Description

I wanted to replace my aging home server so I took advantage of the great pricing and thread count of the Ryzen cpus. I also wanted some cpu horsepower to enable multi transcodes in Plex, so in looking for a low wattage CPU with lots of threads I started looking.

GENERAL BUILD ADVICE, notes to think about

I got a CaseLabs Mercury S5 on sale for 137 from Microcenter so that limited me to the mATX form factor. The CaseLabs HDD expansion fits in there great, but be advised that is a tight fit. You will need to take the top off of the case and then pull the HDD bracket through the top to make any changes. I put the 2 pressure style Noctua fans in front of the HDD bracket and it keeps them very cool even though only the bottom one actually pushes air directly on the HDDs, temps on those hdds run around 29-30c with ambient around 72f.

The best mobo in that form factor is either the Gigabyte AB350 or the Asus Prime AB350. I went with the Gigabyte and could have easily gone with the Asus if it was on sale. Its still a really close call they are almost identical. The only reason I might go with the Asus over the Gigabyte is that the hwmon.it87 package is updated for the chips on the Asus. If you aren't going to run Linux then you don't have much to worry about. The chips are updated in hwmon on the nightly build for it87, so if you are going to run the newest kernel, its not a bother either. Like I said, its really close. One thing I do prefer on the Gigabyte is the 3 PWM headers in addition to CPU, which I took advantage of.

I put an M.2 sata SSD as a cache drive for UnRaid. Note that it has the M.2 slot, but it only accepts the sata SSD type, correct part is in the list. When the M.2 is present #5 sata is disabled, so it has 6 disks in total capable without expansion cards. Then I am running UnRaid off of a USB attached to the USB3 header near the front which enables 5 drives for data and 1 drive for cache.

I went with UnRaid over FreeNAS because I wanted to slowly expand my total storage. FreeNAS requires you to add dual HDDs each time you want to upgrade. I wanted to add a single 8TB when they went on sale. UnRaid allows this. Its as simple as connecting the drive and starting the array. It also allows for great docker support and VMs. I've been doing a lot of dockers and VMs since this and the cpu/memory absolutely chew everything up.

Even though its not in ear range I wanted to make sure that it was semi-quiet and wanted good quality fans to make sure they pushed air. Over the years the main problems that I've always run into have always been around heat. I've never used Noctua fans, but I must say they are very impressive. Although they are too expensive for what you get, I mean 2.5 fans cost equals the motherboard, which is silly. I chose the NF-P12 fans which are designed for pressure to be right in front of the HDDs, and a NF-S12 to be the rear vent. After its all said and done, it is unbelievably quiet. It is quieter than a 1070 GPU. The loudest things in the entire case are the HDDs and you wont be able to get those any quieter, they are already mainly 5400s.

The AMD chips do not have onboard graphics, so you must have a GPU to be able to use the bios. I wanted a passive graphics card so the fan wouldn't have to run constantly. The best passmark score I could find and it being passive was the new MSI 1030. The benchmark scores are respectable and it is absolutely passive. It works great.

MORE TECHNICAL BUILD ADVICE, notes to think about

I ran KillaWat and got around 60w at idle and at full load 130w. I can probably get this down if I removed the GPU, from what I have found its about 15-20w idle.

Update the bios immediately, F3 has many stability fixes. Also note that after you update the bios, the Virtualization is DISABLED (even though it should be default ENABLED). So make sure you root around and ensure everything is working before you tear your hair out.

If you are hardcore into VMs, you cannot passthru the GPU if its on the top PCIe slot. The IOMMA groups are really lacking for that slot (as of F3 bios, 1.0.0.6 agesa). This will probably improve over time. [EDIT: Situation is unchanged as of F5A bios 9/16/17, 1.0.0.6b agesa)

If you want to use the PWM controllers, temperatures, you need to run the nightly of it87. The IT8733E chips are new and everything is slowly updating kernel wise.

[ 9142.757674] it87: Found IT8733E chip at 0xa40, revision 2 [ 9142.757699] it87: Beeping is supported [ 9142.758124] it87: Found IT8733E chip at 0xa60, revision 3

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

What a great build. The cpu, mobo, memory are relatively cheap in comparison to what you get. 12 threads in Linux just chew up just about everything you could possibly need.

I run several dockers and its an automatic downloading beast. I run Deluge, Sabnzbd, Jackett, Sonarr, Radarr, Sickbeard, Hydra, Plex Media Server 24/7 and its fantastic. It never hiccups.

I run a Handbrake docker to transcode random videos so they can be read by Plex. Although not technical I usually get around 30fps transcode speeds with fast/very fast settings in Handbrake.

UPDATES

  • Updated to F5A of the bios. I saw a few more options in the bios, but the IOMMA groups are still not separated properly for the 2nd pcie slot.

  • three of the orange Sound Harbor sata cables have gone bad. I would randomly get READ DMA EXT errors. The write errors were caused by faulty cables. I've since replaced them with asus sata cables that I did by hand. If you want to make your own colored sata cables, you will need 12mm heat shrink and 10mm pet flex sleeving. Both are found on eBay for cheap.

UPDATE 10/25

  • I stress tested it over 24 hours and the first point of failure was the SSD overheating. I installed a heatsink on the Samsung EVO and it seems to have reduced it by a few degrees.

  • I replaced the Corsair PSU with a Seasonic. Didn't have any problems with the Corsair, but I just installed a UPS and wanted it all to be the best possible. Someone mentioned my fans were worth more than my PSU, so I took care of it. lol

Comments

  • 26 months ago
  • 3 points

you can just kiss my NAS!

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Easy +1 from me!!
My NAS in progress feels tiny and underpowered in comparison... :-)

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks Jerome. I looked at your build, you are going to increase the ram right? I would say 8gb is really the absolute minimum now if you want to keep it longer than a year.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

More RAM? For only 1 Plex stream (without transcoding)?
It seems unnecessary, isn't it?

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

What OS are you going to use?

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Most probably XPEnology.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

I personally would go to 4gb and go with Open Media Vault (which is made for low end NAS). It's up to you though, as I am not that familiar with that OS. Good luck.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Could you tell us more about your transcoding in plex and how many streams do you get?

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

I was able to get 6 concurrent transcodes and could have done more as my CPU still wasn't pegged. I think I might have been able to get 1 or 2 more. The system I was testing from started getting unstable, lol. Do you know a more specific/exact way of testing transcode speeds?

I have a handbrake docker up and I have been rendering HEVC/x265 videos for days. They are notoriously difficult to transcode and this does it at around 20-25 frames a second. I'm going through all my old tv shows that are straight dvd rips of about 4gigs per hour size wise and ripping them down to 800megs an hour with absolutely 0 loss.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

No I don't know much about transcodes speed. I wanted to build a NAS, I want to make sure I would be able to transcode 4 - 5 streams outside my network. i have some 4K movies too.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, 4k movies are no problem at all. Everything I own is 10gb+ 1080p+.. The real test is HEVC/x265 videos. That codec is the newest and most efficient. My transcode speed for x265 videos was 30-35 fps and with HEVC its 20-22 fps, but the resultant file size is insanely small. I had 2 people play HEVC files out of network and me playing 2 HEVC files in the network and my cpu was spiking from 70%-90%, but it had 0 problems at all. I have dragged this thing through the mud and I can't give it higher praise. It will last me for years to come.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

In terms of CPU, why didn't you use intel.;.. I am just curious.

  • 26 months ago
  • 2 points

I couldn't find an Intel chip with this many threads (12), that was low watt, that was anywhere near this price.

I'm probably missing some, but Intel Core i7-4790K kind of close and it's 380USD. the 7740X is $320.

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

Amazing build. If you weren't limited to the case that you had already purchased, what case would you consider?

  • 26 months ago
  • 1 point

I guess the key thing to note is that originally I was going to get dual server CPUs from eBay and then get an EATX Supermicro board. While researching I had bookmarked several cases to look at before the final decision.Then after reading so many horror stories about the dual mobos I decided to go for a more modern low power build. That being said, the main thing with me is the build quality of a case. Lots of people say that, but I am very picky when it comes to actual build quality. I want a decent internal layout and solidly built with the ability for decent airflow. I have had so many cases in the past that restrict airflow so much that heat problems always arise. I don't know if I would have went with another case after I have actually built in this Caselabs. My first pick would probably be the bigger Caselabs case, the S8. That might have been nice to fit a bigger mobo but a bit overkill. I can give you a list of cases that I would have considered though: Fractal Node 804, a few of the ThermalTake chassis(X5 was one), there was a few Lian Li I liked (C-K6SX is one), SilverStone DS380B, there was also the U-NAS cases that I was really looking at. In the end this case is the perfect fit. It allows for great airflow and it has plenty of room for drives as well as being solid aluminum.

  • 24 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build. I'm looking to upgrade my server with similar specs.

What are the IOMMU groupings for this board? I'm probably going to run it headless and just pass through the one GPU slot, however was hoping to have SATA expansion in one of the other slots. Most B350 boards seem to have the bottom x4 slot in a different group to the other slots not that case with this board?