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Thoughts on Lian-Li PC-Q25B Builds

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There are quite a few threads here on SFF builds using the Lian-Li PC-Q25B ... I've posted a variety of comments in many of them, so I thought I might collate my thoughts in a single place to hopefully capture most of what's good/bad about this (IMHO) superb little case => and so I don't have to answer the same questions repeatedly, but can simply link to this thread.

 

I've looked at quite a few SFF cases, and I simply don't think there's a better choice for a SFF build ... although I admit the HP Microserver is a nice factory-ready choice; and the Fractal Node 304 is an excellent competitor.

 

First, a few thoughts on the case itself.  There are plenty of pictures posted in the other threads, so I'm going to be sparse with those, but if you haven't seen it, take a look at the pictures that Newegg posts, as they cover it from several angles:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112339&Tpk=PC-Q25B

 

The case holds 5 3.5" drives in hot-swap cages, and up to 2 more 3.5" drives on an aluminum plate on the bottom -- you can also mount a 2.5" drive between those drives (or you can mount up to 3 2.5" drives there).    All of the drives are very well cooled => the 5 in the cage by a 140mm fan that blows directly across them; and the bottom-mounted drives by air that comes in through a vented bottom ... pulled by the 120mm top-mounted exhaust fan.    Drive temps on my system and a few I've built for friends never get above the low-to-mid 30's, even during parity checks.

 

This case simply cools drives better than any 5-in-3 cage I've used (many); and better than most rack-mount setups unless they have very high-speed (and noisy) fans.  Yet it's very quiet ... my system sits about 6' from my ears when I'm at my desk, and I can NOT tell if it's even on without looking at it.  [i am, however, 65 -- so my hearing's probably not as good as it once was  :) ]

 

Lian-Li has changed the case design slightly over the past year or so ... I've seen some that had the SATA connections on the backplane angled in such a way that it was very inconvenient to neatly mount the cables unless you used very-hard-to-find left-hand SATA cables; but the last couple I've seen don't need these.    My personal system is like this -- so I felt obliged to find some left-hand cables => and succeeded  :)    For anyone that needs those, here's where I got them:  http://www.cpustuff.com/left-angle-to-straight-sata-cable/

 

Most of the builds in the other threads using this case use a full-size ATX power supply.  I did one build like this, but I think that's simply too crammed-in to really allow good airflow ... and in fact it's so tight that only a few ATX units even fit.  Look at the pictures of the builds and you can easily see how full it makes things.    I found that a good SFX PSU is a much better choice => I did a build for a fellow Un-RAIDer who posted a picture of his build, and you can see how much space that leaves for little things like cables, fingers, AIR, etc. in the picture I'll post at the end of this comment.   

 

This is the power supply I recommend for this case:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256063    ... or the modular version of the same:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256084

 

Note that these units are also excellent choices for the Fractal Node 304 case, should you prefer that to the Lian-Li ... or for the other similar Lian-Li cases such as the PC-Q08B [LED fan anyone?  :) ]

I've not had "hands-on" the new BitFenix cases, but I suspect they'd be a good choice for those as well [brightly-colored plastic cases with handles aren't something I'm likely to use  :) ]

 

An alternative to using an SFX supply is to use Lian-Li's ATX extender ... which puts part of the PSU outside the rear of the case.  Not, IMHO, as good a choice -- but it does let you use a PSU you may already have, of if you're very price sensitive use a bargain basement PSU (I'm not a believer in scrimping on PSU quality).    For anyone who wants the PE01 extender, here's a source:

http://www.coolerguys.com/llpe01.html

 

 

Except for the PSU and perhaps the left-hand cables, all of the builds in this case are very similar --essentially varying only in what motherboard/CPU is used.

 

My build uses a SuperMicro X7SPA-H-D525-O motherboard ... the same Atom D525 CPU used in Limetech's AVS-10/4 (although I don't know if they use a mini-ITX board in that).    This is a superb very-low-power board -- draws about 20w with 6 3TB WD Reds spun down; a bit over 30w in typical operations; and about 48w during parity checks.  But it doesn't have the "horsepower" to do transcoding of some of the other functions the more popular plugins demand.  I just wanted a pure NAS, so it's perfect for my needs, but if you want more power you need to choose differently.

 

By the way, while I'm thinking about it-- the Supermicro board has a VERY handy on-board USB A female port, so you can plug your flash drive into the board internally -- makes for a very clean exterior (only needs power, network, and a USB cable from the UPS).    If you use a motherboard without this, you can do the same basic thing with a simple USB head to Type A cable like this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812200294

 

Look carefully at the picture of the system I'm posting at the end of this, and you'll see a USB Flash drive above the power supply => I used Velcro to attach it to the back of the case, and plugged it in to one of these cables.  Keeping the flash drive in the case also eliminates most causes of damage to it.

 

Several builds use an Ivy Bridge Core i3 in an Asus P8H77

For example:

http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=24786.0

http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=18872.0

http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=28860.0

 

... dirtysanchez's "Landfill" and spencerss' "SFF Unraid" both use that combination, for example, and phillippp's is very similar.  The system in the picture at the end uses almost the same thing -- an i3-3225 in an Asus P8H77-I motherboard.  It's an excellent combination that has a lot more "horsepower" than the Atom ... at about a 10-15 watt "power penalty".  Not bad for the amount of additional power it has.

 

If I was building myself another server in this case, I'd use the newer Socket 1050 version of that Asus board:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813132032

... and a Haswell i3 or i5 CPU.    This would be a really superb choice for a high-performance UnRAID "Plus" license.    All of the boards I've mentioned support 6 drives, but have a PCIe socket that you could add an additional controller to if you wanted to maximize the drives that will fit in the case.    I think it's "perfect" with 6 drives -- but if you want a cache drive you'd need the additional SATA port.

 

The only thing left is the drives.    I'm a BIG fan of the WD Reds and the Seagate NAS units.  My system has six 3TB WD Reds (4TB drives weren't available when I built it).  The system in the picture below uses the 4TB Seagate NAS units, which are also superb drives.    Both of these drives are 1TB/platter, have 3 year warranties; and perform VERY well.  The Seagate units are a bit faster, as they rotate at ~5900rpm vs. ~5400 for the Reds.  But both can saturate a 1Gb network link ... providing about 120MB/s transfers on reads.  The NAS drives have better write performance, since they're faster drives -- low-to-mid 40's (MB/s) compared to mid-30's for the Reds [some of that difference may be due to the faster CPU in the Seagate-based system].    You can, of course, use less expensive WD Greens or the lower-end Seagate drives; but I only buy the NAS-quality drives.  In fact, I'd have bought the WD SE Enterprise-class units, but they're not 1TB/platter (yet) -- and I no longer buy anything that's not 1TB/platter.

 

Hopefully this provides plenty of "food for thought" for anyone who wants to use this case.

In a simple nutshell, if you want the lowest possible power and just need a NAS, I'd use the Atom board;  if you need more power; the Ivy Bridge choice is excellent and a bit less expensive than a Haswell-based system; but the Haswell CPU's are, of course, the latest generation.

 

Use an SFX PSU and high-quality drives and this can make a superb 20TB UnRAID in a very compact case.

 

Here's the picture I mentioned:

 

DBInternals.jpg.8af9bd1943997afa78e5dbbe2db36eca.jpg

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Great writeup! Few additional thoughts about the CPU/MB selection. I've just recently spent quite some time figuring out the current best options for this particular case. I had two use cases in mind; basic budget NAS and full featured media server. I also created a simple chart showing the differences of AMD/Intel processors for this case.

 

Basic budget NAS

When aiming for the lowest possible cost with decent performance I would recommend going for a AMD FM85 (eg. from ASRock) based build with lower end AMD APU.  You will get 7 x SATA-III, so there is no need for additional SATA-cards to reach the unRAID Plus maximum. Though Q25B could hold 7 x 3,5" and 1 x 2,5", but this would mean both going for Pro license and having to purchase a 2,5" cache drive (no sense getting a 2,5" array disk) and an additional SATA-card.

 

Since you wouldn't be too any transcoding or other CPU-intensive tasks, a AMD A4-5300 is more than sufficient.

 

Full featured (Plex) media server

With media server you will have to take into account both CPU load and a place to install different add-ons. You are likely to have devices which require transcoding and if you want to have multiple devices supported simultaneously you will need processing power. Regardless of this, Intel Haswell would be my recommendation. On lower end Pentium G3220 can provide one 1080p and two 720p transcoding sessions and has an amazing bang for buck ratio. If you need more you can choose any of the Haswell i3/i5/i7/Xeon processors. T-models have a TDP of either 35W or 45W and are perfect with this case but even the Xeon E3-1230V3 has a 80W TDP which is still less than the maximum recommended.

 

On the motherboard side it's pretty straightforward, Asus H87I-PLUS mITX is my pick too. But you will need a 2-port SATA-III card since Haswell chipsets support 6 x SATA-III ports at maximum. And then you can make a selection between 7 and 8 drives. I would go for 7 x 3,5" drives and then use the 2,5" for SSD cache drive to be used for add-on installation. This will require a Pro-license but in total cost this is almost negligible.

 

CPU_benchmark.png

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henris => Nice chart on the relative merits of the CPU's.  Actually I think a Haswell i5-4670T is the best choice for a high performance unit ... significantly better performance than the i3's, and notably less expensive than an i7.  The i7 of course has even more performance ... but it's simply not needed for UnRAID.

 

I had intended to mention the 7-port Asrock board, but simply forgot.  Glad you added that to the list of alternatives.  For a pure NAS that's indeed a good choice, since it supports the extra drive.  But for anything that needs a bit more "horsepower", I'd jump right back to an Intel-based solution  :)

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Added the i5-4670T to the chart, I actually have almost all AMD APU and Intel Ivy-Bridge and Haswell processors in a spreadsheet but most of them have the same ~30 bang for € ratio.

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Garycase, great idea to get all this info in one place. I'll be building one of these soon and I just have a question about memory. I am probably going to use an Asus H87I-PLUS MB with a Celeron G3220, could you recommend 4 GB of memory for this combo?

 

PS: You forgot to mention your recommended power supply doesn't need to be modular. Oh, about the power supply. A lot of these builds use a Corsair PS that puts the PS & CPU fans right ontop of each other. How can that be good? It obviously works because it has been tested, but it seems odd.

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Garycase, great idea to get all this info in one place. I'll be building one of these soon and I just have a question about memory. I am probably going to use an Asus H87I-PLUS MB with a Celeron G3220, could you recommend 4 GB of memory for this combo?

 

The board supports dual channel operation, so whatever you install, do it with a pair of modules.  If you really just want 4GB, then buy 2 2GB modules ... standard voltage (1.5v), either 1333 or 1600 speed modules.    This would be fine:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145339

 

HOWEVER ... with the forthcoming 64-bit version of UnRAID, you may want to use more memory just to have more "headroom" for future add-ins and/or server buffering, etc.    I'd be inclined to either use a pair of 4GB or a pair of 8GB modules, just so you don't ever have to swap them out in the future.  e.g. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148466

 

 

PS: You forgot to mention your recommended power supply doesn't need to be modular. Oh, about the power supply. A lot of these builds use a Corsair PS that puts the PS & CPU fans right ontop of each other. How can that be good? It obviously works because it has been tested, but it seems odd.

 

Actually I thought it was very clear you didn't need the modular version -- my suggested unit is the non-modular version ... I included the modular version in case somebody prefers that.

I also made it VERY clear that I do NOT recommend the Corsair unit (or any ATX unit) ==> "... I think that's simply too crammed-in to really allow good airflow ... I found that a good SFX PSU is a much better choice."   

 

Just to be VERY explicit:  these are the ONLY PSUs I use with Q25B builds these days:

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256063

or

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256084

 

Either is an excellent choice -- you do NOT need the modular unit; but it is a slightly more efficient PSU (about 5% better) ... so will use slightly less power.

 

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PS: You forgot to mention your recommended power supply doesn't need to be modular. Oh, about the power supply. A lot of these builds use a Corsair PS that puts the PS & CPU fans right ontop of each other. How can that be good? It obviously works because it has been tested, but it seems odd.

 

Haven't had any heat issues with mine. My server is in the TV cabinet and is currently showing (idle) temperature of 33C. CPU is the i3-3220T.

 

As far as cable management, I have the extra leads from my Corsair CX430 stored above the PSU. Cable management really isn't an issue with that PSU. I don't see any reason to recommend against that particular model..

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Although the CX series is Corsair's lowest-quality line of supplies, as long as it works with your motherboard/CPU combo it's fine [i've seen several systems that simply wouldn't boot with a CX unit; but worked fine with a TX or HX).

 

But that's not the reason I recommend against it => I simply think the case is too crowded with this PSU.  As I noted in my initial post, I DID build one system using this case with that PSU ... but after building the next one with an SFX PSU, I'd never even think about using another ATX unit => the case internals are like night-and-day.

 

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Very interesting thanks.

 

I was considering to build Lian-Li PC-Q25B :)

 

I want to build a ESXi box,  I think i5 cpu and ASUS H87I-PLUS should do well.

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Garycase, great idea to get all this info in one place. I'll be building one of these soon and I just have a question about memory. I am probably going to use an Asus H87I-PLUS MB with a Celeron G3220, could you recommend 4 GB of memory for this combo?

 

The board supports dual channel operation, so whatever you install, do it with a pair of modules.  If you really just want 4GB, then buy 2 2GB modules ... standard voltage (1.5v), either 1333 or 1600 speed modules.    This would be fine:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145339

 

HOWEVER ... with the forthcoming 64-bit version of UnRAID, you may want to use more memory just to have more "headroom" for future add-ins and/or server buffering, etc.    I'd be inclined to either use a pair of 4GB or a pair of 8GB modules, just so you don't ever have to swap them out in the future.  e.g. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148466

 

 

PS: You forgot to mention your recommended power supply doesn't need to be modular. Oh, about the power supply. A lot of these builds use a Corsair PS that puts the PS & CPU fans right ontop of each other. How can that be good? It obviously works because it has been tested, but it seems odd.

 

Actually I thought it was very clear you didn't need the modular version -- my suggested unit is the non-modular version ... I included the modular version in case somebody prefers that.

I also made it VERY clear that I do NOT recommend the Corsair unit (or any ATX unit) ==> "... I think that's simply too crammed-in to really allow good airflow ... I found that a good SFX PSU is a much better choice."   

 

Just to be VERY explicit:  these are the ONLY PSUs I use with Q25B builds these days:

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256063

or

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256084

 

Either is an excellent choice -- you do NOT need the modular unit; but it is a slightly more efficient PSU (about 5% better) ... so will use slightly less power.

 

I didn't mean to find fault, but for me it was nice to know I didn't need to buy the more expensive modular PS. Your recommended PS is already on my list to buy.

 

I thought 4gb memory would be enough but I see the wisdom in buying more. I hate to, since memory prices are high now, but I'll build with 8gb and worry about if that is enough later.

 

I was trying to be "frugal" with the Celeron & 4gb mem, so I also looked into the Fractal 304 case as another way to shave a couple bucks off the build.  That case holds just 6 hds and the cables are wild. I looked into using other cases with atx boards and I could probably save $100, but the Lian case is sooo sweet.  Frugal is one thing but being cheap is another. When this build is done the hard drives alone will cost well over $1000. Getting to complete will involve swapping hd's in and out and this Lian case tops every other option for me, in every way but low cost. It may not be the lowest cost but it is the best value, (for me).

 

All that said, I do have to order parts this weekend. The last remaining question I have is do I do a Haswell build with an i3-4130T  or do I clone the Landfill Ivy Bridge build with an i3-3220T?

 

My concern is Haswell is so new and some people have had problems. I'm pretty sure all of the problems have been with files I do not have, so maybe if I talk enough I answer my own questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh, to get things running I want to buy 2 4tb hard drives. After seeing recent reviews from Newegg I was going to buy them from Amazon. I was thinking of buying one each of WD Red and Seagate Nas, and maybe setting the faster Seagate up as the parity drive. Ya?

 

Push comes to shove and one of them fails I at least have a 4tb drive for parity and I can use a 3tb drive I have on hand to get started.

 

As for Newegg, they have been using Lasership for my last orders, and the last leg of the journey for small packages is airmail out the window. Until that changes I don't want hd's from Newegg right now.

 

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With the price differential down to just a few $$, I'd go with the Haswell choice.  The 4130's a good choice => almost 20% better performance than the Ivy Bridge 3220, but only about $5 extra.    And there's little to no difference in the cost of a supporting motherboard.

 

I would NOT mix the Seagate NAS and WD Red drives => there's nothing "wrong" with doing this;  but the Seagate drive is a slightly faster unit, so if you're going to use that drive, use ALL of the same drive, so you get that extra performance.    Parity checks are limited by the slowest drive in the mix -- so, for example, if you had 5 of the Seagate units and 1 WD Red, the parity checks would be the same as if you had 6 WD Reds.

 

BOTH are excellent drives -- there's really not much "penalty" with the Reds [NONE that you'll notice -- but if you built two systems ... one with all Reds and one with all Seagate NAS units ... you'd notice a difference in the parity check speeds].

 

Decide which units you want to use; then just buy a couple of them to get started  :)

 

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Garycase, great idea to get all this info in one place. I'll be building one of these soon and I just have a question about memory. I am probably going to use an Asus H87I-PLUS MB with a Celeron G3220, could you recommend 4 GB of memory for this combo?

Just to be VERY explicit:  these are the ONLY PSUs I use with Q25B builds these days:

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256063

or

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256084

 

Either is an excellent choice -- you do NOT need the modular unit; but it is a slightly more efficient PSU (about 5% better) ... so will use slightly less power.

 

According to the reviews, that is loud PSU.

 

I need something really quiet PSU

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I definitely disagree with those reviews.    With the system sitting 6 feet from my ear, I cannot hear it -- I have to look at it to see if it's on  :)

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I didn't mean to find fault, but for me it was nice to know I didn't need to buy the more expensive modular PS. Your recommended PS is already on my list to buy.

 

I thought 4gb memory would be enough but I see the wisdom in buying more. I hate to, since memory prices are high now, but I'll build with 8gb and worry about if that is enough later.

 

I was trying to be "frugal" with the Celeron & 4gb mem, so I also looked into the Fractal 304 case as another way to shave a couple bucks off the build.  That case holds just 6 hds and the cables are wild. I looked into using other cases with atx boards and I could probably save $100, but the Lian case is sooo sweet.  Frugal is one thing but being cheap is another. When this build is done the hard drives alone will cost well over $1000. Getting to complete will involve swapping hd's in and out and this Lian case tops every other option for me, in every way but low cost. It may not be the lowest cost but it is the best value, (for me).

 

All that said, I do have to order parts this weekend. The last remaining question I have is do I do a Haswell build with an i3-4130T  or do I clone the Landfill Ivy Bridge build with an i3-3220T?

 

My concern is Haswell is so new and some people have had problems. I'm pretty sure all of the problems have been with files I do not have, so maybe if I talk enough I answer my own questions.

 

I agree with garycase here.  I'd go with the Haswell, especially with the small price differential.  Haswell has a little more horsepower and is even more power efficient than the comparable IB. 

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I already ordered the parts>>> http://pcpartpicker.com/user/Qtrmeg/saved/2CZG

 

I want to thank all of you that have built these systems and contributed advice, because there is no telling what sort of cobbed up box I would have come up with on my own. I'm sure that at minimum it would have been underbuilt.

 

As for the 1155 vs 1150 decision, I doubt it makes much difference but why not go with the newer tech. If you want to know how truely screwed up I am in the head, my favorite color is blue so I had planned to go with the 1155, blue mem & sata cables to boot. Just as well, the power supply wire colors clashed with blue anyway.  8)

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Very nice choices => I think you'll be very happy with the performance of that system.  It's EXACTLY what my next build will likely be, with the exception that I plan to wait for the forthcoming 5TB WD Reds  :)  [Although if they're not 1.25TB platters, I'll stay with the 4TB versions, as I don't want a 5-platter disk]

 

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Ya, I just hope all the parts test out. You recommend preclearing the drives 3 times? If so, by the time I get the parts, memtest and preclear we'll be in November. Argh. Then I have 8tb to fill by copying from discs, so the 5tb drives will most likely be out by the time I need more drives. Its not the end of the world if it ends up being best to stay w/ 4tb drives, I'm guessing I have just under 12tb of data now, so having a total of 20tb of space should keep me out of trouble for quite some time. Of course it would be even nicer to have 23tb, (using the 3-4tb drives + 4-5tb drives).

 

Thanks again

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I generally run 2 cycles of pre-clear, although some like to run 3.  The reality is the vast majority of issues (if any) will occur on the 1st pass, so I think 2 is plenty.

 

I suspect it will be a LONG time before you need more space than the 4TB drives will provide  :)

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I generally run 2 cycles of pre-clear, although some like to run 3.  The reality is the vast majority of issues (if any) will occur on the 1st pass, so I think 2 is plenty.

 

I suspect it will be a LONG time before you need more space than the 4TB drives will provide  :)

 

I would agree with you, if I hadn't detected errors in my third pass of 2 drives in the past few years. If I had only done 2 cycles, they would have passed. I know there's a point of diminishing returns with repeated cycles, and someone could argue that 4 cycles caught a failure. But after my experiences, 3 passes are worth the wait in my mind.

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Qtrmeg => I presume you're aware that you can run all of your pre-clears at the same time  [Actually I don't recommend running more than 3-at-once; but since you only have 3 drives ...  :) ]

Much less of a hassle -- especially if you're doing multiple cycles.

 

You just have to switch to a different window to start each one.

 

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This thread has been a great resource (as have all the other Q25B build threads), but I'm stuck on what CPU to choose for this build.  I run SAB/SB/CP/Plex like most others, and I'd like the ability to transcode upwards of four 720p streams either locally or remotely at any one time.  I want to future-proof myself somewhat by going with an i5-4570S, but I don't want to go overboard unnecessarily.  Would an i3-4330 be enough?

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I've been on the following build for a few weeks now

 

Fractal design 304

i3 4130(T version is not available in my country, unfortunately)

Asus h87i plus

1x8gb ddr3 g skill 1333 mhz

2x3tb WD RED (no parity drive yet, yikes!)

Super Flower Golden Green HX 500W( in sure you guys will be laughing at the name of this PSU, but just have a look at the review at jonnyguru :) )

Really happy with the performance, but I'll have to change the router soon, waiting for the ac56u to launch in my country.

 

The only thing I'm not sure is the power consumption of this NAS. 

 

 

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk

 

 

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