DZMM Posted September 27, 2017 Share Posted September 27, 2017 (edited) I just realised this morning that it’s been just over a year since I built my unRAID server. I meant to write this post last year, but never got around to it. I’ve taken some very quick photos – apologies for the quality (and some of the dust on my PC – hasn’t been cleaned for a while…) as I only had my Nexus 6P! Overall I’m amazed by how much unRAID has allowed me to do with this machine, and a year in I still haven’t scratched the surface of what it can do. I’m convinced I’ll be able to, with a few select upgrades along the way, keep this machine going for another 10 years like my last machine. ------------------------------------------------------------ This build has been both exciting and sad at the same time. Sad, because my 1st Build 'Cylon', which was lovingly created as a xmas present to myself way back in 2005, was finally deactivated. Cylon evolved over the years with all of the parts changing except for my trusty Gigabyte 3DAurora chassis , including the CPU from a AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ (2005) --> Intel Core 2 Quad Pro Q6600 (2008), i7 920 (2009) to its final i5-3450 (2012). I've built several HTPCs (and a WHS server at one point) along the way that used to be connected to each of my TVs, but they've all gone over the years with only my trusty Cylon staying the course. What drove the new build? Cylon was starting to fall apart and was unable to keep cool and was too noisy. Some of my HDDs weren't even in bays anymore...... I needed more power - my setup couldn't keep up with the Plex streaming needs of my family, with multiple concurrent transcodes locally and remotely I needed more workstations - MY PC seemingly overnight was being shared by my wife and 2 kids, so I was looking for a way to cost effectively support concurrent users I miss building and configuring PCs and I finally had a good excuse for a major new challenge! It's been exciting getting up to speed with the last 10 years of PC development While I was trying to find the best solution, two things sent me down the path that I choose: reading about amazing dual Xeon E5-2670 systems being built, thanks to cheap CPUs flooding eBay stumbling onto LinusTechTips '2 Gaming Rigs, 1 Tower' video and realising that unRAID would let me build one powerful PC capable of running multiple concurrent workstations and media centers, just struck a chord. Adding parity protection to my HDDs was also attractive, as it’s been a real pain in the ass replacing failed drives over the years in terms of working out what files had been lost and replacing them. Part Selection CPU: My original intention was to build a system around dual E5-2670s I had picked up on eBay. But, after struggling to find reasonably priced motherboards due to lack of availability and being forced to buy SSI-EEB cases I didn't like, I decided I needed a more modern system with as many current gen products as possible, so that my next system has a chance of surviving as long as Cylon with future upgrades. I was lucky enough to find a E5-2683V3 on eBay for 1/10th of the cost of a new one - 14 cores Vs the 16 of the 2670s, with lower power consumption for a 24/7 ATX not SSI-EEB machine and support for DDR4, USB3.1, M.2 etc Motherboard: Future-proofing was a major consideration (32Mbps M.2, 32Mbps USB 3.1, Type C, ) and 3+ PCIe x16 slots allowing me to run multiple virtual machines in unRAID Case: Although it's been out 2 years, the R5 is still a great case. It's not ostentatious and just has a quality look about it. It's also very quiet, which was a vital element of the overall build. I didn't want a massive window that showed my drives. I've bought this case to hopefully last as long as the Aurora3D, and it should be flexible enough to handle any scenario in the future GPU: I haven't played PC games since AOE/AOC, so I don't need a powerful card at the moment so the focus again has been on 'silent'. However, I am tempted to get a gaming card for one of my VMs as a later upgrade CPU Cooler: overkill for the Xeon which isn't overclocked, but capable of cooling hotter CPUs in the future. Plus it looks so damn sexy. Oh, and it's quiet PSU: efficiency important for a 24/7 machine and I wanted enough wattage headroom to support one mid-range GPU if necessary in the future. Quiet Lighting: I resisted buying a Hue+ as this isn't a gaming rig, but I couldn't resist adding some cheap lighting Original Build I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome. Everything runs soooo fast compared to Cylon, RIP. Temps are fantastic and the noise levels are acceptable (more later). Working inside the R5 was a dream, with plenty of room to manoeuvre and no need to ask my wife to be an extra pair of hands. Cost wise, I’m very happy with the results as it cost me £1,234 to build THREE (unRAID + 2VMs) powerful machines: £952 old components (monitor, HDD drives, keyboard) £1,234 for new components Grand Total: £2,186 - All powered by one chassis, so electricity and space savings are huge Changes over the year - '2 more PCs', TV Server, Bigger Array Storage, M.2 storage, bigger cache pool - £925 I purchased a 3rd monitor on eBay for £75 and added a GT730 and cheap Logitech keyboard to create a 3rd VM. Now, 3 of my family can use the PC concurrently I added another 32GB of RAM as at times I was getting too close to 100% utilisation I initially bought a 500GB SSD to use as an unassigned drive for my VMs and used the 2nd 250GB SSD I was using previously to create a cache pool. I then gave in and bought a 256GB M.2. SM961 and threw the 500GB SSD into the cache pool, doubling the size Added an extra 6TB X300 to my array I purchased a WinTV Quad and then replaced with a TBS6205 TV card I created a 4th VM, pfSense by buying a AOC-SGP-I2 NIC on eBay for £60 Overall - £3,110 It’s been a fantastic year. I’ve more than achieved my goals of delivering more concurrent users and an efficient Plex server. What’s been amazing is the number of additional tasks my server has taken on-board over the year, without breaking a sweat: Kodi mysql database. I now use kodi throughout my home rather than Plex. This has been a very happy development as my media center journey started 15 years ago when I modded orignial Xbox consoles to run XBMC, and Cylon was originally built to deliver content to those XBMC machines TV server – I have ditched all my STBs over the year and now use a TVheadend docker delivering TV to Android and Fire TVs Unifi Controller – I’ve added 2 AC Pro APs over the year controlled by a docker and after 14 years of trying, I finally have a wi-fi network I am happy with pfSense router – excellent piece of software Home Automation through a Home Assistant Docker Automated media management dockers (sonar, radar, nzbget etc). I even use the excellent calibre-web docker to provide easy access to my book collection MineOS server docker for the kids Letsencrypt reverse proxy, openvpn-as and resilio-sync for secure remote access to server and files It really has become my HOME server – controlling my tvs, lighting, heating, media and internet usage! Future Plans Add a gaming GPU as the GT730 can’t even manage the most basic graphics settings Add more storage, probably moving to 8TB drives at the next purchase. This will probably mean I will have to build a dedicated pfSense box as I only have one SATA slot left on my motherboard, so I will need the PCIe slot to add a SATA card. I’m not keen on spending approx. £300-400 on a SATA card and a 2nd pfsense machine that will need maintaining, and I’m toying with maybe spending a bit more to get a new SSI-EEB motherboard (unfortunately this would mean a new case as well) with more PCIe and SATA ports for better future expansion options Think about the location of my box as it’s starting to get noisy with the number of drives spinning, which will only get worse as I add more. I think I might have a plan to tackle this in the future by using my cache drive for downloads (I don’t currently) and my latest media files before they are moved to the array; spending some time using the unbalance plugin and optimising my split levels to reduce the number of drives spinning. This also might involve using HDMI/USB over ethernet or something similar like Raspberry Pi thin clients, to put the server in a different room Here's to another 10 years! Edited September 27, 2017 by DZMM 9 Quote Link to comment
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