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Old 11-09-2012, 07:35 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 149
Default Advice needed for a new NAS box

Hi, I'm looking to build a NAS box. I plan to use it for storage and occasionally to stream video content to my WD TV live plus media player.

I am currently using a D Link DNS-323 NAS for storage and streaming and it works well for me. I have 2 1TB drives in the D Link NAS assembled in a Raid 1 configuration. Because of the Raid 1, I only have 1 TB of drive space available (which is close to filling up, thus requiring me to do something).

Instead of buying another NAS, I thought it might be fun to build my own. I have an ATX case, power supply, case fans, keyboard, and mouse lying around that I could use in a build. I would need to purchase a CPU, motherboard, ram, maybe a dedicated NIC card to use, and of course some hard drives. I plan on using FreeNAS to run it.

I was thinking of using an AMD A4-3400 APU and MSI A55M-P33 Motherboard. Frys has this combo on sale this week for $49 after rebate. The A4-3400 should be plenty powerful for what I am doing (storage and streaming). I will not be doing any transcoding and therefore do not need the extra muscle in a CPU. The MSI motherboard has 6 Sata 2 connectors and 6 USB 2 ports. It does not have any Sata 3 nor any USB 3 connections. For what I'm doing, I don't think I need SATA 3 nor USB 3.

If I go with the combo, I can still run a Raid 1 configuration and add hard drives as I need them (which is a plus). I might also use a dedicated SSD as a boot drive.

But before going full speed into this project, I wanted to get some opinions as to how good an idea this is. Should I do this? I know getting a Synology NAS would be ideal, but I can build one at a cost well below what QNAP or Synology go for.

But again, I could just get bigger drives for the D Link I have now and be done with it.

All input is welcome and thanks for reading this.

1. I want to build a NAS box.
2. Are AMD A4-3400 APU and MSI A55M-P33 motherboard good choices?
3. Am I stupid and should I just upgrade what I currently have instead?

Last edited by backinsac; 11-09-2012 at 07:38 PM. Reason: typo in title
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Old 11-10-2012, 01:32 AM   #2
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I think your plan will work and I don't blame you for wanting to build your own.
NAS is the new buzz word, anything with that in it's name commands a premium right now. Also if you want sata3 hardware raid, syba hyperduo is a good cheap option (I believe promise and highpoint have a solution also). These use the updated marvell chip with a risc controller and 4 ports for around $40.

Right now I think the best deal for consumer drives are the seagate 7200.14. They have the lowest price/GB and the highest performance/$ assuming you are ok with the 1yr warranty. Also they are within ~1watt of the wd red drives.
It's worth noting that they don't have TLER/ERC support, but this is one reason they are cheaper.
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Last edited by Soulkeeper; 11-10-2012 at 01:35 AM.
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:18 AM   #3
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If you are halfway competent with computers, you can build your own NAS and use NAS4Free (the newer version of the old FreeNAS), or similar OS. I knew little about file servers and still managed to set stuff up within an hour. You will save money over buying a pre-built, probably get more expandability and upgradeability, maybe gain ECC, gain ZFS if you want to go down that road, and lose commercial tech support and some time. It's your call.

If you plan to have it on 24/7/365, you probably want ECC support. That rules out all APUs. Sempron 140, Athlon II/Phenom II, and Bulldozer/Vishera all support ECC, but not APUs. You can also go Intel but they have high-priced mobos that support ECC, and even if you go ghetto with a i3 that supports ECC (semi-undocumented feature) rather than a Xeon, it will cost so much more that it may not be worth it to you to go Intel even if you save a few watts of idle power.

If you don't know why you need ECC for a NAS, I'm not going to go into yet another lengthy explanation here. Google for it. Or maybe someone else can answer it.
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Last edited by blastingcap; 11-10-2012 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:33 AM   #4
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What annoys me most about the prebuilt NAS is that they tend to perform quite poorly because they use Atom CPUs. I can get 100 MB/s sustained across 1Gbit/s Ethernet easily with an i3 and it runs exceptionally low power as well. It is slightly more expensive to buy in the end but its also a lot better in performance in the end.
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