What Would You Do? Keep Laptop, NAS Killer, DAS,?

Hey Guys, long time reader, first time caller… I’d love your thoughts/feedback please.

I’m currently using a HP ProBook 430 G5 laptop as my server, with a 4TB external HDD plugged in. RAM: 16GB (2x8), CPU: i7-8550U, UHD Graphics 620.
On it I run Jellyfin for my media server, as well as ~30 other services in docker containers, on Ubuntu. My Jellyfin and the server in general are not shared outside my household, so it’s rare to even have 2 streams at once, let alone a large number.

Storage space is a concern of mine and I need/want more. I’ve looked into a lot of the threads here, in particular the NAS Killers and the DAS. My hesitation is coming from the fact that I don’t critically need to upgrade my server in terms of processing power - to date it’s been rock solid.
A key note is I’m in Australia, so I have less available used hardware than might be common in the States.
I have built PC’s from scratch before, though not for about a decade, and I’m not a hardware expert.

So with all that context, I’m wondering what my best way of adding storage is. I see a few options, and might be missing some:

  1. “New” server, e.g. a NAS Killer 4, that has several drives. I’d probably have to go with a prebuilt option as I’ll probably struggle to find the parts to assemble from scratch.
    1b. I’d assume this server would fully replace the laptop as I doubt my compute requirements warrant running 2 machines. Is my power use likely to go up significantly compared to the other options?
  2. Keeping the laptop as my only “compute” and adding a DAS. From what I could see in reading the DAS threads, my takeaway was that they were primarily a box of harddrives that get attached to a PCI slot in the main server. Is that even possible with a laptop?
  3. Keeping the laptop as my only “compute” and adding a USB enclosure (e.g. a TerraMaster box or something) to plug into it.

Note I’m less motivated by saving every penny possible, and would rather get the best result (in terms of function/power efficiency), even if it costs say ~10% more.

I’ve been thrashing this all around in my head for a couple weeks now and I keep going back and forth. I’d love any insights/thoughts you guys have to share please!

For a while I used Raspberry Pi4, with an External 4TB Drive, as my Server. This worked flawlessly for around 3 years.

Then my needs grew and was left considering the options you have listed above. Ultimately I got the NAS Killer 4.

Of course the Power Bill went slightly up but am happy overall since I have a lot of flexibility in terms of storage.

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Thanks Jeff. The NAS Killer 4 is looking the most likely option at this stage, with one of the recommended pre-built options at a good price on eBay (albeit auction rather than buy it now)… If I can snag that when the auction ends, I think that’ll be my sign.

Would still welcome any other advice that might differ with that though, alternate perspectives.

I use Emby instead of JellyFin, but the projects are still pretty similar. I would recommend having a 7th gen or above Intel chip with QuickSync if there is a need for transcoding. Unfortunately that puts the NAS Killer 4 out of the running. I mean, sure you could use it as a blueprint, but the motherboards and CPU are vastly different.

There is also the option to have a giant file server and then a dedicated small PC house just the media server for transcoding.

Thanks marriedman. I think chips with QuickSync is a key aspect of the NK4 - though not necessarily 7th gen+.
Both the chip in the laptop I currently use and the eBay option I’ve mentioned in my last post have QuickSync.
I’m not expecting a high volume of transcodes though.

Still waiting on that auction to end, few hours to go yet. The option of adding a large storage separate to the main server was sort of my options 2 and 3 in the OP… just not really sure how that might work in practice.

NK4’s only relation to quicksync in our recommendations is to pair it with an inexpensive standalone uSFF with a 7th gen+ chip as a dedicated media transcode server. If you want to go for an all-in-one solution, check out the OTiS guide.

Thanks for the correction Riggi.

I won my auction, for a HP Compaq Elite 8300 SFF - $AUD70 feels worth a crack (8GB RAM, i5-3470). My current plan is to make it the main server for all my services and to an extent decommission the laptop (I might end up using it as some redundancy for certain services, TBC).
I’ll upgrade RAM to at least 16GB, maybe 32 depending on if it’s more cost effective to do that than not.

Next step will be finding some drives to put in the case - 2 high capacity drives (10TB+) should give me at least a couple years of service in this box before I am in a position to upgrade to something larger.

So effectively I’ve gone with option 1 from my original post.

Hope the server has been working out for you. If transcoding for Plex / Jellyfin is something you are interested in you might want to consider keeping the HP laptop as a standalone Quicksync box similar to JDM’s Quicksync guide: [Guide] Hardware Transcoding: The JDM way! QuickSync and NVENC

I think he even talks about laptops in there. Your server is beefier and is way more expandable, but unless you have a dedicated GPU the laptop has a more modern iGPU that will decode / encode more formats in hardware. Plus its engineered for power efficiency.