Building an Unraid NAS from scratch (switching Syno user)


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That's my short introduction from the lounge.


I am in need of a completely new NAS, there are no parts available from older machines. Except HDD, i have 2x8TB and 2x12TB WD Gold drives in my current Syno DS418j.


What do i want to do with the NAS?


I am a heavy Plex user and my library of 4k source material is growing, which my Syno cannot handle anymore. The bottleneck seems to be the weak CPU and not enough RAM, both of which are not upgradeable. Performancewise, the NAS should be capable of 4k streaming to the internal network (1Gbit available through all network devices and clients) and to handle Plex encoding when necessary. Most of the time everything is streamed in original quality.
Download tasks shouldn't be an issue for any system, i already have seen, that f.e. SabNZB is available for Unraid.
The rest is pure data management and occasional syncing of cloud services, but that doesn't need much performance either. I think that Plex and 4k streaming is the only stress factor.
Access to the NAS will be needed by only 3 clients in parallel as a max, 80% of the time it's only 1-2 clients.

The HDD are configured with Syno SHR, so 1 HDD is used for redundancy and fault tolerance. A recommendation for the Unraid setup would be helpful. Only 15TB of data is used currently.


If it is important: I am no command line wizard and don't use Linux as daily driver anywhere. But i can follow instructions, if needed. There where some special cases on the Syno, where i had to use the terminal to install software or set parameters.


My small hardware related wishlist:


4 bays would be enough, 5 or 6 bays is also fine, if a storage expansion is needed in the future. Regarding the size of the chassis, something like the Node 304 or 804 would fit. Effective but silent cooling especially for the HDD is important, the NAS is located in the living room.

I have given some thought to the network connectivity, but 1Gbit should be fine for everything. Link aggregation or even 2,5 GbE would need extra (and costly) hardware. In addition both my TV or Xbox cannot be upgraded to better connectivity. Maybe it's better to directly connect the TV to the NAS via HDMI and use the NAS as the video player?


Things i don't know almost nothing about:


Boot drive and SSD cache. I didn't have to think about this with my Syno and what could be the right fit for the tasks above in Unraid.



I was hoping to get everything under 500€, but i am willing to pay a little more, if upgrades are possible or some features/specs are highly recommended. The switch to the new NAS doesn't need to happen in the 4 weeks. If new technologies, parts or chipsets are on the horizon, fall 2022 would be also ok.

If i have forgotten anything, please ask. I will try my best and answer on short notice.


Thank you in advance and hopefully i will soon join the Unraid community as an active user.

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If all you need is streaming media content and storing personal data, then you don't need the newest hardware for your goal. I'm not an expert in 4K streaming with plex but i think a decent 2nd hand Xeon will do fine. Other forum members can give more info on this.

Just to give you an idea, I'm running two servers with and 'old' i7 6700K with 19 docker containers (including Emby for streaming and transcoding 1080p over WAN), a pfSense VM and a win10 VM. That's a 6 year old cpu.


Basic questions you want to ask are:

do i need VT-d/IOMMU? If yes, check your mobo/cpu specs. Trust me, you WANT vt-d/iommu for hardware passthrough.

how many sata-ports do i need, now or in the future?

how many add-on cards do i have/want/need, now or in the future?

do i need an nvme drive, now or in the future? If yes, then you need an pci-e M2 slot.


I don't know what filesystem is used by synology but you need to format and preclear all your disks before adding them into your unraid array so you need to backup your data first. You can/must use the biggest/equal as your biggest array disk (12TB in your case) as a parity-drive (this is NOT a backup) in your unraid array. The SSD is commonly used as a cache-drive and to store dockers, VM's and system files. A boot drive is not needed as unraid boots from usb.


Regarding your TV setup, you can setup a Kodi VM in unraid but then you need to passthrough a gpu so your mobo/cpu need to have the iommu/vt-d feature. I did this for 2 years but ended up buying an Nvidia Shield. 1gb is more then enough for home use media streaming.


As for cases, that's a personal taste but yes, buy from a decent brand with good cooling.


Have you watched SpaceinvaderOne or Ibracorp video's?

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On 6/4/2022 at 9:39 PM, defcon42 said:

Access to the NAS will be needed by only 3 clients in parallel as a max, 80% of the time it's only 1-2 clients.

Maybe it's better to directly connect the TV to the NAS via HDMI and use the NAS as the video player?

Are your clients on the same network?

You could make them all 4K direct play capable, no transcoding on Unraid machine required, by attaching them to simple media boxes, running a Kodi based client software e.g.

In that case your Unraid system could be build as cheaply as you want,  since the only work it would need to handle is data streaming.

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