Advice for space constraint build

Hey guys, I’ve been reading along for a few years and finally decided to post… Long story short, it’s time to upgrade. I’ve used the QSV guide for a plex server a few years ago which replaced an old laptop. Now my Lenovo micro hosts a dozen+ dockers, home automation as well as serving plex for multiple local and remote streams and transcodes. All by using OMV and some drives in a USB JBOD enclosure. I know, I know, that was asking for trouble…

Some constraints to mention:

  • I’ve got space set aside in my garage wall below the network cabinet for my gear, about 12" wide, 23" high and 7" deep
  • Airflow won’t be a problem, but I want to hide the servers away
  • I’m in NZ and as many of us mentioned before, hardware costs are way above the US so I’m looking at prebuilt first as I have access to ex-lease machines
  1. Plex: This will be a separate box and I got that under control, just having found a steal for a micro form factor i5 9th gen PC. That will be a Plex-only machine running Ubuntu.
  2. Home Assistant + related dockers for z-wave etc.: All sorted using the old Lenovo micro. Automation is quickly becoming ‘critical’ in the house so a dedicated system makes sense for me.
  3. NAS: This is where it gets interesting. I have 6+ drives and I won’t be able to fit an ATX case…

So here’s the question. Am I on the right track to start looking for for a HP or Dell SFF with a i5 4th gen and PCIe slots? That way I can use a SATA card to connect my HDDs externally. I guess that’s a DAS option and will need it’s own PSU etc.

Thanks for your help

Just a quick update on this build.

After researching a bit more and reading through hundreds of replies in this forum, I see that there are already a couple of other posts on the topic to use the usual HP SFF and add a DAS. If anyone else comes across this and is curious, here is a links:

In my case, I have decided to go with a mini-ITX build based on the Node 304. Why? The case is exactly the size I can fit into my custom ‘server nook’ in my new garage. I also like that I can upgrade the system if I need to later and it’s all in one box.

So far I have found the Node 304 case (broken fan switch, but I will replace that with a cheap alternative) and a used 650W EVGA Gold ATX PSU (it’s more powerful than I need right now, but it’s efficient, runs without the fan most of the time and should last a very long time). As mentioned, I’m in NZ and can’t be too picky when deals are coming up.

I’ve tested a Gigabyte H170N-Wifi board, it’s a great fit with with dual NICs, 6 SATA connection and a M.2 MVNE slot and came with an i5-6400T. Unfortunately one of the ethernet ports seem damaged and after a weekend of troubleshooting I gave up and will return the motherboard now. Also, 4 of the SATA ports are part of the SATA Express connector and are 90 degrees angled which is a very tight fit in this case.

I really like Unraid and after some performance testing I’m convinced that my past troubles were solely related to my beginner use of an USB enclosure limiting I/O, so I’ll put this down as learning and move on.
In the few days since I set up Unraid I now convinced myself that I’d like more VMs (on top of the 20 dockers I run), so I’m looking at more performance.

Seems the ASRock boards are recommended a lot here, and the Z390M ITX/ac ticks all the boxes for me. I can go to 64GB RAM and upgrade up to an i9-9900 if need be.

That’s likely another post when I get to build this properly.