I completed this build in July but have not had a chance to write anything down until now
I have been running UNRAID since 2012 but heading in to this year my original build (AMD Sempron, 4GB RAM, 8TB storage) was beginning to struggle. Having added a few more dockers, moving to Plex and accumulating higher-quality media, it was beginning to show its limitations. Fortunately the first lockdown gave me plenty of extra time to begin researching. As a first step, I migrated Plex to an HP290 but knew I still needed to enhance my UNRAID server.
My use case includes storage, media download automation, security cameras and home automation. Low-power and noise was also desired. VMs and remote gaming are not part of my needs. I am the primary user and there is very little family use.
Originally I was debating between a NAS Killer 4.0 (to meet my needs) or an Anniversary 2.0 (to well-exceed but cover anything I may decide I “need” down the road). Ultimately I decided to jump one generation ahead of the NAS Killer 4.0, thinking the NAS Killer 5.0 would be launching soon.
Being Canadian, it can also be challenging to get the same deals available to the US members but I did my best to be patient and jump on items as they came available. It took over a month of various orders and another month of shipping for everything to come together.
Parts (all prices were CAD, shipped)
- Motherboard: ASUS B85M-G - $75
- CPU: Intel Core I5-4690S - $84
- RAM: Samsung DDR3 Unbuffered, non-ECC 16GB (4x4GB) - $72
- PSU: EVGA SuperNOVA 650GM - $145
(New and likely could have recycled my old PSU but I’ve always wanted a fully modular PSU)
- Case: Recycled my old HAF912 case - $0
- Storage: Recycled my old drives + took advantage of the 4TB Array Starter Kit - $376
(Also got an LSI 9211-8i HBA card)
- SAS to SATA breakout cable - $12
- SAS to SAS breakout cable - $20
- SATA Power Splitter cables - $24 (2 packs)
- Thermaltake Gravity i2 CPU Cooler - $28
- Arctic F12 5-Pack Case Fans - $55 (Would have preferred the P12 but they were not available)
- Electop PWN Hub - $15 (The motherboard only had a single case-fan header so needed to expand)
Unfortunately I only took 1 picture while putting it all together. I think this was taken while flashing the HBA card.
This is the system today:
Things I learned
- Working with 12 drives in a consumer-level tower case is tight! You also need to really think through which cables attach where.
- I did the 3.3v mod to the SATA power splitter and shortened the splitter cables at the same time. I got it backwards the first time but worked great after that.
- I recycled a CoolerMaster 4-in-3 drive cage. I still don’t know if I like it but it turns out I needed the space.
- My fan layout includes 3 front fans blowing in (incl. drive cage), 2 top blowing out and 1 rear blowing out. The drive temperatures seemed high-ish when I was running with the case open but once I put the side on, the cooling setup really worked well.
- I put my SSD and SAS drive in a 2.5" mounting bracket at the bottom center of my case. The temperatures went above the safe limit almost immediately upon booting. With the thicker drive heights (especially for the SSD from BitDeals), they were almost touching in the bracket and the airflow was being reduced by the 3.5" drives in “front” of them. Ultimately I moved one drive to it’s own 5.25" bay, in a bracket, below the drive cage.
Overall impressions are very positive. The system has handled everything I’ve thrown at it and I haven’t wished I had bought more power. It is much snappier than my old system and I am no longer stressing about running out of space.
The only issue I’ve had is the SSD, being used as a cache drive, failed. I temporarily installed a second SAS drive and ultimately decided to keep it that way. BitDeals offered to replace it but it was not worth the Canadian shipping costs so I took a refund.