NAS vs. DAS vs. other

Jan 30, 2003
I've been tentatively exploring the idea of setting up a NAS or other type of mass storage device, and would value some input. Majority of the storage would be used for my home media collection. My current setup (combo HTPC / Plex server) is -

Dell Optiplex 9020 SFF PC
24gb RAM (non-ECC)
2gb R7 250 video card
250gb 850 EVO SSD boot drive
2x4TB USB externals
4x5TB USB externals

I've got all but ~5TB of the above full, and each time I've added a new USB drive, I've thought a bit more about how a more elegant solution may make sense.

Given the specs of the above system, I think that I could get away with something pretty simple from a server perspective and let the existing PC continue to do all the required transcoding etc for Plex. I'm considering a few options -

1 - pick up a cheap server, drop in my own drives, set up as a basic NAS. Something along the lines of a Dell T20, Lenovo TS140 or TS440 - these go on sale pretty often and probably fit the bill. I like the TS440 over the other two because I'm not maxed out at 6 drives.
2 - build a custom NAS from ground up and load something like FreeNAS on it to run. More customizable, but more work and potentially not as cost effective as waiting on a deal on one of the above configs.
3 - set up a DAS instead of a NAS. It appears the Lenovo ThinkServer SA120 can be picked up for a few hundred dollars on ebay. This has slots for 12x 3.5" drives, would fit in my home theater setup, and could connect to existing PC with a SAS adapter
4 - pre configured NAS like a Synology or Qnap. Easy to set up, seemingly less bang for the buck
5 - other suggestions?

3 seems like an interesting option given I have a pretty powerful PC that is already acting as a server, and there are just so many drive bays on that thing... but what does [H] think?



Sep 2, 2004
Option 1 & 2 are close enough to the same thing that it's just a matter of your time vs your money... Those servers are cheap enough and enterprise reliable enough, you might not want to spend the time/effort to building your own server. For a gaming/performance PC then possibly, but for a server to sit there for a number of years, I'd just pick up a cheap server now and then add a SAS HBA later and expand with a DAS enclosure.
I was looking at hte Lenovo SA120 since it seems to be pretty cheap on ebay... Could also be useful for upgrading an existing array w/o swapping drives one at a time...

A NAS like QNAP or Synology is a good network solution which would allow you to shut down your main computer... I've got a QNAP for some VM testing and being used to share some USB enclosures. But it is not good $/TB... Easy to setup, but Option 1/2 are more cost efficient


Limp Gawd
Jul 30, 2007
If your HTPC is always on AND if it's extremely stable (no dodgy overclocking, etc.) AND you don't envision a dedicated server doing any secondary tasks, the simplest plug-and-play solution is (3). Fairly cheap and not at all time-intensive.

Remember that server chassis like the SA120 can be pretty noisy, so you may need to mod/replace the fans and/or situate it out of the way. Fortunately, SAS cables can be quite long.

The other question is drive capacity: what are you going to do with the existing externals? "Shuck" the drives and put them in the DAS? Get all-new 6TB drives? What happens when the SA120 is full and you need more room -- cascade it to another SA120?

Deleted member 88227

I was in a similar situation. My HTPC was still plenty powerful enough to handle the Plex Server, but instead I built a similar NAS using a case that could hold a lot of HDDs and be quiet. Loaded it with 3TB drives and now I've got a NAS running Plex Server and over 21TB worth of storage with room to add more drives later.

Specs of my HTPC and NAS are in my signature.