In the spirit of Mike Boulanger's "Keeping It Simple
" - here's a thread dedicated to a simple media-centric Storage Server build ...
After getting rid of my HFX chassis based HTPC and moving to a EMC 800B based mini PC, I've put all my storage tasks onto my trusty Netgear Stora. However, although the Stora is a neat little appliance, it didn't really do justice as a media server for my HTPC because I wanted:
- Efficient Usage of space: The Stora supported RAID0, RAID1 and JBOD. The JBOD mode was too flaky and what I wanted was keeping my documents and personal folders on redundant storage while having JBOD for my media files
- A better DLNA server than the one in Stora: the miniDLNA server on the Stora was adequate but I wanted something that was more configurable with the ability to transcode on demand
- More bays for the NAS than the 2 found in the Stora: Qnap, Lacie, Synology and ReadyNAS all do 4 bay NAS boxes but they were either too expensive or too underpowered for my taste. And only Synology has a decent offering for HTPC-centric storage
In the end, I decided to go for the following build:
Motherboard: Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350, with 5x SATA6, 1x eSATA and 2x USB 3.0 ports
RAM: 8GB DDR3 1333MHz Crucial SO-DIMMs
HDD: Crucial C300 SSD 64GB
Case: CFI A7879
Power: Dell PA-3E 19.5v/90W laptop power supply
Initial HDDs: 2 x 2TB Samsung F4EG
I only got the CFI case as money was a factor, coupled with wanting an open bay NAS ( ruling out LianLi PC-Q25 or Fractal Design Array R2 ). Working with this case was not quite a pleasant experience. The case is cheap and I got it on offer from LinITX but it isn't the most thoughtfully laid out case. There's no instructions and no sliding motherboard tray. The included 200W PSU has a whiny 40mm fan and the included 120mm fan while fine for the office isn't as quiet as needed for the living room.
I took out the PSU altogether and replaced the case fan with a Thermalright TY-140 fan ( this has 120mm retention holes )
Again the motherboard was a bit of a compromise. I'd have preferred an Atom D2700 based motherboard but these were 3 weeks out and in any case, none of them had more than 2 SATA ports. Thinking I might have the Media Storage Server do double duty as a HTPC, I opted for trhe cheapest E350 based board I could find that had more than 4 SATA ports and USB 3.0. Pixmania did a good offer on the Sapphire E350 although Xbitlabs
had noted that the mobo did consume more power than the usual E350 based boards. ( And the D2700 boards consume more power than the E350 boards )
The Pure Fusion is equipped with HDMI - a huge plus point if this becomes my main HTPC instead of being relegated to a storage server - and comes with another tiny whiny fan on the heatsink. The fan went - after being replaced with a 120mm Nexus RealSilent Basic fan.
Routing the SATA cables in the CFI case was not easy or pleasant and I've managed to do 3 of 5 needed. The case has a mounting for the system 2.5" SSD so it can really take 1 x 2.5" SSD/HDD + 4 x 3.5" HDDs. In the end I needed a variety of cables ( some with angled ends and others with straight latches ) to make it all work - but it does work.
The DC jack for the PicoPSU had to be mounted on a blanking plate but this will change as I intend to mount a Dell P30 DC jack and use a Dell power supply for the PicoPSU instead of using a generic 12V 5A power brick. JohnnyGuru
has the low down on why it's better to have a 19V quality brick for the PicoPSU-120-WI-25 than a 12V brick.
There's no optical drive but an 8GB USB key enabled me to load WHS 2011 (again acquired very cheaply). Be warned that WHS 2011 doesnt like being installed on anything less than a system disk with at least 160GB free. The answer
is to have another
USB key with a cfg.ini file and make sure that nothing is plugged into the USB 3.0 ports
The whole reason for going with WHS 2011 instead of FreeNAS or OpenMediaVault is that I can perhaps use it as a media box ( except that I'm not happy with ease of use at the moment ) and also I can use a RAID-Z / DriveExtender style add-in for WHS 2011 from CoveCube called StableBit DrivePool
. There are other DriveExtender plugins - none free although CoveCube have said theirs will cost around $25
[?] - but CoveCube's is the simplest to use. It gives you a virtual
drive that is a pool of actual volumes. On this virtual drive it is possible to create two types of folders - duplicated folders and normal pooled folders. The normal pooled folders are great for storing media - HD movies and the like - since they are distributed across all disks in the pool and they don't really need redundancy. Duplicated folders are mirrored across all drives in the pool and are perfect for storing backups and documents - especially the GF's documents ( " what do you mean hard disks CRASH ? You're a techie - you're supposed to prevent all this ... "
)Does it all work ?
This puppy is quite silent. Not as silent as I would like - my living room is dead quiet and night and I can hear the system if I strain myself. The TY-140 is at the lowest PWM setting and the Nexus 120 has a 7v adapter. But I can probably grab a Zalman FanMate2 for the Nexus as well as a PWM cable for the TY-140. I've tested with a WD Caviar Green and the Samsung and I have to say the Samsung is quieter than the Caviar while running cooler.Power Consumption :
Recently it's quite important down here in the Blighty. On the whole, a wee bit disappointing. Even with the single 2TB drive ( at present ) powered down on idle, I get an idle of 17W-21W from my Kill-A-Watt. I'd expected much less. I intend to try out BrazosTweaker and a better power brick ( the Dell PA-3E ) to see if that makes a differencePerformace As a Storage Server:
Here's where it gets interesting. Using Crystal DiskMark to measure - a single 5900rpm drive on the server gives me 54 Mb/sec for reads and 92 Mb/sec for writes respectively. That's not bad considering my Stora never went above 40 Mb/sec for reads or writes. When I get my second Samsung, I'll update with performance figuresGAF ( GF Acceptance Factor) :
Case isn't fugly and passes GF acceptance test, while being light on the wallet. 'nuff said.
As I go along I'll update this thread with results of testing with two drives, how CoveCube's DrivePool pans out