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Previous to this build, I had been running an old NAS box Frankenstein-ed from a collection of old computer parts on Freenas 9.10 using really old hardware. The PSU was starting to play up, the RAM was only 1GB that's not ECC and occasionally ran quite loud...etc...hence the desire to do a full replacement upgrade to the recommended server grade hardware by Freenas using ZFS. This NAS was to provide basic file sharing services, Plex Media Server and file synchronisation via bit-torrent's Sync.
Goal of this Build: My key needs from this new replacement machine were:
1: To be able to support ECC RAM (for ZFS) with sufficient RAM to ensure Freenas would run well;
2: Be cost effective (as could be given the necessary parts - budget at approx. AUD$1,300 or USD$1,000);
3: Handle some moderate processing (transcoding for Plex);
4: Be energy efficient (low wattage and Heat;
5: Finally, and importantly running silent.
Considerations for the Parts:
Purchasing: This was my first build where I had sourced parts online, moreover used different suppliers. Sourced the SuperMicro motherboard and ECC RAM from Newegg international as those parts were not readily available in Australia. Luckily, no issues with the parts that arrived via post.
Old Parts: I also reused some existing HDDs from the old NAS box as they were already setup for ZFS. An old USB stick was used as the boot drive.
LGA1150: Avoided Skylake processors after reading about issues booting Freenas using USB so went with a Haswell instead.
USB Boot: Using a Sandisk Fit plugged into the motherboard for USB boot. Despite the common heating issues with the Sandisk Fit, not antipating that this would become an issue since Freenas loads to RAM.
Cooling: The case comes with two silent fans (front and back) that provides good airflow. Decided to let the air flowed from the front to the motherboard without any HDD or SSD obstructing (or receiving direct cooling). Kept the stock Intel CPU fan for a few reasons: the stock fan provided sufficient cooling, the sound generated from the fan was not audible and to keep the cost down by not needing an aftermarket CPU fan. CPU runs at 27c idle with ambient temperature of 20 and up to 47 when stressed. I have the two case fans connected to the supplied Fractal Design fan controller with the lowest fan speed selected - if the ambient temperature during summer I'll turn up the speeds.
Self-Review of the Completed Build and its Usage: For the basic usage I have, his build should last my basic home use for a long time. The processor and memory is not stressed at all. Love the IPMI interface to access the motherboard. Freenas is running well without issues or delays on the web interface unlike my old build.
Done Differently in Retrospect: The only part I would swap out would be the power supply as I'd prefer a almost fully silent build (one that does not use fan unless over a certain level); also as this is left on 24/7 a gold rated PSU could be a minor update from Bronze rated (a small % efficiency improvement). Over time, I'll try swap out the WD Greens with WD Reds (or equivalent NAS HDDs from other brands). Moreover, may upgrade my SSD used for Freenas jails to a faster one.
Thanks for reading my build description. I've included a little more detail about each part below in the part review if your interested in little more detail.
PS: Many thanks to the pcpartpicker community for sharing completed builds and comments/suggestions; your collective ideas have directly inspired and influenced the decisions/parts for this build.
Bought this Xeon processor as it provides good performance for the price on a LGA 1150. I've decided to use the stock fan as load would be quite low. In my Fractal Design Define Mini, the CPU fan cannot be heard. A great value for money CPU without integrated graphics for a NAS.
My first SuperMicro motherboard. Although the packaging was not as flash as the more commercial brands, the board itself and its IPMI interface is fantastic. Was able to install this easily. The only minor considerations are the issues around the web interface always asking for Java version and the mediocre I/O plate part around the LAN connectors. There are only 2 SATA3 ports but that's part of the spec and is not an issue. The USB onboard is great for booting Freenas from. Overall despite its minor flaws, this is a great board.
Appears to be well built despite being packaged in basic and unassuming plastic. Able to insert them into the SuperMicro X10SLL and boot without any issues. ECC RAM is quite dear hence the removal of one star, otherwise a good accompaniment to a server motherboard.
Salvaged from an earlier build (2012). No different from most other SSDs from an external perspective. It's speeds are certainly not on par with SSDs build now (2016). Although, it's better than a normal 3.5" HDD in terms of speed, would not recommend to buy one as a primary OS boot drive.
Salvaged from an earlier build (2012). It's been a reliable drive and good value ($/GB). It can be heard when spinning but this could be due to its age. It's not a recommended item for Freenas as the Red drives are preferred however I've had no issues with it to date.
Salvaged from a earlier build (2014). No issues running it so far with FreeNAS for the last few years.
Besides the colour, I was not expecting much difference between the WD Red and Green, however, I've noticed that this Red one runs a bit quieter than its Green counterpart (they both run at 5400RPM).
Sleek and minimalistic case with noise reducing padding. It comes with a standard 6 bay 2.5 or 3.5" hard drive bays, enough for a decent NAS. The 3 fan controller is helpful to have full manual control over the included silent fans - I've turned mine to the lowest setting and the CPU temperatures are still very cool. Cable management is not a problem with spacious cavities for a uATX build. 3 very minor issues with this case, using the slot on the back for the fan controller is difficult as the screw to remove is hard to access unless the back fan is removed; the thumb screws for the side panels were a little tight and did not seem to remove easily; the led for power at the front is very bright - would be much better if dimmer. Overall, ignoring the minor faults, is has been best case I've used in a build and would strongly recommend to others.
A basic power supply. The modular cables are good, however the main power cable to the motherboard was just long enough to reach. The fan is a little louder than hoped for, next time will buy one that does not need fan when idle or low power usage.