FreeNas Storage Appliance #1: The components

Die deutsche Version dieses Artikels findest du hier.

This is a series of posts about building your own custom FreeNAS storage applicance.

On my search for a reliable storage solution, I’ve came accross FreeNAS. Now this great looking software is missing a not too expensive hardware to run on.

After some days of research and discussions on the FreeNAS Forum, I’ve decided on the following hardware.

The components #

Chassis Lian Li PC-Q08B Mini-ITX Tower-Cube - black
Motherboard ASUS P8H77-I, Socket 1155, ITX
Processor Intel Core i3-2120T Box, LGA1155
Memory 16GB-Kit Corsair XMS3 PC3-10667U CL9-9-9-24
Power Supply be quiet! Pure Power 300 Watt / BQT L7
Chassis fan be quiet! Silentwings 2 120x120
Chassis fan be quiet! Silentwings 2 140x140
Network Intel EXPI9301CTBLK PRO1000 CT PCIex bulk
Hard Drive(s) 6x WD Red RD1000S 2TB SATA 6Gb/s 64MB
Cable 5x bent (90 degree) sata cables (50cm)
Cable 1x normal sata cable (50cm)
Cable 1x Y-HDD powercable
Cable 2x HDD to Y-SATA powercables

Chassis #

The chassis is compact but offers enough space for up to six 3.5" hard drives and there is even space for an addional 5.25" dvd/blue-ray drive.

We’ll be replacing the two buildin chassis fans with the be quiet ones. Those make a lot less noise and have no annoying blue LED.

Motherboard #

The motherboard is an mini-itx one with six SATA II ports. In my opinion you one don’t need SATA III ports for mechanical (non SSD) hard drives. Also I wasn’t able to find a mini-itx motherboard with six SATA III ports.

Furthermore we’ll place the Intel NIC in the motherboars PCI-E slot. Since the onboard Realtek 8111F chipset isn’t supported well, by FreeBSD or FreeNAS.

Processor #

The processor has TDP (Thermal Design Power) value of 35 watt, but has enough power for streaming a blu-ray from an encrypted disk.

Memory #

The motherboard only supports memory with a data rate of 1333 MHz in combination with a 2nd generation Intel CPU. For any higher data rate one would need another cpu. So choosing a memory kit was pretty easy. One just have to pay attention to the modules count, since the motherboard only has two memory slots.

It’s important that we have enough memory, since ZFS (read more about ZFS in part 4) needs a lot of it.

Power supply #

The power supply with it’s 300 watt is more than enough to power the whole system. I hope for about 25 watt power consumption on idle.

Hard drives #

The harddrives should be silent and suitable for running non-stop 24 hours a day.

The new Western Digital series Red looks perfect for this occasion. With 6x 2TB in combination with ZFS R2 our storage appliance has a final size of about 8TB.

Important: If you planning buying less hard drives first and adding more later on, you should read this guide about ZFS:

Slideshow explaining VDev, zpool, ZIL and L2ARC for noobs!

Conclusion #

With these components our storage appliance has enough power and storage capacity for the coming years.

Read the next part about unboxing the components.


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