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Serious FreeNAS Server Build & 3D Printing Fun


Hi all,

At the outset, I wanted to house this server in a proper rackmount case, rack etc. However, iStarUSA was unable to fulfil my order given that they are refreshing their EX3M16 (well, EX) line. B&H USA ended up cancelling a good part of my orders as a result. While it was a set back in terms of time put in to planning components, matching 2U compatible PSUs with the enclosure, I’ve had to resort to taking a more DIY approach.

This build consists of an Intel Xeon E5-2620 v4, Asus X99-E WS/USB3.1 (SSI-CEB) mainboard, Crucial 32GB RDIMM ECC DDR4 RAM, Corsair AX860i PSU, and a Coolermaster Evo 212 cooler.

On the storage side, the first Raidz2 volume will be running 8x WD Red 4TB NAS drives for total accessible capacity of 68% usable space, ~19.9TB. I spent a good while planning the cost vs. usable space aspect via this handy calculator before deciding on 6 vs 8 drives for the volume. The WD Black drive pictured is for archival backups.

I plan to run the ZFS FreeNAS server along side my 2x Synology RAID setup (total 40TB of WD Red Pros), and may look to re-configure this down the road. I will start by moving critical data into ZFS first before making the FreeNAS the ‘canonical’ store. Will most likely run it in parallel for the first couple months before making any drastic decisions.

FreeNAS: Wonder if I've got a badly seated SATA cable?
How to maintain the integrity of cold storage HDD data?

This is what the initial build looks like - GPU was thrown in just to access to UEFI. This will be replaced with a GTX1050 for the long-term. This side of the Corsair Air 740 is pretty clean, with most of the bulk of the cabling in the rear compartment.

How am I going to mount the 8-drives though? Well, I’m working on a solution on that front and exploring 3D printing options at the moment.

For the time being, I’ve just been test fitting a run of 3D printed spacers to allow me to stack the drives as needed. This is my design,


Initial test fit from yesterday; I noticed there was a lack of rigidity in this configuration, and therefore am getting a ‘base plate’ with grooves to essentially allow the drives to slot-in. Will post progress pics later this week.

Oh, the new mounting plates will also have a better ventilated design.

I need to add some rubberised isolation to the drives, but this was a first attempt at getting x4 drives in. Used my iPhone to take a snap at the back to ensure nothing was touching the Mainboard or any of the headers. There’s about 1.5-2cm gap so it’s pretty safe.

Once I got rest of the drives in,

For the 4x drives on the left, I realised they needed some further rigidity and therefore had another part fabricated; Think of this as a ‘tray’ with spacers. The tray and grooves allow for the HDDs to be shifted into and out of the case (as needed).

ECC memory compaitibility