New member, new build, need advice

James Harding

New Member
Mar 10, 2020
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hardingconcepts.com
OK! wow.... what a great community STH is. I wish I would have known about this place sooner. I have been doing a lot of reading the past week. This has led to the typical highs, feeling like I know what I want, and lows, feeling like I know nothing about what is out there. That being said, I am looking for some advice about what direction to head, hoping to pull some information that I wasn't able to glean from the forum.

I'll start with my current setup, lead into the requirements that I want to get out of an upgrade, followed by what I think would work well.

As far as price, I am not limited by any budget, but I am frugal. If a particular setup suits my needs and is bad ass, then I don't mind spending the money on it. As you can see, my NAS only really has what it needs. I like building to purpose, not killing a rabbit with a bazooka.

Current Setup:

NAS:

  • Name: Screaming Mimi (ironic because this thing is quiet)
  • Operating System: Unraid
  • CPU: AMD A8-9600 4-core
  • Motherboard: Cheapest you can find, no idea <$50
  • Chassis: Rosewill RSV-L4500
  • Drives: 10x 3.5" 4TB (Data) -- 2x 3.5" 6TB (Parity) -- 3x 2.5" 1TB (Cache)
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Networking: 2x 1Gbps
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake 750 watt using < 72 watts
  • dB: < 10 dB (very quiet)
  • Usage profile: Media distribution/storage, family file server, business digital media storage.
Multi-use Server:
  • Name: This server is nameless :(
  • Operating System: ESXi
  • CPU: 2x E5-2630 v0
  • Motherboard: Whatever comes stock in the chassis mentioned below, I wish I knew.
  • Chassis: HP DL360p Gen8
  • Drives: 8x 900GB SAS (RAID 5 HP Smart Array P420i/1GB with FBWC)
  • RAM: 92GB DDR3 ECC
  • Networking: 8x 1Gbps
  • Power Supply: Redundant HSTNS-PL14 460w, unsure about utilization here...
  • dB: Wife says its too damn loud >= 60dB
  • Usage Profile: Business Web Server, Personal Web Server, Backup controller, Home automation host, Plex Server, Random Development VMs (Windows, Linux, MacOS).
Upgrade Requirements:

Ultimately, I want to upgrade both machines, but right now I am just focusing on the NAS, while keeping in mind the multi-use server upgrades and networking upgrades I want to do in the future.

NAS:
  • More storage.
  • More networking.
  • Maintain power usage, it's OK if it increases a little.
  • Maintain dB rating.
I want communication between my NAS and Multi-use Server to be optimal. A 10Gbps link would be great, but I have also seen some external storage options on some HBAs out there. I don't know how these connections work between machines or the pros/cons of this type of setup.

Possible Path:

NAS:
  • Name: Dunno
  • Operating System: Unraid
  • CPU: I would really like to run the crappy setup I have currently to maintain power usage, but with this chassis and power supply, I'm not sure this is possible.
  • Motherboard: same as above
  • Chassis: CSE-846 Considering this bare-bones unit
  • Drives: Use existing drives with data, purchase more to expand storage
  • Power Supply: PWS-920P-SQ, or ideally use the power supply I currently have.
  • Case Fans: Noctua NF-A12 PWM
  • Networking: 4x 1Gbps Intel PCIe (Like I said above I really want either 10Gbps or some kind of link to the mulit-use server)
  • Usage Profile: Same as before
Are there any 24 bay server racks out there that I can drop an ATX motherboard and power supply into? Then just connect with a backplane using an LSI PCI card? Hot swap bays are not a necessity. I have the resources to build a custom chassis as well, and if that is the best route to take, I would just need a backplane and corresponding HBA.

Lot's of uncertainty here, and not sure where to go or what to do. Tips, hints, telling me I'm way off base, finger pointing, anything would really be appreciated.

Thanks,
James
 

Rand__

Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2014
4,621
918
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Welcome to the forum :)

I think you need to think a bit more about the requirements... or specify them better :)

Your desired improvements could be implemented by a simple Xeon-D board and lets say 4 x 14 TB HDDs in a Fractal Node 304...
But whether thats the right answer for your needs? Dunno ...
(think IOPS, # of concurrent users/VMs/Threads, Encoding, future expandability...)
 

James Harding

New Member
Mar 10, 2020
7
0
1
hardingconcepts.com
After a while away from the post, another look at my requirements leaves a lot of open questions. I have also determined that most of the high speed usage of the NAS is for Plex, so the NAS needs to have the ability to mount a GTX1080 or similar graphics card for hardware transcoding. Having Plex reside on this server will mostly mitigate the slow access times from my multi-use server.

More requirements:
  • Keep the existing drives.
  • Add additional drives <= 6TB. I am from the bandcamp of more disks of smaller size. I know opinions vary here. Unless someone can give some really compelling reasons why I should spend nearly $2k on drives to replace what I currently have. Remember, I'm frugal :)
  • 4K Streaming. The NAS needs to be able to dish out content from a Plex VM to clients around the house.
  • Photo & Video Backup - 3-4 iPhones backing up to the NAS. Plex is seriously slow when accessing this type of media. Would like to see improvements here.
  • Concurrent users: 3-4 max streaming Plex content.
  • VMs - Just one really, Plex.
After posting here, the scope of what my NAS does is actually a lot smaller than what I thought. It's mostly a media server, with some backup space. Nothing too complex. If it weren't for the slower HDDs in this NAS I would consider combining my NAS with the multi-use server. Unfortunately I think the multi-use server needs better performing HDDs hence the 15k RPM SAS drives in RAID. The websites hosted on that server need to respond quickly.

@MiniKnight I have my reservations about something like the 16C Atom. Soldered on CPU? Only one PCIe x8 slot? I will have to say that this would be built to purpose, but if I ever wanted change, this board would make it more difficult. The onboard SFP+ is a killer feature as well as the four SFF-8087 ports. I also like the idea of the onboard eMMC drive. I haven't read many good reviews about those, many people complain about components failing and having to replace the whole thing instead of a single component.

Still on the hunt....
 

WillTaillac

New Member
Feb 28, 2020
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Are there any 24 bay server racks out there that I can drop an ATX motherboard and power supply into?
I own a Norco RPC-4224, which is a 4U 24-bay chassis that takes a standard ATX (or EATX, I think) motherboard and uses a standard ATX power supply. A warning, its default fan setup is a bit loud, but they make a 120mm fan bracket for the thing to let you put 120mm fans in the midframe mount, which are much quieter. That's what I did with mine.

so the NAS needs to have the ability to mount a GTX1080 or similar graphics card for hardware transcoding
Unless you already own a 1080, you should look at a low-end Turing gen card. Refer to the NVENC matrix (here) to see the various capabilities. The 1650 Super should be your minimum point. By default, the consumer cards are restricted to two concurrent encoding sessions, but that can be bypassed with a driver.
 

James Harding

New Member
Mar 10, 2020
7
0
1
hardingconcepts.com
I own a Norco RPC-4224, which is a 4U 24-bay chassis that takes a standard ATX (or EATX, I think) motherboard and uses a standard ATX power supply. A warning, its default fan setup is a bit loud, but they make a 120mm fan bracket for the thing to let you put 120mm fans in the midframe mount, which are much quieter. That's what I did with mine.

Unless you already own a 1080, you should look at a low-end Turing gen card. Refer to the NVENC matrix (here) to see the various capabilities. The 1650 Super should be your minimum point. By default, the consumer cards are restricted to two concurrent encoding sessions, but that can be bypassed with a driver.
@WillTaillac
I am still exploring the forums, and since I made the original post, I have come across the RPC-4224. This chassis is very compelling to me because it pretty much means I keep everything I have and I can just add more drives (albeit I also have to purchase an HBA, but that is to be expected). I have heard reports of the backplanes in that chassis being cheap and failing often. What is your experience?

The other problem with that particular chassis is, I can't seem to find it anywhere for a reasonable price. Most retailers have it marked up to $500-$600.

As for the gtx 1080, I do already own many of them. I was not aware of the 2 concurrent encoding session limitations. Thanks for the heads up on that one.
 

WillTaillac

New Member
Feb 28, 2020
27
13
3
I have heard reports of the backplanes in that chassis being cheap and failing often. What is your experience?
I have built three servers in the past using this chassis. Two of them went fine, one of them had two backplanes that were DOA. The RPC-4224 doesn't have a big unified backplane for 24 drives, it has 6x 4-drive backplanes that are long thin strips. At the time, I got in contact with Norco and they sent me two replacement backplanes no big deal and everything was stable from that point. My RPC-4224 is...7 years old? The other two I built are 8 years old each. All three are going strong.

As for the cost, that's definitely a thing. Back the last time I bought one of these they were $400 which was significantly less expensive than any other option I could find at the time for new product. I don't know that I'd want to pay $600 for the thing today, especially since you can get a used Supermicro 24-bay with redundant PSUs for significantly less than that $600. On the other hand, the Supermicro you linked will not be quiet, so depending on how much Wife approval matters it may not be an option for you.