[Guide] NAS Killer v2.0 - The $145 TERMINATOR - dual socket, 18 DIMMS, LSI SAS2 integrated, 8+bays, FreeNAS/Unraid ready

Make sure to click on the links when available, I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible when referencing other material, guides, and external links.

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Objective:

Annihilate the $135 NAS Killer. There’s a new king: the NAS Killer v2.0

  • Highly upgradable, with a clear path for upgrades
  • Bargain basement prices on all components
  • Extreme value, even with the base system
  • Support many different possible configurations, and use-cases

Core components:


Gigabyte GA-7TESM Dual Xeon Socket LGA1366 Motherboard - $45 (Seller relisted, now accepting $55 as a minimum offer)

If you buy the motherboard from this seller, tell them JDM_WAAAT sent you :slight_smile: I don’t get any kickback from the seller, but I’m doing my best to build relationships with some eBay sellers in order to get some better deals in the future.

I thought the X8DT6 from the $375 unRAID build was a good deal. This motherboard is a better deal. The seller has it listed for $64.99, but they will accept $45 as a best offer. Similar to the X8DT6, this board has a built in SAS2 controller in the form of a LSI 2008. This allows us to save around $45 from an add-in card. The onboard LSI controller does need to be flashed, just like an external controller. I go over the process in my live-stream build video, but there are many articles online on how to complete the process.

The motherboard also has QUAD Gigabit NIC, and a dedicated NIC for IPMI.

HOW TO FLASH THE ONBOARD SAS CONTROLLER: https://youtu.be/7exIW_Hlyd8

> Link to the motherboard user manual <

Processor options

In this chart below, you can find core/thread count, base frequency, turbo frequency, passmark, price, and passmark per dollar.

The lowest prices were determined by eBay searches, buy it now only, US only, and sorted by lowest price. Prices will vary, so use this chart as a reference only. Clicking on the processors in the chart will take you directly to a properly formatted eBay search.

If you want more information, check out my 1366 deep-dive for more comprehensive testing.

Processor selection:

  • [NAS] I’d pick the (single) E5620, as they are just about the best for the money. NAS’ typically do not need a lot of processing power, so this would be more than plenty. It’s really easy to add more performance by doubling up and adding another E5620.
  • [Virtualization] I’d pick dual L5638, which are the cheapest 6 core / 12 thread processors on the chart. Keep in mind you’ll need to get an EPS splitter for your PSU, and you might consider getting more RAM if you’re going to be doing a lot of virtualization.
  • [General Compute] I’d pick dual X5650 or dual X5667, they offer a good mix of performance and high core count. Realistically none of these options are likely to break the bank, but I think both of these are some of the more realistic options.
  • [Gaming / Workstation] I’d go for dual X5667 or X5687 for pure clock speed. You’ll see the most performance gains for gaming and workstation type applications with a clock speed boost. I did a little bit of gaming on a quad core 3.6 GHz X3470 (click for video link) and the results were surprising. Xeons aren’t just for servers, they’re really competent chips overall.

Processor (eBay link) Cores / Threads Base Frequency Turbo Frequency Passmark (single) Passmark (dual) Notes Price (single) Price (dual) Passmark/$ (single) Passmark/$ (dual)
E5504 4C / 4T 2.0 GHz 2705 4892 $2.47 $4.95 1095.14 988.28
E5620 4C / 8T 2.4 GHz 2.6 GHz 4860 8104 $3.19 $6.38 1523.51 1270.22
L5630 4C / 8T 2.13 GHz 2.4 GHz 4369 7006 low power $4.49 $7.99 973.05 876.85
E5640 4C / 8T 2.66 GHz 2.93 GHz 5263 8790 $4.99 $9.98 1054.71 880.76
L5638 6C / 12T 2.0 GHz 2.4 GHz 5556 8952 low power $10.95 $21.90 507.40 408.77
E5645 6C / 12T 2.4 GHz 2.8 GHz 6509 10413 $12.00 $23.00 542.42 452.74
L5640 6C / 12T 2.26 GHz 2.8 GHz 6442 9737 low power $18.00 $36.00 357.89 270.52
E5649 6C / 12T 2.53 GHz 2.93 GHz 6936 10348 $19.00 $38.00 365.05 272.31
X5667 4C / 8T 3.06 GHz 3.46 GHz 6026 10420 $20.00 $40.00 301.30 260.5
X5650 6C / 12T 2.66 GHz 3.06 GHz 7431 11382 $20.50 $39.95 362.48 284.90
X5670 6C / 12T 2.93 GHz 3.33 GHz 7946 12357 $31.50 $63.00 252.25 196.14
X5687 4C / 8T 3.6 GHz 3.86 GHz 7094 12010 $41.41 $82.82 171.31 145.01

RAM - 2x4GB DDR3 ECC REG 1333 MHz - $8.99 each

8GB is the minimum any build should have. As a NAS, it should be plenty, and as a regular server, it’s a good starting point. Thankfully, this board has plenty of DIMMS available (9 per processor), but keep in mind that if you’re only using 1 processor, you only have 9 DIMMS to work with. You can add as many as you want to these 9, 2 4gb sticks is a good starting point. You’ll have to double up on CPUs to access the rest, and fill evenly across the CPU’s. Realistically, you’ll be able to have 144GB with 8GB sticks, or more unrealistically, you’ll max out at 288GB.

RAM upgrades in the future

  • If you have dual CPU, make sure that you mirror the memory configuration across processors
  • If purchasing additional memory, matching speed is not important. However, make sure that you purchase DDR3 ECC Registered.
  • Search for the amount you want in eBay like this “4x8gb ddr3 ecc reg” or “6x4GB ddr3 ecc reg” and sort by lowest price, buy it now, and US only.

Chassis / Cases:


Rosewill 4U server chassis with 15 bays - $105

I recently made a short video overview of this case (not specifically for this guide, so it’s a little off-topic). It’s a good case, has room for plenty of hard drives and fans, too many for my liking actually. I’d personally recommend reversing the fan wall and using Arctic 120mm PWM fans there only, and removing the front fans. I’d also recommend replacing the rear fans with Arctic 80mm PWM fans. This will allow for plenty of airflow but keep the noise levels at a minimum. The chassis takes a standard ATX power supply, and supports SSI-EEB / E-ATX motherboards, but does not support larger SSI-EEB+ / EE-ATX motherboards.

Rails are extra, and are not included with the chassis.

AZZA CSAZ-GT Full Tower - $59.39 after $20.00 MIR

Nothing special or pretty here, just one of the lowest cost cases that will fit this EATX/SSI-EEB motherboard. Most others are around $100. Has 7 native 3.5" bays for plenty of expansion room. If you don’t mind a rack chassis, the Rosewill 15 Bay Server Chassis is around $100, at times down to $80 when on sale.

Phanteks Enthoo Pro Full Tower - $94.37

Nicer case than the Azza, but supports fewer drives. I like this case a lot more, but objectively it’s worse value-wise than the Azza.

Other necessary components:


EVGA 450 BR, 80+ Bronze 450W PSU - $20

It’s cheap, powerful enough, and works. Not much more to say. These have often been going on sale for $9.99 recently after MIR. Next best options are usually around $20 on sale (Corsair CX450W, CX430W, CX500W, etc.) Keep an eye on deal sites for PSU’s 400W or above. I wouldn’t get anything smaller than 400W personally. If you are going to run dual CPU’s, you will need an EPS splitter.

EVGA 850 BQ 80+ Bronze 850W semi-modular PSU - $30

This model is sometimes on sale due to EVGA’s B-stock promotion, so I thought I’d mention it here. This PSU has dual EPS connectors, so no need to purchase an additional EPS splitter if you are running dual CPUs.

Arctic Freezer 12 CPU Cooler - $19.48

This motherboard comes with 2 passive heatsinks. For tower cases, these are not usable. They are meant for server chassis with lots of airflow (such as the Rosewill chassis). Otherwise, there’s not much to say here. It’s compatible, it’s quiet, and it works. We won’t be overclocking, so there’s not much to worry about so long as it works.

Parts, & accessories:


Arctic 120mm PWM PST 5 Pack - $25

You probably won’t use all of these fans, but it’s cheaper to buy 5 packs than it is to buy singles. It’s also nice to have spares on hand just in case. These are PWM fans and have PWM Sharing Technology, which is nice (you can daisy chain the fans together for convenience). They are quiet and move a good amount of air. I use them in all of my builds.

2 Pack 8087 breakout cables for SAS controller - $12.89

You’ll need these to take advantage of the onboard LSI. This will allow you to connect an additional 8 HDDs or SSDs. This motherboard also has 6 SATA ports (SATA2/3Gbps). This speed is fine for HDD’s. If you want to add a SSD and have it run full speed, you’ll need at least 1 of the 8087 breakouts (SAS2/6Gbps)

HP SAS Expander - $10.01 after OBO

This is the easiest way to support 24 drives with this motherboard. Plug in two male-male 8087 cables from the SAS expander to the onboard SAS, the plug all of your SAS breakout cables into the SAS expander. No additional software needed.

SATA power splitter - $5.49

Most PSU’s only have a certain number of SATA power connections. If you need more, use these 4x power splitters. They split a single SATA power connection off of the PSU to 4x. They also help tremendously with cable management when HDD’s are stacked on top of each other.

Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme Thermal Paste - $12.73

This is about the best thermal paste you can get besides liquid metal. Not much more to say.

Summary:


So, that’s nice and all… but what do I get?

Assuming you’re going for the NAS KILLER V 2.0 build:

  • Single Xeon E5620, with 4 cores / 8 threads at up to 2.6 GHz
  • Quad Gigabit NIC
  • IPMI for remote server management, with dedicated IPMI NIC
  • 8GB DDR3 ECC RAM (with a ton of expansion)
  • 3 PCI-E expansion, 1 PCI expansion
  • Built in LSI 2008 SAS w/ IT mode
  • 14 SATA (6 onboard, 8 from SAS)
  • 7 Native 3.5" drive bays

This NAS killer completely destroys last year’s model! It’s hard to imagine that prices have dropped this much, and that we can now get dual Xeon with SAS2 for around the same price.

Possible builds / price totals:


Core Components - NAS Killer v2.0 (click for link) Price
AZZA CSAZ-GT Full Tower $59.39
Gigabyte GA-7TESM $45.00
1 x Intel Xeon E5620 $3.19
4GB DDR3 ECC REG 1333 (2x) $8.99 x 2 = $17.98
Arctic Freezer 12 CPU Cooler $19.48
EVGA 450W PSU $19.99
TOTAL $145.55

Rackmount NAS - unRAID build v2.0 (click for link) Price
Rosewill 4U Chassis $105.00
Gigabyte GA-7TESM $45.00
2 x Passive Heatsinks Included*
2 x Intel Xeon L5640 $36.00
4GB DDR3 ECC REG 1333 (x6) $8.99 x 6 = $53.94
EVGA 450W PSU $19.99
5 x Arctic 120mm PWM fans $25.00
5 x Arctic 80mm PWM fans $20.00
2 x 8087 SAS cable $12.89
TOTAL $317.82

Add-Ons & Extras for the Core Build (click for link) Price
5 x Arctic 120mm PWM fans $25.00
2 x 8087 SAS cable $12.89
EPS splitter $7.99
SATA power splitter $5.49
Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme Thermal Paste $12.73