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Noob looking for advice


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Hey Guys


Current Hardware : I have 3 Drobos (2x8Ds & 1x5D). The 5D has been nothing but problems since day 1 - With all the confusion surrounding drobo I decided to look at alternatives.


8D (1) : 8x8TB

8D (2) : 4x8TB & 4x12TB

5D : 3x8TB & 1x6TB & 1x4TB

External USB : 2x2TB & 2x8TB


My Issue : standalone NAS servers seem to cap out at 8/12 drives and need to be the same size drive.


Purpose : A storage unit that needs to be able to send data for 4K movies to a media player (Zidoo)


Current Situation : Have the 3 Drobos connected to my Mac Mini. I use a program on my Mac Mini to serve the data using NFS (although there are other protocols it supports if that makes a difference). The Zidoo player find the NFS shares and plays the Blu-Ray movie. A couple movies push 100MB/s or so but I generally don't have an issue (unless things are being written to the drobos while I am trying to play those higher bitrate movies).


What I am looking for : The best system for this purpose...not sure what that is...a fractal define 7 to hold 18 drives...but then what? What motherboard? What processor? What else? As you can see, I don't know what the hell I am even asking...any help would be greatly appreciated!

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So I read through that thread and it did help a little.


I am still not clear on why he is using some of the hardware. Like the LSI card and the SAS card...I don't really understand how those "work" in this setup. Isn't the LSI card a RAID card? I thought unraid didn't need RAID cards? He has 10 hard drives...where do those connect? All 10 to the RAID card? Obviously I am still not clear about how this all "works"

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OK, let's get back to basics.  Let's say you have 12 drives.  Each need to connect somewhere.  Unraid doesn't care how/where they are connected - it references everything by the drive's ID/serial#.  SATA/SAS/M.2/USB - Does not matter.  Even swap connections around and Unraid is unfazed.


Unless using some high end server motherboard, you have at most 6 or 8 SATA ports to connect your drives.  So if you need to connect more drives than that, the typical solution is a PCIe card.


Going back some years, the most affordable/available solution was repurpose a used LSI card.  As the RAID functionality was unneeded (and actually gets in the way), folks would flash them back to be a simple HBA.  This is still an option today (and maybe best for when many drives).  But there are also other options available on the "consumer" market that also work.  (Stay away from multiplexed ports and Marvell chipsets, and all should be good).

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Sometimes it helps to get everyone at the same baseline before moving forward.


My practical experience with Unraid is a much more modest system (5 HD in my array), but understand (in theory) what you are looking at, with a case jammed full of drives.  Lolight pointed you to the 100+ TB build thread, as that addresses the issues one comes across once you get up to a dozen or so drives.  One needs to address:


  • Connections for all the drives:
    A LSI 9211-8i will let you connect 8 drives.  A typical ATX motherboard will have 6 SATA connectors (some likely disabled if you use the board's M.2 slots for cache).  Let's say that gets you to 12 drives for your array.  If you want more drives, your either going to need a second card (and utilize another PCIe slot on the MB), or as they used in the above mentioned thread, a SAS expander (basically a smart breakout board) to allow a single card to communicate with more than 8 drives.

    I've never put my hands on either of these, so I won't be much help beyond knowing they exist.
  • Power
    A lot of drives need a lot of power.  Buy a quality PSU.  My HGST drives add 8W each when they spin up, so for doing napkin math, figure 10W/drive so 2A for each drive.  So don't just say "It's a 1000W PSU", but look at the spec sheet for the +5V rail's current.  Quality manufacturers usually mean quality wires too.  Most PSU won't have enough SATA power connectors.  Splitters will be needed, just never put too many on any single harness coming out of the PSU.  Getting reviews/comparing builds from people who have stuffed a dozen drives in a case wouldn't hurt.
  • Cooling
    Putting all of these drives in one place (and not socially distanced from each other) will generate some heat.  Keep this in mind when specing the system out.

In your OP, you said this will be basically just a storage NAS for video files.  If you aren't running and dockers or VM, the rest of your needs are light.  My system is using a repurposed 4-core first gen Ryzen processor (left overs from my home PC upgrade).  If I was building your system, whatever reasonably priced Intel CPU with graphics, an appropriate MB, and 8GB of RAM I would consider more than adequate. 


Anyway, I have rambled on more than enough.

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