Description

My previous HTPC & NAS build

My previous HTPC & NAS build worked really well, but I wanted something in a smaller form factor and supports ECC RAM. So I was on a search for a mini-ITX setup that supports 8+ HDDs.

CASE - It was between the U-NAS NSC-800 and the Silverstone DS3808 case for me. The price difference was the obvious decision maker, and I don't regret getting the DS380B. This case supports 8 hot swappable 3.5" HDD and 4 2.5" drives! Since it is such a small case, it requires an SFX power supply. Like many reviews I've read, one of the annoyances of this case is that the capacitors in the back of the hot-swap circuit board can get in the way--you have to be really careful to not touch or bend them while squeezing your hands in there.

PSU - I had limited power supply options due to it being SFX form factor. I wanted something very efficient since this will be a 24/7 PC. There were no 80+ Platinum option available. The Silverstone 450W SFX12V is 80+ Gold certified and is fully modular. Besides the hefty price, what more can you ask for? I didn't realize Corsair had a similar PSU for the same price too. I wonder if that would have been a better buy because the Silverstone is quite noisy in my taste--when plugged in with PC turned off, I can hear some buzzing from the power supply up close. The fan inside it was also not the quietest.

MOTHERBOARD - I went with the ASRock C236 WSI after a suggestion in one of the NAS forums. The nice thing about this motherboard is that it is a server grade motherboard with HDMI, which serves as a good HTPC and NAS at the same time. Most server grade motherboards like this one (such as C2550D4I, C2750D4I, etc.) do not have HDMI, and are headless with the older VGA/D-sub port. Another feature this board has is 8 x SATA III ports for all the HDD connections and a PCIe 3.0 x 16 for extra SATA expansions or video card. This board is LGA 1151 chipset and supports ECC RAM, which is perfect for what I need. However, this board requires a separate CPU and costs $200.

CPU - This CPU was on sale at the time, and is perfect for the setup with a single core power of 3.7GHz! It is enough for what I need it for.

RAM - The Kingston ValueRAM were the cheapest ECC UDIMM that I could find, so I got them. Can't go wrong with Kingston brand. I do not know whether the ECC Registered RAMs will work on this setup, so I went with the unbuffered ECC. When needed, I can max out with 2x16GB sticks in the future.

CPU COOLER - I went with the Noctua NH-L9i because of its stellar ratings, as well as low profile heatsink, high flow rate, and super quiet operation. The unboxing of this cooler was phenomenal! Noctua really put effort into their product. It is interesting to see that the fan runs at 1200 RPM constantly, even at idle.

CASE FAN - The noise from the 3 fans on the case were very noticeable in a quiet room if I were sitting about 20 feet away from it. One of it was ticking at times, probably a defect. Therefore, I decided on aftermarket case fans. I was debating between the NF-S12B redux-1200 and the NF-P12. I read that the redux versions have similar performance and quietness, except each kit does not come with the extra fancy rubber padding, etc. Please check out the 120mm fan chart for guide and comparisons. I am a bit disappointed with the noise these fans create, however--they were a bit louder than the stock Silverstone fans from the case, surprisingly. I have changed the chassis fan speed in the BIOS from "standard" to "silent" to no avail. CPUID's HWMonitor reports SYSFANIN running 1200 RPM constantly, CPUFANIN fluctuates between 800-1200 RPM.

MISC - I did not include the HDD in this build's parts list because I am treating those as add-ons. I hope the parts list gives you an idea of the budget needed to duplicate this build.

The OS of choice is Windows 10 Pro x64 with StableBit DrivePool to handle the HDD pool. I've set it to 2x duplication in case one drive fails; although 3-4x duplication sounds a lot nicer. The HTPC media player is JRiver. File sharing across the home network is standard Windows share.

With the P3 P4400 Kill A Watt, the server is at 51W at max spool startup, 35-39W streaming, and 25-30W at idle.

HDD - 1 x 5TB WD Green, 2 x 6TB (WL & WD Red), 4 x 8TB WD Red

SUMMARY - Overall, I like everything about this build. Small form factor, more powerful, and more flexible than those pre-built Synology or QNAP NAS servers. Without the extra Noctua fans and CPU cooler, this build can come close to $600 at the time of this build.

The two issues I have with this build are HEAT and the noise level of the case fans. I've read that there is a cardboard mod to control the airflow of the two side-fans blowing through the drive cage. That seems to help a bit. In a non-A/C room, the temperatures are 45° C across all drives, except the 4th one from the bottom up (for unknown reasons), which is usually 5-6° C more. In an A/C room, the temperatures are 41-42° C respectively. The case fans are constantly running at max speed with noticeable noise level from a distance. I am putting this in my livingroom for easy access and to watch movies with. If anybody have any tips on making this quieter while maintaining good airflow, I'd love to hear it!

Thank you for checking my build. If you like this build, please upvote and feel free to post a comment below!

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Comments

  • 45 months ago
  • 3 points

Nice NAS!

I'd be careful putting WD Green's in a RAID though. They park their heads often to conserve energy and a lot of RAID controllers can and sometimes will automatically mark them as DEAD if they don't spin back up in time.

  • 45 months ago
  • 2 points

I did WDIDLE3 on all the drives already. I believe I set them to 300 seconds which is the max you can do. These drives will do for now, until I can find good deals on 5TB+ red drives or similar. I have DrivePool on 2x duplication, so that should cover a failed drive. Most of it are backed up movies and music anyways.

  • 45 months ago
  • 2 points

Very solid HTPC/NAS! I like your ASRock WSI mobo!

  • 45 months ago
  • 3 points

Thank you! This motherboard has very good features! Totally love it for HTPC use!

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

very nice! excellent part choices! :D

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

what os are you going to use would be interested

  • 45 months ago
  • 2 points

I'm actually running Windows 10 Pro x64 w/ DrivePool for drive duplication. Freenas would be ideal when I decide to have it as a standalone NAS server.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

probably freenas

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Do you run this 24/7, and how does the i3 run for that use.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Yup, I've been running this 24/7. Running on Windows 10 w/ DrivePool and JRiver media center. No issues at all with streaming. Currently have 3x5TB (WD green/blue) and 6TB WL for a total of ~20TB. Three bays open. :]

One of the downside of this case is the heat issue. HDDs are stacked on top of each other, and with heat flowing upwards, it does not dissipate efficiently. I am planning to go with enterprise HDD (WD Red, WL, HGST) from now on. The WD green/blue has issues with reaching 44 degrees C, which is at the warning level. My WL HDD does not.

  • 22 months ago
  • 1 point

What about the power consumption? I have FreeNAS build on C2550 mobo and it consumes around 20-25W idle with all jails running.

  • 21 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for including your power draw measurements. I'm looking at using the same ASRock WSI with a Xeon chip found on ebay, and minimizing power draw has been my focus.