Help me build a low power NAS


Sep 22, 2006
My requirements are the following:

1. Low power usage
2. Ability to accommodate 6-8 hard drives
3. Enough performance to stream 1080p movies from
4. Cost is a factor, so I'm looking for more bang for the buck as opposed to flat out the best performance.

I have the enclosure and I have the hard drives, so i basically need recommendations on mobo, cpu, ram, PSU and network devices.


Jan 2, 2003
Here's the the FreeNAS system I recently built:
CPU:	Pentium E2160 Allendale 1MB 65W Dual-Core
Motherboard:	Intel BLKDG45ID G45 Express mATX
Graphics Card:	Intel GMA X4500HD HDMI/DVI
Memory:	2x1GB Crucial LANFest 2K7 DDR2-800
Hard Drive:	1GB MicroSD USB Adapter/ WD10EADS 1TB Green
Power Supply:	OCZ StealthXStream OCZ400SXS 400W
Case:	Enlight 7237
Sound Card:	IDT 92HD73E 7.1
Operating System:	FreeNAS 0.7
CPU Cooling:	Scythe SCSK-1000 Shuriken / GELID FN-PX09-20 92mm
I had the drive from my previous build, bought the mobo on clearance from Directron ($50), and the CPU and RAM from FS/FT here.

It's meant to be a media system board, so my understanding is that it has limited PCIe lanes, and the x16 slot shares with the onboard graphics. This means that if you want to put a good controller card in, you'd need to disable the onboard graphics and use a discrete card in the x1 or PCI slot (if headless won't work for you).

Other than that controller limitation, the board has more than enough onboard for a simple NAS, including Intel (i.e. high quality) gigabit. The onboard ICH10R has 6 internal SATA ports plus eSATA on the back. It's LGA775, so you can tailor your CPU choice to match your power/efficiency needs. I literally can't hear it running unless I put my ear inside the open (no covers) drive bays.

Between the FreeNAS with the single WD Green and my PC with a single WD Black and onboard Realtek NIC, I was getting over 400Mb. A quick search stated that Blu-Ray is around 50Mb. Any system you build with fairly current hardware should be able to handle the bandwidth for 1080p.


Sep 22, 2006
I actually don't need it to play hd files, just fast enough so that my actual htpc can stream off of it.

It's purely for storage so that my networked computers can pull data off of it.


Apr 7, 2009
A single 1080p stream isn't much of a load at all. 50mbit or so for full rate bluray I think, any NAS can do that, so don't worry about it having enough bandwidth.



Ninja Editor SuperMod
Dec 15, 2005
PSU wise, I highly recommend this PSU:
$55 - Corsair 400CX 400W PSU

Will update later with mobo, CPU, and RAM recommendation.


Jan 8, 2010
Just to note, not every NAS can pull 50Mbits sustained for hours. Spec wise, you may think it is fine, but you can see jitter/ skipping.

As far as components, the big question that is probably worthwile now is whether or not $100 more is worth a bit of futureproofing if you ever wanted something like WHS v2 which appears to be 64-bit and based off of Server 2008 R2. Maybe you have no interest in that, no interest in virtualization, and no interest in transcoding/ other things. If so, see thought 1 below. If you want something cheap, that has a bit more power, see thought 2 below.

Thought 1: Use an Atom dual core setup. N330 or better. Small and cheap. This is the option if you want to keep electric bills down, and initial costs relatively low. Limited expandability, but low platform costs. (<$160)
Thought 2:. If you want more power, one thought is to try the i3-530/ H55 setup. If you live near a Fry's, they have a Gigabyte H55 mATX motherbaord (2x PCIe, 2x PCI slots) + i5-650 combo for $200 after $15 MIR this weekend. You could fairly easily put two PCI Intel Pro/1000 MT NIC's in it (I'm fairly sure the MT is the PCI one), plus 1-2 disk controllers. Those Intel PCI NIC's are pretty good, and combined would probably be <$40. Of course, you could save $40 and use the onboard Realtek gigabit lan. The PCIe slots could house a disk controller now, and if you really wanted an expander or something in the future.

Thought 2 isn't future proofing, it is just the difference between the lowest end and one step up.

XS Janus

Limp Gawd
May 7, 2008
Get the Gigabyte G41 or G43 board... they have good undervolting options in BIOS.
Ita can save you another 10-15W