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CuedUp's AZZA Solano build


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I've been a lurker here for about a month, and have been getting my build configured slowly. Right now I have seven drives storing data in my gaming rig, and I'm anxious to buy more drives and expand my storage space! This will be a TV show downloader, movie ripper, and general backup device that will feed my HTPC running XBMC.I'm actually just having a hard time working out which motherboard to use. Here's where I'm at:



AZZA Solano 1000R

10 bays, comes with trays for 8 drives that I can use until I get a 5 in 3 module later. Also I love the red interior. This is the only thing I've already purchased!


Seasonic X650 Gold

Wanted a fully modular PSU with enough oomph for a fully loaded case and gold efficiency.


AMD Athlon II X2 260 Regor

Wanted a dual-core for extra activities. Will probably be running sab, sickbeard & utorrent on my box.


2GB of whatever my motherboard will support.



I also purchased a Verbatim Clip-IT 4 GB flash drive in black for my unRAID drive, so I'm set there.


I have a handful of drives in my case currently that I will migrate over to the build to initially populate my case.



I am kind of at a loss here as to which board to use. Here are the ones I'm eyeing:

MSI NF750-G55 AM3 NVIDIA nForce 750a SLI HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard

BIOSTAR A870 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s ATX AMD Motherboard

MSI 880G-E45 AM3 AMD 880G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard


What I've been trying to find in a motherboard:

  • Full ATX for extra PCI slots & hopefully at least 6 SATA ports
  • Onboard video. I have an ATI Radeon 9800 card from 2003 or so, but I'm not sure it will work, if it works still, and I'd rather keep slots open for other stuff.
  • NIC other than a Realtek 8111E, which seems to be pretty problematic from what I hear. Again, I could just buy an Intel NIC but would prefer to avoid the expense and loss of slot.
  • If I had a choice, I'd like a red/black or black color scheme to match my case. My pickings seem slim though, so at this point I'll take anything.
  • I would prefer a greater number of SATA ports so I can delay purchase of an AOC-SASLP-MV8 until a bit later.
  • I'd prefer to spend under $100 on the board, but I'm a bit flexible there.


How does my build look otherwise to you experts? And does anyone have any opinions or knowledge on a mobo that could fill my needs? I'm really looking forward to getting everything put together and booted, and I promise to be back with pics! :)

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Looks like a good build.  Here's some of my comments...


Fully populated with 5-in-3's, that case could handle up to 16 drives (15x in 5-in-3's and one spare in the case).  You're spot on for looking for MB's with 2x PCIe slots, but I would encourage you to definitely look for something with onboard video so you don't have to use a slot for video.  That way, you can run 2x AOC-SASLP-MV8 and have enough ports to run all 16 drives.  Otherwise, you'll be limited to 14 drives (with 6 SATA ports presumed on the MB) and you'll waste a slot or two.  If you see wisdom in this, I'd definitely encourage you to specifically look for MB's that are known to support 2x AOC-SASLP-MV8's because I've read reports of some MB's not playing nice with 2 SATA boards.


I'm not sure if you plan to migrate the drives from your existing machine?  If so, you'll be nearly at capacity (assuming you keep at least one local drive for your system drive) and your upgrade to 5-in-3's will be forced sooner.  It may be wise just to look at 5-in-3's now...you'll like it better, trust me.


Also, if you go with a board with an 8111E chipset, I'd just plan on an Intel PCI NIC.  They're cheap, but you'll avoid problems.  Supposedly support is getting better in the late betas, but it flat out won't work in 4.7.


Also, I'd say that 4GB of RAM is the bare minimum.  I know people here say 2GB is enough, but I just built a machine with 2GB and it's really, really close.  8GB may even be appropriate for you, considering you want this to be a somewhat multi-purpose machine.  RAM's cheap these days, though.

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Alright, looks like that narrows it down to the MSI NF750!

  • Two PCIe x16 slots
  • Onboard NVIDIA GeForce 8200
  • Realtek 8211CL NIC
  • 5xSATA onboard.


I forgot to mention: I have a Cooler Master 4-in-3 cage already that will be moved over to the build, giving me 12 drive bays and plenty of room to expand and wait until my birthday or something for new 5-in-3s! With the 5 SATA onboard and 8 SATA from the Supermicro card, I'll be set for the time being. I'm going to pull one 4GB DDR3 1333 stick from my 12GB on my gaming rig and see how that works out for both machines.


I have an Antec Earthwatts 430W PSU (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371034) in my spare parts drawer. Think I can use that for a little while? The SeaSonic PSU is something I'm looking at for the future, but if I can use the Antec right off the bat, that'd be awesome! I used a PSU calculator that said my load right now would be around 280W.


Thanks for the feedback! I have my finger on the trigger of this build, ready to get started!

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That PSU might be dicey, depending on how you expand and how quickly.  It has two separate 12V rails, one at 16A and the other at 17A.  Plan on at least 2A per green drive, 3A for 7200/older drives.  Then you need some additional amperage for your CPU, which I'd plan on at least 6-8A for safety, and any other extras for 12V devices in your system.  How you hook everything up will make the difference between success or failure with that PSU...you can't exceed (or shall I recommend, come within a couple amps) of either rail or you'll have problems.  Power problems are a pain to troubleshoot as they can mask themselves as any number of issues.  Unless you can precisely calculate the load on both rails, it could present problems for you.

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Lastly, think about your migration strategy.  It sounds like you're planning to re-use your drives in your gaming rig.  Note that you can't just take a drive that's formatted for FAT32/NTFS/exFAT and drop it into unRAID.  It will first need to be formatted for ReiserFS, which will kill all the data on the drive.  (It's also suggested to preclear any disks, even if they've been used previously...this is important to insure the integrity of the system!)


If it were me, I would try to clear up at least one drive from your system (more would be better) and then add it to unRAID.  Transfer data over from your other drives so you can clear them and then add them to the system.  Repeat until you've got all the drives you currently want in unRAID.  Also, remember that you probably want parity...so one of the largest drives will need to be dedicated to that.  You don't need to add parity right away, so you can migrate your data a little easier, but your data will technically be unprotected until you do.  If you're at or near capacity of your current drives, it's going to be impossible to migrate without the purchase of new drives.  Unfortunately, with the floods in Thailand right now, drive prices are on the rise...and I've even seen some shortages at this time.

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Good point on the drives. I'd heard something about drive prices being affected, but I just went over to Newegg and saw they'd jumped quite a bit. My migration will be slow, but I have enough free space spread out over those drives that I think I will be able to manage it just fine. If not, I have friends who can spare me a temp drive. Hopefully they'll be back down soon. I will also take it slow on the PSU to see how the system works. I can always order the PSU if need be, just thought I'd try to save a few bucks. Thanks for the warning!

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