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phreshjive

PhreshJive's 8 HotSwap Bay U-NAS NSC-800 Low-Power mITX Silent Virtualized Build

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Just an update: Will be going ahead with the Xeon-based build using an ASRock E3C224D4I-14S motherboard. 

 

I'll be modifying the back plate to accommodate the board.  I believe it will be a fairly simple mod but doing so will create a silent, compact, low-powered virtualized 8-bay hot swapable build that can act as both an UnRAID / FreeNAS box, a router, media server AND media player (among anything else one would want to virtualize). 

 

Once I get it going, I'll create a new thread with my progress as no review exists online for that board that has everything one would want including an integrated SAS, integrated graphics (to power ESXI), PCI-E slot (for an ATI card for the media player) and listed support for ESXI 5.5.

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Ordered the updated parts!  The system for which I will create a new thread (due to the modifications that will need to be done to the case to accommodate the Extended-ITX board) will be:

 

Hypervisor: ESXI 5.5 $0

Case: U-NAS NSC-800 Chassis $225

Screws: Akasa Fine Thread Thumbscrews (AK-CH-S2) $5

PSU:

  - SeaSonic SS-350M1U Power Supply $60

Fans: Noctua NF-S12A FLX Fans x 2 $39

Motherboard: ASRock E3C224D4I-14S $299

CPU: Intel  Xeon E3-1230L v3 25W TDP CPU $269

Heatsink: Noctua NH-L9I $43

RAM: 32GB (Samsung 8GB PC3-10600 DDR3-1333MHz ECC Registered CL9 240-Pin DIMM Dual x 4) $189

SAS: Onboard LSI 2308

Storage:

  - Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 2TB 5900 RPM 64MB Cache x 8 $160

  - Samsung Electronics 840 EVO-Series MZ-7TE120BW 120GB SSD x 2 (1 for cache, 1 for ESXI) $135

Graphics Card (for passthrough): XFX HD 6670 1GB DDR3 $45

Licenses:

  - UnRAID Pro ($75) (built identical system for best friend) / Sandisk Cruzer Fit 8 GB ($9)

  - PlexPass Lifetime ($75)

TOTAL (without licenses): $1,478

GRAND TOTAL (with licenses): $1,628 USD

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Phreshjive,

 

Thanks for the response. U-NAS sent me replacement parts and I was able to complete my build.

 

I'm a little concerned about the seasonic power supply after reading this today: http://lime-technology.com/wiki/index.php/PSU#Rail_Count

 

The 350M1U is a split-rail PSU. Are you aware of this? Any thoughts? Having a hard time finding a single-rail flexatx psu...

 

"Before I start blabbing about the numbers above, this is where I found out that the unit is really a single 12V design. I ran these tests, hit 12V1 with the full 29A combined limit, and it did not shut down. So, it's a single 12V model"

 

www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story2&reid=277

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It is indeed a dual rail unit, as you can see by simply looking at the rating plate on the side of the power supply:

 

Seasonic_SS350-M1U.jpg.89f672accf2cc5f0a01a415f47556a9d.jpg

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... but the simple fact is that if it's working fine for you build, it's okay  :)

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... but the simple fact is that if it's working fine for you build, it's okay  :)

 

Well, its working right now with only 2x 4TB WD Reds, but I'm adding an SSD cache and 6 more Reds which will surely be too much...

 

So I'm seeing conflicting information here now. Is that jonnyguru page reliable? Has anyone actually used the power supply with a full complement of drives?

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... but the simple fact is that if it's working fine for you build, it's okay  :)

 

Well, its working right now with only 2x 4TB WD Reds, but I'm adding an SSD cache and 6 more Reds which will surely be too much...

 

So I'm seeing conflicting information here now. Is that jonnyguru page reliable? Has anyone actually used the power supply with a full complement of drives?

 

Look at YOUR power supply's plate -- if they've changed the design, your plate will show that.  If it shows the same thing as what I posted above, you've got 2 rails.    On the other hand, that doesn't mean there's a problem.  The rails are likely split in a way that will normally be fine if you're using the cables from the supply.  Just don't power all of your drives from the same output cable from the power supply.  It's even possible that the PSU has internal circuitry that combines the two rails -- but if that was the case I'd think it would show it as a single rail.

 

 

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It is indeed a dual rail unit, as you can see by simply looking at the rating plate on the side of the power supply:

 

So the review above is incorrect?

 

"Luckily some higher-end manufacturers have said "ATX" be damned and produced single-rail PSU's. These supplies can deliver their full load from any one of their cables, meaning that you can connect your drives as you see fit. (Some PSU's claim to be multi-rail, but are actually single-rail.)"

 

lime-technology.com/wiki/index.php/PSU#Rail_Count

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So the review above is incorrect?

 

Either that or the power supply's specification plate and specifications on the web site are both incorrect.  As I noted, however, it's possible that the manufacturer combined the rails internally (along with protective circuitry to limit the current from any one rail) and simply didn't update the specifications, since internally it's still 2 rails.

 

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Haven't had an issue with my 8 2TB drives and 2 SSDs. 

 

Update: memory I purchased for the new motherboard was incorrect.  Returning it and have now ordered Crucial memory that has been vetted for the motherboard that should be delivered tomorrow.

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Just to give a little preview of how I envision all the parts will fit together.  Obviously the graphics card would be placed on top of the motherboard.

 

IMG_20140517_190632_zpsd5c4940b.jpg

 

IMG_20140517_191439_zpsb7cc9bfa.jpg

 

2014-05-17191456_zps2351b7ee.jpg

 

 

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Update: This ASRock board has so far been a pleasure to work with.  Drilled out all of the standoffs on the case, some of which are pictured here.  I then updated the BIOS, flashed the LSI 2308 chip from the included IR (RAID) firmware to the IT (JBOD) following the instructions found in the 16.0.1IT zip file found here creating a DOS boot USB key using Rufus 1.4.7.  Installed ESXI 5.5 U1 with absolutely no issues (nor slipstreaming of drivers required) and have so far created my pfSense, Plex Home Theater (passing through the USB IR, ATI graphics card and HDMI Audio to Win8.1), Plex Server, Calibre Server, UniFi, unRAID (passing through the LSI controller and updating the VM image using WinImage) and WiFiPrint VMs. 

 

Another positive of this board (over the DQ77KB that I initially used) is that all health status details (under the Configuration tab) is passed through to ESXI.

 

Haven't yet run intensive testing on UnRAID as the hard drives do not have the backplate with fans attached. 

 

Will be testing this afternoon the output from the ATI card.  If it works, believe my biggest issue will be clearance from the now installed NH-L9i (the passive cooler was ineffective reaching temps with minimal load of 87C) on the Xeon LV chip.  It clears, but is pretty close.  Emailed Noctua to see if they had even lower profile thumb screws; otherwise I will figure something out.  Will also be getting the case machined out where the CPU fan will rest to increase cooling and will get the modular PSU cables / cables for the front power button / USB re-done (as now length from where PSU / MB will be housed to the connectors is longer than included). 

 

Also just placed an order for three different (in qty of 4 of each) low profile standoffs to test which works best from here.

 

Photo of the test bench:

 

IMG_20140519_150321_zpsc4116547.jpg

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Reinstalled the rear plate with the fans.  Running parity sync now and am getting 140MB/sec with the onboard controller / 236 min to go.

 

Passthrough audio and video work perfectly.  Got a PSOD when I decided to plug in the HDMI while the VM was up.  Once I rebooted with it connected, it has been smooth sailing.  So far, I'm very pleased.

 

Will change out over next weekend the FLX variant of the Noctua rear fans for the PWM version as the motherboard has 3 4-pin fan headers and it will reduce clutter.

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Well, after some more exhaustive tests, I was in fact having audio and video issues. 

 

Once I adjusted the settings under Options / Advanced / General / Configuration Parameters adding the infamous pciHole.start = 1200 and pciHole.end=2200 parameters as well as pciPassthru0.msiEnabled = "FALSE" (for the HDMI video) and pciPassthru1.msiEnabled = "FALSE" (for the HDMI audio), all was well. 

 

Will do more testing once I install the fans over the weekend.

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To add to discussion above regarding my chosen 1U PSU, it doesn't have problems handling all of the drives.  The test PSU that I was initially using though, when I accidentally plugged in all the hard drives on the same rail after swapping out the fans failed. 

 

Now using an 850W TPQ-850 Antec on the test bed.

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Alright, now at stage of build where rear panel needs to be 3D scanned.  Can anyone offer assistance?

 

Edit: Figured out a way to modify the rear panel without need for 3D scanning.  Ordered the following parts:

 

  • NZXT CB-FRPAN SET 300mm Individually Sleeved Front Panel Connections Premium Cable (Black)
  • PCI-E PCI Express 16X Riser Card Extender Flex Flexible Extension Cable for 1U 2U Small Case
  • Silverstone Tek 140mm Ultra Fine Fan Filter with Magnet Cooling FF143B (Black)
  • ABS Sheet 0.60" 12 x 12

 

Idea is to

 

a) Place motherboard using standoffs I previously ordered

b) Cut hole in cover for CPU cooler ventilation and place the magnetic fan cooler over it

c) Extend the front panel connectors using the cables (already have a 24 pin individually sleeved extender)

d) Cut rear panel up / cut equivalent sized PVC piece with placeholder for MB shield / hotglue into place

e) Repeat processs for PSU hole

 

Should receive all parts by Wednesday and will try to do the work over the weekend.

 

Edit #2: Also just purchased a Asus Radeon HD6450 to test out its passthrough capabilities as I would prefer a lower TDP considering all other chosen parts are power misers.

 

Edit #3: Tried system without existing graphics card plugged in with no change in W on Killawatt.  BIOS set for energy conservation.  Perhaps a setting somewhere.  At this point, very happy everything is working smoothly though this power issue irks me.

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Quick update:

 

So I also bought 3M Dual Lock Reclosable Fastener 250/250 from Amazon to mount the SSDs next to where the PSU will be housed.  Love the stuff. 

 

IMG_20140611_171614_zps7d79fc75.jpg

 

For those who aren't in the know, it's the same fastening material that comes with a E-ZPass (contactless payment system module mounted generally on windshields used on toll roads in the US).  Much improved over Velcro.  Also am now testing an Asus HD 6450.  Had to though adjust memory up to 8GB on the VM (after testing some 1080P MKVs) and the scaling in the AMD Catalyst control panel.  Happier with it as it is passive, is smaller in size, has a low profile bracket, and is better suited for just outputting HD video.  So far, no issues.  Insignificant difference in power consumption compared with previous graphics card. BIOS update might be needed to fix the issue.  Conversation with William at ASRock resulted in him forwarding problem to their engineering team.  I'll update the thread once I hear back.

 

Also just ordered a Logitech Cordless MediaBoard Pro Bluetooth Keyboard.  Had initially bought a Logitech K400r that'll be returned as I found out that passing HID USB devices to VMs is difficult and/or impossible.  This coupled with a Kinivo BTD-400 Bluetooth module should work for the Windows 8.1 Plex Home Theatre VM for the times I want a physical keyboard.  For the rest of the time, I also installed Unified Remote on the VM and my smartphone.  Planning on using the Bluetooth module to pair a PS3 Controller for the rare times I want to switch out of Plex Home Theatre and use an emulator to kick back and play some classics.

 

System functions exactly as I want with the exception of the power consumption.  Realized I am possibly missing an extension cable for Molex and a standoff as I misplaced one of them.  Also will buy some M3 screws with nylon washers to slightly lower the height of the CPU cooler before finalizing the build and posting updated photos.  Getting closer to being done!  A labor of love.

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Below is the relevant portion that I received as a response from ASRock:

 

AC Power 230 Volt              Power consumption (Unit: Watts) 

S0(Enter OS)                          51.4

Full Loading(Run Prime95)    112

S1(Monitor Auto Off)              n/a

S3(Sleep mode) <5Watt        n/a

S4(Hibernate)                        3.87

S5(Shutdown)                      3.74

Deep S5(Shut down)            0.36

 

Test Config (AC Power 230 Volt)

Model:E3C224D4I-12S R1.00

CPU: 1285V3-QEEK

CPU fan:INTEL BOX

RAM: KingSton-ECC-4G-1600

VGA:On board

HDD: Seagate 250G

ODD: Pioneer-DVD

PSU:Detla 850W

BIOS version:L0.02

OS:Win7

 

For the power consumption difference between E3C224D4I-14S and Intel DQ77KB motherboard + SuperMicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 PCI Controller.

The main difference between these two boards is, E3C224D4I-14 has a BMC and LSI2308 controller on board, and LSI 2308 consumes more power than Marvell chipset does. We estimated that E3C224D4I-14S will have 10+ W more than the Intel DQ77KB motherboard + SuperMicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 PCI Controller

 

Despite the power consumption, am still very happy.  Compatibility with ESXI and VGA passthrough is no small feat for anyone whose dabbled in virtualization.

 

Been busy with work and haven't had the time to finish it off.  Hopefully next weekend I'll have some free time.

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Been busy with other things, but wanted to update: the Logitech Cordless MediaBoard Pro Bluetooth Keyboard works great with my chosen Bluetooth dongle and the VM in ESXI.

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Thank you for being kind enough to keep posting back, I have purchased a majority of the updated parts and will be doing this as I will be giving my current server to my parents. I look forward to coming back in here with some experience and pictures.

 

Here are the parts I am using: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/Reginald476/saved/7y9tt6

I also got an extra 2.5" tray, so I can stack the two SSDs.

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Hey I just wanted to ask about the PSU--early on in the thread you said the fan never even turned on. Has that been consistent? If the fan does turn on, is it always loud or start quiet and ramp up?

 

Sorry if you asked this already, I did try reading/skimming the thread and I didn't see you mention the PSU fan except the beginning.

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This is looking great!

 

Do you have any updates? I'd be really curious to see how you got the PSU mounted and what you did or did not have to do about the CPU cooling under load.

 

I have a pretty similar project using the E3-1265L and a quad gig nic card rather than the discrete graphics. 

 

I would really like to keep it as quiet as possible as its going to be in my office and so was hoping to avoid exposing the CPU fan direct to the elements - thoughts:

 

1) mount the motherboard upside down though this would mean venting cpu heat directly onto the hard disks - probably not ideal but in keeping with the original side mounting setup the case was designed for.

2) cut one or more vents in the top to allow the cpu fan to directly vent - not so keen on this as it possibly creates multiple air flows inside a small case and might cause hot spots

3) try watercooling - remove one or both fans from inside the case replace with a radiator on one then remount the fans on back of the case (with grills)

 

 

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Very interesting.

 

How did you Passthrough a video card on ESXi? I thought it will never work well on ESXi.  Did it work really well and the performance?

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