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Budget NAS 185watt Home Plexmedia, TimeMachine, iSCSI for vCloud Lab

by tolkien.leung



CPU Clock Rate


CPU Temperature While Idle

39.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

43.0° C


Needed a dedicated NAS to do home labs for VMware vCloud shared storage, on it's lab down-time it's a PlexMedia Server (jailed) for web/dlna streams, Apple AFP for TimeMachines (2 macs) and various AFP Shares (public, secure and media dropping point for Plex). Wanted to keep it sub $500 (all new), low power, quiet system with some type of disk redundancy at about 2TB.

Assembly and installation was problem free, performed a 8 hour stress test downloading MP3s and indexing/cataloging from internet databases. Temp only raised 5 degrees at most, with an non air conditioned closet door closed.

Estimated power costs is 9 cents/day

Headless FreeBSD (FreeNAS 9.1.1) x64 image on a 8GB USB Flash, used on boot only.

Administration performed from Web GUI, SSH and SFTP

8GB dedicated to FreeBSD System and ZFS storage cache, on load it utilizes all 8GB. (FreeNAS auto-tune off, since it has less than 16GB of memory)

zRAID3 with 3x 6Gb SATA 1TB Seagates (1.8TB usable and expandable).

Wired to a 1Gb switch port and 11n 600Mbps Wifi Router.

Display if needed is via hdmi to a 50" living room LCD.

Keyboard is in the closet with it, left unplugged

Memory was set at 1.5v

Video RAM was reduced to 32MB

All fans at automatic and minimum target level 1, spin up set to 48 degrees C

All disks using SMART with spin-down and minimal acoustic set in FreeBSD

Room to upgrade to RAID 5/10 later on

Spare memory banks, at moderate load no swapping seen yet

Power to spare

ESXi vCloud lab will be hosted by Fusion on a iMac and use iSCSI with CHAP

Comments Sorted by:

darkther 5 points 49 months ago

Kitchen....a good place to 'cook' a pc. Nice build for the work.

edman545 10 Builds 3 points 49 months ago

How is the iscsi performance? How many vm's can you have running before performance becomes really painful?

talby 10 Builds 2 points 49 months ago

that is looking good, +1

my only recommendation, since I have built several freenas lab env w/ ESXi, this is going to be a bit of bottleneck with a dual-core

ASRock B75 PRO3-M on-board NIC = "Realtek 8111E"

since realtek loads up the cpu quite a bit get an intel-e1000 based pci-e nic that will get you 70+MB/s right off the bat and even more with logging enabled and other tuning... On similar systems using on-board realtek, I struggle to get 30Mb/s on my duals, almost 40Mb/s on an x3 and a quad gets up to 60MB/s - and it is stable at least so if I am not needing high bw (backups/media server) then it's fine. (my numbers are with raidz2, could be a limiting factor as well)

On some ESX servers the realtek driver performance degrades over time to the point I have to reboot to get any bandwith back, not in all scenarios, YMMV