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First build questions

CEH1934

Neophyte
Joined
May 21, 2020
Messages
4
I am planning my first NAS using FreeNAS, having read and researched a great deal over the last year or so. We are a family of four, with two desktops and a number of notebooks, tablets and phones. Two of us do a lot of document creation and review and online research, often leading to downloading. We want to share video, music and photos. We each use Microsoft OneDrive for cloud document synch and iCloud for video and music, and Time Machine for backup.

My overall plan is to build a NAS that won’t need significant updating for 3-4 years, starting with 3X 4TB hard drives and an SSD for caching, 16 or 32GB ECC RAM and a decent CPU. The number of hard drives could grow. I was quite keen on an AsRock Rack MB, C236 WSI or WS, or C3558 mini ITX, and the Node 304 – the reason for favouring ITX. But I found it impossible to find any of the memory from the QVLs, all out of date. And I saw in this forum a reference to cable management and airflow issues with the Node 304. Also I read some user reviews on Amazon about serious memory compatibility problems.

Reading posts here lead me to Supermicro MBs like the MBD-X11SCL-IF and -F. These are relatively recent, and well-configured for my needs, except the -IF has only 4X SATA. Their memory QVLs list currently available memory, though it is expensive – almost $A100 more than the MB.

To help me decide, I’d be grateful for any comments but especially advice on these questions:
  • Are the Node 304 issues serious or mainly about convenience?
  • If QVL memory isn’t available or is really expensive, can we substitute, with some confidence, equivalent RAM from quality manufacturers?
  • Any reason to prefer Asrock or Supermicro (I built my desktop with an Asrock z270)?
Thanks in advance.
 

NickF

Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2014
Messages
86
I would highly recommend the HP MicroServer Gen10 or Gen10 plus to fit the size/power footprint you are trying to hit. Then you do not have to worry about all the nonsense of RAM availability and cable management.

If you want to DIY though, I would highly recommend the Thermaltake Core V1 or Thermaltake Core V21( a little bit bigger, supports mATX for more expansion). These offer much more airflow compared to the Node 304 and even the smaller Core V1 offers more space.

As far as memory not listed on the QVL, yes you can. As long as they reman in spec you shouldn't have any problems. Be sure to try and pick up ECC ram, however.

Asrock Rack (not ASrock) is a newer player in the market and people generally prefer Supermicro because it is a long-standing vendor in this space. I myself have an Asrock Rack x470 board running both my FreeNAS and my ESXI deployments, and I would concur with the sentiment that their products do not have the same "maturity" of a Supermicro system.
 

CEH1934

Neophyte
Joined
May 21, 2020
Messages
4
I would highly recommend the HP MicroServer Gen10 or Gen10 plus to fit the size/power footprint you are trying to hit. Then you do not have to worry about all the nonsense of RAM availability and cable management.

If you want to DIY though, I would highly recommend the Thermaltake Core V1 or Thermaltake Core V21( a little bit bigger, supports mATX for more expansion). These offer much more airflow compared to the Node 304 and even the smaller Core V1 offers more space.

As far as memory not listed on the QVL, yes you can. As long as they reman in spec you shouldn't have any problems. Be sure to try and pick up ECC ram, however.

Asrock Rack (not ASrock) is a newer player in the market and people generally prefer Supermicro because it is a long-standing vendor in this space. I myself have an Asrock Rack x470 board running both my FreeNAS and my ESXI deployments, and I would concur with the sentiment that their products do not have the same "maturity" of a Supermicro system.
Thanks, NickF. I do want to take the DIY path and I'll certainly look at those cases, and I'm focused on the mATX Supermicro MB -- just checking sources for it and ECC ram at the moment.
 

pschatz100

Neophyte Sage
Joined
Mar 30, 2014
Messages
907
I would seriously consider budgeting for four 4TB drives and configuring them as RaidZ2. For use strictly as a file server, you could start with 16GB memory. Just leave yourself open memory slots if you decide to add more memory down the road.
 

Inxsible

Neophyte Sage
Joined
Aug 14, 2017
Messages
1,027
My advice would be to stay away from mini-ITX boards for the following 2 reasons:
  1. The server grade ITX boards tend to be very expensive -- if you can find one which fits all your criteria
  2. They do not offer much in terms of expansion down the road.
I would stay away from mini-ITX cases for the following 2 reasons:
  1. Airflow is always a concern -- especially if the case supports more than 2 drives -- which you would need in a NAS application
  2. Cable management is also a bit of a hassle in these cases.

I say all that having experienced it using a mini-ITX Tyan S5533 board and Node 304 case. My drives run at a toasty 44C -- which is something that I am always concerned about. The case is also maxed out with 6 drives in the 6 SATA ports. It also won't support an HBA -- because it won't fit. Not that I would need it because all drive caddies are already taken. I already have another rack mount SC826 chassis which supports 12 drives, so I use my Node 304 as a backup FreeNAS now. But initially it started out as my main FreeNAS box.
 
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