What is the smallest x86 computer I can buy that supports a 3.5" hdd?
April 1, 2015 7:41 AM   Subscribe

What I really want is an 8TB hard drive with an ethernet port on the back side. The Intel NUC is almost right but it only supports a 2.5" drive at best. Is there a product that does what I want? It must run Linux but doesn't need to be particularly fast.
posted by Skorgu to Technology (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What I really want is an 8TB hard drive with an ethernet port on the back side.

But you don't want a single-bay NAS?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:53 AM on April 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

To provide a starting point, HP Microservers are 12 inches on a side and have 4 3.5" bays. Googling "Microserver alternatives" or "linux-compatible NAS" might help.
posted by Leon at 7:54 AM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you're looking for something like one of these single-bay NAS devices. The QNAP models do appear to run a flavor of Linux.
posted by Partial Law at 7:56 AM on April 1, 2015

Response by poster: What worries me about those NASes is that getting a real distro on them is nontrivial. For example the TS-120 has some funky steps required to get debian and anything else seems basically impossible. Plus it's some arm derivative. If I could get that exact chassis with a non-appliance x86 chipset I'd be thrilled.
posted by Skorgu at 8:00 AM on April 1, 2015

Is USB 2.0 speed acceptable? That gets you about 20 MBytes/sec, or roughly half the transfer rate of a 3.5" drive. If so there's a zillion USB to SATA adapters out there, and you could plug one in to a Raspberry Pi and call it a day. (Example description).

But if you're serious about disk speed you won't be happy with USB 2.0. I did a quick search for "Raspberry Pi eSATA" and turned up the Banana Pi, a Raspberry Pi clone with an eSATA port. That sheet says "up to 2TB" though which is a bit odd. But maybe there's a product like that which is sufficient?
posted by Nelson at 8:25 AM on April 1, 2015

So sounds like you want a Raspberry Pi-driven NAS setup?
posted by suedehead at 8:26 AM on April 1, 2015

The hard part is when you get small enough, the RAM is soldered on board, and they drop SATA for USB. I would suggest a low power Micro-ATX unit in a small enclosure, enough space for 1-2 drives.

The problem is many of these small devices don't have the RAM or CPU for a really nice modern filesystem like ext4 or btrfs, and installing without console access can be painful. If you are trying to conserve power, consider folding other household devices into it as well. Make it the home access point with hostAP, or the media center to your television.
posted by nickggully at 8:37 AM on April 1, 2015

Best answer: Welp, there seems to be such a thing as the Habey EMC-800S case into which you could stuff a mini-itx machine and 1 3.5" drive. It claims to be 8x9x3.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:26 AM on April 1, 2015

The Mini-Box M300 is the smallest enclosure I'm aware of that has a 3.5" disk bay. Add the D2500CCE motherboard, the pico-PSU, a power adapter, some RAM and your drive, and you've got yourself a maxi-NUC.

However, keep in mind that, unless you have a really good backup strategy, you'll cry the day that 8TB hard drive dies. A RAIDed NAS combined to a backup mechanism will be much safer than a really big hard drive in a really small box.

In a different direction, the ReadyNAS Pro/Ultra NASes, the ones that were recently discontinued, were x86-based and ran Debian Etch. Upgrading to recent versions can be, as you mentioned, difficult, but it's still reasonably plain Debian. The ReadyNAS Ultra 2 Plus is rather compact, arguably smaller than either the Mini-Box or that Habey with two 3.5" drives. (The 8TB drives should technically work, but I can't find anyone who's tested it yet, though.)
posted by eschatfische at 9:31 AM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Cubie Board is Raspberry Pi sized but comes with a Sata port.
posted by tallus at 11:44 AM on April 1, 2015

Raspberry Pi Model 2 + a cable or docking station.
posted by at at 11:53 AM on April 1, 2015

Why do you need x86 over ARM?
posted by destructive cactus at 4:24 PM on April 1, 2015

Have you thought about building yourself a desktop?

Pick a "HTPC" case or any other tiny case, and you have full control, a luxury nothing else can come to.
posted by harisund at 8:53 PM on April 1, 2015

This was on sale on Kinja today. You plug an external hd into it and plug it into the ethernet for networked storage.
posted by irisclara at 2:55 AM on April 2, 2015

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