Return to Level1Techs.com

Newbie to NAS looking for advice on budget NAS build

TLDR:
Read specs below in “New build, your help needed:”, advice needed on new NAS build for home entertainment by newbie to NAS’s building and operating but has hardware exp

I’m going to build a new NAS for my sitting room, the last Plex update on my QNAP Server (TS-453A) caused issues, seems the CPU seems to be the issue, my skew is no longer supported.
In fairness it has served me well and I’ve rolled back the server but that does not seem to have worked , I think wiping all the plex files might work but in reality its an old system so maybe its time to retire it to a security server and create something new.

I’ve been doing a little research, reading and so on over the last couple of weeks and gone through a few iterations, mainly due to the location I had initially intended for the NAS to go in (small area) which I’ve now scrapped.

But since between m-itx case restrictions and budget I’ve moved away from that, I’m now thinking (unless someone posts a good argument against it) of getting a cheaper ATX case, I’d like 6+ HDD’s, M.2 boot drive (unless there is any reason not to go there). I’m mostly going to be doing 2k streaming via Plex, some downloading via a torrent server and mostly that’s it, there will be some backing up of devices and so on but mostly Plex usage. Budget will be about €500 (£450) aprox (+/- 20%)

New build, your help needed:
Corsair Obsidian 750D Case (buying 2nd hand, getting HDD 2 cages and will buy a 3rd new, as I read they are scarce and its in stock now)
Suggestion needed for motherboard (leaning in direction of MSI B460M-A-Pro, thoughts?)
Intel Core i5-10400
Noctua cooler (suggestions welcome)
16/32 Gig advice wanted here
Intel 660p M.2 512 GB (suggestions welcome)
500 power supply, looking for reliable but cheap, ideally modular (I can always want it all and compromise later )
I already have tones of HDD’s for it, most 4TB WD reds so all good here.

Questions:
Looking at unRAID, any hardware I need to avoid?
Any reason to go for 32 gig of ram?
Any reason I should include SSD’s in the build as well as the M.2?
1 or 2 Intel 660p 512GB M.2’s in raid? If 2, why? What is the benefit?
I’ve a APC by Schneider Electric, is there any reason why that cannot be sat on, below or around the NAS once built? I will want the NAS to be powered by it.
Oh, I am on another forum on this topic too and got a confusing response regarding the M.2 drive, is it useless in a NAS build? What should my boot drive be?

Thank you in advance

For Unraid and plex usage, no not really.

If you were planning doing ZFS, or running homelab or selfhosting type stuff, then probably.

That primarily depends on what OS and filesystem you are running your NAS on.

1 Like

Thank you, this is so far the most most informative reply I have seen on 3 other forms

I watched Wendell’s video on FreeNAS vs. Unraid but I was a little lost on the ZFS stuff, seems like a really good file system from what he says but I am not sure if its right for my use case

I am planning on using unRAID based off what I was listening to on Wendell’s FreeNAS vs. Unraid video, easier to upgrade over time, easier GUI and son on, seems very appealing

My use case will mostly be 2k streaming via Plex, some downloading via a torrent server and mostly that’s it, there will be some backing up of devices, PC photography and so on, maybe some home automation if we get our own place next year but we will see how covid goes, but if I am perfectly honest, it will mostly Plex usage

I’m obviously missing a tone of background and information so if people want to point me at guides, articles, posts and videos to educate me instead of posting on this thread which I am certain cant be the only time this topic has been talked about (I just struggled to find what I needed from those threads) I would be grateful too.

Probably bleeding edge stuff is not the greatest option. Unraid ships with an older kernel, and while they do add support for things quickly, you cant guarantee compatibility with the latest and greatest.

Only if you want a ton of VMs or intend on running a large ZFS array.

Again, ‘depends’ I use SSD as a cache in unraid but theres nothing stopping you from adding it to the array and making it dedicated VM space.

Is this a question? reads like a statement. Why would you raid SSDs? The same reason you’d raid anything. For redundancy.

No problem there.

If you’re going unraid, you dont get a choice on boot drive. Its going to be USB.

M.2 is not useless in a NAS though may be overkill if you arent using your NAS for more ‘enterprisey’ things.


On another note. I’d probably go AMD for a NAS build simply because you’ll get more cores for the money, which will prove useful if you go with unraid since its a capable hypervisor.

2 Likes

Just a badly worded question, I was writing the post late at night :rofl: I had not realised that unRAID would be booting from a USB key so I imagine just get a decent one.
Is it worth getting some sort of SSD for caching if just media streaming and a little downloading?

And thank you for all of the other answers, amazing

Its kinda weird. Unraid licensing is tied to the USB serial, and a good chunk of them dont have unique serial numbers. You dont need to get a fancy one. They allow you to back up your configuration and apply your key to different serials.

You get 30 days to test drive it so might as well use that time to familiarize yourself.

Unraid uses cache in a very weird way. Its hard to explain but its not intuitive. Basically things will exist in cache only if you tell it to via share settings. If its allowed to exist on cache it wont necessarily get backed up to the array. If you tell it to back up to the array then it wont exist in cache once the ‘mover’ runs. Its convoluted and my advice is to actually just add any SSDs to the array instead of making it cache. You dont need SSDs but if you want to run VMs down the road, its highly advisable.

2 Likes

Oh I’ll just probably get a standard fair USB 3, just not a cheapy slow is all I meant

Wow, ok that is very convoluted and complicated.
I think I’ll just leave nvme and ssd’s out of it for the moment. My conventional wisdom comes from normal PC build, OS/Games on fast storage to make OS, programs and Games load faster but clearly does not apply here in the same way.
I’ll get it up and running and then dive in deep later, I can always alter the configuration later, add drives, cache and so on as I see fit once i have a better understanding

Thank you so much for your help so far, amazing

USB speed doesnt really matter because once the OS is loaded it lives in ram. It would only affect boot times.

2 Likes