Budget ZFS NAS Build

lnical

n00b
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Messages
6
I was looking for a simple home NAS. I wanted one with decent performance and could hold at least 2 3.5 hard drives.

I had narrowed it down to a QNAP TS-212 or a Synology DS211j. Both of these are well regarded products with lots of features and OK performance.

For the same price as those units, I considering building my own NAS, perhaps with even better performance than the QNAP or Synology unit for around the same money. The focus was keeping this cheap.

Here's what I ended up with (and what I paid)


I think the motherboard was a good deal. Cheaper than a AMD E350 with a slightly stronger CPU. 6 SATA 3 ports as well. Maximum RAM of 8 GB. It has on-board wi-fi as well, though I'm not using it for the NAS.

8 GB of ram was so cheap, I didn't see a reason to stop at 4 GB or less. From what I read ZFS performance can be improved with more RAM.

The case was small and cheap - both good qualities for my build.

The total after rebates and before taxes was $100 + $35 + $40 = $175. Close to or cheaper than the QNAP or the Synology. The QNAP and the Synology unit were diskless as well.

Photos


Build Items by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr


DSC_8130 by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr


Right Side Internal with HDD by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr


Internal 3.5 Side View by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr

RAM with tall heat sinks will conflict with the middle 3.5" HDD Bay. Luckilly, the RAM I bought was short.


Internal 3.5 Top View by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr


Right Side HDD Mounting Screws by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr


Power Supply Connectors by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr

2 x SATA Power
3 x Molex Power
1 x Floppy Power

Need to purchase some Molex to SATA power adapters for more drives.


Left Side Internal View by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr


Intel E1000 PCI-E 1X NIC by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr

Intel NIC for performance testing. Card on loan.


NAS Left Side / Bottom View by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr


NAS Right Side / Top View by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr


NAS Right Side / Top Detail View by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr

Using the Side Mount 3.5" bay blocks considerable air flow. Considering the current power draw, this should be acceptable. Alternatively, I have seen other people mount a 120 MM fan in this same location.


NAS Side View by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr


NAS Rear View by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr

On Board USB 3.0, Realtek GigE, Wireless Network, DVI, HDMI optical sound too -- not really needed for a NAS.


NAS Front View by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr

Looking at the case layout, this may have been the best way to mount the feet, allowing for convection cooling. This puts the Side mount HDD at the top of the case.

Software

FreeNAS 8.0

I started with FreeNAS 8.0 on a 8 GB USB Stick I had around (minimum 2 GB required, $5-10 added to the price)

I used AJA System Test for speed testing from my Mac Mini. Single Hitachi 5k3000 2TB (5900 rpm) in a ZFS Pool. I haven't purchased a second drive for the mirror yet. This more for proof of concept testing than anything else.

Performance over AFP was sporadic. Write speed was good, except for 1-2 second pauses where all transfer would stop. This changed an 80 MB/s transfer into an average transfer speed of 40 MB/s. Transfers over SMB were around 40 MB/s a second. I guess this was OK but I thought I should be able to get better speeds.

ESXi + FreeNAS 8.0

For fun I tried ESXi 5.0 on a USB Stick with a VM dedicated for FreeNAS. I then used RAW drive mapping in ESXi. This didn't work out well. The VM couldn't access the drive. This was just an All-in-one experiment.

OpenIndiana 151a + napp-it

I used an existing 2.5" SATA drive to install OpenIndiana 151a. Following the guide on the napp-it website I installed napp-it and AFP 2.2.0b6. Added the single drive to a pool and tested.


NAS Speed Test - Single 5k3000 2TB by NotQuiteHere, on Flickr

Average Write speeds are much better (73 MB/s( though there still are some drop outs. I'm assuming read speeds (106.7 MB/s) are cached reads from RAM on the server.

I've done other things on the server as well
  • Enabling xVNC for remote access. The notes in the comments here helped me work through my issues.
  • Installing VirtualBox for future virtual machines
  • Installing CrashPlan to store backups from other house and friends PCs. Peer-to-peer backups are free. Make sure to move the backups from their default location on the boot drive to the ZFS Pool / Folder

Aside from re-using a 2.5" SATA HDD and borrowing a SATA DVD drive for the Open Indiana install (Open Indiana can be installed from USB too). I ended up with a budget NAS with room to grow. I think the case will easily hold 3 x 3.5 SATA drives (Raid Z1 anyone) plus 1 2.5 SATA drive. 4 x 3.5 SATA Driver might be possible but could be pushing it.

This is cheaper, more flexible and higher performing than an off-the-shelf NAS. There are downsides though:
  • Power Consumption
  • Additional Applications
  • Plug and Play

The QNAP and Synology have very low power consumption. QNAP lists 13W in operation. Synology lists 25W. According to my power meter, peak power draw is 55W at the wall, normal draw is around 45W. I haven't done any sort of power save setting investigation.

Both the QNAP and Synology have many built in applications that just work with decent support. In addition both have active communities. This build is very flexible, but there isn't much built-it. I might add some sort of Linux virtual machine for media serving duties and downloding.

If you are looking to build something like this, any ITX board that can take lots of RAM and has enough SATA should work. Look-out for RAM height and placement interfering with the middle 3.5 HDD bay. I think motherboards based on the E350 would work well. So would a H67 ITX board with a Celeron G530 or better CPU. Need to be careful with the HSF clearance though, the retail HSF should be fine. This would bump up the price a little, but not much and have even better CPU performance, but still have low power consumption.

I think this a good example of what can be built on a budget. I'm happy with it.

What do you think of my budget ZFS NAS Build?

lnical.
 

samduhman

Gawd
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Messages
977
Thanks. You "almost" had me rethinking my synology ds211j I just ordered. However I'm glad I stuck with it. I considered building a new one since my old server just died. I read so many good things about the Synology ds211j that I decided to go that route.

My last network server was home build out of old hardware running WHS and it was nothing but a pain. I was constantly having issues with the software and hardware.

It's going to be nice just to do the initial setup and "hopefully" leave it alone other than moving files on occasion.

Now my gaming PC I will always build my own. That's part of the fun I get from the hobby. :)
 

lnical

n00b
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Messages
6
Hi samduhman

Synology vs QNAP vs DIY. Initial Cost / On-Going Cost / Performance / Maintenance is interesting balancing act that everyone will need to determine for themselves. My priorities were a cheap initial build with expandibilty (more than 2 drives) and decent performance (preferably better than FireWire 800) Playing with new software was a bonus.

The Synology DS211j NAS is a very nice unit, low power, lots of add-ons and a very active community. If you have time, I'd appreciate a post on how it works out for you.


My build right now is functioning mainly as a CrashPlan Backup server. More backups are always good :) I haven't touched the unit since I did the build and photos. Extra hard drive purchases are on hold due to the hard drive price increases.

My PCs have always been self-built. However, my main machine for the past 2.5 years has been a Mac Mini. As a result, I wanted to do some experimentation again :)

lnical

Thanks. You "almost" had me rethinking my synology ds211j I just ordered. However I'm glad I stuck with it. I considered building a new one since my old server just died. I read so many good things about the Synology ds211j that I decided to go that route.

My last network server was home build out of old hardware running WHS and it was nothing but a pain. I was constantly having issues with the software and hardware.

It's going to be nice just to do the initial setup and "hopefully" leave it alone other than moving files on occasion.

Now my gaming PC I will always build my own. That's part of the fun I get from the hobby. :)
 

zachary80

2[H]4U
Joined
Oct 15, 2002
Messages
2,745
Have you done any measurements to see what your actual power usage is like? Is the heat output noticeable?

It'd be nice if you could borrow a Kill-a-watt / Belkin Conserve Insight. It's always interesting to see the actual power usage
 

lnical

n00b
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Messages
6
Have you done any measurements to see what your actual power usage is like? Is the heat output noticeable?

It'd be nice if you could borrow a Kill-a-watt / Belkin Conserve Insight. It's always interesting to see the actual power usage
Idle Power usage was fairly high from what I remember, in the 40 W range on my meter. I just purchased two Seagate 1.5 TB Green Drives and will be building the system up again. I'll re-measure the power usage.

lnical
 

lnical

n00b
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Messages
6
Idle Power usage was fairly high from what I remember, in the 40 W range on my meter. I just purchased two Seagate 1.5 TB Green Drives and will be building the system up again. I'll re-measure the power usage.

lnical
I measured power consumption and it seems high - 52 Watts.

Motherboard, Ram, Case and Power Supply as specified in first post.
Fujitsu 120 GB 2.5" HDD as Boot/OS drive.
2 x 1.5 TB Seagate Barracuda ST15000DL003 as ZFS Mirror Drives. Seagate rates these as 4.5 W Idle, 5.8 W operating Seagate Specifications

The power supply in this case is not terribly efficient but I didn't expect it to use this much power. I wonder if OpenIndiana isn't using the power saving features of the Turion. The Turion is only supposed to use 15W max.

To put this in perspective my 2500K/Z68/Corsair 450VX/Intel 320 SSD/2 TB Hitachi uses only 42 Watts idle using the same meter.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this relatively large power usage for my NAS?
 

pjkenned

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
1,971
Just some thoughts on this:
1. I am guessing that the Turion Chip may be 15w, but the Zotac platform may be higher. You are driving WiFi, USB 3.0 and a Radeon 4200 also which probably adds a few watts. This is one of the big reasons it is hard to compare CPUs with on-die/ package GPUs and ones without.
2. To mitigate 1, I would go into the BIOS and disable every controller you can find that you are not going to use. The added benefit is you should generate less heat which means fans spin slower and in turn yielding lower power consumption.
3. I have three of those cases (two different rebrands). Power supply is not so good. Not terrible, but 10% efficiency is 4-5w in this range.
4. Add-on Intel NIC is worth single digit watts.
5. Drive power rating is "average" so I look at this like fuel efficiency ratings. My Cayman S is rated at 19 city/ 27 highway and I get 19.2mpg average doing probably 80% highway driving.

My guess is that the Zotac platform is consuming something like 25-30w. Three drives adds another 14-17w. Add-in NIC 5-8w. Fans with constrained airflow add another few watts.
 

lnical

n00b
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Messages
6
Just some thoughts on this:
1. I am guessing that the Turion Chip may be 15w, but the Zotac platform may be higher. You are driving WiFi, USB 3.0 and a Radeon 4200 also which probably adds a few watts. This is one of the big reasons it is hard to compare CPUs with on-die/ package GPUs and ones without.
2. To mitigate 1, I would go into the BIOS and disable every controller you can find that you are not going to use. The added benefit is you should generate less heat which means fans spin slower and in turn yielding lower power consumption.
3. I have three of those cases (two different rebrands). Power supply is not so good. Not terrible, but 10% efficiency is 4-5w in this range.
4. Add-on Intel NIC is worth single digit watts.
5. Drive power rating is "average" so I look at this like fuel efficiency ratings. My Cayman S is rated at 19 city/ 27 highway and I get 19.2mpg average doing probably 80% highway driving.

My guess is that the Zotac platform is consuming something like 25-30w. Three drives adds another 14-17w. Add-in NIC 5-8w. Fans with constrained airflow add another few watts.
Power consumption is hovering around 42 Watts with the following configuration:

  • Add in NIC removed
  • USB 3.0 Disabled in BIOS
  • Sound disabled in BIOS
  • One 120 mm Fan, Low Speed
  • Fujitsu 120 GB 2.5" SATA HDD OS Drive

Power consumption rises to 53 Watts when adding the Seagate 1.5 TB Green Drives.

I have delved into the /etc/power.conf and the settings look fine. OpenIndiana shows the CPU supporting multiple speeds but it looks like the CPU is always running flat out (1.5 GHz)

I'd prefer to get the power consumption down even lower if possible but I'm stumped. I could remove the wireless card, I suppose. Next would be to configure drive spin down. I'd like to get the CPU to throttle back as well but I can't seem to get it working.

This unit used primarily for CrashPlan Backup storage for multiple computers. I like to have an always on solution so all computers can backup to the device at will.

lnical
 

s0rce

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 17, 2011
Messages
495
I added this to my /etc/power.conf when I was running S11E

autopm enable
autoS3 enable
cpupm enable poll-mode
cpu-threshold 1s
cpu_deep_idle enable
loadaverage 0.07

edit: wanted to point out that if you are using the latest Solaris 11 then power.conf is gone and you need to use the new poweradm thingy which doesn't seem to have many options and I can't figure out how to control the cpu power

also turion power management might not work in solaris, try some google-ing
 
Last edited:
Top