28 Apr 2014

There are lots of pre-fab NAS options out there such as Drobo or Synology devices, but with the right parts you can build a home built system for a bit less with a lot more expandability and flexibility than those other options.  In this article I'll outline my own custom build of a NAS server and the equipment I used to make it all possible.  I used some spare parts and shelving to make for a more convenient setup over the short term without the need for a rack initially.  In some ways this article is an update to this setup I've been running for awhile, showing its been a venerable setup in the longer run so far.


 F2A85XM-D3H Socket FM2


First up is the motherboard I used for this setup.  This board is the AMD A85X Hudson D4 series.  It features 8 SATA 6 Gb/s ports, which is one of the reasons I went with AMD other Intel, as it was harder to find (at the time I built this many months back in 2013) boards with at least 8 SATA ports.  It features your standard HDMI, DVI and VGA out and also has USB 3.0.



For the CPU I went with the Amd A8-5500 3.7ghz max quad core (there is a newer, faster one out now, but this is plenty for a raid server and even to stream Bluray to multiple destinations).  On the RAM I went with the Kingston KHX16C10B1RK2/1t 16GB kit.

Chassis / Case / Stand

 Supermicro SC825TQ-560LPB

For the chassis/case, I already had this guy handy.  Any type of tower or horizontal rack type box would suffice here, however.  I chose this rack because it can hold 8 drives (actually 9, if you squeeze another in there carefully), though granted I only have 8 ports to work with off the motherboard at the moment, but that can be remedied with a low profile sata III add-on card.  This sits in my basement, so the noise/whine of the chassis is no issue at the moment (its a bit noisy).  This chassis features a 560 Watt power supply, 8 hot-swap drive bays and 3 80mm fans.  Its dimensions are 25.5" x 17.2" x 3.5".

Finally, for the rack or in my case shelving, I had some heavy duty aluminum shelving available.  I spaced things out so I could place the chassis on one shelf, a UPS Battery Backup on the bottom shelf and an upper area at arms length for the mouse, LCD and keyboard.  Eventually this can be replaced by a standard 19" rack setup.


Hard drives / OS / FlexRAID

OS drive:  For the OS its just a standard 500GB Sata III drive, while for the raid array I went with the 4TB 5900 RPM STCA4000100 USB based models from Seagate.  For those I removed the internal drives from the USB enclosure and installed them in the chassis.  This was far cheaper than buying the bare bones internal drive by itself (at the time I built this and even recently, they can be found for as little as $129 each, shipped).

RAID:  The RAID i went with is software RAID, under Windows 7 at the time.  This using the FlexRAID software in a RAID TX setup with 2 parity.  Initially I started with about 4 drives but have since expanded to around 7.  I now use the RAID for both streaming of movies in house to that of a backup repository for things like Acronis images from my machines.


Having ran with this setup now for almost a year, I must say it is still rock solid.  I rarely ever need to reboot the system and it acts as a perfect media server for Windows Media Center and a must have, Media Browser,  under my other HTPC (Home Theater PC).  It even handles streaming movies across the internet without taxing the local system very well.  For the cost of the motherboard, ram, cpu and hard drives, this setup was perfect for my home NAS needs and didn't break the bank to get going initially.  I have also had no issues with the setup running in the basement either, as far as humidity/wear and tear is concerned, not even one dead drive to date.


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