Help me put this NAS together?
August 25, 2010 5:29 PM   Subscribe

I currently have 6 SATA drives that I'm trying to put together in a nas box. Will this motherboard and this power supply be able to deal with it? Are there cheaper ways of going about this?

I'll be running everything off a USB stick/OpenFiler, and this will only serve as a file server. I was surprised to see that there weren't any budget end motherboards with a lot of SATA connections. Are there any motherboard + expansion board combinations that I should be looking at?

Also, I haven't touched AMD for a long time off the (perhaps mistaken) belief that Intel sort of lapped them. As I don't care about speed, are there anything reasons to stay away from an AMD board like this?
posted by geoff. to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm using the M4A78L with 3 hard drives and 3 DVD drives with no problem; it's $70 compared to the $100 you linked. ASUS boards have been rock-solid for me for almost a decade now, and AMD offers a better price-to-performance ratio compared to Intel the majority of the time.

Power supply shouldn't be of much concern - hard drives only pull about 10-15W each. It's the video card and CPU you need to worry about when looking at PSU wattage, and you (presumably) aren't going to be putting a monster video card in here. Figure 100 W max for the HDDs and 125 W for the CPU and you're still well within power budget for that PSU. You can probably drop down to a 400W PSU without any trouble to save some money / heat.
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:38 PM on August 25, 2010

Co-workers have bought Phenom boxes and have been very happy with them. Athlons or Semprons are reasonable value for the money but won't amaze you with raw performance, no. IMO it's actually hard to build a cheap NAS from parts because you tend to either get too much stuff you don't need like fancy memory or graphics chips or not enough stuff, like processing power or IO bandwidth. But that board seems fine if it fits your budget. But the Sempron 140 that Newegg has is cheap and only pulls 45W vs 65W or 80W for the Athlon IIs or the Phenom IIs.
posted by GuyZero at 5:43 PM on August 25, 2010

I have a 6x SATA nas box running on a 300W power supply. Should be no problemo.
posted by zsazsa at 5:50 PM on August 25, 2010

What are you planning to do with the NAS? You may be able to get by with an Atom-based board. It won't be fast, but fileservers don't generally need to be fast. If you're only pushing music and backups through a 100mbps lan, it'll be more than adequate. Throw a 4-port SATA card in, and you'll be set.
posted by schmod at 6:40 PM on August 25, 2010

Response by poster: You may be able to get by with an Atom-based board

Streaming 1080p movies and running a SlimServer (MP3 music streaming). If need be, I can offload the SlimServer and put it on another device. Are there any Atom boards with more than a couple of SATA ports?
posted by geoff. at 6:51 PM on August 25, 2010

I concur, that's substantially more power than you need.

I ran a 6-drive SATA NAS and off of a similar but much older Asus board (an A7N), a single core Athlon, a 300W power supply and Gentoo for a couple of years until I realized that even that was more than I needed. I ran SlimServer and mt-daapd as well. I concur with one of the above posters that if performance is not paramount, an older 45W AMD board is the best buy.

After a few years, I ultimately decided to move to a ReadyNAS Pro, which is a 4-drive unit run off of an Atom -- it saves substantially on power over a full Phenom / Core board, and is much smaller than the behemoth that used to house my drives. The ReadyNAS Pro has an embedded SlimServer and is plenty fast to stream video -- a home-built Atom solution would likely work fine for you. This SuperMicro board might do the trick.
posted by eschatfische at 6:59 PM on August 25, 2010

Newegg lists two Atom boards with 6 SATA ports (use the Advanced search to specify number of ports) but the reviews are mixed.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:07 PM on August 25, 2010

Oh, and the Atom will draw about 30W for the *entire system,* minus the drives (which, if you have programmed to spin down, should be negligible too).

If you build a big ol' server that draws 150W when idle, and run it 24/7 you'll be looking at a yearly electric bill of $144 for the server (assuming $0.11 per KWh -- this may be a bit high depending on where you live)
posted by schmod at 7:28 PM on August 25, 2010

I'd recommend Atom with a 150w pico psu. 300W is more than enough, and the linked PS will be highly inefficient for such a low load system.

You link to an ATX motherboard so I'm assuming you're building this in a larger case, in which case you're fine with a Sempron/Athlon II, and I would recommend a hardware raid card if you go in that direction instead of relying on the onboard controller. I have not done any research in some time so figure out which data redundancy structure works best for you. As schmod points out, consider your energy costs as well. I really wanted to throw a NAS into my network setup, but using dropbox, throwing another green drive into my system and using external USB backups was more cost efficient than buying the hardware and leaving it on all the time.
posted by palionex at 12:06 AM on August 26, 2010

In general, integrated video will draw significantly less power at idle compared to most add-in cards. NewEgg seems to have a number of AMD compatible boards with at least 6 SATA ports and integrated video. You shouldn't need a very capable CPU for pushing a small number of audio or video streams out.

AMD is fine. They can't really compete with Intel at the top end, but they offer good value at the performance tiers where they can compete.

When I was considering a home-NAS build ~6 months or so ago, I was leaning strongly towards getting a low end AMD chip from a recent fab generation (45nm) and underclocking it a bit. It looked like it was going to be cheaper and more capable than an Atom solution, and that overall power consumption would be in the same ballpark since a lot of the cheaper Atom boards had crummy, old, Intel chipsets that used more power than the CPU.
posted by Good Brain at 12:53 AM on August 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice, I'm going with the M4A78L and Sempron, not too worried about the power costs. I'd rather have the ability to run Xen/ESX in the future if I need to be, so I decided against the Atom board. Thanks Internet!
posted by geoff. at 11:28 AM on August 27, 2010

Response by poster: Also, not counting the drives and the case, the entire thing cost me $231. That's pretty amazing. I probably could have edged out under $200 if I didn't elect for the Athlon II 3.0GHZ Dual Core.

The drives cost about $450, so if you include them, you're looking at a pretty nice 16Tb system for under $800. That's about the price of one of those ReadyNAS devices without the drives.
posted by geoff. at 2:24 PM on August 30, 2010

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