Help! I’m building a small FreeNAS server

Discussion in 'DIY Server and Workstation Builds' started by Keenan Spillar, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. Keenan Spillar

    Keenan Spillar New Member

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    Hey guys! I’ll just warn you, I’m a newbie when it comes to server stuff so bear with me.

    So I’ve built lots of computers in the past, and so I’ve decided I need a storage server for all my various video/photo/music hobbies to live in peaceful redundancy.
    I want to run FreeNAS because I’ve fooled around with that a little bit, but I’m still at a loss with what hardware I should get.
    My initial reaction is to just to put a low spec Ryzen chip with a b450 motherboard and like 8GB of RAM in a case. Also I’ve got 2x 4TB WD Red drives with plans to expand in the future. But I honesty can’t come up with any answers if this is a good spec sheet or not.

    USAGE:
    Back up files safely.
    Fool around with a VM.
    Maybe mess with Plex? Not sure what this entails though.

    Thanks for the help guys!
    Also I’m running gigabit ethernet
     
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  2. csp-guy

    csp-guy Member

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    Hi!

    Welcome here!

    If you can get a used HP microserver N54L, i can fully recommend it to you, if you want a quiet and cheap solution. I have got one, it serves me very well in my home.

    2 core AMD Turion CPU,16GB ECC RAM, 4 SATA bay, plus 5.25 bay slot.

    1 16x PCIE slot.

    Freenas boots from internal usb drive, I have 4x5TB in mirror, I plugged Intel X540T1 to PCIE-slot, and I am using it as freenas server.

    I know, the CPU is not too strong, but I can get 3-4Gbit speed from disk array.

    You can put the esata cable to inside the case, and using the motherboards 5th sata port you can plug totally 6 sata drives.

    If you want to use freenas, ECC ram is highly recommended.

    This is the cheapest solution up to 6 sata drives in compact size.

    If you want faster and stronger solution in compact size, supermicro has a good 4x3.5 and 2x2.5 case, and you can buy mini-itx motherboard (for example this is my favorite: ASRock Rack > EPYC3251D4I-2T ), with 6 sata connection, but this will be lot of more cost.

    PS: if you buy 10gbe copper card to your pc and server, you can get better speeds using direct attachment, faster, than gigabit, i would not buy 1GBE solution anymore.
     
    #2
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  3. BoredSysadmin

    BoredSysadmin Active Member

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    if you are interested in plex, one cpu feature should stand out above the rest and it's quicksync. With plex pass (premium) it allows you to use hardware video transcoding on low power cpu [my plex is running on Celeron J3455]. Newer the cpu, better the capabilities of it's quicksync.
    I haven't tried it, but rumor has that you can expose quicksync to FreeNAS jail or container.
    ECC memory is indeed highly recommended, but for home usage, not crucial. I'm running 32gb non-ECC FreeNAS at home for years without any data corruption issues. A general recommendation is 1Gb of memory for every 1TB of data, but you could do a bit less and not hurt performance too much.
    Disks, you could save tons $ and go with BestBuy Easystore drives [chucked] - these are nearly identical to WD RED. It's common to buy 10TB drive for $150
    you won't gain much with adding SSD for reading cache (L2ARC), but if you want to run VMs from it, then ZIL (or write cache) could useful.
    Be very careful selecting one, as most home SSDs would be a crappy choice for it. here some good choices:
    https://www.servethehome.com/buyers...as-servers/top-picks-freenas-zil-slog-drives/
     
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    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
    Keenan Spillar likes this.
  4. csp-guy

    csp-guy Member

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    S3700/3710 are great drives, and Optane 900p, and P4510, are too. :)
     
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  5. pinkanese

    pinkanese New Member

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    Your specs sound fine. The Ryzen chips are great, and AMD included support for ECC RAM if you want to use it, just check that the motherboard supports it.

    If you are fine with used hardware I would shoot for something with a Xeon E3 v3 chip. I ave seen deals for a board with CPU and RAM for ~$200.
     
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  6. ReturnedSword

    ReturnedSword Active Member

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    There are some considerations for Plex transcoding. Generally there are two ways you can approach it: by throwing more cores at it (PassMark score is a rough idea of transcoding performance regularly used by the Plex community), or using hardware transcode. With hardware transcode in Linux/BSD that means using either Intel QuickSync or nVidia NVENC. I'm not aware of major differences in the quality of the results between QuickSync and NVENC if you are only doing a couple streams.

    That being said, hardware transcoding for Plex in FreeNAS is not possible yet until FreeNAS 12, as Plex support requires BSD 12 as the base version even though the QuickSync/NVENC support in FreeNAS itself was added in 11.2-U4. FreeNAS 12 has a December 2019 targeted release.
     
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  7. BoredSysadmin

    BoredSysadmin Active Member

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    Well, Plex plugin won't work (in general plugins system is going the way of the dodo), but with 11.2-u4 plex as a manual jail might work. I haven't tested it.
    IX devs say that the feature request is completed: Feature #33399: Quicksync/nvenc - FreeNAS - iXsystems & FreeNAS Redmine
    but Plex hardware page doesn't specifically call out FreeNAS as unsupported.
    Then again if you're not interested in Plex Pass or Expect your client to fully support all of your media formats natively and mobile streaming isn't that frequent then, going with simpler multi-core cpu with good passmark score is maybe the way to go.
     
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  8. Markess

    Markess Active Member

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    I can't speak to that combination, but can offer a bit of info that may help you with your current (and future) selections:

    1. If you aren't familiar with the BSD operating system that FreeNAS runs on top of: BSD developers are very conservative, and BSD adoption rates are low. So, drivers tend to come slower for new hardware than with Windows or Linux.

    2. @BoredSysadmin gives some good general advice. The 1G RAM per TB of storage is a long standing industry guideline for enterprise workloads that you can work around around, both because of your more limited use case and more modern hardware. The bottom line though is that ZFS needs more memory than NTFS or EXT, so plan accordingly.

    3. You mention not coming up with answers, I assume you were over on the FreeNAS forums already and didn't get a confirmation one way or another? Being BSD folks, the FreeNAS developers are conservative as well. They really prefer you use a "tried and true" hardware combination. For a long time, they even had a policy of not even acknowledging a post if you weren't using recommended hardware, although that's loosened up, especially as BSD driver support expands.

    4. So, your best bet IMHO is to check each component for BSD compatibility. You probably won't find anything on BSD compatibility on the motherboard's support page. But, you can google the chipset, CPU and etc. separately. Don't forget to check the NIC chip and BMC if you're using IPMI. Everything needs to be compatible. In terms of computing power, I think you're fine so long as everything has driver support.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  9. ReturnedSword

    ReturnedSword Active Member

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    This thread may be of interest: Activating Plex hardware acceleration

    User jonmayer there says he has got Plex transcoding working on FreeNAS 11.3 beta.

    Some other thoughts on this. IMHO, the work needed to get stuff working in jails or plugins within FreeNAS is usually a headache. My preferred route is to just split the non-storage functionality off to a separate box if you need it. Docker, Proxmox or ESXi works great here.

    More cores can also be thrown at the problem, using software transcoding, or having the client itself support the media format natively. I hate to bring up a ShieldTV box, but something like that will pretty much play all your media natively, thus negating the need for transcoding to begin with.
     
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  10. Keenan Spillar

    Keenan Spillar New Member

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    Thank you all so much for the help! I'm starting to get an idea of what I kinda want to do
     
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