NAS Killer Prebuilt Planning Questions

Hello all. I"m a NAS nubie and new to this forum. I’ve built PCs in the past but not a NAS. I’ve been wanting to build a NAS for a while and found this site. I want to build a NAS for multiple uses, 1 - PC Backup, 2 - iphone photo/backup, 3 - document/music/photo/video storage, 4 - PLEX server. I also would like to use VLC to play music/video connected to my TV via HDMI.

I’ve been using Google Drive and iCloud for the past couple of years and want to move off these platforms.

After reading the NAS Killer 4.0 build I’ve decided to pursue the prebuilt option route. Here’s what I’m looking at purchasing

  • HP Elite 8300 CMT w/ i7-3770 CPU. It comes w/ 16GB RAM and a 2TB HDD.
  • 16GB RAM to increase to 32GB total
  • Nvidia Geforce GT 630 graphics card (for HDMI output)
  • 3 - WD Red 10TB (setup for RAID 5)
  • TrueNAS or Unraid

I’m estimating this complete setup will run about $500-600. buying used off ebay. I have several questions.

  1. HP claims I can use Intel Rapid Storage Technology to setup RAID 1. Can I do RAID 5? It doesn’t say. Will I need a RAID controller? Should I be looking at just 2 HDD in RAID 1?
  2. Does TrueNAS or Unraid support RAID 5?
  3. Will adding 16GB more RAM and the Nvidia card allow for HW transcoding for VLC and/or PLEX?
  4. Is this build overkill? Can I do this build cheaper? As a newbie what am I missing? What else should I consider?

I plan to hardwire the NAS to my wifi router so my PCs and phones can connect to it for backups. I also plan to hardwire the NAS (via HDMI) to the TV so I can use PLEX and VLC to play music and videos. Right now I’m using my laptop (Lenovo Legion 5) as my PLEX server and want to free up HDD space as well as be able to do backups w/o having to attach an external HDD.

Any input and help is appreciated. Thanks


You should really build your own. It’s very cost effective and you’ll get a better result, especially long term as you start to expand.

Pick up some HDDs here instead, and save yourself a ton of money.

Have you considered Unraid or TrueNAS? Neither utilize a hardware RAID controller, and instead will require direct drive passthrough for use of their drive pools.

That Nvidia GPU is not capable of hardware transcoding. Have you read the QuickSync guide?

Thanks for the feedback. I pulled the trigger on a HP 8300 CMT. It came with 12GB RAM and a 1TB WD Blue HDD. Got it for $65. Since the Nvidia card won’t work the PC has a Radeon 1 GB 7450 card and the i7-3770 CPU has Intel® HD Graphics 4000 built in. I used your suggestion and just bought 2 - Seagate 10TB drives using the discount for $60/each. So far I have $185 invested in this build. I looked at your QuickSync post. I don’t know what a Headless Ghost Display Emulator is or how to use it. Will the CPU or Radeon card support hardware transcoding? Since the PC doesn’t have HDMI I need a card to wire to the TV. ALSO, I just thought about also using this rig for a VM (VirtualBox Mint Linux) is that possible? Thanks for all the input and help. This is a really great site. I found it by accident. I’m glad I did.

I just found this The Intel Core i7-3770 Processor has Intel HD Graphics 4000 Technology integrated into it . It also comes with Intel Clear Video HD Technology to handle high definition playback with ease.

playback is not transcoding. as stated read that transcoding guide and it points out which Intel chips have the right internal bits for actual transcoding for plex/jellyfin service. It’s specific. I know I was looking at a 6000 series or higher processor for transcoding.

on the other bit - that intel controler won’t matter if you use Unraid or Truenas - also as stated and you should find either of those software work well controlling the drives. I recommend a minimum of 3 in general and I found a happy medium using 4. Since you already have the box now I assume you want to work with what you have. How many drives can that box take?

you need 3 or more drives to get the most benefit out of either unraid or truenas IMO. and I’d recommend 4 really. and I would setup a SSD for the OS - and apps drive.

Thanks for the feedback. The case has 6 bays (3 external and 3 internal). I was thinking of using the WD Blue for the OS. I have a Samsung 500GB SSD I could use for the OS. I was also thinking of buying a 3rd Seagate so I can setup a RAID with parity for data protection.

I read the QuickSync guide several times (I’m a visual learner) and now understand the graphics cards only work for playback. The CPU does the transcoding. The i7-3770 is an ivy bridge processor and probably won’t work to transcode or will with poor quality. If I understand the rest of the article correctly the ghost dummy plug is used to enable the GPU . It would need to be plugged into the display port on the motherboard to get QuickSync to do the transcoding.

Did I get all this right?

If you run unRaid (I do) you will not need a drive for the OS as it runs from a USB stick. I gave up on using the server as a HTPC and use a Nvidia Shield TV instead and it has been a great choice. No need to have a server by the projector or TV, no need for high end video card. Plex is run on the server and client on the Shield.

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I’ve not built a transcode machine using quicksync but that’s mostly it. The key here is the GPU is part of the CPU there. and yes since you won’t have a monitor on the machine it has to think there is one for the GPU pieces to turn on - and that’s the circuits that do the transcoding.

I like having an SSD for the OS and programs drives - but I use TrueNAS Scale at the moment. I was using Ubuntu Server and manual setup but it’s a minor PITA.

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I’m getting ready to build my NAS and have some questions. I’m including pics to help. I plan to put the Seagate drives in the lower internal drive bays and the Samsung SSD in an upper external drive bay. Will the Seagate drives create too much heat? Should I reverse this and put the Seagate’s in the upper bays?

Next, according to the HP manual. I would plug the SSD into 19 (dark blue) the parity HDD into 20 (light blue). Do I use 18 & 21 (white) for both storage HHDs?

I’m planning to use TrueNAS Core as my OS. Is there anything else I need to consider before starting? Thanks for the feedback.

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that looks alot like my box. I’m using a HP Z420 workstation as my device the chassis is similar. board and processor is completely different.

anyway I bought a 2, 5.25 to 3.5 bay converter device. 2 - 5.25 bays turn into 3 , 3.5 bays with a fan in front. 3 of my 4 drives live there. the 4th lives in the top of the stock 3.5 bays.

below that I have 2 SSDs both are sata SSD’s becasue that’s what I had.

Ports I would use SATA0 as your OS/apps drive using a SSD there. Then if needing to use what’s there - then I would put the other drives on the other SATA ports. BUT I would look into using a SAS controller card like the adaptec perhaps. and a breakout cable. Also might look into a eSATA to Sata cable to use since it’s right there. Make sure in the Bios you turn off any raid control options.

I had to do that with mine when I ran it without a SAS controller as it was enabled by default.

Which model controller card did you buy? I didn’t realize the drives I bought were SAS (I told you I was a Noob) I will probably need to remove the PCI graphics card to accommodate the SAS card or swap them out for SATA drives.

what I bought I wouldn’t recommend - it is not noob friendly. but it was one of the LSI cards and I got a great deal on a card that wasn’t well documented. it works but it requires a little extra - also with that machine you don’t necessarily have the UEFI functionality to fully flash an LSI card.

So I highly recommend either an adaptec card as documented on another thread on this site.

or I would recommend trading those drives back and getting SATA drives.

you might could get buy with a SATA controller for the one PCIE 1x slot but I don’t know that would work well either.

I swapped the drives for 3 - 8TB SATA drives. They should arrive in a day or 2. Based on your comments, they may not? I’ll post results.

I got the 3 - 8TB HGST SATA drives and Installed them. One of them was making noise. If I remove a single drive (it doesn’t matter which drive leaving 2) the noise goes away. Would this be a PSU underpowered problem? Also, I changed the drive configuration to ACHI. When I boot into the TrueNAS installer (USB stick), It only sees 2 of the 3 drives. I’m thinking I will need to upgrade the PSU and add a SATA controller card? Am I thinking about this correctly? Thanks

I’d check other ports and maybe other cables first. also make sure the power cables aren’t damaged. Some times the connectors aren’t fully engaged. Maybe try other ports. I would consdier putting the spinning drives on the slower ports and the SSD on the fast port.

Underpowered I don’t know can happen. as I would think the drive would shut off not make noise. Might be a defective drive - can’t rule that out. I assume here refurbed, or are they new in box?

ACHI should work out - does the bios show all 3 drives connected?

I assume here your bios settings were to either use Intel Raid or ACHI. did you have another option?

grasping at straws - sight unseen.

Well it looks like I’m going to have to install a SATA card or swap out the MOBO. I came across a HP tech doc that says I can only use 2 HDDs (see below). The manual said I could run 3 HDDs. I did change the the IDE setting to ACHI in the Bios and it does see one of the two 8TB drives. However, I can’t access it to run a SMART test. This is starting to become frustrating. I guess I’ll look at the adaptec card option.

I finished my NAS using an old HP tower configured as follows.

  • HP 8300 Elite CMT (6 drive bays and 4 SATA connections on the MOBO) $65
  • intel i7-3770 CP
  • 4x4GB=16GB non ECC RAM $5
  • 240GB SSD as primary/root drive $10
  • 3*8TB HGST SATA drives for storage (setup for 16TB storage with parity) $180
  • extra parts (SATA cables, drive trays, etc.) $25

I have about $280 invested.

It took a while as I had some HW failures (bad SATA cable & bad HDD) and I made several mistakes (HDD power cable plugged in incorrectly, BIOS upgrade issues) and got bad info from HP (you CAN use ALL SATA connections on the MOBO for 8TB SATA HDDs no need for a SATA card).

I’m hoping someone can point me to step-by-step instructions on how to create a RAIDz1 using 3*8TB HGST SATA drives. I’m looking to create a 16TB pool with parity. Here’s where I’m at.

I plan to use the NAS for storing family photos & home movies. Network storage. Backups for iPhone, iPad and PC. PLEX server and a VM running Linux Mint. Right now I have all the photos and home movies spread across 3*4TB WD Passport external drives. I’d like to xfer everything to the NAS and then use 1 WD passport as a BKUP for the RAIDz1 snapshot.

I installed Ubuntu server (22.04) following a youtube video from a poster named bytemypi. I didn’t install the Ubuntu GUI but instead installed Cockpit (bytemypi says it’s lighter weight) and I can run it headless. I installed SAMBA and have it working with my PC and have installed ZFS. The HGST drives are formatted EXT4 with 1 partition (on each) taking up the whole drive. Cockpit allows me to create a RAID5… but from what I’ve learned can I use ZFS to create a RAIDz1 pool and use one of the WD passports for backup snapshots? I can recreate the pool & data if it fails? I’ve read comments about using non ECC RAM with ZFS. Should I be running a RAID5? It seems ZFS pools provide better data loss protection which is why I’m interested in using ZFS.

Once I get the RAID configured my next step is to install PLEX and a VM manager.

As a noob, am I on the right track? What am I missing and need to learn. Thanks in advance for the help.

if it allows for a sata ODD (optical disc drive) then it should also see a hard drive

not 100% sure it will let you make the drives a ZFS pool if they have data on them or rather formated with individual record tables. ZFS is a file system but it’s also a drive format. so they are formatted for ZFS - so they won’t be EXT4 or NTFS etc. That’s the first issue I see - and it’s correctable but you’d lose what info is on them if there is any right now.

Not sure how you would do it command wise but I’m sure it’s out there you would delete the partitions and then tell linux to reformat the “blank” drives for ZFS - from there you would create your ZFS pool - there are line commands for that. I’m not 100% familiar for it.

I would consider since you run a VM - looking into using a VM for Truenas core - and let it manage your ZFS pool - it’s made for this and works well.

Put another way I ran a VM setup on my machine for a while where I had proxmox as the base - from there one VM with 2 cores and 8gb (I had 48 at the time) ran truenas core. then the other VM ran Ubuntu linux with 6 cores and 40 gb and from that VM i used docker to run individualized apps.

Today I moved the whole thing back to trueNAS SCALE as the OS and the manager - using their K8s system to run my aps.

for the proxmox use and other app setup - look up a site “proxmox helper scripts” and also Linux server IO

both of those were useful.

I believe that a ZFS RAIDz1 is basically the same thing as RAID5. The implementation under the hood may be a little different but RAIDz1 provides protection against a single disk failure at the cost of 1 disks worth of space same as a traditional RAID5.

You are probably fine with 16GB or Non-ECC memory, especially if you have a good system for backing up the array. If you did starting getting errors generated by faulty memory then you clould lose all the data in your array without losing a single disk. I think that is pretty rare though.

If you can find a good deal on 4x 8GB sticks of ECC memory you might see some performance gains from ZFS and additional data integrity from ECC, but I wouldn’t go and blow up your budget for it.

A popular option around here is Unraid for a JBOD setup instead of a RAID. Your 16GB of Non-ECC RAM should be plenty for that. You can get similar data protection (1 or 2 disks loss protection with parity disks). Performance is limited to the performance of a single disk, but if you are using a gigabit connection that will be your bottleneck and you likely won’t see the performance benefits of RAID, at least not when reading or writing over the network. The upside is that it is simpler to set up and mange, and in the event that something goes wrong you will probably just lose some or all of the data from an single disk, but not the entire contents of the array.

I dropped the idea of using Ubuntu and installed TrueNAS Core. It was much easier to install and the GUI is easier than the CLI. I was able to setup a zpool/raidz1. I am having trouble creating jails and installing plugins. I keep getting an error… Error: HTTPConnectionPool(host=‘’, port=80): Max retries exceeded with url: /ftp/releases/amd64 (Caused by NewConnectionError(‘< urllib3.connection.HTTPConnection object at 0x8239147f0 >: Failed to establish a new connection: [Errno 8] Name does not resolve’))

This is probably not the forum to resolve this. But I did want people to know what I learned.