Small case for 1st custom build - Feedback appreciated


I’ve been using a NAS for about 1.5 years (Synology DS418j) and am starting to discover the many things I could be doing with it. While that 1st NAS was mainly for local backups (4x4TB disks, Raid5), used once a week I have been starting to use other applications such as media storage for my set-top boxes (only 1 used at a time) or video surveillance application. I read that actually the surveillance thing shouldn’t run on the NAS dedicated to backups as it will kill the disks a lot faster due to continuous reads/writes.

Furthermore I am now looking at setting up some p2p applications, VMs (not so many) and/or docker containers. This is definitely too much for the DS418j!

I like the size, silence and low power aspect of the Synology and am looking into building my first FreeNAS box with similar “exterior” functionalities while beefing up the inside. I’m still aiming for something “cheap” and I see the NAS Killer v4.0 has some very cheap configurations. Reading various threads and guides I feel it is a rather big step up to build your own and wanted some advice/review of my expectations if possible.

So I am thinking of something like this:

  • CPU: mid range
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Probably run the OS on x GB size SSD
  • Cache NVMe: not sure if needed
  • HDD: 4/5 disks maybe 6 is better? (not sure for the size itself) → will be happy to hear what you recommend. I like Raid 5 where it’s a compromise between usable size and “data safeguard”.
    I don’t feel I need the hot-swap feature so I can compromise on the case to not be able to easily remove the drives.
  • RJ-45 ports: 10GbE or 1GbE?

Thank you very much for your time and help.


Use the recommended build under the NK4.0 build guide:

OK great! That sounds really neat. Now a few more questions: I see you put 8GB of RAM. Do you think it’s enough or it’s just the standard configuration which I am free to expand?
Also I noticed in the 2nd post it’s written non-ECC RAM. Shouldn’t I go for ECC one?

So if I order all those parts I can assemble the box and nothing will be missing (that is apart from the drives)?

I still to read (and learn) more about unraid and the various disk setup options: having to chose is not always the easiest :wink:

Thank you very much.

Reading further it seems the board doesn’t support ECC Ram and I am planning on using FreeNAS, which in turn strongly recommends using ECC Ram. So I suppose I need to change the mainboard now, and probably a few other parts.
What do you think?
Thank you.

Is there a reason you’re planning on FreeNAS instead of Unraid?

Yes. I usually tend to use Open Source whenever I can. And since you’re asking my build has evolved a bit and I’m opting for a Micro-ATX. Here is what I have in mind now:

  • X10SLM±F mainboard + Intel Xeon E3 CPU: ~$180 2/hand on ebay (comes with 4x4GB)
  • RAM 32GB unregistered ECC: $105 (if needed?)
  • HBA card SAS 9207-8i: $60
  • CableDeconn 18’ Mini SAS 36P SFF-8087 To 4 SATA 7Pin 90 Degrees Target Hard Disk Data Cable 0.5M (H0304): $9
  • Case: Fractal 804: $110
  • SeaSonic G Series SSR-550RM 550W Modular Plus Gold: $60-70
  • Built-in fans seems ok from what I read here
  • Some SSDs for boot & VMs. So SSDs are quite cheap so maybe 2x120 for boot and 2x500 for VMs?
  • Maybe I also need more cables for connect the SATA ports to the HDD as well…

What do you think about this set up and do you have any further suggestion?
As a side note my shelves are 254mm high and the case is 307mm high… so I will need to either put it on top or somewhere else. That is the only downside. If I don’t upgrade the RAM I’m at about $400 which is not bad at all and I’d probably go for 6 disks.

Thank you for the follow up.