Thoughts on a low power NAS and VM server

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Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2010
ZFS can detect bitrot/damaged datablocks due checksums on data and metadata. When ZFS detects a problem it needs ZFS realtime raid redundancy to repair from good datablocks. Without ZFS raid it can only detect but not repair a problem. You must then copy a good file version from backup manually.

The pooling is done via ZFS where poolsize can be extended by simply adding more vdevs like mirrors or raid-Z.
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Active Member
Sep 15, 2016
I've been repurposing enterprise grade servers for years, first one was a based on an i386, various Pentium 3/4, most recently Dell R710 with dual Xeon, redundant psu, loads of RAM etc.

The Dell R710 idles about 70W with 5 x HDD, 10GBe and a PERC card. It goes up a lot more when I get it to do more stuff, but 98% of the time it's idle or doing very little. I don't mind it ramping up when required, but idle much lower.

Being in the UK, electricity costs about 43c USD per kWh. You can see how that would scale up for something running 24/7/365

The issue is that they're power hungry, noisy and take up a lot of space.
But they are cheap to buy, have loads of space and reliable.

I'll keep the firewall separate, that's a N5105 with a quad 2.5Gbe which works well for my fibre connection. That is usually around the 7W mark for the whole box. My home network uses a 10GBe backbone.

I'm thinking of either proxmox running TrueNas or Unraid on it's own, I can make use of Unraid's containers/VM functionality.
I'd like to run Pihole, Home Assistant and a streaming server for music and UHD
I'ii have approx 5 x 18GB HDD, I've got plenty of NVMe SSD for caching

Option 1
N5105 soft router type mb with 6 x SATA, 4 x i226, there are some with 10G SFP+, 4 x i226 (2.5Gbe), a few with gen 9 i5/i7.
Reading the threads on here sounds like these N5105 are quite constrained by the PCIE IO, though with spinning HDD, it may not matter. Some only have the one SATA port, but 3 or 4 USB 3 ports, some even have gen1/2 ports

Option 2
Ryzen 5600H mini PC, much more powerful CPU, plenty of RAM, plenty of bandwidth 2.5GBe, 4 x USB3 gen1/2
Use USB3 HDD instead of SATA 3
Option for 64GB ram and NVMe with PCIE3
Still low power when idling

Option 3
Not sure??

What I really want
Ideally I can get a mini ITX board with a low power i5/i7 with plenty of E cores or similar Ryzen CPU, minimum of 4 cores going uptown 12 cores, with at least dual channel DDR4 (DDR5 would be better), idle of no more than 8W and ramp up to 65W if needed, with the option to limit to 20,30,40W in the bios
8 x SATA 3 at full speed
2 x i226 or better still 2 x 10GBe copper or at least SFP+ with sufficient PCIE bandwidth
4 x USB4 or at least 4 x USB3 gen 2
1 x DP
1 x regular 19V input or USB4 input

What are your thoughts or suggestions?
So I'm wanting to do this too, and I've been looking at the 32 core 7D12 epyc @ 85w. Should let you run as much as you want for quite some time. Just add ram & go. There are cpu/mobo combos on ebay for $400. ddr4 rdimm are fairly cheap. Is this too much power for your needs or maybe overkill? The other options I'm looking at:
- Consumer Ryzen on a board with official ecc support such as asrock/asus
- Xeon-D 1521 based solution
- Atom C2755 solution

While the 7D12 is going to go way over 8w idle, it would probably scale up if you plan to increase your vm/ram usage rather than buying many separate boxes.

In any case, very curiousto follow this topic. I'm looking to replae my fileserver (dual x5650 DL380G6 and 18 3TB sas drives spread over 2 external enclosures) with something like one of the above I mentioned and 6-7 18-20TB drives. My fileserver idling is I think in the 450-500w range.


New Member
May 15, 2021
@gea Can you recommend a good tutorial on the fundamentals, like choosing the best strategy according to needs? and how to configure a HDD array if you have SSD available?

@RobstarUSA 32 epyc would be overkill for me, though 32 core for 85W is excellent. I just shudder when I recall how much my P4 setup used to consume ;-) The chances are that I'll end up with something that idles around the 30Wh mark. I may get some solar PV to offset the power draw, which will work ok for half the year.


Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2010
@gea Can you recommend a good tutorial on the fundamentals, like choosing the best strategy according to needs? and how to configure a HDD array if you have SSD available?
There are only a few tuning options for different use cases but most important is "Keep it simple".

The usual method with disks and SSD is
- Use a disk pool for all data beside perdormance critical VM or database alike storage. Use a second SSD pool for critical data.

- It you need the disk capacity for VM or database storage, you should enable sync write with an SSD Slog (plp required) for better write performance

- You can use an SSD as persistent L2Arc read cache. With enough RAM the performance improvement is minimal beside use cases with many users and many volatile small files, ex university mailserver.

- A tuning method is a hybrid disk pool with a special vdev SSD mirror ro improve access to small io, metadata or dedup.