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LOW power NAS for up to 6 drives

AndreiK
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Hello there, LTT community!

 

I come seeking your help in building a NAS that would satisfy the requirements below. Now, based on your feedback, I may change the requirements, or update them, so I'll have a baseline of my initial requirements and a section that I'll update as the thread progresses.

***********************************************************

Baseline requirements:

Things I need now:

- A low power NAS (current target, less than 50W under full load with six 3.5" drives installed + boot and cache drive) that will stream 1080p content to a maximum of 3 simultaneous clients (at the moment, KODI running on Linux or Android).

- The NAS will be also used to store data (photos, documents, etc)

- Current available connection: 1Gbps ethernet

- Only native SATA interfaces, no USB adapters

- Small footprint that can be achieved with an off the shelf case

- possibility to add or replace drives (currently I have five 2T drives I plan to use, I'dd like to be able to swap in the future one or two drives for higher capacity ones) without loosing data and with the minimum amount of effort possible

- Current focus is more on data security rather than speed, minimum requirement would be to be able to withstand one failed drive without the need to recover data or lose data

- CPU upgradeability would be nice to have, and I'm saying this because I don't want to rule out SBCs if one fits the requirements

- the OS running from a separate drive, preferably SSD would also be nice to have

- I also want to run Logitech Media Server from it

 

Things I want to add/setup later:

- a SSD cache

- a network card with dual gigabit outputs so I can aggregate them together or a 2.5Gbps NIC...

- transcoding (maybe a plex server?) and make my NAS accessible from outside the home too

************************************************************

***********************************************************

Updated requirements (16 August 2022):

Things I need now:

- A low power NAS (current target, less than 30W while idle with six 3.5" drives installed + boot and cache drive) that will stream 1080p content to a maximum of 3 simultaneous clients (at the moment, KODI running on Linux or Android).

- The NAS will be also used to store data (photos, documents, etc)

- Current available connection: 1Gbps ethernet

- Only native SATA interfaces, no USB adapters

- Small footprint that can be achieved with an off the shelf case

- possibility to add or replace drives (currently I have five 2T drives I plan to use, I'dd like to be able to swap in the future one or two drives for higher capacity ones) without loosing data and with the minimum amount of effort possible

- Current focus is more on data security rather than speed, minimum requirement would be to be able to withstand one failed drive without the need to recover data or lose data

- CPU upgradeability would be nice to have, and I'm saying this because I don't want to rule out SBCs if one fits the requirements

- the OS running from a separate drive, preferably SSD would also be nice to have

- I also want to run Logitech Media Server from it

 

Things I want to add/setup later:

- a SSD cache

- a network card with dual gigabit outputs so I can aggregate them together or a 2.5Gbps NIC...

- transcoding (maybe a plex server?) and make my NAS accessible from outside the home too

************************************************************

 

 

My current experience so far is with building a small NAS based on RPI 4 and piCorePlayer that handles the LMS and shares the drives via Samba, with two UBS3 drives attached. It has served me well, taught me some basic stuff and now I feel I should move on to something better. 

 

Of course, I'd like to keep the cost as low as possible, preferably below the cost of a 4 drive QNAP or Synology empty unit. 

 

At the moment I was looking at some B450 AMD boards, mATX format, and maybe an Athlon processor to start with, haven't looked at anything from Intel at the moment, though I think that Silver or Gold Pentiums would also work nicely, or an entry level Core i3.... 

 

So, what am I looking for? First and foremost I'd like to have the hardware sorted out, then work on the SW setup as I buy the parts needed for the build. 

Edited by AndreiK
changed some requirements
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5 minutes ago, AndreiK said:

Hello there, LTT community!

 

I come seeking your help in building a NAS that would satisfy the requirements below. Now, based on your feedback, I may change the requirements, or update them, so I'll have a baseline of my initial requirements and a section that I'll update as the thread progresses.

***********************************************************

Baseline requirements:

Things I need now:

- A low power NAS (current target, less than 50W under full load with six 3.5" drives installed + boot and cache drive) that will stream 1080p content to a maximum of 3 simultaneous clients (at the moment, KODI running on Linux or Android).

- The NAS will be also used to store data (photos, documents, etc)

- Current available connection: 1Gbps ethernet

- Only native SATA interfaces, no USB adapters

- Small footprint that can be achieved with an off the shelf case

- possibility to add or replace drives (currently I have five 2T drives I plan to use, I'dd like to be able to swap in the future one or two drives for higher capacity ones) without loosing data and with the minimum amount of effort possible

- Current focus is more on data security rather than speed, minimum requirement would be to be able to withstand one failed drive without the need to recover data or lose data

- CPU upgradeability would be nice to have, and I'm saying this because I don't want to rule out SBCs if one fits the requirements

- the OS running from a separate drive, preferably SSD would also be nice to have

- I also want to run Logitech Media Server from it

 

Things I want to add/setup later:

- a SSD cache

- a network card with dual gigabit outputs so I can aggregate them together or a 2.5Gbps NIC...

- transcoding (maybe a plex server?) and make my NAS accessible from outside the home too

************************************************************

 

My current experience so far is with building a small NAS based on RPI 4 and piCorePlayer that handles the LMS and shares the drives via Samba, with two UBS3 drives attached. It has served me well, taught me some basic stuff and now I feel I should move on to something better. 

 

Of course, I'd like to keep the cost as low as possible, preferably below the cost of a 4 drive QNAP or Synology empty unit. 

 

At the moment I was looking at some B450 AMD boards, mATX format, and maybe an Athlon processor to start with, haven't looked at anything from Intel at the moment, though I think that Silver or Gold Pentiums would also work nicely, or an entry level Core i3.... 

 

So, what am I looking for? First and foremost I'd like to have the hardware sorted out, then work on the SW setup as I buy the parts needed for the build. 

With that low of a power requirement at full load, I think you will be hard pressed to find anything. 6 drives alone will eat up half of your power budget. Then finding a mobo/cpu combo that is under 25w at full load... near impossible for a reasonable cost. You will be looking into a custom NAS based SBC i figure.

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6hdds will consume anywhere from 25-40w so that leaves almost nothing for the system.

 

Add in a bootdrive, fans, psu (uses a little power to do conversion), board and ram and boom you are at or over 50w when things go full bore. Id say its much much much more realistic to just have a less than 50w average consumption goals here

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Just now, Blue4130 said:

With that low of a power requirement at full load, I think you will be hard pressed to find anything. 6 drives alone will eat up half of your power budget. Then finding a mobo/cpu combo that is under 25w at full load... near impossible for a reasonable cost. You will be looking into a custom NAS based SBC i figure.

Yeah, you'll basically have to pick from 8-bay Synology appliances or low power ITX boards to stay under your power budget. 3.5" drives can draw 10 watts each on startup, and idle around 3 watts each (using the WD Red Pro spec sheet as a reference). A typical desktop PC with one hard drive and no dedicated graphics idles at around 30-50 watts.

 

11 minutes ago, AndreiK said:

stream 1080p content to a maximum of 3 simultaneous clients (at the moment, KODI running on Linux or Android).

This depends on whether you need transcoding or not. If your clients are just playing the media files natively, all your NAS has to do is shove them over the network. (And that takes a lot less processing power than you might think.)

Dell owns my soul.

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13 minutes ago, Needfuldoer said:

Yeah, you'll basically have to pick from 8-bay Synology appliances or low power ITX boards to stay under your power budget. 3.5" drives can draw 10 watts each on startup, and idle around 3 watts each (using the WD Red Pro spec sheet as a reference). A typical desktop PC with one hard drive and no dedicated graphics idles at around 30-50 watts.

 

This depends on whether you need transcoding or not. If your clients are just playing the media files natively, all your NAS has to do is shove them over the network. (And that takes a lot less processing power than you might think.)

At the moment I'm not using any transcoding, this is why I added it for future upgrades, but for the time being I can't say I stumbled upon a situation when transcoding was needed. 

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24 minutes ago, Blue4130 said:

With that low of a power requirement at full load, I think you will be hard pressed to find anything. 6 drives alone will eat up half of your power budget. Then finding a mobo/cpu combo that is under 25w at full load... near impossible for a reasonable cost. You will be looking into a custom NAS based SBC i figure.

I'm also willing to explore the SBC route... Do you have any suggestions? 

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20 minutes ago, jaslion said:

6hdds will consume anywhere from 25-40w so that leaves almost nothing for the system.

 

Add in a bootdrive, fans, psu (uses a little power to do conversion), board and ram and boom you are at or over 50w when things go full bore. Id say its much much much more realistic to just have a less than 50w average consumption goals here

I updated the requirements to 30W during idle... 

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15 minutes ago, AndreiK said:

I updated the requirements to 30W during idle... 

Oh ok thats simple. A athlon 3000g or 5600g or whatever + all the needed hardware will easily do that or less.

 

So basically

Athlon 3000g or 200ge

itx boards with the ports you need and 2.5gb nic on it (seriously dont cheap on the board get EXACTLY what you need AND want now)

16gb 3200mhz cl16 ram

Boot ssd + cache ssd (like 250gb for each is plenty fine and cheap)

Johnsbo n1 case

Good sfx psu

 

Should all be like 600$ or so

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52 minutes ago, AndreiK said:

I updated the requirements to 30W during idle... 

This is an interesting board that I came across recently on Taobao. Not sure of the makers, but it would be a cool NAS build.

12 sata ports

2x 2.5gbe ports

standard atx power

m.2 SLOT (only x2 lanes)

Intel N5095 based 4 core 15w tdp

$120 USD

 

The only downside is that it has a single slot for ram.

Screenshot 2022-08-16 191827.jpg

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31 minutes ago, Blue4130 said:

This is an interesting board that I came across recently on Taobao. Not sure of the makers, but it would be a cool NAS build.

12 sata ports

2x 2.5gbe ports

standard atx power

m.2 SLOT (only x2 lanes)

Intel N5095 based 4 core 15w tdp

$120 USD

 

The only downside is that it has a single slot for ram.

Screenshot 2022-08-16 191827.jpg

I dunno why but this looks nearlt identical to a off the shelf nas board I came across a little while ago.

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35 minutes ago, Blue4130 said:

This is an interesting board that I came across recently on Taobao. Not sure of the makers, but it would be a cool NAS build.

12 sata ports

2x 2.5gbe ports

standard atx power

m.2 SLOT (only x2 lanes)

Intel N5095 based 4 core 15w tdp

$120 USD

 

The only downside is that it has a single slot for ram.

Screenshot 2022-08-16 191827.jpg

Woow, looks quite nice indeed. And for the NAS purpose, only one stick of RAM is not that bad, I guess, at least for the workload I have in mind... 

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1 hour ago, jaslion said:

Oh ok thats simple. A athlon 3000g or 5600g or whatever + all the needed hardware will easily do that or less.

 

So basically

Athlon 3000g or 200ge

itx boards with the ports you need and 2.5gb nic on it (seriously dont cheap on the board get EXACTLY what you need AND want now)

16gb 3200mhz cl16 ram

Boot ssd + cache ssd (like 250gb for each is plenty fine and cheap)

Johnsbo n1 case

Good sfx psu

 

Should all be like 600$ or so

Looks like a good starting point! Very interesting case suggestion... I never heard of them before!!!

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13 minutes ago, AndreiK said:

Woow, looks quite nice indeed. And for the NAS purpose, only one stick of RAM is not that bad, I guess, at least for the workload I have in mind... 

Do keep in mind that if the plan is ever to do plex encoding this system will at most do 1 stream its not good enough for that. The 3000g will also struggle with more than 1 stream but it is upgradeable

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1 hour ago, jaslion said:

Do keep in mind that if the plan is ever to do plex encoding this system will at most do 1 stream its not good enough for that. The 3000g will also struggle with more than 1 stream but it is upgradeable

Yes, I'm now working on deciding what is more important. Upgradeability and the possibility of adding transcoding later? Or getting a configuration with a power consumption as low as possible?

Some digging showed that Intel N5105 has a good balance between performance and power consumption, so I'm now considering whether I should re-consider my requirements. 

Anyway, the current situation with the availability of computer parts and their prices is not that great either, so I need to spend a bit mode time researching the HW options. 

 

Maybe I am overthinking this... maybe a dual or quad core modern Celeron is more than enough for my needs... I just need to have a properly done "homework" before I make any purchase.

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Well, after a lot of searching, I decided that I'll base my build on an AMD ATHLON 3000G, and a microATX motherboard most likely... Most mITX motherboards that I find available are expensiver as the mATX ones... anyway, I'll see when I get to buying the mobo. The CPU can be found cheaply on the second hand market, the for motherboards, I'm better buying new... 

The N5095 mobo sure looks attractive... but with transport customs and VAT is going to cost me more that the combo I settled for above. Will update the thread as I buy things and put the system together... but it will take a good while...

 

Now, what would recommendations would be for the SW side of things? What would you choose to get the flexibility of adding drives at any time, replacing drives with different capacity ones and so on... 

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1 hour ago, AndreiK said:

Well, after a lot of searching, I decided that I'll base my build on an AMD ATHLON 3000G, and a microATX motherboard most likely... Most mITX motherboards that I find available are expensiver as the mATX ones... anyway, I'll see when I get to buying the mobo. The CPU can be found cheaply on the second hand market, the for motherboards, I'm better buying new... 

The N5095 mobo sure looks attractive... but with transport customs and VAT is going to cost me more that the combo I settled for above. Will update the thread as I buy things and put the system together... but it will take a good while...

 

Now, what would recommendations would be for the SW side of things? What would you choose to get the flexibility of adding drives at any time, replacing drives with different capacity ones and so on... 

Sounds like you are going to be needing either Unraid or Windows with Snapraid. They are the easiest for adding drives at any time. You don't get the speed that zfs or the like give, but the ability to add an odd drive here and there is nice. Unraid is paid, snapraid is free. Pick your poison.

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On 8/17/2022 at 2:31 PM, Blue4130 said:

Sounds like you are going to be needing either Unraid or Windows with Snapraid. They are the easiest for adding drives at any time. You don't get the speed that zfs or the like give, but the ability to add an odd drive here and there is nice. Unraid is paid, snapraid is free. Pick your poison.

How much of a speed penalty are we talking here? 

Since my NAS will ne connected to the network via a 1Gb connection... maybe 2.5Gb at best... Would it make any difference? I haven't read a lot about ZFS, I saw it is getting quite some traction that read on a blog that there is active development of a feature for adding drives....

What about data safety in case of drive failure?

 

I did a quick read on the snapraid website and saw it is mainly targeted at storing large files that change seldom change... While the bulk of my storage will most likely be large video files, I also have a growing collection of photos and other small files... 

 

Well... I guess it's back to reading stuff again :).

 

Thanks foe the guidance! I had no idea about snapraid. I'll research it a bot more, maybe I'll give it a try on linux... 

But, I should not get ahead of myself... let me build the thing first....

 

Oh, one more thing: is there a real gain from an SSD cache given the network speeds mentioned above? Or is it more about the number of users simultaneously accessing files from the server? 

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