USB-C 10Gbs enclosure with a Truenas VM running on a mini-pc

This is basically a follow up to the super interesting before published on youtube
“Can we build a home server out of mini PCs?” from Level1Techs

I have recently migrated by core “always on” VMs from a massive server to one of these mini PC running a ryzen 5800U with 64GB of RAM and it works absolutely flawlessly, while consumming a lot less power than it used to on my big server. The only workload I could not move the same way was my truenas VM with 4 16TB drives. This one I moved to bare metal on a older intel machine and it works but I would love to be able to “revirtualize” it so that I don t need this extra machine anymore. I have been looking at how to connect these 4 sata drives to my mini pc including finding NVME to PCI-E adatpers but then settle on the fact that using a USB-C enclosure, capable of 10Gb, would be the best and most practical solution.

I started to explore enclosure options but quickly abandoned since I was seeing a lot of bad comments on amazon, and almost no one talking about a use involving ZFS … that s why when I did see the mentioned video, this revived my hopes !

Now that we are getting very close to Black Friday I was hoping to understand which enclosure I should be targeting and it is even more complex since they almost never advertise the chipset they are using

For now I have seen:
Sabrent DS-SC4B or DS-SC5B
Icy Box IB-3805-C31 (looks very very vers similar in look to the Sabrent ? same OEM ?)
Yottamaster FS5C3 or FS4C3
OWC Mercury Elite Pro Quad

Icy Box ‎IB-3740-C31
Fantec QB-35U31 (looks similar to the mediasonic mentioned in the video but that I could not find here)

Does any of you have experience with these enclosures ? Or another one you would recommend for that purpose ?
Thanks !!!

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Got a video coming on the asustor 10gb and it’s working great with zfs so far . It’s a lot nicer box than the other one I found

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Hi Wendell
Are you referring to the asustor AS4004T ? I guess this would work well but it is not the best solution for me since my mini pc does not have a 10GB ethernet connection (just a 2.5 one) and I will not be able to use Truenas on this NAS or is it possible ?

Welcome to the L1 forums!!! does the mini pc you are using have a m2 slot that you are not utilizing? if so you can utilize those pcie lanes with m2 → 10gbe card. Wendell did a great video concerning some useful work arounds. I link the video here it might give you some ideas video link

Thanks a lot. Will be watching it immediately :slight_smile:
The mini pc I am using has a single full size nvme slot used for the system disk. I have another second slot but type key-E populated by a wifi-ble card that I don’t use if an adapter exists

But I got exited by your video on external enclosure :smiley: Did I understand properly Wendel answer ? Was he talking about a NAS instead of a DAS ? Or is there an asustor DAS enclosure that I did not find out ?

Thanks again !

No it’s USB not Ethernet

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This is wild! How are the drives enumerated?

What I mean is…My boot device is an SSD plugged into a USB 2.5" SATA adapter. It just shows up as sdg3

root@prod[~]# dmesg | grep sdg
[   14.387386] sd 22:0:0:0: [sdg] 234441648 512-byte logical blocks: (120 GB/112 GiB)
[   14.396370] sd 22:0:0:0: [sdg] 4096-byte physical blocks
[   14.399356] sd 22:0:0:0: [sdg] Write Protect is off
[   14.405280] sd 22:0:0:0: [sdg] Mode Sense: 43 00 00 00
[   14.405432] sd 22:0:0:0: [sdg] Write cache: enabled, read cache: enabled, doesn't support DPO or FUA
[   14.406107] sd 22:0:0:0: [sdg] Preferred minimum I/O size 4096 bytes
[   14.406108] sd 22:0:0:0: [sdg] Optimal transfer size 33553920 bytes not a multiple of preferred minimum block size (4096 bytes)
[   14.409292]  sdg: sdg1 sdg2 sdg3 sdg4
[   14.409494] sd 22:0:0:0: [sdg] Attached SCSI disk
[   48.445919] Adding 16777212k swap on /dev/mapper/sdg4.  Priority:-2 extents:1 across:16777212k SSFS

If I trace it back:

root@prod[~]# readlink -f /sys/block/sdg

47 being the USB controller.

root@prod[~]# lspci -v -s 47:00.0
47:00.0 USB controller: ASMedia Technology Inc. ASM1042A USB 3.0 Host Controller (prog-if 30 [XHCI])
        Subsystem: ASMedia Technology Inc. ASM1042A USB 3.0 Host Controller
        Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 412, IOMMU group 32
        Memory at b1b00000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=32K]
        Capabilities: [50] MSI: Enable- Count=1/8 Maskable- 64bit+
        Capabilities: [68] MSI-X: Enable+ Count=8 Masked-
        Capabilities: [78] Power Management version 3
        Capabilities: [80] Express Legacy Endpoint, MSI 00
        Capabilities: [100] Virtual Channel
        Kernel driver in use: xhci_hcd
        Kernel modules: xhci_pci


Do they all “just show up” in a similar manner @wendell?


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@wendell when you say nicer you mean look and feel ? or actually performance and stability ? The Asus model you pictured seems not to be available (yet) in Europe and on import it would cost 2.5 x more than the mediasonic you used in your initial video (which I found to be exactly the same model as the Icy Box IB-3740-C31 I referred to in my original message)
It will end up in a closet so I don’t really care about how it looks :smiley: but I care for sure about stability ! Thanks !

Better cooling and vibration dampening. Functions similarly. Better power brick setup.

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Do you know by chance the IB-3804-C31 (seems to be same as Sabrent DS-SC4B) ? Seems to be sold here until the brand “Raidsonic Icy Box”. Looks like a more premium version all in metal, with options to daisy chain as well as an integrated PSU (not sure that this one is a plus actually). ? It is 70 USD more than the IB-3740-C31 (same as the one tested on video)

This is really neat. I did not know that this was a “thing” :slight_smile:

M.2 Sata, that is an interesting idea:
8 Port Non-RAID SATA III 6Gbp/s to M.2 B+M Key Adapter PCI-e 3.0 x2 bandwith

I have always kept it to one usb device per controller when I want ok reliability. I have been burned a few times by blind writes on usb busses.

We just went from a 4-bay ICY BOX (the one with 3.1 and eSATA) to a Terramaster D6-320, and it’s a night and day difference.

  • The ICY BOX doesn’t show up properly in /dev/disk/by-id and wouldn’t work in TrueNAS (we use Fedora + OpenZFS though).
  • The ICY BOX is slow when using concurrent access. Running dd to read simultaniously it goes from 150 MB/s to a crawling 60 MB/s per drive if all 4 are reading. This thing sucks for ZFS!
  • The Terramaster has been the complete opposite experience. Shows up in FS tree with serial number with ata prefix and wxn identifier.
  • Our drives (4x4 IronWolf 4TB raidz1) went from barely 60-70MB/s reads and 90MB/s writes on Samba to saturating a 2.5 GbE link for reading (beyond 300 MB/s) and reaching ~180MB/s for writes.
  • It scrubs at ~560MB/s now.
  • Topology wise, it seems to be serveral ASMedia ASM1051E chained together over a 3.2 hub.

I thought ZFS was much slower than it is because we’ve been using terrible direct attached storage! We started out with two drives in a Sabrent open dock and it was about the same level of terrible as the ICY BOX.

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Thats exactly what I wanted to know. Thats bad ass! This is a neat little option for rando corp desktop recycling. I used to do that for FreeNAS all the time. But it fell out of favor in the community. This makes it viable again IMO.

ahem…some oldddd skool. I miss Wilson Wendell.

(95) NASFeratu: Build Your Own NAS - FreeNAS Hardware Recommendations - YouTube

(95) FreeNAS Developers Help Us Build A Better FreeNAS Box! - YouTube

The USB-C ICY BOX (ICY BOX is the brand, RaidSonic GmbH the company) uses a VIA USB Hub and a VIA SATA controller presumably per bay. They do actually put it in their datasheet. It would definitely be worth comparing since most other known good enclosures use ASMedia controllers.

Does a list exist? We should prob maintain one for those who walk in these footsteps

The Terramaster D6-320 Looks indeed nice but too expensive for the use I need it for (around 500usd here). Don’t understand why their 4 bays are still on 5Gbs … the only 10Gbs enclosure seems to be the 6 bays … the ice box /sabrent I was contemplating is 10Gbs so not the same you refer here. Your messages only confirm what I thought :slight_smile: very difficult to choose a good 4 bays enclosure for such a use case !

According to a post I found on redit the sabrent I was referring is either using an ASM1351 or ASM235CM (seems the same model can use different chipset so lucky draw)