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Thread: NAS box hardware recommendations?

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    Question NAS box hardware recommendations?

    Hi chaps.

    I currently have a "server" in the attick which is composed of my old trusty Abit NF-S mobo with an old Athlon XP cpu on it. It's working fine as a NAS box - stores all my media / files and I have a few services running on it such as Twokymedia for DLNA support, FTP server, torrent client, etc.

    I have a couple of hard drives fitted to it, but would be looking at expanding and securing them (not in a RAID setup at the moment).

    My main reason driving a change is to reduce power consumption. It's on 24/7 and as such is fairly power hungry. I've underclocked the CPU as it's not doing much and have fitted a gigabit network card to give it decent LAN performance.

    I've looked at the various NAS solutions, but they all seem a bit too limited in the functionality they offer. From experience and looking around, you just can't beat a Windows / Linux setup where you can have all the software / services you need running.

    There are new NAS boxes out there such as the QNAP TS-409 but it's pricey at £380 or so excluding hard drives and although it provides a fair few features, I'm sure I'd find one service I'll need which it doesn't support.

    So cutting a long story short (sorry for the long driveling explanation ), I'm looking at getting something like a Mini ITX solution.

    Looking at the ITX store, there are loads of motherboards on offer and I don't really know where to start. The only prerequisites I can think of is I need either 3 or 4 SATA ports or a PCI / PCI-e expansion slot to put in a SATA controller RAID card. Other prerequisite is gigabit ethernet. I only need one LAN connector as it's already behind my firewall and doesn't serve as a NAT / internet routing box. But there are just sooooo many to chose from. I could pick one that appears to tick the boxes however surely someone here must have done this and may be able to provide really useful advice.

    Mods: please note I didn't post this in the SFF section as I wanted to catch a larger audience - maybe there are alternatives to SFF / Mini ITX / Pico ITX solutions out there...

    So, what do you guys think?

    TIA

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    Re: NAS box hardware recommendations?

    I quite like my Terastation, not cheap tho...

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    YUKIKAZE arthurleung's Avatar
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    Re: NAS box hardware recommendations?

    Find some ultra-cheap laptop, a eSATA Express card, a SATA multiplier? That will surely keep the power usage down to 60W or so.

    Don't bother with ITX stuff, they're relatively slow and very expensive to buy to start with.

    From what you have said you are expecting GbE speed so many of the lower-end NAS won't cut it.

    £380 is probably the minimum you could go for an out-of-box NAS with Gigabit-like performance (i.e. >13MB/s) , but at that point you might as well buy a laptop with XP/Vista + express card + port multiplier for probably less than that.

    I quite like my Terastation, not cheap tho...
    My friend is using one, however he said the Japanese version is good while the US/Europe version is quite crap in terms of build quality.

    Can't really recommend anything except top models from Thecus :S Which is quite hackable as they run X86 hardware.
    Last edited by arthurleung; 07-04-2008 at 05:41 AM.
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    Re: NAS box hardware recommendations?

    Cheers Arthur.

    As you kind of point out, to get GbE speeds you need more than a simple / low end NAS box.

    The ITX stuff doesn't seem too expensive - £100 for mobo and CPU. I have some RAM lying around, just need a PSU which is another £40 so say £150-200 gets me going (excluding HDD).

    My concern is with the performance. But if I get a NIC with TCP offloading and various other features, I suppose the main CPU wouldn't have too much to cope with. My current windows box acting as server has the athlon XP running at 1GHz IIRC. I get about 15-20MB/s through the NIC (cheap GbE card), and CPU usage is around 10-15% so thought a slower 800-1000MHz CPU would be ok.

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    Re: NAS box hardware recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by tfboy View Post
    Cheers Arthur.

    As you kind of point out, to get GbE speeds you need more than a simple / low end NAS box.

    The ITX stuff doesn't seem too expensive - £100 for mobo and CPU. I have some RAM lying around, just need a PSU which is another £40 so say £150-200 gets me going (excluding HDD).

    My concern is with the performance. But if I get a NIC with TCP offloading and various other features, I suppose the main CPU wouldn't have too much to cope with. My current windows box acting as server has the athlon XP running at 1GHz IIRC. I get about 15-20MB/s through the NIC (cheap GbE card), and CPU usage is around 10-15% so thought a slower 800-1000MHz CPU would be ok.
    Currently my desktop (spec in my signature) serves as my NAS and the top speed is 70MB/s (RAID5) over GbE (Non Jumbo-Frame). The RAID card cost me 200 quids (on ebay), and the whole machine cost less than 350 quids excluding harddrives. The power consumption is about 100W with 6 drives. I would expect that to be about the same as your NF-7 setup. I would suggest you to go this route if you wanted more performance at similar power consumption level.

    Coincidently I had an Athlon XP 2400+ setup that use about 110W (with 1 drive, and a crap no-name psu which have low efficiency), thats why I suggested using a laptop because you specified you want something that use much less power than the original setup.
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    Re: NAS box hardware recommendations?

    The Icy Box IB-NAS4220-B supposedly does Gbit Ethernet speeds according to the reviews carried out and is available for less than £100 from Scan. It seems to be about the only cheap NAS that really does Gbit speeds, but it has one issue with it - it doesn't work with Samsung drives.

    I have one arriving in the next few days so I will be able to confirm if the reviews are true in regards to its network speed.

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    boop, got your nose stevie lee's Avatar
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    Re: NAS box hardware recommendations?

    spotted this in hexus.tv section on main hexus webby..
    HEXUS.tv - Turn on technology - Thecus reveal the M3800

    £252.63 at scan - complete all in one solution, plug it straight into tv to stream stuff..

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    Re: NAS box hardware recommendations?

    The way I see it at the moment.

    • Get a ITX platform. Lowest power consumption
    • Make sure GbE is available
    • Get a decent hardware performance RAID card which would manage XOR calcs locally, not bogging down the main CPU.

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