Advice: HomeLab/NAS rebuild: DAS or NAS case?

Hello all,

I am trying to plan out a new office setup that is more in line with my current life needs and goals. I’m asking for advice on what you would recommend I do with the hardware I already have vs ideas I have in mind.


Desk setup: for daily web browsing, typing up paperwork, and email.

Home Lab/NAS: for NAS storage, docker usage, NVR security camera, and possibly Plex…

Windows 10/11: for needs I can’t use VM for, like exams for certifications, and Windows only applications.

Current Setup:

Desk Setup: Windows 10

Corsair 1000D

Full custom water-cooling

AMD 3950x



500GB M.2 SSD

NAS Server: unRaid

Intel 10100


3 x 1TB M.2 SSD (ZFS Main Cache Pool)

1 x 500GB SATA SSD (ZFS NVR Cache Pool)

Laptop: MacOS

Apple Macbook Pro M1

Ideas on changing.:

AMD gaming desktop: I am thinking of just liquidating this build either as a complete system or in parts. this setup was a dream build during COVID with the intentions of getting into streaming gaming, but it ultimately just didn’t work for me. I just no longer enjoyed gaming when I combined it with streaming. It’s been more then 2 years since I have actually played a video game on it that needs this hardware. I just took a break from gaming for a while when I started my new career in IT. Most of the gaming I do now is mobile based gaming, because I travel occasionally for work, and it’s just been the route I’ve gone for gaming enjoyment for the past year.

NAS unRaid Server: I am thinking of taking some of the money from liquidating the AMD rig and building a newer intel setup with more cores and performance. maybe 13700/14700? Currently my unRaid server uses the intel 10100 and it has been working well for me for most of my needs, but since converting my cache drives to ZFS the CPU and RAM usage went way up. Then i recently starting getting into setting up Home Assistant and Frigate for NVR and such and my CPU usage sits around 40-45% daily on this server and my RAM is always around 80% usage… so i am pretty much at the limits of this system i think, because since adding the NVR service, my plex streams occasionally hiccup and pause on me when they never did in the past. I have always wanted to play with VMs on this build, but ive always had poor performance on them to the point i just had no interest in using them. So if i can increase the performance on the unRaid server and give me room to grow and play around i would benefit. Additionally, I have maxed out the motherboard and case space for expansion since it’s a mITX setup in a Node 804.

Laptop: Thinking of trading it in for a Ipad/Ipad Pro. Honestly, I bought this thinking I would use it more, but it sits more than its used, because the mobile games I play currently, none of them have a MacOS version for me to play them on the laptop. I have only gamed on it occasionally trying out Geforce Now, but honestly just been enjoying the mobile games I play more now.

Desktop PC: This one I am in debate. I am honestly thinking of turning my old intel 10100 setup into my desktop pc with Windows 10/11. This would give me really all I need for daily task I think and dually function as a bare metal pc for exam certification taking. If i did decide to get back into gaming on a PC, i was thinking i would just subscribe to Nvidia Geforce Now to play. I would just simplify everything and run it on simple air-cooled setup. I am also tossing around the idea of using an Ipad Pro extending it to the monitor with my USB-C docking station i have for my macbook pro… Friend of mine who plays the same mobile games i do from work, he uses his ipad pro this way and claims he can do everything he needs daily with it in extended screen mode for a desktop pc. If i did lean towards the Ipad route, i would still turn the old intel 10100 as a windows pc for occasional use for stuff i need it. There are a few applications i use for work that are just only available on windows currently.

Case/System Storage: I really want to get away from the huge Corsair 1000D case and the water-cooling setup. This setup has been nice when it works, but a pain and huge money sink since building it all. In 4 years of having this full water-cooling setup, I’ve had to move it twice and it was incredibly difficult to move due to its size and fragile glass. Its developed 3 random leaks over this time and one took out a GPU in the middle of covid, which was nearly impossible to purchase one and leaked on and shorted out my PSU.

I am wanting to build all of this in a small 12u/15u rackmounted server cabinet next to my desk to replace the location of 2 old file cabinets. I was thinking of using a 4U case for the unRaid server, 1U case for the simple Window 10 system. This would give me enough space for a managed switch/network project. Currently I have my entire security system POE cameras just plugged into a non-POE switch in the garage on the wall.

you did not give too many details on what kind of work you are actually doing, which is kinda relevant re: laptop

my experience has been that if you are gonna have a MacBook, you really need to go all-in on using Mac as your daily driver. In fact for pretty much my entire career, MacBook Pro has been a complete desktop replacement, including for my home office. My desk setup is MBP on a laptop stand + wired mech kb + mouse + extra trackpad, with 27" 4k monitor. All other systems (various linux servers and linux/windows PC workstation) are secondary to the Mac.

I mention this because it seems that if you aren’t at that level of commitment to the MacBook then its not gonna be doing you much good and would probably be a great candidate to sell and get something more useful for you. They tend to hold their value well too. In fact, I would wager you are likely to get more money for your MacBook than for the rest of your Ryzen 3950X gaming PC.

a quick look on eBay (USA) suggests a ballpark of ~$1100 for M1 MacBook Pro, vs. ~$200 for Ryzen 3950X and ~$400 for Nvidia RTX 3080

for the other parts in the PC build, e.g. RAM and SSD, you may or may not be able to get enough money to make it worth you while to sell, it depends on your budget needs.

for the rest of your post, it sounds like your current Unraid NAS server is doing double-duty as an automation server. Opinions vary on this but generally I try not to tie up the file server with too many other non-file-serving responsibilities. It also seems kinda weird to be putting high specs into your Unraid server but less specs in your desktop PC.

you know I cant help but wonder if you shouldnt just convert your current gaming PC into the Unraid NAS system, then you can use the old Unraid system’s parts for a desktop computer. You could sell the gaming PC’s RTX 3080 and get a cheaper low power consumption GPU instead. This route might minimize the amount of stuff you have to buy as well.

thank you for your input,
I am a junior IT Systems Engineer.

The Macbook was purchased because for a few months I was traveling to different places working on some projects, so I wanted a laptop to play the game I was playing at the time and not knowing much about mac laptops at the time, I figured it would be a good way to learn more about the environment since I’ve been using the iphone for a while and the game i was playing at the time was available on steam for MacOS.

When it comes to work from home, a laptop can be crucial for it’s freedom of movement. However I’ve always had my employer provide the laptop.

They do, but its locked down so i can’t play games on it…

I wish i was able to play the current games i play on the macbook. I kinda like the mac integration between devices, but i just couldn’t figure out how to get them to work. I tried parallels, crossover, and whine with no luck. The game would start in crossover, just would never load into the menu.