for 16GB.

My current system is fairly low power. Averages about 35W, runs from a laptop power brick. I’d like the new one to be reasonable too.

Anyone got any good recommendations, particularly for motherboards? I’m wondering if there is any used gear that might be suitable that I can grab cheap on eBay.

If looking at multiple NVMe drives, alongside some existing Spinning Rust/SSD array, the successor platform should have sizeable amount of PCIe lanes. Either having direct [m.2] attachment points or mainboard that supports bifurcation [complementing use of a multi-NVMe card, such that of say, an ASUS Hypercard]

Older / Oldish platforms: x299 [Intel], x399 [AMD], LGA3647 [Intel]
Current platforms: sTRX4 [AMD], LGA4189 [Intel]

) Threadripper Gen1s CPUs can be had for relatively cheap, but the mainboards have been getting a bit more difficult to nab [reasonable price and/or availability]. Memory speeds are kinda locked [doesn’t play nice after 2666, in my experience].

) x299 board pricing is a bit temperamental, but possible to be had at a reasonable price. The processors are main pricey part [i9 tier, regardless of Gen7 thru 10, for larger PCIe lane count].

IF ECC is a necessity, look at AsRock Rack series boards

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Check out Asrock Rack motherboards. Perfect for NAS/VM in an AM4 package. Basically the server line of Asrock. I got the D4U-2L2T with 10Gbit and IPMI. ECC runs perfectly fine.

Really great board and I still have the x16 slot left for 4x NVMe expansion, although I’m good with the two board slots atm. Pair that with a 5600x Ryzen in ECO mode at 45W and you can do a very low-power draw system. Passthrough and IOMMU groups are without troubles, I pass NICs,NVMe and SATA controllers through to several VMs.

But really any x570 board will do if you don’t want IPMI, 10Gbit or ECC (some may support it).


Thanks, a couple of votes for AS Rock there. I like the idea of going over to AMD, kinda fed up with Intel and their security problems. Had to hassle them for BIOS updates last time.

I see some Threadripper bundle on eBay, mostly from China. Tempting for a simple, tested solution.

IPMI would certainly be useful. I keep meaning to set it up on my current rig but never get around to it.

Really depends on what you want. You mentioned low power draw in your first posting…If you want that and maybe everything in a small form factor, desktop platform is the way to go. Old server hardware can be pretty good and cheap, but don’t expect Xeons/Threadripper to be power-efficient or quiet.

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Yeah, I think the issue is mostly server boards are not good for low power. I have a Xeon in my current machine and it does okay on power consumption. The CPUs are okay, it’s the motherboards that tend to be bad.

Any suggestions for cases? I could re-use the one I have, but it’s ITX only. It’s a BitFenix Phenom. There don’t seem to be many cases with large numbers of 3.5" bays anymore.

I suppose there is 19" rack used cases, but I’ve never owned one and they limit you to using rack mount PSUs etc. that are rarely quiet.

4U Non-OEM Cases will allow you to use a normal ATX Power Supplies and Full 120MM fans in many cases. Great Airflow and many take lots of HDDs.

If you are focused on quietness though and will have lots of 3.5" HDDs, you might want to go with a Desktop Case that offers Vibration Dampening, or even Noise Dampening.
Fractal Define Series fits many hard drives and is highly regarded, but you’d probably need to upgrade the fans.

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What is your surface area budget?
Some cases can support multiple drives, through add-on sleds [purchased separately]
Larger rackmount server chassis [3U+] do allow use of conventional PSUs / Fans

Space isn’t a big issue, so that’s an option. I found an old external 4 bay enclosure with eSATA and USB too. USB 3 should be okay for HDDs.

I went with the Silverstone CS381. Very compact and dense case for micro ATX with plenty of room for drives. Like most small cases it can be like building a ship in a bottle, but other than that I can recommend that case. Wendell and Steve from Gamers Nexus used that case when building the GN NAS. I immediately fell in love with it. Small, quiet, sits in a corner, has horsepower and lots of data.

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ANY of the Silverstone NAS chassis, are great options [note they all use SFX PSU size]
Well thought out internal daughter boards, for the front-accessible drive sleds
381 = Desktop form
380 = Tower form
280 = ITX only chassis / 2.5in only size HDD

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That’s half the price of the case along with the sleds. I checked normal cases with lots of 5.25" bays to fill it with IcyDock drive bays, but price was even above that of the Silverstone cases. Good all-in-one package. And they also sell accessories like reverse breakout cables for backplanes. Unfortunately no additional drive sleds.

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