Repurposing 3DBOXX Chassiss to zfs NAS. Need cooling and front panel suggestions

3DBOXX Chassiss to zfs NAS, cooling and front panel suggestions

Hey there,

I would like to repurpose an old BOXX ATX workstation case for use as a Linux ZFS NAS.
This would be my first time using ZFS or building a NAS, so I am looking to get started with some parts that I already have. I have the below-listed components and think that they would suffice for a first-time/learning build.

However I am missing, MOTHERBOARD, CPU, MEMORY, COOLING, and a front panel with the power switch, USB and etc.

Need some help.

CASE (see pictures)

  1. BOXX case with 6 3.5/2.5 HDD mounts on the left side, 2 external front 5.25 drive bays (plan to use with icy dock tougharmor MB994SP-4S HD cage for ssds,, 2 120mm DELTA front case fans that can do approx 1800RPM but have Delta Electronics AFC1212D-PWM 120mm Case Cooler with TAC Sensor that can do 3400 RPM (


  1. Corsair 80 Plus Gold HX Series HX850 850W power supply (


  1. Icy Dock Tough Armor MB994SP-4S ssd cage (

  2. Intel 750 Series AIC 400GB PCI-Express 3.0 NVMe (

  3. 2 or 3 Intel 730, 240 GB ssds

  4. 2 WD Black, WD2002FAEX, 64MB Cache 2TB drives

  5. various smaller e.g., 500GB, 1TB WD and Seagate Drives


  1. Intel E1G44HTBLK Server Adapter I340-T4 (
    Would really like the option for 10G


  1. EVGA GeForce 760 4GB, 04g-p4-2766-KR (


It seems that the choice of MOTHERBOARD, CPU and MEMORY is dependent on how well I can cool this case.

The case used to house a CoolerMaster cooler of some sort approximately 128mm in height. Unless my measuring is off the case does not have the clearance for the newer coolers like noctua that can be 158mm in height. Looks like I am working with 110-115mm of clearance after
the motherboard is mounted. Taking of the 2 front fans and going with an AiO water solution could be an option? But I doubt I have the space to fit the radiator. So if AiO is not an option would I go with something like the noctua low profile cooler (

Once the cooling is settled what would be a good choice for CPU, MOTHERBOARD (I like the ASRock Taichi but I don’t know if it would have cooling issues in this case)
and MEMORY. ZFS works well with ECC, I guess that would be preferable.

Where can I find a replacement front panel with power button, reset, USB connections etc?

Looking forward to all your suggestions? I really like the case but maybe using it is just not worth



I have that Noctua cooler, does a good job at keeping a Ryzen5 2600 cool.
Alternatively there is the NH-D9L wich also fits your 110 to 115mm clearance.

There are front panel replacements/mods out there.
Just a button no idea if this one is any good, just got something similar for a project of mine.
Or get the front panel meant for some other case and jerry rig it examples

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Hi, thanks for the suggestion. Do you think I can pull of running the Ryzen 7 2700x on that cooler? It is kindof like the stock cooler plus I dont plan to OC. Still looking for the front panel though but that link is a good start.

As per TDP-Guidlines from Noctua:
Both can do it, the D9L better than the L12S

Judging by the look of the case you can fit/replace the 80 or 92mm (assuming fan sizes based on pictures) fans with noctua’s and it’d work fine. That case has a good airflow path and exhaust opening so you’ll be fine with just adequate airflow.

Ryzen 2700x is overkill on just a FreeNAS/ZFS build unless you’re serving a bunch of Plex streams at once or CPU intensive VMs/docker containers.

For memory, go with 8gb at least, ideally a lot more for ZFS to have a larger ARC. If you’re going to be enabling deduplication, then its 1gb per 1tb of raw space. If you’re going to utilize L2ARC then ideally it will be 1gb of ram to 4gb of l2arc usable, but you can tune or fiddle with this and probably get somwthing closer to 10gb l2arc per 1gb. Also, verify that an l2arc or zil/slog will actually benefit your usecase; iXsystems have a lot of articles going over this

For front panel IO you may be able to buy another cases front IO panel. The Rosewill RSV-L4000 case has a front IO panel that is removable so presumably you can order it standalone for repairs

For NICs, check Ebay for Intel PRO 1000 PT/VT adapters for 1gb cards, and Intel X540-T2/X520-T2 cards for 10gb. The 1gb cards are like 30-50 bucks and 10gb are around 100

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Hi, thank you very much for the insight.

The front fans are 120mmx120mmx25mm and can do approximately 1800 RPM
(can’t find the exact specs although new egg business shows them as going up to 2470RPM). As you can see from the images I am working with approximately 55mm of room. So maybe there is a way for me to go for AIO cooler like (™-H100i-v2-Extreme-Performance-Liquid-CPU-Cooler/p/CW-9060025-WW) but I am still considering how I would mount the radiator and whether it is even forth going liquid. Also, thought about first trying the stock cooler and going from there because that would really give the most accurate picture of I can fit things in.

In as far as ZFS, since I am just getting started, I would like to start with the NAS. But I would later like to add Plex with dedicated Geforece 760 4GB (which I already have) for HW transcoding and my windows VMs which would run of SSDs in 4-bay front SSD cage (
I am a long time Windows user’s with one PC build under my belt, so there is a learning curve here in addition studying up on ZFS.

Looking at the IO panel now and possible thinking just keeping the original panel but replacing the power/reset/ wiring.

I have this NIC (Intel E1G44HTBLK Server Adapter I340-T4 ( 1)) and was hopping to get 10g on the MOTHERBOARD. However, in as far as your suggestions for X540-T2/X520-T2, am I looking specifically for Intel made onces because this model shows up with different vendors?

For memory I wanted to go at least 32GB (If x470 Tiachi Ultimate, then crucial

Many Thanks!!!

Thoughts? Suggestions?

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For the X540/520 NICs I am referring to the Intel 10g cards.

Since your intention is to go with VMs later on, there’s a few things you can do:

One is to install a dedicated hypervisor like ESXi and run FreeNAS as a VM with an HBA passed through to it. Thia would require a spare USB/hard drive for ESXi, and if using a USB for ESXi another hard drive/SSD for the VMs to reside on. This method requires an HBA as ESXi won’t be able to pass through any drives on the motherboard SATA ports, but is easier to setup imo

Another is to install a Linux Distro (still need a spare hard drive or USB stick for this install), load up KVM/QEMU and ZFS on Linux packages. Then you can run your media stuff on the linux host and have a platform for VMs. This method is nice because you won’t need an additional HBA, you can use the SATA ports onboard set to AHCI and be fine, but it’s also more involved in the setup

As for your watercooling DM, a 240mm AIO should work where your Delta Fans are, but there also appears to be enough room if you want to be creative and do some drilling to mount a reservoir and make a custom loop if the Motherboard is ATX. A larger motherboard might be a bit cramped for custom water cooling, but I admit I’ve not made my own loop so I’m just spitballing on that

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Hi 2bitmarksman,

thank you very much. I definitely want to go the Linux route. What would the spare USB be used for, the install itself?

Really, love the case so no drilling in this one:) The AiO sounds really good. I can use their provided fans or use the Deltas I take it? Now, if I go this route it seems that I can actually upgrade to the Thread-ripper to get 64 PCI lanes? Something like the 1950X?

Also, just found this little Noctua 92mm guy: Could work ( see around 10:47). And this, so being sold on this one (

What do you think?

Id think you’d want this over the 750

Yea nx21, the Optane would be great, but I already have the 750 and thinking that I could get started with that one. Wendell also mentions that it is a workable option here (, 13:10).

TR is only necessary if you really need the IO. If you want it just cuz I’m not gonna stop you though :stuck_out_tongue:

I didn’t see the 740 you had already. I’d do the 740 for the linux host, 2 730/SATA ssds in Raid1 for the VMs (no need for USB outaide of the installer). I would verify the voltage and amps of the Delta fans you would want to stick on an AIO before putting them on their. Deltas work well and work long, but are power hungry and loud, so conaider that as well.

The Noctua TR4 cooler will work great for non-OC TR4 180w CPUs. It has a great coldplate for it.

Really like the TR so: front intake Delta Fan’s + Noctua cooler

  1. 1950x –
  2. ASRock Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming sTR4 for the 10g NIC –
  3. Noctua NH-U9 TR4-SP3, Premium CPU cooler for AMD TR4/SP3 –
  4. 32GB of Crucial ECC DDR4-2666 - CT16G4WFD8266 –

TR is only necessary if you really need the IO

Reading up on ZFS but I thought that ZFS benefits from all the IO that the TR can offer especially if I am adding more drives and also if I decide to do a PCI passthrough. Am I on the right track here?

Also, going by this (, I thought that the Intel 750 would be used for the log/ARC. Am I missing something?

It depends if you need to passthrough that many devices. The good thing about TR is that you have 4 PCIe slots and 3 NVMe drives directly connected to the CPU so you can pass them through and restart the VMs they are attached to without issues.

If you only need 2 PCIe slots and an NVMe passed through to all your VMs collectively at the max, then Ryzen will suffice

ZIL/SLOG isn’t really necessary unless you have a decent amount of VMs that are really stressing the drives with small writes.

L2ARC isn’t really necessary either. I’d not bother until you’ve maxed out your RAM slots