I was a happy owner of the first Xbox and a 360, but I decided that instead of buying the Xbox One, I want an entertainment system that is felixible, upgradeable and powerful. So a year or so ago I dove head first into building your own pc world. Plan A was to build a small NAS/HTPC 2-in-1. But after spending some more sparetime researching it became clear to me that this was probaly not the best route to go for me. Plan B - Figured it would be better to build a back-end NAS and a front-end HTPC capable of light gaming. Hence the first part was born, meet JARVIS - the media butler. I installed FreeNAS onto it and turned it into a mediaserver with the necessary plugins.
CPU: I quickly settled the Intel vs. AMD dispute for myself and chose the Intel route. I like that Intel is less power hungry yet still quite powerful. I figured this was going to be server and I am not sure but AMD seems more for (budget) gaming. As I was choosing a CPU it was around the time Intel released the Intel Pentium G2358. Bought it - powerful enough for what I wanted and more importantly - cheap.
CPU COOLER: I really like the low profile design of the Noctua Lh-9Li. I am not sure if I currently need it in my server. The loads are not crazy. I can always replace it with the stock cooler and use it in my HTPC. Left it in for now.
MOBO: I initially settled on a Asus H97i-PLUS. I don't know why. After realizing plan B I stumbled upon the ASRock Rack E3C226D2I - a purpose-built mini-itx board for servers. So bought that and figured I could use the Asus H97i-Plus for my front-end. Its a great board Dual Intel Gigibit and a dedicated IPMI port, 6 SATA ports, plenty of USB2.0/3.0 and even an USB on the board itself. That is great as FreeNAS is usually installed on a USB thumbdrive. As its a server I don't particularly need HDMI or HD Audio. It was quite an expensive board but worth it in the end.
CASE: The Fractal Design Node 304 is a neat little case, without windows and such and I like the look of it. Not too flashy, just small and simple and able to hold 6 drives.
STORAGE: 2 x 2TB WD Red and 2 x 2TB WD Green. Typical NAS drives, no comment really. Put them in RAIDZ2, so that gave me 4TB of storage with 2 drive failure. For the time being thats more than enough. I never managed to fill my 1TB external media player with series and movies so this should last for a while.
RAM: FreeNAS is memory hungry and they recommend 16GB ECC ram. My CPU and MOBO support it so I invested it in it. It wasn't that much more expensive than regular RAM so figured why not. During my research I came across my fair share of ECC vs non-ECC discussions and I don't really want to start one here.
PSU: As my server will be on 24/7 and it is quite a small case I didn't want to be cheap here and really liked the SeaSonic Fanless PSU. In hindsight, the wattage may be overkill. Overall, I am very happy with my build, the loudest parts are the drives. The temps are nice thus far, and the stock casefans are quite silent in fact. FreeNAS has steep learning curve and cost me many hours in the weekends to figure out. The FreeNAS community is generally not very noob-friendly so before asking question you best do your own research and have tried a few things. Luckily there is plenty of information on the interwebs and the forums contain some useful how-to guides.
I came across discussions that WD Greens, although power efficient are in fact not recommended in a (Free)NAS build due to their spin-down. There is a fix I believe. But not sure I want to try that. Instead when storage starts to run out I want to upgrade the drives to 4 x 4TB drives or maybe even 6x3TB WD Reds. FreeNAS allows you to upgrade, one drive per month for example, due to RAIDZ2. In a NAS the drives are usually the most expensive part so that a nice feature. Also I would like to eventually upgrade to a case that has hotswappable drive bays. Silverstone has the answer to that with their DS380, but I think I will wait until I experience the joy of swapping out my drives.
When money allows I would like to replace the Pentium with a Xeon processor. As my transcoding and streaming needs increase the Xeon will the CPU for the job. It also doesn't waste on integrated graphics - which is useless for a server like this. The improved processing power will make JARVIS better at serving my needs.
Great bang for buck! Can handle my server needs.
Great low profile after market cooler. Really quiet!
Beautiful, simple and small case! Ideal for smaller NAS of HTPC builds. Challenging to build in and cable manage - but thats part of the fun of building own pcs.