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Mini-ITX, High capacity build.

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Latty

Dabbler
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Edit: Updated build after suggestions in this thread:
As pointed out, I don't need the CPU with a GPU given the motherboard with IPMI, but at £10 more, it's worth it to me to be able to actually hook it up to a display if something goes wrong.

I'm a big fan (no pun intended) of Noctua's fans for how quiet they are.

I could have gotten a full ATX PSU - but the extra space really helps in mini-ITX cases. I've done the same thing in other builds and it's great. I've been really impressed with the SFX PSUs I already have, and the cost difference isn't that high. This case is also *really* tight on the PSU if I ever need a PCI card, to the extent I saw a lot of people saying they had to use non-modular PSUs.

So my old build (which was just some old consumer parts thrown together) finally kicked the bucket, so I'm looking at a replacement.

My current build plan:

Along with six 8TB drives. The cheapest option for this is Seagate Archive drives, but I may well try to get a mix of drives rather than just going for the cheapest option.

I have my current two USB drives I'm booting off, but also a Samsung 840 EVO SSD that got replaced I may well end up using.

The CPU choice is mainly down to feeling it was worth spending a little more for the hyperthreading and GPU.

The big potential problem is the motherboard BIOS - it needs to be past a certain version to support v6 Xeons, so I'm checking that before purchase.

The RAM is also out of stock - I was hoping to pick it up from Crucial because of the compatibility guarantee they offer - the Memory QVL from ASRock isn't particularly useful as it doesn't even list any 16GB modules. I'm having a hard time finding good alternatives.
 
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danb35

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it was worth spending a little more for the hyperthreading and GPU.
The GPU will be completely worthless in FreeNAS.
 

Latty

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The GPU will be completely worthless in FreeNAS.

Well, except the motherboard has nothing built in, so I need something to initially configure the system with (the motherboard doesn't have IPMI or anything) - I could set up the system with a PCI-E card, but it'd be annoying to have to swap a card in if I ever need to work with the machine raw - which does happen from time to time in my experience. Given the price difference is £10 for the model without - I'll pay for that convenience.
 

danb35

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Latty

Dabbler
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Then it's a poor choice of motherboard for a server.

To some extent. The alternative that does support it is the E3C236D2I - this only supports six SATA devices however, which, while I could deal with it, isn't ideal. The mini-ITX motherboard choices aren't really great, so I'm making compromises. Given I'm not planning on having many machines, I don't feel like it's that important - managing the machine physically isn't a big deal convenience-wise for me, and £10 on the CPU is hardly a huge cost (in fact, the other motherboard would easily cost more without factoring in a potential extension card to replace the two missing SATA ports).
 

Chris Moore

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Well, except the motherboard has nothing built in, so I need something to initially configure the system with (the motherboard doesn't have IPMI or anything)
Then wouldn't it be better to use the model with IPMI built in?
http://asrockrack.com/general/productdetail.asp?Model=E3C232D2I#Specifications
I know, you loose two SATA ports for no good reason but you can add a SAS controller and make the whole system so much better.
Something like this would work in that case:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-PERC-...AID-Controller-47MCV-w-LED-Cable/132400465118
You just need to flash the firmware to the latest IT mode version from LSI/AVAGO and it is easy. I have done about five of them.
Just don't get the one shaped like the Dell H310 because the cables will block one of the drive bays from being used. Size matters.
The IPMI saves you needing the CPU with a GPU built in AND you get remote access. On top of that, you get an actual SAS controller for your drives.
 

Chris Moore

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Latty

Dabbler
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Then wouldn't it be better to use the model with IPMI built in?
http://asrockrack.com/general/productdetail.asp?Model=E3C232D2I#Specifications
I know, you loose two SATA ports for no good reason but you can add a SAS controller and make the whole system so much better.
Something like this would work in that case:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-PERC-...AID-Controller-47MCV-w-LED-Cable/132400465118
You just need to flash the firmware to the latest IT mode version from LSI/AVAGO and it is easy. I have done about five of them.
Just don't get the one shaped like the Dell H310 because the cables will block one of the drive bays from being used. Size matters.
The IPMI saves you needing the CPU with a GPU built in AND you get remote access. On top of that, you get an actual SAS controller for your drives.

I'll take a look, but this looks like it costs me £70 minimum net (looking at how hard it is to find those kinds of controllers in the UK - not a huge fan of ebay either, +£50 on the mobo, +£40 for the card, -£10 for the CPU), and I think even a low profile PCI-E card will block a hard drive slot in the case (which isn't the end of the world - I only need 6/8, but clearly it'd be nice to have them usable for future purposes). I could just only use the 6 ports, which reduces it to like £40 and less future expansion potential, but I'm not convinced the remote access is worth that much to me given it's not going to be awkward at all for me to deal with it physically.
 
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Chris Moore

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I'm not convinced the remote access is worth that much to me given it's not going to be awkward at all for me to deal with it physically.
Remote access means never ever needing to connect a monitor, keyboard or mouse to the computer. You plug in power and plug in network and walk away. Sit at your computer, remotely mount the ISO image, remotely power the system on, remotely view or edit the BIOS settings, remotely watch and interact with the OS installation. You already know how to use FreeNAS, you remotely access the web management GUI and SSH in for anything that can't be done in the web page. This means you only need to touch the system if there is a hardware fault that need some tending, like a drive failure. I wish that I had IPMI on every computer I own.
 

Chris Moore

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You probably won't be convinced until you try it.
 

Latty

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Remote access means never ever needing to connect a monitor, keyboard or mouse to the computer. You plug in power and plug in network and walk away. Sit at your computer, remotely mount the ISO image, remotely power the system on, remotely view or edit the BIOS settings, remotely watch and interact with the OS installation. You already know how to use FreeNAS, you remotely access the web management GUI and SSH in for anything that can't be done in the web page. This means you only need to touch the system if there is a hardware fault that need some tending, like a drive failure. I wish that I had IPMI on every computer I own.

Sure, I get the idea, but it's a rare thing to need to do that stuff, and it's going to sit next to a desk with monitors it can connect to, and a USB switch I already have for a main machine and gaming machine. Remote admin really comes down to meaning I don't have to swap my monitor input and press a button on a USB switch. I'm not saying it's worthless, just it doesn't feel like it's worth the extra money for me, especially when it involves sourcing stuff from ebay (which is awkward & slow), and losing the PCI-E slot and probably losing a drive bay.

I am honestly considering it, I am just aware it is a trade-off.

It also begs the question of other motherboards I discounted for having too few SATA ports. If I'm buying an extension card that'll handle 8 drives anyway, there may be new options.

Edit: Yeah, it looks like even half-height pci-e cards mean you lose a slot in this case, which sucks. Maybe the answer is just to limit myself at 6 drives and pick up a different case (maybe the Fractal Node?), just give up on the idea of a potential 8-drive system, as I don't need it right now.
 
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Chris Moore

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Edit: Yeah, it looks like even half-height pci-e cards mean you lose a slot in this case, which sucks. Maybe the answer is just to limit myself at 6 drives and pick up a different case (maybe the Fractal Node?), just give up on the idea of a potential 8-drive system, as I don't need it right now.
Take a look at this video using the case: https://youtu.be/YsRyGb28IlI?t=23m
The only reason he has a problem is because he bought a card where the cables come off the front edge of the card instead of using a card where the cables come out the top of the card.
Did you have other plans for the slot? Because you didn't mention any.
 

Latty

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Take a look at this video using the case: https://youtu.be/YsRyGb28IlI?t=23m
The only reason he has a problem is because he bought a card where the cables come off the front edge of the card instead of using a card where the cables come out the top of the card.
Did you have other plans for the slot? Because you didn't mention any.

At about 29 minutes he shows a shot inside - it's actually not just the cables, it's the board itself that overhangs into the cage.

For now, I only need 6 drives, so I could just ignore that all entirely. The only thing it would stop me doing right now is using the SSD I have as a boot device, and I was only thinking about doing that because I had it lying around - the USB drives I'm currently booting off would be fine.

My main issue isn't using the PCI-E slot, more having to buy a card via ebay from china which has expense, takes time and is a lot more awkward when things go wrong. I'd much rather avoid it, and those cards are expensive to buy new from every retailer I've checked.

It's probably all overkill - I should be fine with six sata ports. I'm still not sold spending the extra money for IPMI alone is worth it, even if it doesn't cost me any ports. It's a small QoL feature. To be honest, it'll probably come down to what boards are in-stock and available at the right bios versions.

My bigger concern right now is the memory - my impression is that boards these days are a lot more picky and just picking up matching specs isn't a great idea. There is some Kingston RAM available, but their compatibility tool doesn't suggest that kit, which concerns me.
 

KrisBee

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If you're talking about a HBA controller card then you don't have to buy from China via ebay, in fact that's a risk. LSI SAS/SATA (9211-8i and other chipsets) type cards come up pretty often in various guises and if a 4 port card is sufficient, how about this one for £35 in P&P? :

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LSI-MEGAR...150457?hash=item25e30e3a79:g:OXIAAOSwOgdYohyM

The servethehome website has a long running thread on all the various cards ( LSI RAID Controller and HBA Complete Listing Plus OEM Models) , together with a top picks list.

But does it really have to be a mini-itx based system? You've instantly restricted your choice of m/board and that DS380 case looks very cramped and I'd be concerned about airflow and temps with six HDDs in flimsy looking plastic sledges that might suffer from vibration.

Of course the idea of a mini-itx system in a compact case is appealing for some home users, but I wonder if above 4 HDD it's a viable solution. The Fractal 304/804 is an alternative.

IPMI is something you'd wouldn't want to be without, once you have it.
 

Stux

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SweetAndLow

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Archive drives are not a good choice and does the CPU come with a stock cooler? If it does use that not the noctua.
 

Chris Moore

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Along with six 8TB drives. The cheapest option for this is Seagate Archive drives, but I may well try to get a mix of drives rather than just going for the cheapest option.
I totally overlooked that. Sorry. There have been some discussions no the forum recently regarding the Archive drives and how they use SMR (shingled) recording. They don't hold up well to re-writes. So, if the data you put on the system will change over time, you probably don't want to use them. If the data will absolutely never change, only grow, they might be an option. Just know that they will be slow and get slower over time.
 

Latty

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OK, so my current plan is to swap to the Node 304 case, swap to the E3C236D2I motherboard and pick up two each of the WD Red, Seagate IronWolf and Toshiba N300 8TB drives (across my suppliers to try and get different batches if possible) rather than the Archive drives. I don't really care about the performance aspect of the SMR drives, my data is pretty stationary, but I've always been one to worry about buying lots of the same drives anyway, so it's a good enough excuse for me to spend the extra £20 or whatever a drive.

Archive drives are not a good choice and does the CPU come with a stock cooler? If it does use that not the noctua.

It doesn't - I missed that originally, as the rule with the consumer Intel chips in the past was that Retail packaging meant a stock cooler, but even the retail package specifically states no cooler in this case.

With the move to the new case, I'm thinking of moving to the Noctua NH-U12S as it fits, might as well get something bigger that can run slower and quieter. It should also reinforce the airflow through the case nicely.

Memory-wise, Crucial doesn't even list this board, and Kingston only lists the single 16GB module, not a paired kit of two. The manufacturers always recommend against buying two individual modules - is that advice I really need to follow? Amazon appears to have a kit of two, but that isn't listed as supported, despite the individual modules being.
 
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kaih1984

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Not sure about your requirements on workload, but if you don't need that much horsepower actually there are several ITX board with more than 8 storage ports.

Besides ASRock C2750D4I and C2550D4I, I personally found below on Newegg, and it is on sale now:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod...-00008&cm_re=p9a-i-_-1HU-009B-00008-_-Product

With $230 you can have 8-core C2750 and 18 drive ports in total, although memory support is not that attractive (32G DDR3 UDIMM at maximum).

I know for now it is not good idea to buy any C2000 but anyway I already ordered one.
 

SweetAndLow

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OK, so my current plan is to swap to the Node 304 case, swap to the E3C236D2I motherboard and pick up two each of the WD Red, Seagate IronWolf and Toshiba N300 8TB drives (across my suppliers to try and get different batches if possible) rather than the Archive drives. I don't really care about the performance aspect of the SMR drives, my data is pretty stationary, but I've always been one to worry about buying lots of the same drives anyway, so it's a good enough excuse for me to spend the extra £20 or whatever a drive.



It doesn't - I missed that originally, as the rule with the consumer Intel chips in the past was that Retail packaging meant a stock cooler, but even the retail package specifically states no cooler in this case.

With the move to the new case, I'm thinking of moving to the Noctua NH-U12S as it fits, might as well get something bigger that can run slower and quieter. It should also reinforce the airflow through the case nicely.

Memory-wise, Crucial doesn't even list this board, and Kingston only lists the single 16GB module, not a paired kit of two. The manufacturers always recommend against buying two individual modules - is that advice I really need to follow? Amazon appears to have a kit of two, but that isn't listed as supported, despite the individual modules being.
You're wasting your time with getting multiple drives from different manufactures. It's much easier to just get all the same drive in one big order and then test them. If a drive is going to die it most likely will die in the first 72h of heavy usage. So use badblocks to test them, that test alone will probably last 3 days.
 
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