Optimizing my NAS/NUC setup

I’ve gotten my hands on an Intel NUC8i7BEH 16gig model for $250. It’s a quite powerful computer in a really small form factor and is about the same price as just the CPU alone. The problem is it has practically 0 upgradability for storage.

I’m on a tight budget of ~$250 (500 if I sell the NUC), not including hard drives, looking at two possible setups:

  • Keeping the NUC and building a cheap storage only NAS
  • Selling the NUC and building a more powerful single computer/NAS

The problem with building a cheap storage only NAS is that cases seem to be really expensive, and it’d be better to get the most use out of a single case.

However, if I sell the NUC and build a single powerful computer, I run into a problem of CPU prices. The closest thing I’ve found to my current intel i7-8550u is about $150.

I’d appreciate some guidance or a direction to start my research. Thank you.

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Seems like a perfect case for a storage only build.

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Depending on how much storage you need, an optiplex 790 is a decent starting point for cheap (I got mine for $60 with an i5. It has 2 x 5.25 (I use an evercool 2x5.25->3x3.5in HDD adapter) plus two more 3.5in bays. So 5 HDD bays in practice. I use one as a backup I leave at my mom’s house. It’s also nice because while it has proprietary front panel connectors, the microatx motherboard mounting points are standard, and the atx power supply is standard, so you can kinda upgrade in the future. It’s not a great solution, but when on a tight budget, it is still good enough for me.

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Is this the tall model? Mine has a SATA drive and M.2.