Advice on first build

Hello everyone,
I’ve been gathering information during the last month to build my first NAS. I’ m
a total newbie and I’ve decided that the best idea will be probably to go with
unRAID. I’ve ended up here after creating a similar post on Reddit, but this forum seems to be really specialized.
When deciding the hardware l’ m a bit lost. Im probably going to place it
on a Silverstone DS380 or a Fractal Desing NODE 304, I like the design of the
node, but the hotswap can be useful in the future. My other option was the
Jonsbo N1, which ends up costing the same or slightly more as the silverstone
due to shipping fees.

Due to the case I must go to mini ITX factor, where I see 2 options:

  1. Reusing my actual PC since I intent to update soon: ROG Strix B450- I, Ryzen
    3800x, G. Skill Trident 2x8Gb 3500Mhz CL16, DDR4, Fractal Design SFX Gold
  2. Buying a new build.

About the first one my concern is that the setup might be a bit overkill for a first
NAS, as well as having an elevated power consumption. In addition, I would not
have an integrated GPU, which I’ m not sure in which aspects would limitate me.
On the other hand, I’m a bit lost in what to look for when choosing the new
hardware. I thought in getting a 12400, but don’ t know if it is worth the extra
money to have DDR5 since I dont know how much will the frequency impact or
the latency on the performance. Or which CPUs are the best for power saving
Moreover, I’ m not sure if It would be recomendable to have 2 nvmes or just
The use I’m giving it is data storage which I would like to access like any cloud service from my phone, other pc or similar. Probably some media streaming (plex maybe?). I’m installing a home bridge docker for home automation. And, I’m not sure if this is possible, I would like to be able to play the games I’ve got in my pc on the tv I’ve got on the living room streaming it in some way. However as I said, I’m a newbie, so I don’t want to be limited as I’ll probably find new useful things while tinkering and learning more. A big concern is power consumption however,

I live in Spain, and don’t know if second hand market is worth. I’m aiming for a build around 700€ (What I was going to expend on a Synology), without SSD and HDDs (WD RED?). For the prices I’ve seen maybe I’m going a bit overkill. What do you guys think? Any advice is welcome.

Thanks in advance!

I would say some of that is overkill.

First things what do you really want it to do. If not serving applications then you can use alot less. meanwhile I would say a second concern is with the case and connections for the number of hard drives you will use.

IE space for 3-4 3.5 inch hard drives and space for 1 SSD and or use a M.2 NVME card.

Your old hardware seems plenty for the task - so I’d suggest going that route for the cost savings. case might be an issue again for the number of drives. For example I use 4 - 3.5in 7200 RPM hard drives so I need room for that.

As far as power draw concerns Lower Power CPU is a factor there as is the number of hard drives and the case fans. At least that is what comes to mind right off.

1 Like

First of all, thanks for answering!
About the HDD space I don´t need something with a ton of slots, my intention is to start with 3 4Tb WD Red and one or two SSD for cache/pool. In some places I´ve read that it is a good idea to mirror the pool in raid 1, but not sure if its enough a normal SSD or should use a nvme instead.
About reutilizing the build I´ve got I´m worried about not haven an integrated GPU, specially after reading about QuickSync. In addition, I think it will be easier to sell the PC as a whole instead of by parts.

In the power consumption area as said I intent to use 3HDD and the fans integrated with the case for now. Anyway I assume that a more powerful CPU implies a bigger idle consumption. Am I wrong?

Thanks again!

Red drives are generally a waste of money. Get some refurbished enterprise HDDs instead.
Start with the Cooler Master N400, it’ll give you plenty of room to expand given its mid-size form factor.

SATA SSD(s) would be fine, but NVMe are pretty cheap nowadays. You can get 1TB for ~$70 or so.

indeed if I didn’t have a few sata SSD’s laying around to use I’d have gotten an NVME card and stick for my main OS and program drive. but I’m using 2 Sata SSD’s that I have on hand.

Meanwhile yes there are any number of newer lower power processors that is more than enough. and the more I play with my machine the more I plan on making a dedicated transcode/jellyfin or plex box and pull that off my server. with my NAS server having too much general purpose capability to be used for all the other things like cameras and home assistant.

Also I would highly suggest you use a large case for your build - if for no other reason that to have the air space to go with the cooling. helps to buffer the flow. And I like the idea of having drive and space options.

Meanwhile it’s not that popular but I went the route of a prebuilt refurbished workstation. I might should make a new dedicated writeup on it. But it’s a full ATX box and I have good space. As far as processors I have a xeon but that’s because I could - I could see using something like an I5 something and less than 8 cores to save power. which might be a bigger issue for you. Also helps the cooling load too.

Thanks for answering!
I don’t find the N400 available here in Spain, anyway I rather have a case as small as possible since it will be probably sitting in the living room.
About the WD Red, they are the ones I’ve seen more recommended alongside with the ironwolf, with the red being said to be more silence. What is wrong with them? As said I don’t know much about the secondhand market here in Spain, I’m not sure if there is much availability of enterprise HDDs, what should I look for?

I don’t find much price difference between the nvme and normal ssd, so I’ll probably go for them. However don’t know if it would be recommended to have two with unraid.

One thing I find confusing about the NAS killer builds is that they never use the latests sockets, is there a reason for that?

Thanks again! Probably these are mostly stupid questions, but I’m still pretty lost.

What is a plex box? Like building a secondary server just for transcoding? Is that actually worth?

pricing - most of these builds - like mine are based on older gen hardware that is cheaper. It’s often possible to find as used and refurbished or harvested hardware out of servers and workstations from 3-8 years ago.

My box is an HP Z420 workstation that was still sold in 2013-14 timespan. using newer gen hardware for NAS function isn’t necessary. adding in more features adds to the complexity but still not needing newer gen hardware. remember there are off the shelf nas boxes that use older gen ARM processors and work fine.

Meanwhile building your own has alot of advantages. again here I would recommend not skimping on the space but keep in mind some HTPC cases or even just hiding the box away in a closet or corner stand.

Also not sure the market in the EU but I have to assume there are companies that sell refurbished business grade hardware for cheap. It’s fairly common here stateside now, but I also know most of that same equipment is sold and used in the EU.

Plex box - yes is a dedicated box for video delivery and transcoding as needed. reasoning - transcoding is fairly specialized work and software transcoding doesn’t seem to work all that well without alot of overhead.

Once agains thanks for answering!
Talking about this with a friend of mine he offered me an old PC he has laying around for 100€. It would be MSI H110M PRO-VH Motherboard, an i3-6100 3.7 Ghz, 2X8 Gb Corsair DDR4 2133Mhz CL15 DIMM RAM, The rest of components must be discarded so I would need a case, PSU and cheap CPU cooler to get started. Would it be worth? It is a good start point? What I dont like is it being M-ATX since I rather have SFF case.

I think for the NAS box system you are much better off getting out of the SFF world. cost of parts, room for drives, cooling etc. so I would certainly consider it and I don’t have a good feel for pricing of parts in the EU. But that seems reasonable to me.

ALso depending on what you read and where you read it some people swear you need ECC ram and others says its not necessary. I don’t believe it’s necessary in today’s world and I also don’t know that it’s necessary with modern OS systems. ZFS file system if you decide to use it seems to have it’s own error check and correction loop so it doesn’t have to have ECC and i know people that run TrueNAS without ECC and have no issues. But it’s a topic of debate so read up on some of that.

Not sure how UNRAID deals with it but I suspect they do similar and finally if you just ran something like Ubuntu server it’s supposed to also tolerate not using ECC.

It´s a good price from what I´ve seen, also coming from a good friend of mine, so I´m not going to fight over 20 bucks. My main concern is being very limited with a 6100.
About the ECC RAM, I´m not even sure of what it is, so I´m totally unware of how could it affects me.

Thanks again!

ECC - Error Correcting Code Ram. It’s a Ram stick with an extra chip basically and it syncs with the motherboard such that it can detect ram errors and correct them in process before they propogate.

It’s a server and high workload workstation system. Ideally designed to keep errors down and stop bugs and other software issues. It’s widely thought that you must have ECC ram for storage centers to prevent data correuption and growth. IE without ECC ram you’d be likely to have bad files that also bleed into your backups.

While probably necessary a long time ago some of the systems to day implement their own error check codings as it writes and reads. ZFS supposedly does this well - but again debateable.

Irony - many off the shelf nas devices do not use ECC ram. I’d say you don’t have to use it.

Thanks for explaining! So it is a error prevention system that goes via hardware instead of software. Is neccesary something to enable it? In unraid for example. I´ve seen that the NAS killer builds include option in RAM and Motherboard to have ECC.

I’m not sure but I’ve never needed to enable anything to use it historically. it’s meant to be hardware process level which is why you must have a motherboard that supports ECC and even a processor at one point.

Back in the day (pre-2014 or so) AMD processors and motherboards didn’t support ECC and if you got a ECC ram stick it wouldn’t work. I forget when that changed but modern AMD stuff does.

again though I don’t know that it’s fully necessary today. I saw that but I’m using ECC right now on my build.