NAS Killer v1.0

Cheap, Effective
8-bay storage


Preface

Hopefully this won’t be the last build before the year ends, but I wanted to get this out there for those of you who are looking for a very affordable storage solution. 


Author

JDM_WAAAT


Objective

Update the NAS Killer v1.0 build

Build properties:

  • Single socket Xeon

  • Storage-focused design

  • Ready to accept 8TB+ HDD’s

  • Micro-ATX form factor

  • Keep things simple and affordable

 

Motherboard

Supermicro X8SIL & X8SIL-F ($25 - $40)

This board is a community favorite.

This motherboard has a single Intel 1156 socket with 4 DDR3 ECC REG DIMM slots. 4 or 6 SATA ports are standard. Dual Gigabit NIC is also standard with an extra port for optional onboard IPMI. 3 PCI-E X8, X4, or X1 cards can be added, and 1 PCI card can be added. It also supports full length X16 GPUs because the first X8 slot has a cutout to fit the full size connector. It’s likely that we’ll be adding a LSI HBA and USB 3.0 card, which will take up 2 of the 3 available PCI-E slots.

This motherboard hovers around the $25 range, sometimes more if you go for the (-F) version that has IPMI.

Unfortunately, your CPU selection will be limited to quad-core Xeons (think: i5 and i7 equivalent), as well as up to only 32GB of RAM. But that’s OK - it’s a cheap, functional NAS that will stick kick the crap out of an off the shelf unit.

 

CPU(s)

Choose one wisely. You know which one we’d pick.


 

RAM

8GB is the minimum any build should have.

As a NAS, 8GB should be plenty, and as a regular server, it's a good starting point. Unraid isn’t particularly RAM hungry, especially if you’re using docker. The X8SIL will allow you to expand up to 32GB using 8GB sticks, so my advice is to buy only 8GB sticks no matter how much RAM you plan on having.
One particular thing to note with the X8SIL - while it does accept DDR3 ECC REG like full size motherboards, the RAM must be 2RX8.

Here’s an 8GB stick for $28 - if you’re patient you can find 8GB sticks for less than $20.

 

Chassis

Rosewill Micro-ATX mini case with 400W PSU ($58)

This is a great little case. It features 6 3.5” hard drive bays and 2 5.25” bays that can be converted to 3.5” bays, totaling to 8 3.5” HDD bays. If you need to mount an SSD, I’d recommend using some sticky velcro or double-sided tape. There’s plenty of space for at least 3 2.5” SSDs. I would recommend upgrading the rear fan (90mm/80mm) to a PWM model and adding a front fan (120mm). It has USB 3.0 ports on the front, but our motherboard doesn’t have USB 3.0. You can either use a converter to convert the wire to 2.0, or add a USB 3.0 card. (parts mentioned in this section will also be listed below) Overall, it’s a solid case and the PSU it comes with is decent, especially for the price. There are other options out there, but none this cheap.

 

Rosewill 4U server chassis with 8 bays ($75)

This isn’t my preferred Rosewill server chassis, but the price is right. It features 6 3.5” HDD bays, 2 2.5” SSD bays, and 2 5.25” bays that can be converted to 3.5” bays. (Again, for a total of 8 3.5” HDD bays) Only caveat here is that you’ll have to add your own PSU. Any ATX PSU will work, here’s one that I like for $35. Keep an eye out for EVGA B-Stock sales, sometimes you can get 400-500W PSU’s starting at $14.99.

Pairs well with another Rosewill 4U DAS chassis setup!

 

Storage Options

Everyone's storage needs are different - here are some options to consider.

This build is ready to accept any type of SATA HDD out of the box. For optimal SSD performance, you should consider getting an add-in SATA 3 card listed below. SAS 2 cards such as the LSI 9201-8i will work as well, but there isn’t much reason to get one in this build.


Western Digital 8TB/10TB - My Book/Easystore/Elements - shuckable 
(price varies: $125-$160)

The 8TB/10TB My Book and EasyStore external hard drives are the most cost effective (new) high capacity storage solutions. JDM_WAAAT has a video guide detailing the shucking process without causing damage to the enclosure. If the drive inside is a White 8TB instead of a Red 8TB, you may need to perfrom a simple 3.3V mod with tape for the drive to function outside of its enclosure. (more info on this in the Discord) These are great drives at a fantastic price.

 
 

Silicon Power A55 256GB / 512GB SATA 2.5" SSD

These are fantastic SSDs for the money. Most people don't need a Samsung 860 Evo. You simply won't notice a performance difference in most applications - especially on a headless server.
These make great Unraid cache drives.
 

Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 16GB USB 2.0 ($5)

 This is my preferred USB drive for FreeNAS, unRAID, and other bootable USB ISOs. It's metal.

 

CPU Coolers
& Thermal Compound

Thermaltake Gravity i2 Low-Profile Heatsink/Fan (up to 95W TDP)

This is an update: the Arctic 12 normally recommended in these guides will block two of the hard drive bays when oriented normally, due to the forward position of the CPU socket on the X8SIL. This lower profile Thermaltake model will allow for full clearance and installation of all hard drives.

Will work with either Rosewill case listed in this guide.

 

Other parts

These parts will vary based on your build, case, and other hardware. Choose what's right for you.

 
 

Arctic 80mm PWM PST 5 Pack ($20)

You'll need these if you want to change out the fans in the Rosewill 4U. Even though you only need 2 for the chassis, it's always handy to have a couple extra small fans. Buy a single one if you want to replace the fan in the back of the Rosewill tower. They are useful for cooling chipsets, or Sun Oracle F40's for example.

 

Arctic 120mm PWM PST ($9)

Grab one of these for the front of either of the Rosewill cases.

 

Monoprice 10 pack SATA cable ($14)

This motherboard only has 6 SATA ports natively, but if you add a SATA 3 card for SSD’s you could have up to 10 ports. It’s always handy to have extra cables.

 

4-way SATA power splitter ($6)

Buy two of these, especially if you’re using the tower case. This will allow you to connect 8 HDD to the power supply.

 
 

5.25” to 3.5” HDD bay converter ($6)

If you want to add more than 6 HDD to either chassis, you’ll need one of these per 5.25” bay to convert them.

LSI 9210-8i ($46)

If you want to connect 8 drives, this is the easiest and best way. Appropriate cables can be found in the parts section of this website.

 
 

Summary & builds

 

So, that's nice and all... but what do you get?

Assuming you're going for the Rosewill mini-tower case:

  • Quad-core Intel Xeon CPU

  • Dual GbE (optional IPMI with X8SIL-F)

  • 8 DDR3 ECC DIMMs (up to 32GB)

  • 3 PCI-E slots, 1 PCI slot

  • 6 3.5” bays + 2 5.25” bays, with the option to add more via the 3 5.25” bays

This build definitely has its limitations, but low cost and diminutive size makes it an ideal choice for a lot of people. It’s just about the cheapest way to have a fully fledged 8-bay NAS!
If you have an questions about the build, join the discord and we’ll help you out!

Sample build (clickable links)

Core-Build (all cables and extras for support up to 8 HDD)
Single Xeon X3470 $23.00
Supermicro X8SIL $25.00
1 x 8GB DDR3 ECC REG $28.00
Rosewill mini-tower + 400W PSU $58.00
Arctic Freezer 12 $24.00
120mm Fan $9.00
10 pack SATA cables $13.00
2 x 4 port SATA power splitter $6.00 x 2 = $12.00
2 x 5.25" 3.5" bay converter $6.00 x 2 = $12.00
LSI 9210-8i $48.00
2 x 8087 breakout cable $8.00 x 2 = $16.00
Total $268.00