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NVMe / HDD Tiered Storage NAS, made from P510 Workstation


I've recently finished, and finally put into use, a tiered-storage home NAS. I had the following objectives:

  1. Fast upload of new content, including backups & footage ingest
  2. Capacity for old footage, archived backups
  3. Fun! (I mention this as a catch-all defense for silly decisions.)

Starting out with the idea of using several M.2 drives (currently four, eventually eight) with a multi-gig NIC, I considered a couple options to achieve the requisite PCIe lanes:

  1. Custom build a PC, using a high PCIe lane count CPU, e.g. Core Extreme, Threadripper...
  2. Buy an old server

#2 was looking like the cheaper option, and I was looking at ~2012 era systems within a seemingly sensible price range, but while fiddling with search terms (searching for Xeon models rather than server models), I was reminded that Xeon-based Workstations exist (d'oh)! Not only that, but when you compare the 2016 Workstation I ended up with (a Lenovo P510) to servers, even 2012 models, most sell for double the price, at least.

I don't have any real need of the server form-factor, or redundant components - this thing is not misison-critical and lives on a line-interactive UPS - so the workstation route seems like a great option to me!


So here's the final build (all prices converted to USD):

  • Lenovo P510 Workstation - $250
    • Xeon E5-1620v4 @ 3.5 GHz (included)
    • 32GB 2133MHz DDR4 (included)
  • 4x Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 2TB - $880 total
  • Gigabyte Aorus AIC - PCIe x16 to 4x M.2 NVMe (x4/x4/x4/x4 bifurcation) - $135
  • 1x Seagate ST10000VN0008 10TB - $250
  • Lenovo / Broadcom 57412 10/25GbE SFP28 PCIe Ethernet Adapter - $85


I had a stab at using autotier under Ubuntu Server, but the performance wasn't great - 1.3GBps write to the SSD, versus ~200MBps writing to the tiered storage, even though it was writing to the SSD exclusively.

I ended up on Windows Server 2019, running a tiered storage pool, which has been working great! A couple of gotchas there:

  1. The drive had to be formatted using ReFS, not NTFS, or performance seems to be impacted
  2. The size of each storage tier has to be slightly (~3GB per drive) less than the maximum available, or the creation wizard fails.


So for a total of $1,600 USD, that's:


All in all, I can recommend the approach! Any questions / comments, let me know 🙂




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