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Thread: Any advice on hardware for a FreeNAS build?

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    Any advice on hardware for a FreeNAS build?

    Well it had to happen some time, but I'm finally on the verge of running out of storage space for my photo backups and general media. So I'm thinking about building a FreeNAS device, to which I can add hard drives in future, as many as the case allows.

    I have a spacious old case to use, and a 360W PSU with 20-pin ATX connector. But that's about it. I need to purchase a suitable motherboard and CPU. But what?

    I need something with low power consumption, as many SATA connectors on board as possible, and ideally fan-less - if I can just use the PSU's fan to swirl a little air then that would be ideal. And most of all, I want cheap. Cheap, silent, and a gazillion SATA headers would be my ideal system.

    I thought about an Intel Atom integrated motherboard for the low wattage and generally fanless, cool-running designs. But they don't tend to come with many SATA headers, and I'm not sure how compatibility stands with FreeNAS on modern Atom CPUs and chipsets.

    Or for cheapness I could possibly pick up a bottom-end Athlon and AM2 board... probably wouldn't be fanless, but would likely have more SATA headers and be more expandable?

    Any thoughts, or suggestions?

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    mush-mushroom b0redom's Avatar
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    Re: Any advice on hardware for a FreeNAS build?

    Don't use SATA port mutlipliers they don't work with FreeNAS.

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    Herr Doktor Oetker, ja!!! pollaxe's Avatar
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    Re: Any advice on hardware for a FreeNAS build?

    Bit-tech did a Freenas article last month - it may have some useful pointers in it.

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    Re: Any advice on hardware for a FreeNAS build?

    OF the few AM2 boards I've used they've been fanless, generally only REALLY old boards (ie pre pentium3 days) or higher end boards from each generation that've had fans.
    There is another thread in this section about low power htpc that may prove useful for selecting cpu etc...
    as for sata headers, I've seen gigabyte boards with 8 sata headers, do you think you'll need more than that?
    GA-MA790FXT-UD5P has 10 headers but is over £100, GA-P35T-DS3P has 8 but is £90, think the cheapest option is to get the cheapest mobo you can, then add pci sata cards.
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    Re: Any advice on hardware for a FreeNAS build?

    Thanks pollaxe, that bit-tech article is just the kind of thing I'm looking for!

    I won't need stacks of SATA headers straight away, in fact at first I'll probably only be putting a couple of drives in - but I want it to be expandable, so that in a couple of years I'm not havign to rebuild. I suppose I could put in a PCIe SATA card for more ports if I need them in the future, but it's more expense and potential compatibility aspects which I'd prefer to avoid in the first place if I can. I wouldn't consider anything with less than 4 sata ports, and would prefer 6-8. Obviously only the high end (and power-hungry) mobos have 8-10 ports, and they're way out of my price league for what I'm wanting to spend!

    I agree, most AM2 mobos are fanless - what I meant to say was whether it'd be possible to run the AMD CPU fanless, as putting the FreeNAS box in a cupboard isn't an option - it'll have to stay in the living room under the telly, where all the power and network is.

    Any further suggestions, advice, I'm all ears.

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    Re: Any advice on hardware for a FreeNAS build?

    The problem with fanless cpu is you normally need case airflow, so you still have fans running (unless you get an uber expensive case that also works as a heatsink, but they're generally £200 and only fit a couple of drives.
    So, fanless cpu (something like a scyth ninja (i got the revb. from aria for a tenner and it cools my overclocked e2140 just fine with no fan)) but then 1 or 2 silent fans in the case at low revs.
    or quiet cpu cooler with no case fans, (i have an akasa evo 120 in my server, with the included akasa amber fan set to low it used to cool a p4 prescott 3ghz and I could not hear it at all, ended up being one of the quietest systems I've ever had).
    as for sata cards, adaptec are usually well supported and you can often pick up old adaptec raid cards cheap on ebay, 6 ports go for £30 notes or so. They're not the quickest at raid but if you're just using for the ports that's fine.
    Be wary of interface, I used to use the pci-x in my server as it had pci-x 100mhz, it will "normally" work in standard pci but the speed will be quite slow. though if it's just a file server that might not matter too much.
    But a lot of the cheap sata cards (ebay or those lycom variety on scan) should be fine, just check the freenas forums for what cards others have used.
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