This is a VMware ESXi 5.1 hypervisor running on an ASrock H77 Pro4/MVB motherboard with an Intel i5-3470 3.2GHz CPU and 16GB DDR3. This mobo/CPU combination allows VT-d, which permits me to pass the IBM M1015 SAS controller straight through to the NAS4Free virtual machine for speedy disk IO to the six SATA drives.

NAS4Free is configured with three sets of mirrored drives providing 3.62TB of redundant storage (~7.5TB physical). It provides this via NFS mounts to my OpenELEC HTPC, CIFS/SMB the the Windows machines, and AFP to the Macs. It also serves as a Time Machine backup destination.

Also running on the hypervisor is a VM dedicated to running Crashplan for off-site cloud backup. Mirrored drives are great for safe storage, until your house burns down. Or you accidently "rm -rf" in the wrong place.

The theme of this system is best bang for the buck. None of the components are particularly expensive but I've got plenty of headroom. If I want to mess with a transcoding/streaming solution like Plex, I just spin up another VM.

Booted into ESXi with no VMs running pulls 114W. Starting two VMs adds a negligible draw of 4W at idle. Under heavy IO load it pulls total 138W.

A couple things to note:

The motherboard H77 SATA controller cannot be passed through with DirectIO under ESXi 5.1. It causes a ESXi kernel panic when you boot the guest OS. It works fine under 5.0.

Also the Realtek integrated gig-E does not support jumbo frames under ESXi.

The IBM M1015 is a fantastic entry-level SAS controller. It's a rebranded LSI controller that comes with a lot of servers and gets tossed when admins boot from SAN or iSCSI. They wind up on eBay all the time. They can be flashed to support various configurations. However, I was unable to flash the controller on the ASrock mobo and has to use a different system to get the firmware I wanted on there. I'm not sure why but suspect it has something to do with UEFI vs. BIOS.

Lastly, FreeBSD systems (e.g. NAS4Free, FreeNAS, etc.) will hang on boot with the M1015 SAS controller in DirectIO mode. To fix this boot without the controller attached to the guest and add the following to loader.conf:



  • 86 months ago
  • 4 points

Wow, good stuff! Great to see a large NAS build show up. And under 150W power draw - very nice!

  • 86 months ago
  • 1 point

The geek is strong with this one.

Nice NAS, the Rosewill psu isn't that reliable, it would be the first thing for an upgrade list imo.

  • 86 months ago
  • 1 point

Atleast it's not an OCZ, Raidmax, etc. Rosewill is reliable enough to not have to worry about it in most cases.

  • 86 months ago
  • 1 point

Why does everyone hate on OCZ? In this case a similar OCZ would be JUST AS GOOD. Rosewill has some crappy PSU's, along with almost every other PSU company in the world. That's not to say OCZ doesn't have any bad PSU's, but they have some good ones too...

  • 86 months ago
  • 2 points

From my personal experience, Rosewill PSU's have been more reliable than OCZ's. I've also seen many fewer complaints about Rosewill PSU's than OCZ's. OCZ has a very bad track record with their PSU's, that's why people tend to dislike them. I'm not saying that I would personally recommend either company to someone, the only PSU's that I would recommend would be SeaSonic, Corsair, and XFX.

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  • 86 months ago
  • 1 point

If I was going to start over I wouldn't go with the Rosewill. I drastically overestimated my power needs and was seduced by the large number of SATA power plugs. A 250W-300W PSU would have served me better.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

so far this is the only build for ESXi i've seen on here! i'm curious how the i5 cpu without hyper threading has worked out for you in terms of VM resources and usability? I'm building a budget vmware workstation that will run windows as the host guest along with a few VM's (windows and linux) for pentesting and am interested to hear how the lack of HT on the CPU has been.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Sorry I missed this earlier. I was never totally satisfied with the VM performance of this system under ESXi and have since moved FreeNAS onto the bare metal, and am now utilizing FreeBSD jails for the other things I need it to do.

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