Downsizing my unRAID -- e-ATX to mini-ITX


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UPDATED:

 

So I just finished assembling and setting up my new server using the following components:

 

MB: Asus H87i-PLUS

CPU: Celeron G1840 i5-4460 (2016-04-15)

RAM: 2GB Crucial 2x4GB HyperX Fury (2016-04-15)

CASE: Lian-Li PC-Q25B

PSU: Silverstone SST-ST45SF (SFX, 450w, non-modular)

HDD: Carry-over (Various WD 2TB and 3TB drives)

GPU: HD5450 Passive (2016-04-15)

 

My goal was simple. Reduce the footprint of my existing server (CoolerMaster CM 810) while maintaining the current array setup all the while allowing for slow future growth.

 

Items before unpacking:

IMG_20140909_125303_zps503c46b7.jpg

 

Motherboard installed on removable tray:

IMG_20140909_135836_zps557f8bae.jpg

 

Motherboard tray installed in the case (the 2 black SATA cables would be swapped out later):

IMG_20140909_143551_zps1bf4c53f.jpg

 

 

While not pictured, I used 4 right-angled to right-angled SATA cables for the 4 ports on the edge of the motherboard. The ports were the proper direction and the backplane had adequate space for the downward turns.

 

The more interior ports used straight to straight cables because the store I got my cables from was sold out of straight to right-angle, otherwise I would have got two of those.

 

A parity check is currently going as a full bore test of the I/O and stability. it is at 7% at the time of writing and the hard drives are 35-37c. The top most slot contains my cache drive (which will be converted to a 2.5" drive that I already have, and moved to the bottom plate) and it is currently spun down, but temps were about 36c. This is an older 160GB drive though, so higher temps are expected.

 

I set the USB mode to Hard Drive, and unraid boots in seconds (no joke), and this is on a USB 2.0 card reader to boot.

 

 

 

Lessons Learned:

Get the SFX PSU. I did right off the bat (while I seriously contemplated not doing so) based on the advice of Gary (garycase) and boy was he right! Even with the SFX PSU space was tight!!

 

With this case/motherboard combination, get 2 RA to ST SATA cables (12") and 4 RA to RA SATA cables (9"). I might still pick up the RA to ST cables if I find some.

 

 

 

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Final temperatures are in! I monitored the parity check throughout and the hottest drive was 38c and the cpu never went higher than 32c.

 

Cooling in the Q25 is excellent!

 

Also, the parity check finished in almost the exact same amount of time as my previous setup, which confirms to me that everything is working properly.

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Mr. Hexen,

 

  I wondered if you considered the Silverstone DS380 case or was the Lian Li always your first choice (and why, if you don't mind sharing your decision process)? Also, considering the impending changes with unRAID (along the lines of utilizing Docker and all that), do you intend to get more RAM later? 2 Megs might be a bit limiting?

 

I'm not being critical - I am interested in how you arrived at your configuration - I am having the same kinds of thoughts, although my current system already utilizes a mini ITX board - I will need to implement more horsepower most likely with the implementation of a few Dockerized apps - my old mobo is sporting an AMD Duron single core cpu - it's been enough. I realize now that I probably will NEVER need a honkin' huge case like I have...5-6 drives would likely be all I would ever need. I like the DS380 case, but I find the heat issues being discussed are a little concerning - perhaps that was cause enough to use the Lian Li...but you lose the hotswap ability and it seems to be more difficult to change hard drives? You already nailed my Motherboard of choice...

 

And congratulations on the build - it's really nice.

 

UPDATE - I did not know that this case supports 5x hotswap. Awesome...I retract the "lose the hotswap ability" quip! It's there, it's just 3 fewer slots which I'd probably never use and for $50 less! Nice one.

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Thanks for reading Spectator.

 

2gb seems plenty for me since I run it fairly lean on add-ons, using a separate machine for apps (an Asus Eeebox PC).

 

I choose the Q25 over the DS380 for a couple of reasons.

 

1. Cost. The DS380 is nearly $100 more in Canada.

2. CPU cooler height spacing made me nervous. A lot who used the case used low profile coolers for the cpu, although I admit I don't know for sure.

3. Cooling. As you've already mentioned.

4. HD trays were mentioned as cheap plastic in several reviews.

5. The hard drive rack MAY block add on card access needed to support all 8 bays.

 

 

The Q25 supports 5 hot swap and 2 "cold swap" in the lower tray. In addition you can add a 3rd drive in the tray as long as it is 2.5". Low and behold. I'm at 8 drives worth of capacity.

 

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Thanks much - I looked the Lian Li over a little closer and there is alot to like. Didn't know you could put three more drives in the tray in the bottom - that makes it much more attractive and we need 2-3 drives for cache and parity anyway - do those HAVE to be 2.5'' or will 3.5" drives fit? Those plastic trays in the DS380 - I could live with that - I doubt you would really be swapping drives that often so the caddy quality seems to be less of a point for me than for some others. For me, the ability to swap out a drive without taking the case apart is a benefit. The heat issues are a show stopper - I wondered if this might be overcome with better fans - however, it seems to be related to very tight case tolerances that contribute to "hot spot" formation...and I think all the fans exhaust out - so that makes low pressure in the case and exacerbates the heat issue. Totally agree with the CPU cooler clearance issues, but I would be more concerned with that using an AMD processor - say an A8 or A10 - those are 100 watt CPUs and would need better cooling solutions - the Intels tend to be a little more efficient. The Lian Li appears to not suffer the cooling issues of the DS380.

 

It is still unclear to me if you intend to run dockerized apps if you need a mobo/cpu combo that supports all the stuff required of a XEN configuration - and all that figures into the hardware purchases.

 

Thanks again for the info - enjoy your new rig!

 

 

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my understanding with Docker is that it needs no special hardware like a Virtual Machine would (i.e. VT-d, etc.).

 

I do not plan to run docker on this machine (currently running v5.0.5) but I dont forsee any issues with my current setup except perhaps available ram (although my ubuntu 14.04 server uses less than 500mb of ram and it runs SickRage, CouchPotato, Transmission, APCUPSd, ProFTPd).

 

The bottom tray in the Q25 can hold a variety of drives but no more than two 3.5" drives and a single 2.5" drive at once.

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  • 1 month later...

No current photo's sorry. Not much to see other than a matte black box sitting on a shelf, which is exactly what i was aiming for.

 

So far this server is rock solid. 33 days uptime, havent restarted it since i built it. Thinking about adding some capacity shortly, just need to do the math on what to get (4TB Parity, add 3TB drive, etc.)

 

One thing i've run into is that I am seeing Machine Check Errors "MCE Error" and google suggests that a bios update may be in order. Im not overly worried as they dont seem to be causing any issues with normal operation. I think i've got 20 of them in the log.

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i'm really tempted to build one just like it myself.

i have an old one running 4.7 and it's time for a hardware and software refresh

 

i saw on other sites where people had mentioned that the power supply in that case was a tight fit.

i'll need to watch out for that.

 

anything else i might need to keep an eye on?

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i'm really tempted to build one just like it myself.

i have an old one running 4.7 and it's time for a hardware and software refresh

 

i saw on other sites where people had mentioned that the power supply in that case was a tight fit.

i'll need to watch out for that.

 

anything else i might need to keep an eye on?

 

The power supply isn't an issue -- just use an SFX power supply.  The Silverstone units are excellent choices (either the 300 or the 450w unit).

 

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no problem, i went ahead and ordered some stuff.

 

i got basically the same setup coming in.

 

i went a little more on the cpu and memory though.

 

i'll go ahead and run it with my extra usb key and some spare drives to break it in then carefully transfer the drives from my old box

 

as they say, some assembly may be required....

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Sounds like a good plan. I went low end on the CPU and RAM because I have a separate box that handles all my "apps" like SickRage (Sikbeard), CouchPotato, Transmission, mySQL, etc.

 

The first Parity Check completed in nearly the exact same time as the old setup, confirming proper performance with the new hardware.

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  • 2 weeks later...

in reference to these errors you are getting "Machine Check Errors "MCE Error"

 

i'm getting them as well, "NAS-1 kernel: mce: [Hardware Error]: Machine check events logged'

 

I flashed the BIOS to the newest one i could find on the Asus site before i loaded unRAID, i think the version was 2002.

 

next time i reboot i'll make a point of checking that.

 

flashing your BIOS might not help that.

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2002 was released after I last tried to update my BIOS. I'll give it a go next time I restart the server too.

 

I'm currently on 2001 I believe, and one of the fixes listed on the website "Increase system stability". So it might actually solve these problems as on Windows OS's these are what cause BSOD I've read.

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  • 4 months later...

Your post reminded me I had meant to check my Syslog to see if I have the same "Machine Check Errors" ==> just looked through the log (actually searched it) and there are none of these in my log.

 

Of course I have a completely different motherboard/CPU [Atom-based Supermicro], so its almost certainly something related to your motherboard/CPU combo.  I suspect that (a) a BIOS update may eventually resolve it; and, more importantly,  (b) it's nothing to be concerned about  :)

 

By the way, in recent months I've had a chance to look at the Silverstone DS380 (helped a friend build a system with one) and I definitely prefer the Q25B ... just a much nicer "feel" and clearly better made.    Haven't had a chance to see one of the new Lian-Li PC-Q26 cases, which I suspect are very nice and have 10 drive support; but they're MUCH larger than the Q25's, so I doubt I'll use them.

 

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I'm thinking (hoping) that when unRAID 6 goes final it may resolve the MCE's, but otherwise I dont lose sleep over it :)

 

I agree the Q26 looks really nice, but i dont need 10 drives (only have a plus license), and at my usage rates (currently only 67% full and its over 3 years old) its cheaper to just invest in larger drive sizes as needed.

 

Currently I have 3x 3TB and 1x 2TB. My Parity drive is now a WD Red (these run so much cooler than the older WD Green).

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Agree.  With your current config, you could grow VERY substantially in capacity without any need to upgrade the chassis.    The Q25 can easily (as you know) handle 7 drives (8 if you use a 2.5" -- which makes sense if you want a cache) ... and it's a MUCH nicer size than the Q26.  Next time you need space, I'd be inclined to get a 6TB WD Red as the parity drive and add your current parity to the array.  Then you can add 6TB drives as your needs grow ... and eventually replace your smaller drives with them as well.

 

The Q26 is not only larger than I'd like; but it's also a bit pricey ... it's retail price is $189.95, and it only includes 2 hot-swap backplanes; so you'd need 8 more to really set it up the way I'd like.  Two BP3SATA's and one BP2SATA would take care of that ... but that adds another $80 or so to the cost.    That wouldn't deter me if I wanted support for 10 drives; but (a) I'm happy with the 7 drives the Q25B supports; and (b) I really don't like the much larger size of the Q26  [it's still "small", but not compared to the Q25].

 

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It's a huge shame the Q25 is more or less end of line.  They're nearly impossible to get now in EU, and they're expensive if they are in stock.

 

I've had two of them in the past, and sold them both.  I still sort of regret that.

 

In fact, my old unRAID 5 box was in a PC-Q25B with an Asus P8-H61I Plus and a Pentium G620.  It was a solid little machine.

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Agree ... they're getting hard to source in the US as well.

 

I had two spares ... picked them up when Newegg had a REALLY good sale price on them -- figured I'd use them for my next builds when I moved to 6/8TB drives.    HOWEVER, a couple friends really liked the chassis and convinced me to build them systems in those cases ... so now I don't have any "laying around".    Like you, I regret that I did that, as if I wanted another one right now it'd be hard to find - and those that are available are ~ $50 more than they used to be.

 

If Newegg should happen to get more in stock (currently "out of stock" and "may or may not be restocked") I'll definitely pick up a spare.

 

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Next time you need space, I'd be inclined to get a 6TB WD Red as the parity drive and add your current parity to the array.  Then you can add 6TB drives as your needs grow ... and eventually replace your smaller drives with them as well.

 

I really cant personally justify the price for 6TB vs 3TB or 4TB.

 

In Canada the 6TB Red on sale is $340 vs $199 for 4TB and $135 for 3TB.

 

I could nearly get three 3TB drives for the cost of a single 6TB drive!!

 

The next logical step for me is to purchase a 4TB drive since the next replacement will get rid of my last 2TB drive in the system.

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Easy to understand.  It's easily worth $50/TB instead of $45/TB to move from 3 to 4TB units;  but jumping up to $57/TB is a bit much if you don't need the additional space.    Especially in an array where you've only got 8TB now ... simply standardizing on 4TB drives will let you triple that space in the Q25B ... which I suspect is ample for a pretty long time in the future.

 

It's really only worth the per/TB premium for the 6TB units if you think you'll need the additional space within a reasonable time frame.    Otherwise, stay with the 4TB units -- and in a few years when you need to expand your space there'll likely be even larger drives you can use  :)

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  • 3 months later...

So things have changed a wee bit for me lately.

 

I've since upgraded to unRAID 6 (on 6.0.1 currently), decommissioned my "app server" and started using dockers. My 2GB of ram was barely enough but I wanted to take a stab at using VM's as well. So I've upgraded to 8GB of Kingston HyperX Fury.

 

I've mentioned this in other threads, but want to here as well. The MCE errors went away when I upgraded to unraid v6 so I suspect some legacy code in v5's linux version was the cause.

 

I've also removed a WD 2TB Green from service (my cache drive) as it had a growing number of reallocated sectors and a pending that would not go away. I replaced it with a Seagate Momentus 5400.6 160GB laptop drive. A little slower but its in great shape and quiet/cool running.

 

I also replaced my last 2TB array drive with a 3TB Red (my second one). This 2TB Green is still in good health (albeit with 30k hours) so I'm not sure what to do with it. I could preclear it and add it back into the array (it was showing NO signs of failure) or I could just leave it in there as a backup drive for important data using the unassigned devices plugin... hmmmm

 

Now with more ram, dockers, and two VM's installed I'm thinking about putting a good video card in it and trying my hand at gaming! I just need to purchase a vt-d capable CPU (I KNOW gary will suggest the i7-4790). I'm considering an i5-4xxx series for some savings...

 

I already have a nVidia 8800GT to test with, I'm just happy I chose the Q25B as it has space for a long double slot video card!

 

 

 

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Now with more ram, dockers, and two VM's installed I'm thinking about putting a good video card in it and trying my hand at gaming! I just need to purchase a vt-d capable CPU (I KNOW gary will suggest the i7-4790). I'm considering an i5-4xxx series for some savings...

 

I already have a nVidia 8800GT to test with, I'm just happy I chose the Q25B as it has space for a long double slot video card!

 

8) I picked up my i5-4570 used for $115 shipped. I'm sure you can find a good deal like that!

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