Advice on a first-time NAS build - case, PCIe expansions, HDDs

Hi all!

Pardon me if I ask any noobish questions—I am a software dev and I have built my own machine before, but some of the specifics of server hardware still seem to elude me. I’m planning on building a heavy-duty mid-tower NAS mainly for backup, but also possibly web hosting in the future, ideally with the capability to hold at least 10TB in RAID6. I also want it to be quiet, and ideally also relatively power efficient. I’ve already purchased some of the core components that I feel fairly confident in:

I’d really love some advice on how to move on from here, though. For a case, I’ve been leaning towards the SilverStone CS380, but I’m planning on passively cooling the CPUs. I doubt they’ll generated quite enough heat to cook the interior (each is 85W TDP), but I’m not sure if I’ll need more airflow to account for that. If it’s a bad idea, I can easily return the passive coolers I got and grab some heatsinks with fans, or maybe just some better case fans?

In terms of PCIe cards I need, I definitely need to do some more reading. It seems like I might do well to get a dedicated RAID controller? The motherboard only has 2 SATA3 ports while the rest are SATA2, so I feel like write speed would benefit a lot from a SATA3 RAID card—but again, I’m not sure. I also feel like I’ll need an additional M.2 card so the system can have its own SSD for the operating system to run off of.

Beyond that, I plan on controlling this machine completely remotely, so I don’t plan on getting a graphics card. If anyone has any suggestions for first-time setup on a machine with no GPU I’d love to hear it—I’ve heard you can manipulate the system with just the serial ports? I’m very comfortable with Linux and shell programming so as long as I can get into a terminal, I’ll be fine.

Finally, I’m definitely torn on what to do about drives. Initially I was just going to get a bunch of Ironwolf drives, but as I read more I’m definitely confused as to whether I should do that, or if I’d maybe benefit from having the system use SAS and getting a ton of used enterprise drives. I’m also planning on using RAID 6 and at minimum 5 drives, which I can hopefully expand to as many as 8-10 in the future.

Sorry, this is a bunch of random questions, but I definitely wanted to have a clear idea of what I was doing before I buy the rest of my components. I’m also open to totally radical redesigns of my overall plan—as long as it’s quiet, fits an ATX board, and can hold a bunch of drives, I’m all ears!

Thank you so much!

tl;dr building a twin-xeon NAS, help me pick a case, PCIe cards, and SAS vs SATA for my drives

I am also trying to figure this stuff out for my own build so I am learning about this server hardware also. But I have a few thoughts:

  1. I don’t think it is worth it to try to passively cool the CPUs. You would need enormous heatsinks even for 85W TDP that would not fit with the two CPUs or the large volume of air flow that exists in server rack cases produced by pretty loud fans. The build guide has several CPU fans with reasonable sound levels.
  2. The 8 onboard SATA2 are more than fast enough for rotating hard drives. I would just use those.
  3. Take a look at UnRaid You won’t need a RAID controller. Use the other two SATA3 ports for SSD drives for cache or for VM’s. The part I like most with UnRaid is all the drives don’t need to be the same size. You can buy a bunch then add more later of different size later.
  4. You board has IPMI, so you can control it remotely over the dedicated LAN port. So no GPU required. Although it might make things easier at the beginning to toss a cheap GPU into it for setup.

Good luck!

I see you’ve planned a lot of hardware, but I don’t see what you’re doing with it. That would help a ton!