Used Storage Server Recommendations

I am looking for some recommendations for a used server to buy. Basically, I bought 5 3TB WD reds a while back and used them in a backup “server” running consumer hardware. The crappy old AMD stuff died, and I want to go up to the used server market.

I basically need a server that can handle 5 min. 3.5inch drives (could use expansion card for more SATA ports) + 1 SSD for caching.
Also need room for SPF+ expansion card to go to my desktop.

I want to be able to run one or two light VMs at a time, host a backup for some machines, and a 1 user Plex server from this server. (Using FreeNAS unless you have a better recommendation.)
I am very experienced with machine building and can upgrade the machine myself. I have a bunch of DDR3 ECC I got for free from a local school to use in the server, and could upgrade to a better CPU if that is the good option for the price.

Please let me know what recommendations you have, as I do not know much about the used server market. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Do you have a budget? Is a loud, power-hungry rack mount server an option?

Budget would be $300ish. I was really just wondering what would be necessary for that level of work. A rack mount server would be an option. Ideally a little quiter or one I could replace the fans in at some point, but definitely would consider with some of the great value options.

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For that budget, I would just look for the cheapest used case that has enough drive bays. You’ll want to spend as little on the case as possible.

I don’t have a specific board in mind, but I would shoot for a 5600 series (or later) Xeon. You will want the processor to support AES-NI for better future-proofness.

Once you put it together, keep an eye out for the upcoming Spectre/Meltdown fixes for the older chips. They were announced recently.

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