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Rajahal

Help me design an unRAID miniBox recommended build!

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The Recommended Builds section of the wiki seems to be popular and helpful with new users, which is great.  Time to get cracking on a new class of build, the unRAID miniBox!

 

I know what you are thinking - there's a thousand other thread about this already.  Well, I'm hoping that this thread will glean the best information from the others, and focus more on action then on deliberation.  Let's design a small form factor server that someone can build and test today.  In fact, I'll probably be the one to build and test this thing, since that seems to be my new self-assigned role.  Then some lucky person will get to buy the thing from me when I'm done.  ;)

 

Here's my vision: a physically small 3 drive server that is expandable to 5 drives.  Why?  3 drives to start lets you use unRAID Basic, the free version, thereby reducing the initial investment required.  Using all 2 TB drives, a 3 drive server would give you 4 TBs of usable space...not too shabby.  However, we all know that once UCD sets in, 3 drives won't be enough.  Therefore, let's include expandability up to 5 drives.  Why 5 and not 6?  Wouldn't 6 make more sense because it is the limit of the unRAID Plus license?  Yes, in that respect it would.  However, the most commonly attainable hot swap hardware is the 5-in-3 drive cage.  5 drives (2 TB each) would result in 8 TBs of usable space, fully double the size of the 3 drive server.  This makes sense to me, but maybe you'll disagree.  If someone really wants that 6th drive, I suppose they could mount it internally.

 

The other benefit of this approach is that we only need a case with three adjacent 5.25" drive bays.  Cases of this nature are readily available.  Another option would be to build a 6 drive server out of two 3-in-2 drive cages, but this makes less sense to me since the cages will be more expensive (~$160 instead of ~$100), and the case will have to be larger (I have yet to see a case with 4 adjacent drive bays that is anything smaller than a standard mid-tower).

 

I think the trickiest part of this build is going to be the case.  While it is tempting to go for a mini-ITX mobo, atom processor, and a tiny mini-ITX sized case, this simply won't work for 3-5 hot swappable drives.  I haven't seen a mini-ITX case that has three adjacent 5.25 bays.  If you know of one, please, by all means, point it out.  In addition, mini-ITX cases tend to be quite expensive.

 

Here's my initial proposal, counter-propose as you will:

 

Mobo: BIOSTAR A760G M2+ this is the same mobo used in the budget box recommended build.  What can I say, I'm a fan, and I can't see any reason to go with anything else.  It is a cheap, good quality mobo with all the features we want in unRAID.

 

CPU: AMD Sempron 140 again, if it ain't broke, why fix it?  Cheap, good quality, low power CPU, perfect for unRAID.

 

RAM: Kingston 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model KVR800D2/2GR or maybe 1 GB to save money again, why mess with success?  This RAM is known to work, cheap, and good.

 

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W probably even a bit overkill for the small number of drives, but cheap and good quality.  Single 12+ Volt rail.

 

Case: Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case excessively cheap, on the verge of being suspiciously cheap.  However, it is significantly smaller than the standard mid-tower case, and it has good reviews.  It also takes a full microATX mobo, which will help us keep the cost of this build down.  Note that it is NOT compatible with mini-ITX mobos.

 

Hot Swap Bays: Either ICY DOCK 5-in-3 or SuperMicro 5-in-3 price is comparable, and both seem to be good quality.  Both have easily swappable external fans.

 

HDDs: Anything SATA.  The 400 W PSU is more than enough to handle even fast, power hungry drives, since the drive count will stay low.

 

Artist's rendition of what the proposed miniBox may look like:

gzrVC.png

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Case: Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case excessively cheap, on the verge of being suspiciously cheap.  However, it is significantly smaller than the standard mid-tower case, and it has good reviews.  It also takes a full microATX mobo, which will help us keep the cost of this build down.  Note that it is NOT compatible with mini-ITX mobos.

 

My unRaid is in this case.  I would use this again for a cheap build.  But for a miniBox I'd find something stylish, something SFF looking.  But as a cheap case it's got the goods.

 

Edit:  Just saw the picture with the 5-in-1 in *my* case.   :'(   I want one now.

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do you _need_ hotswaps?

 

most people overlook this question.

 

In my opinion, yes.  The smaller a case is, the more of a pain it is to get in there and swap drives.  How swap bays, especially trayless hot swap bays, make things so much more pleasant.  They also address potential cooling issues.  However, if someone wanted to save the $100 and not use hot swap bays, that would be their choice.  Every other component would continue to work with or without them.

 

If the community consensus is that hot swap bays are not necessary for the miniBox build, then that opens up a whole range of cases that we can consider.

 

My unRaid is in this case.  I would use this again for a cheap build.  But for a miniBox I'd find something cooler, something SFF looking.  But as a cheap case it's got the goods.

I agree that it won't be the prettiest unRAID server, but it should be very functional and easy-to-use.  Is cooling an issue?  Do you use hot swap bays with that case?  Do you foresee any issues using hot swap bays?

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My unRaid is in this case.  I would use this again for a cheap build.  But for a miniBox I'd find something cooler, something SFF looking.  But as a cheap case it's got the goods.

I agree that it won't be the prettiest unRAID server, but it should be very functional and easy-to-use.  Is cooling an issue?  Do you use hot swap bays with that case?  Do you foresee any issues using hot swap bays?

 

Hey, it's gorgeous!   I've had no problems with cooling.  It comes with a 120mm fan in the rear and it's silent but moves lots of air.  I put a 120mm in front of the 3.5" drive bays.  It's a really small case but I wanted that.  It's not too thin like some can be.  There is plenty of room behind the 5.25 bays.  

 

I got the case on sale $19.99 + free shipping.  I always do a little cutting on any case.  It seems like cheaper cases have stamped metal fan grills.  I cut them out to increase airflow and cut down on noise.  I cut a window in the left side panel.  With the 5-in-3 you would be able to fit 9 to 10 drives in that case without any airflow problems.  Maybe even 11.  

 

Edit:  I use a single hot swap bay.  But hotswap is between your MB or adapter card and the OS.  If they handle it then your good to go.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=108&cp_id=10824&cs_id=1082402&p_id=3857&seq=1&format=2

 

I have a fan controller in that case slowing down the fans to make them quiet.  They all run about half speed and the drive temps top out at 33c when writing heavily.

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just oen thing youre overlooking.

 

the hotswap stacker will probably interfere with yoru ram slots/atx power connector.

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I'm really partial to the LIAN LI-QC08 and the Supermicro X7SPA.

 

It's not the cheapest but it's a sweet combination.

 

Don't get me wrong, I like that rosewill case, in fact I almost bought it.

I think the whole combination of small form factor and remote management of the Supermicro ITX board provides allot.

 

If I were to use the Rosewill case, I would choose the Supermicro X7SLA-H (In fact I almost did at one point).

The Supermicro's are a bit more expensive, yet they are rock solid.

 

For the Supermicro CSE-M35T-1B, I might choose this route and take off the fan bracket.

The issue may be size. The unit is very deep. In fact It probably will not work in that case with a micro atx board.

You may need to use the Flex ATX format of the X7SLA-H or an ITX board to allow it to fit.

Take a close look at the inside of that case, then look at where the top motherboard mounts are in relation to the 5.25. I believe there were comments saying the third 5.25 slot was blocked by the motherboard.

This is where FLEX-ATX (Which is slightly smaller) or ITX would help.

 

 

SUPERMICRO MBD-X7SLA-H-O Intel 945GC Flex ATX Intel Atom 330 1.6GHz Dual-Core Server Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182205

 

SUPERMICRO MBD-X7SPA-HF-O Mini ITX Intel Atom D510 processor Server Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182234

 

LIAN LI PC-Q08B Black Aluminum Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112265

 

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The Either ICY DOCK 5-in-3 and SuperMicro 5-in-3:  If you had the fan module then both of these are too long.  The ICY Dock might just fit but oh-so-barely and probably would interfer or overhang with the ram slots.  The SuperMicro is definitely too long for the Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer case.  

For those you need a case about 2 more inches deep. 

 

For this case try to keep the drive cage 8in at most.  At 8in it would just hang over the MB  by a 1/4 inch or so.  The 5.25 bays are offset about 1/4 inch away from the right side, above the MB slightly.  If molex or sata cables plugged into the back of the cage at least a couple inches away from MB side they would still fit. 

 

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Raj. those 5in3 trayless would go really nice in this case.

 

That's what I'm thinking.  This is just uncanny, and a bit creepy: the exact build I speced out above is on sale at Newegg today!

 

The case is on sale for $25 + free shipping.  There's an open box Biostar A760G mobo ($15 off the full price, after shipping).  The Sempron 140 isn't really on sale, but it is always cheap at $32.  The Corsair 400W PSU is on sale for $50 + free shipping.  The total for all those parts is about $150.  That plus some cheap RAM I have laying around plus one of the 5-in-3's I bought from you would yield a 5 drive unRAID miniBox for under $300 (+ drives + unRAID Plus license).

 

This may be another deal that is too good to pass up.

 

Edit: Just made the purchase.  I figure the only real risk I'm taking is on the $25 case, everything else are solid components that could be the basis of many different types of unRAID builds.  Thanks to queeg's review of the case, I'm at least confident in it.  I just hope my 5-in-3 will fit alongside the microATX mobo.  If it doesn't, then I'm sure I can find some other use for the case.  So my test miniBox will be:

 

Mobo: BIOSTAR A760G M2+ - $40.99 (open box)

CPU: AMD Sempron 140 - $32.99

RAM: Whatever I have laying around, probably a single 2 GB stick of Kingston value RAM - ~$50

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W - $49.99 (I might use the 380 W Antec Earthwatts that I already have instead, the price is about the same)

Case: Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $25

Hot Swap Bays: 5 in 3 BP-SATA350 - $75 (though I actually got them for about $50 from WeeboTech  :-*)

HDDs: Whatever I have laying around

USB Drive: Probably this 4 GB microSD card via USB adapter because it is oh-so-sexy. - $13.75

 

Total: ~$265 + shipping + hard drives + unRAID Plus license

 

New artist's rendition of my test miniBox:

ziLQ6.png

 

It should look pretty good.  I just hope it all works.

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Mobo: BIOSTAR A760G M2+ - $40.99 (open box)

Case: Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $25

Hot Swap Bays: 5 in 3 BP-SATA350 - $75 (though I actually got them for about $50 from WeeboTech  :-*)

 

You may need right angle connectors for the left rear side of the BP-SATA350 hot swap bay when used with the Biostar MB.  I'm pretty sure those sata ports will butt into exactly where the 20+4 psu connector on the MB is.  Install the hotswap bay with cables first, then the psu to the MB as they will be unreachable afterwards - unless of course you just pull the BP-SATA350 forward to get acess to it's back plate.

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Good tips, thanks queeg.  I'm not sure right angle connectors will work with the 5-in-3 since the SATA ports are all right next to each other, stacked vertically.  If this build doesn't work, then I'll just buy a CM-590 and build a full-sized 10 drive server similar to the US version of the Budget Box.

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Good tips, thanks queeg.  I'm not sure right angle connectors will work with the 5-in-3 since the SATA ports are all right next to each other, stacked vertically.  If this build doesn't work, then I'll just buy a CM-590 and build a full-sized 10 drive server similar to the US version of the Budget Box.

 

Be sure to post how it works out.  If it does turn out the ports and the psu connector collide then I might want to recommend my MB (Asus M4A78L-M).  The psu connector is lower in the area of 3.5 bays.  So it might be perfect for the BP-Sata350.

 

BTW:  ISTARUSA 5X 3.5IN SAS/SATA HDD CAGE  (BPN-350SAS) == BP-Sata350.

http://www.provantage.com/istarusa-bpn-350sas-red~7ISTU033.htm

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Haha, sweet, thanks.  I couldn't remember the manufacturer name for those 5-in-3's, so I just google image searched 'red 5 in 3 drive cage' and picked it out of the line up.

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Hmm, I'm reading that the hotswap cage runs hot.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816215085

http://thydzik.com/heat-problems-with-istar-bpn-350sas-3x5-25-to-5x3-5-sata-trayless-backplane/

 

Say, could you remove the back plate and take a picture showing the fan area.  I'm wondering if a bigger single fan could be used.

 

In my design I had planned to remove the fans, and use large 120MM case fans to exhaust the heat.

That is how my current CM590 is set up. No small fans on the drive cages.

Just a 120MM exhaust fans(I think I have 4 set up now).

 

I would have done the same thing on my CM-Stacker on it has this huge vent on the side of it and I did not think covering it up would work.

 

 

BTW,  Raj.. you got UCD real bad.. LOL!!!

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Hmm, I'm reading that the hotswap cage runs hot.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816215085

http://thydzik.com/heat-problems-with-istar-bpn-350sas-3x5-25-to-5x3-5-sata-trayless-backplane/

 

Say, could you remove the back plate and take a picture showing the fan area.  I'm wondering if a bigger single fan could be used.

Sure, I'll give that a shot.  I'm not sure those are the exact same model since the configuration of SATA ports on the back of my units are slightly different.

 

BTW,  Raj.. you got UCD real bad.. LOL!!!

 

I know.  I need help.  I sure hope I can sell these things off eventually...

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BTW,  Raj.. you got UCD real bad.. LOL!!!

 

I know.  I need help.  I sure hope I can sell these things off eventually...

 

Find a build you comfortable with maintaining then go to town. ;-)

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I'll probably keep my 20 drive beast (Norco 4220) assuming I can get the noise levels under control.  My general plan at the moment is to build two 5 drive servers (this miniBox being the prototype) and a 6 drive server (out of the two 3-in-2's), then sell all three servers for around $500 each (without drives or licenses).  If the miniBox doesn't pan out, then I'll probably build a 10 drive server out of the two 5-in-3's and a CM-590 or similar.

 

I'm still open to selling the 20 drive beast, but I just don't see there being much of a market for it.  I figure with the smaller servers I'm at least addressing a market that LimeTech isn't.  I've already got two friends tentatively interested in smaller servers, so that's something at least.

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WeeboTech, if you changed out the fan on one of those BP-Sata350's could you get a pic?  It might be the only one that could fit in this case and I'm interested to see if it would fit and if a 120mm fan could be used.

 

Thanks!

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This 5 drive mini tower build sounds ideal for friends and colleagues of mine who've expressed an interest in unRAID. They wouldn't want the bulk of a CM590, nor would they need more than 5 discs.

 

But, what this build could do with is a variant that has WAF. A case that is small and elegant, and could be part of the audiovisual kit. ie doesn't look too much like a computer. With the expectation of higher cost.

 

The best I've seen is the Fractal Design mini case recommended in the 6 disc mini rig thread. £127 from QuietPC. Less than I expected. But, haven't seen one used for a build yet, so presume that it can't be recommended until then.

 

 

 

 

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WeeboTech, if you changed out the fan on one of those BP-Sata350's could you get a pic?  It might be the only one that could fit in this case and I'm interested to see if it would fit and if a 120mm fan could be used.

Thanks!

 

With those units, it has 2 60mm fans. You would have to cut metal or just use two 80MM fans.

You could probably go with a 120MM fan if you created a hood. Either way the back has to be nibbled.

I still think that just using stronger exhaust fans and sealing up any air vents in the case would suffice.

 

In fact this is how my supermicro case is designed. It's a really nice design.

There is a special air shroud along with passive heat sinks and properly placed fans.

It keeps everything well within temperature. for most of the year it's quiet until the dead heat of summer kicks in.

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This 5 drive mini tower build sounds ideal for friends and colleagues of mine who've expressed an interest in unRAID. They wouldn't want the bulk of a CM590, nor would they need more than 5 discs.

 

But, what this build could do with is a variant that has WAF. A case that is small and elegant, and could be part of the audiovisual kit. ie doesn't look too much like a computer. With the expectation of higher cost.

 

The best I've seen is the Fractal Design mini case recommended in the 6 disc mini rig thread. £127 from QuietPC. Less than I expected. But, haven't seen one used for a build yet, so presume that it can't be recommended until then.

 

But the mini tower does not even need to be insight. With the right hardware, it can sit in a corner somewhere. With the IPMI, you would rarely need to be in front of it.

 

The Fractal design is nice, I like the Lian Li design.

I do remember seeing a HTPC style case that housed 8 drives or so.

Then there was the HTPC that was passively cooled. That was around $300 or so.

 

It's all based on how much you want to spend and how you want to maintain it.

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Do either of you have one of the Icy Dock 5-in-3 cages?  If so, could you look inside and on the bottom area?

 

Without the fan on the back it would fit in this case.  I'm wondering if an opening was cut in the bottom of the Icy Dock for a 100mm if that would draw air across all the drives?  The fan would need be offset to fit into the 3.5 bay just under the Icy Dock but that bay is not centered under it.

 

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Origen make some awesome htpc cases, their best being 10 drive with 1080p capable motorised  screen which reveals the optical drive :P

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