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Biased ideas about things

Budget NAS 2016

19 July, 2016 | Hardware

My goal was to build a simple NAS for home usage (mostly backups, with some NFS mounts for local network), within a reasonable low budget. Reasonable because it wasn't about buying the cheapest components ever, but more likely finding a compromise between how much I can spend on some hardware and how much return I have from it. The more usage for the spent money, the better.

Initial requirements

Both Intel and AMD were taken into considerations, but finding a proper balance between components was hard enough. You can put more juice into your machine, but that it probably stay unused and it will contribute only in a price increase. You can hunt for 6xSATA3 for example, but those are mostly found on more expensive motherboards, that will drag again the price up. You can fit in a 2 core CPU with almost 4 GHz, but then at TDP 100W is not so nice. And so on...

First of all, for an AMD solution I inclined to used some motherboard with AM1 support. Combined with an Athlon/Sempron APU it could have been a good match, but eventually Intel provide me with a better approach: ASRock mITX Motherboard N3150-ITX. This board offers an integrated Intel Quad-Core N3150 processor, which by itself is impressive, expansion to 16 GB of RAM (DDR3 1600) and the needed four SATA3 ports.

The processor can be pushed to 2.08 GHz, but it will do just fine with the default 1.6 GHz. Also because it's already integrated, it keeps the cost down at the expense of no possible upgrade. This wasn't planned anyway, so I did go fine without it.

I cannot emphasis more the CPU: being built in 14nm technology, and with an impressive TDP of only 6 W (!), it needs no active cooling, therefore the passive heatsink is doing its job quite wel (and keeping the noise down).

For the memory I've used a single slot with 8 GB (Kingston 1x8GB, DDR3 SODIMM, 1600MHz), a double quantity can be added later (or transformed to a dual channel). Everything was fit into Cooler Master Mini Tower Elite 110 mITX, which accommodates 2 big HDD (3.5") plus 2x2.5" factor.

Power source is be quiet System Power B8 with enough 350W.

The complete list of components with the prices as of June 2016

MB: ASRock mITX Motherboard N3150-ITX             € 86,85
CPU: Intel® Quad-Code N3150 1.6Ghz - 2.08 Ghz -
RAM: Kingston 1x8GB, DDR3 SODIMM, 1600MHz, CL11 € 35,85
Case: Cooler Master Mini Tower Elite 110 mITX € 44,90
Power source: be quiet System Power B8 350W Bulk € 42,90
O.S. Drive: Intenso 1,8" Portable SSD 128GB € 41,50

The total price for these (without delivery costs, but including all taxes): € 252 (which is quite a bang for the buck considering the performance).

Later, I added my first RAID 1 drives: Toshiba E300 Low Energy 3TB (2 pieces for a total of € 173). The whole setup price around € 390.

For the software, I'm using OMV (Openmedia Vault) which extended with plugins, offers a good management for RAID, encryption and different services as NAS, Samba, torrents, etc.

This can be run from a USB stick, but you need to pay the price for a decent and reliable one. In my case an external USB3 SSD made more sense (and provided way more space that it was actually needed but anyway.... this leaves room for expansion).