tarataqa's Almost-Ghetto 2003 Pentium-4 FLOPPY Build

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Want to build an unRAID server, but you have old hardware? NO PROBLEM

Don't have SATA, USB, or NIC connectors onboard? Add appropriate PCI cards

Can't get your BIOS to boot off USB? Add a floppy drive or CD-ROM

Here's proof that unRAID works on virtually any PC (as long as it has PCI slots to make up for what it lacks)

This is my 2nd major unRAID build. (my new 1st build) I upgraded my 1st one and this is my leftover/don't-wanna-throw-away/Frankenstein build.

Previously, I'd understood that the hardest minimum req. for an older unRAID box was "Boot via USB".

Then I saw people posting that they could use alternative booting, so I tried thequinox's recipe to make a PLoP boot floppy that hands off to the USB drive. It works beautifully!


Antec recently had a sale on b-stock cases for 50%off. I totally love the 200v2. It's a beautiful, chilly case with 9 bays and a hot-swap SATA bay if you wanna slap in a extra disk. It can hold 10 drives max.(11 with the CM 4-n-3) I used the swap bay for the floppy since it was the only external 3.5. And yes, the poor floppy drive sticks out and it's loose. Very ghetto.

This will live in a closet that (if it's like mine) will be 45F-100F through most of the year, so cooling is important. The Antec case has a nice 140mm exhaust fan on the top of the case that works great with the HDD fans so drive temps all stay under 45C.

Best of all, it's very quiet.


OS at time of building: unRAID 4.7 Pro

CPU: Intel Pentium IV 2.4gHz (rosewill fan controller needed to keep the noise down)

Motherboard: MSI 651M-L (circa 2003)

RAM: Generic DDR RAM (2 x 512MB)

Case: b-stock Antec Two Hundred(v2) Black ATX Mid Tower ($47)

Drive Cage(s): Cooler Master 4in3 HDD Module (STB-3T4-E3-GP)($25)

Power Supply: Rosewill Green Series RG630-S12 630W, 80 PLUS Certified, Single 12V Rail, Active PFC($50AR)

SATA Expansion Card(s): Two Silicon Image 4Port SATA PCI Cards($17x2)

NIC: Even though it has a built-in nic, I wanted to add a gigabit PCI card for more speed.

SATA Power cables: 24inch 4pin MOLEX Male to (4) 15pin SATA II Female Power Cable (Net Jacket)

Fans: used both fans that came with Antec case and Rosewill RFX-120 120mm Case Fan w/controller($9)

Total cost (w/o disks): $165 since everything else was leftovers I splurged on the case, but I always recommend a namebrand Single-Rail power supply(yes, Rosewill is a namebrand now).

Parity Drive: Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2TB

Data Drives: Hodge-podge of 7 old IDE/SATA disks, plus the parity WD20EARS.

Cache Drive: don't have a need for one

Total Drive Capacity: 8.25TB total, 6.25TB usable

Primary Use: Movies, TV, concerts, documentaries, fitness vids, mp3s, photos, Acronis backups, e-books, audiobooks, PC Apps, & general digital hoarding.

Likes: Surprisingly quick boot off the FLOPPY, Very quiet, low power, unRAID :)

Dislikes: I could only get 1 IDE channel to work. Since I like the gigabit PCI card more than 4 extra disks, I'm limited to 10 disks, but my case is limited to 10 disks too. :)

Add Ons Used: unMenu, rsync, mail notify, monthly parity

Future Plans: Replace disks as these decade-old ones fail. Keep spare boot floppies on hand. ;)

Boot (peak): 183w

Idle (avg): 49w

Active (avg): 89w

Light use (avg): 75w








Closing comments:

I could've left it in its ugly, beat-up beige case, but I had the extra case. And the cooling in the Antec is awesome, even with my lame cabling. :P

So a new case is optional for your old junky machine, but never skip on a good power supply.(unless you like the risk of ruining your precious drives)


It's amazing that such an old, low-end PC(that was gonna be thrown away) is still viable as a NAS. After being stunned at the ATOM cpu in my other build, I was even more shocked that an old P4 could stream full Blu-ray isos in 1080p w/DTS-HD MA simultaneously to 3 devices(maybe more).

(I know, I know...the P4 isn't doing any decoding, just passing the files to media devices, but still!)


This build was partly a test to see if it was viable, and as a gift for my non-techy sister's house. Granted, it won't win any speed contests, but it's a great working build if you have parts but no cash. Although, I'm still worried the old MSI board will pop a capacitor and die.(good news: then it'll be time for another new build ;D)


My next build will be a nice MicroServer N36L thanks to Neil and Tim for showcasing how cool they are.

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