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My unRAID mini-ITX build

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UPDATE: Price list can be found here

 

UPDATE 2: The system is louder than I previously indicated. Either the CPU cooler or the 120mm is to blame I'll try and figure out which. Most likely its the 120mm fan which is connected directly to the power supply. At the moment I'm building the parity drive. I'm going to take note of the temperatures then remove the 120mm fan and build the parity again to see whether the fan is necessary.

 

UPDATE 3: Some temperature results can be found here

 

 

Hi I'm a first time poster and I thought I'd share my unRAID mini-ITX build with the community for those interested in building something similar. My unRAID server is mainly used to serve media to XBMC (bluray rips, dvd rips ect) and backing up a few important folders. My media collection is relatively small (less than 2 TB) so for now a small server fits my needs. I could have built a larger server but I much prefer a small case than a full tower. What follows is a list of the hardware I used and a mini review of the result:

 

Hardware

 


  •  
  • Lian Li PC-Q08 More info
  • Zotac 9300 mini-ITX motherboard
  • 4GB OCZ (2x2GB) PC2-6400C5 Dual Channel Series
  • Intel E5200
  • 3x Western Digital Caviar Green (1.5TB)
  • Adaptec 1430SA x4 Port SATA II PCI-E x4 Card
  • Corsair 400W CX Power Supply
  • 1x 140mm Fractal Design Fan
  • 1x 120mm Fractal Design Fan
  • SanDisk Cruzer Micro

 

Hardware Review

 

Motherboard/CPU/RAM - This is overpowered for unRAID's needs and was chosen because it was leftover from a HTPC build. The motherboard only has 2 SATA ports (at least on revision 01, later revisions have more) so the Adaptec card was needed to provide further ports. Had I bought new parts I would have gone with the mini-ITX Supermicro board with 6 SATA ports.

 

Hard Drives - I'm running the free version of unRAID so I'm limited to 3 drives. These drives are cool and quiet.

 

Power Supply - This is a non modular power supply. There is limited room in the case and the modular version is an extra 10mm long which probably could fit but is not worth the hassle nor the extra cost. Importantly there are 6 SATA power connectors which is perfect for the limits of 6 hard drives in the case. The 6 connectors are split into 2 sets of 3. Additionally there are 2 cables with 3 molex + 1 FDD connectors, the standard 20+4 pin power cable and the 4 pin 12V CPU cable. The power supply has a quiet 120mm fan and only one 12V rail which, from reading the unRAID wiki, is more efficient.

 

SATA card - This was needed to give the extra 4 SATA ports and I think is used in the official unRAID servers.

 

Fans - The case comes with 2 Lian Li branded fans (120mm + 140mm). I want the server to be as quiet as possible so I purchased the Fractal Design fans to replace the default ones. The Lian Li 140mm fan has blue LEDs which made the case not very discrete.

 

Case Review

The short version is that this case is almost perfect for my needs.

 

Positive

  • Fits 6 3.5" drives with thumbscrews and antivibration mounts.
  • The 5.25" bay could be used for a fan controller/temp monitor or converted into a 3.5" hot swap bay.
  • The hard drives sit directly behind the 140mm fan providing them with plenty of cooling.
  • The front fan is mounted on antivibration grommets
  • The case fits a standard ATX power supply.
  • The side panel has ventilation holes for the power supply.
  • Even with a double height expansion card there is room to store unused power cables.
  • The case is silent when the fans are set to a low speed.
  • The build quality is very high with all exterior panels being brushed aluminium

 

Negative

  • The included 140mm fan has blue LEDs.
  • The power button glows bright blue when the case is on. Annoying if you want your case to be discrete but you can simply not connect the power LED header to the board.
  • The front panel I/O consist of 2x USB 3.0 and 2 front audio ports. The internal cable is unnecessarily long and for some reason has 2 USB connectors instead of a USB header. The case includes an adaptor (2 female USB to 1 USB header). For the sake of cable management I removed the front ports (connected by screws) and covered the opening with black tape (this looks neater than it sounds).
  • The bundled fans are not quiet.
  • First time builders will find the case quite tight to work with.

 

Here are some pictures of the build:

The removable 4 bay drive enclosure.

J7qnql.jpg

Internal

mnop5l.jpg

Front shot with phone for size comparison

5tfC7l.jpg

 

Any comments or questions are welcome.

 

Also (apologizes if this is not allowed) but if anyone living in the UK would like me to assemble a similar build and ship it to them I would be more than happy to.

 

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Also (apologizes if this is not allowed) but if anyone living in the UK would like me to assemble a similar build and ship it to them I would be more than happy to.

 

Thanks for the writeup. I've been looking at a case like this to replace my aging second server. Have you run a parity check yet? If so, does the parity drive get any hotter than the other drives -- it looks like it might get less air?

 

What are the temps like on idle, with one drive streaming data, and during a parity check? I'm wondering what they'd be like with 7 drives (I'd use all 6 slots and the 5.25" bay, myself).

 

You can build me one and ship it to me for free, sure!  ;D

 

I'd be interested to know where you sourced the parts as well, if you have a list.

 

Cheers,

 

Neil.

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You can build me one and ship it to me for free, sure!  ;D

 

I forgot to mention for the price of the parts and my labour  :P

 

I have only just put it all together. Hopefully over the weekend I will copy all my data back and perform a parity check and let you know the temps. I wouldn't be surprised if the parity drive got hotter than the rest. If thats the case I could just switch it into a lower slot. Is there some utility I can use to log drive temperatures over time?

 

Most of the parts were from a previous unRAID build and HTPC. Back when I built them I was only using OCUK to supply me with parts. Recently I have found Scan to offer more selection so I have switched to using them. Having said that only the SATA card and the power supply came from Scan. The case was from OCUK (Scan does not stock it, at least for now) and everything else was from the previous builds. I'll make a list and add it to my original post.

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I buy most of my stuff from Scan. I also used http://www.lambda-tek.com/ for some components when they were cheaper or had the products in stock. I got a very good price on a Corsair PSU from there for example.

 

I think there is a pugin for unmenu that tracks temps. I just sit watching the temps until they stabilise.

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Excellent write up. I've been lusting after that case for a while now. I do have some questions though.

 

Is there room in the 5.25" drive bay underneath the Optical drive for a 2.5" drive, say an SSD?

 

What heatsink are you using on the CPU? Is it the retail unit and does it remain silent/quiet enough?

 

Thanks.

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Excellent write up. I've been lusting after that case for a while now. I do have some questions though.

 

Is there room in the 5.25" drive bay underneath the Optical drive for a 2.5" drive, say an SSD?

 

What heatsink are you using on the CPU? Is it the retail unit and does it remain silent/quiet enough?

 

Thanks.

 

Yes there is room for a 2.5" drive.

 

At the moment I'm using the retail unit. I've yet to put the CPU under any real strain so I can't give a completely honest answer. When the system is idling you would have to listen out very hard to hear any of the fans. I'm in the process of transferring data over to the array now and will update the post with more information regarding noise and temperatures. If you wanted to replace the stock cooler you may find yourself limited for choice as there isn't much clearance between the board and the PSU. I think one possibility maybe a Scythe Shuriken BIG but it is quite tricky to fit.

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Great post, thanks!  Looks like a very nice and compact server.  I'm interested to know the total parts cost.

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Great post, thanks!  Looks like a very nice and compact server.  I'm interested to know the total parts cost.

 

No problem, I'll add a price list tomorrow.

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Very nice write up!

 

I recently did a build in the same case using the Zotac H55 board and a Core i3 as it has 6x onboard SATA ports (+1 esata which you can route through the case to the top bay) and worked out around the same price but neater without an add-on card. IO performance has been stellar compared to my previous atom build - parity checks run at around 101Mb/s with all 6 drives.

 

I'm curious to see your disk temps, I looked at that 140mm FD fan but was concerned that it only ran at 600rpm. I settled on a Xigmatech 1000rpm attached to a fan mate and it is much quieter than the stock one which I believe is 1200rpm.

 

Here's my temperature readings about 45 min into a parity check:

Ambient: 22C

Seagate 7200rpm ST31500341AS: 38-40 (40 for the top slot with worst airflow)

WD20EARS: 32-33 (33 for the bottom slot which has second worst airflow)

 

I also replaced the stock cooler with a shuriken big which is much quieter. However, wouldn't recommend it as it blocks the use of the pci slot as the fan is so large.

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I recently did a build in the same case using the Zotac H55 board and a Core i3

 

If you have a wattmeter, I'd love to know the power draw at the wall of your setup with all the drives spun down. My idea is to build a similar system and run it 24/7, but I'm conscious of the power consumption -- my current setup is not optimised for low power and that's what I'm aiming for.

 

Cheers.

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Taken from GaryMaster's post [ http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=5460.msg50805#msg50805 ] and more definitive numbers here [ http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=5076.msg49964#msg49964 ]

 

The i3-530 on this platform is a very powerful processor, but with VERY LOW power draw (mine pulls only 36W with disks spun down)

 

Atom 330, ICH7:

38W Idle (Disks Spun Down)

47W Idle (Disks Spun Up)

56W Peak During Active File Write

 

i3-530, H55

36W Idle (Disks Spun Down)

44W Idle (Disks Spun Up)

55W Peak During Active File Write

 

I believe he's measuring it from the wall outlet in a Chenbro case that possibly uses not the most efficient external power brick, but it's in the general ballpark.

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Thanks BRiT. I'm particularly interested in idle power with 6 or 7 spun down drives on board -- I'm not sure if the other guy has that many. Even spun down, drives will still draw some power.

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Update: The H55 build is even cheaper than shown. Out of laziness I just grabbed all the prices from OCUK. If you shop at Scan you can save £10 on the PSU, £5 on each of the two fans, £7 on the motherboard and £12 on the hard drives. This gives a total price of £530. As mentioned previously Scan does not stock the case.

 

Here is a price list for those interested. Note that some of the components were bought almost a year ago so prices should have gone down. I've also included a Zotac H55/i3 build at current prices:

 

My build

Purchased 29/08/09

£99.12 x 1 - Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi Mini-ITX (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2 Motherboard

£45.21 x 1 - Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5200 "LGA775 Core 2" 2.50GHz (800FSB) - Retail

£43.47 x 1 - OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2x2GB) PC2-6400C5 Dual Channel Series (OCZ2G8004GK)

 

Purchased 17/09/09

£75.64 x 3 - Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB SATA-II 32MB Cache - OEM (WD15EADS)

 

Purchased 09/07/10

£7.97 x 1 - 140mm Fractal Design 600 RPM Silent Fan

£6.89 x 1 - 120mm Fractal Design 1000 RPM Silent Fan

£68.31 x 1 - Adaptec 1430SA x4 Port SATA II (300

£29.40 x 1 - 400W Corsair CMPSU-400CXUK Power Supply

£81.69 x 1 - Lian Li PC-Q08B USB3.0 Mini-ITX Case - Black

 

TOTAL COST: £608.98

 

Zotac H55 + Core i3

£108.99 x 1 - Zotac H55-ITX WiFi Intel H55 (Socket 1156) DDR3 Mini-ITX Motherboard

£95.99 x 1 - Lian Li PC-Q08B USB3.0 Mini-ITX Case - Black

£91.64 x 1 - Intel Core i3 530 2.93GHz (Clarkdale) (Socket LGA1156) - Retail

£70.49 x 3 - Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB SATA-II 64MB Cache - OEM (WD15EARS)

£39.99 x 1 - Corsair CX 400W ATX Power Supply (CMPSU-400CXUK)

£11.99 x 1 - Fractal Design 140mm Silent Cooling Fan

£9.99 x 1 - Fractal Design 120mm Silent Cooling Fan

£50-100 - 2-4GB of DDR3 RAM

 

TOTAL COST: £570.04 £580 - £630

 

Now i'm thinking I should have bought an i3 build and sold off the other components... Anyone wanna buy my server?  :P

 

 

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If you have a wattmeter, I'd love to know the power draw at the wall of your setup with all the drives spun down.

 

I don't have one but will see if anyone at work has one I can borrow. All the reading I did indicated that it was in line with the last gen atom 330 at idle and low cpu usage. The fact that it can ramp up to 3-4x the atom's speed if necessary sold me on it (plus the IO boost from the ICH10)

 

Heffa - You need some DDR3 ram in your i3 build

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Heffa - You need some DDR3 ram in your i3 build

 

Thanks, knew I forgot something.

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Thanks BRiT. I'm particularly interested in idle power with 6 or 7 spun down drives on board -- I'm not sure if the other guy has that many. Even spun down, drives will still draw some power.

 

The WD Green drives use 0.8 watts when spun down, 2 watts idle, and 6 watts reading/writing. He had 3 or 4 drives, so add 3.2 watts (4 drives * 0.8 ) if you're using WD Greens.

 

As you can see, you won't get any lower idle numbers than a i3+H55, its slightly lower than an Intel ATOM build and it's slightly lower than my mobile low power build!  The only way to get lower is using mobile cpus, even then its questionable value considering the large price difference (at least $250-$400). My mobile Penryn (Core 2 Duo) uses one of the lowest power mb+cpu combos, their max TDP spec is 14 watt for mb and 25 watt for cpu. With 4 drives spun down, it idles around 37 watts [ http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=4212.0 ].

 

If I were to rebuild my low-power system today, I'd go with the Intel i3.

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Here are some temperature results. The results apply for all the discs (they were in a degree of one another).

 

Ambient 26°C

Parity Check 35°C (@ 50%)

Streaming 32°C (4 simultaneous DVD streams for 20 minutes)

 

I would expect with the drives spread out i.e. drive gap drive gap ect.. there would be a 1-2°C drop in the inactive drives. Likewise with 6 drives there would be at least a 1-2°C increase.

 

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If I were to rebuild my low-power system today, I'd go with the Intel i3.

 

Hi,

 

My proposed build is this,

 

Case-  Fractal Design R2 $150 or Antec Solo $120

PSU -  Corsair CX-400 $65

HDD -  WD Green WD20EARS 2TB x 3 $474

RAM -  Kingston Value RAM 2Gb 1333 $65

USB -  Any of the recommended ones

 

Mobo- Asus M4A785T-M  $89

CPU  - Athlon II  250 3Ghz $74

 

But after reading this topic, maybe I should go for the following to reduce idle power,

 

Mobo - Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H $121

CPU   - i3 530 2.93Ghz              $149

 

The Asus/Athlon combo would be A$165,

The Gigabyte/i3 combo              A$270

 

A Zotac H55ITX H-E/i3 option would be A$347, which is hurting!

 

Thoughts?

 

The first combo is over $100 cheaper upfront, however I'd rather longer term savings, as the server will not initially be on 24/7 but down the track it will be.

 

Cheers

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If it is intended for just file serving then why not the supermicro x7spa (6 onboard sata ports) for $200.

 

It is low power, quiet (no fan so no service needed) and at least $70 cheaper then the i3 configurations you wrote.

 

BTW the prices for memory, hdds and PSU seem a bit high in you configuration.

 

 

 

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If it is intended for just file serving then why not the supermicro x7spa (6 onboard sata ports) for $200.

 

It is low power, quiet (no fan so no service needed) and at least $70 cheaper then the i3 configurations you wrote.

 

BTW the prices for memory, hdds and PSU seem a bit high in you configuration.

 

 

 

 

Australian prices my friend, we might be 'down under' but the prices are certainly not!

 

Well the Supermicro would be my first choice, and for many other people too, however they are not available here, well I can't find them, and I've even rang the Aus distributor,  when it came to more consumer products, NFI, so unless we import(want to send me 1?), no dice, then the cost of postage makes it not worth it!

 

File serving (streaming DVD/BR to PS3 via PS3MediaServer) and backup of 1 desktop.

 

Thanks

 

Edit: Found One, from the US,

 

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/NEW-Supermicro-X7SPA-HF-Intel-Atom-D510-Mini-ITX-BOX-/300424822047?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item45f2b6fd1f#ht_4365wt_911

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$100 difference to get some power savings doesn't seem worth it to me.  It will take you years to get that money back due to energy savings.  By then your hardware will be obsolete and you'll want to replace it anyway.  If you are doing it for the warm fuzzies then by all means go for it.  But economically I don't think it makes sense.

 

My suggestion is to go with your original Asus build, but swap the CPU with the cheap and low power Sempron 140.  Unless you plan on doing VMs or something, the Athlon CPU is wasted on unRAID.  This way you also avoid Gigabyte and the HPA issue.

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$100 difference to get some power savings doesn't seem worth it to me.  It will take you years to get that money back due to energy savings.  By then your hardware will be obsolete and you'll want to replace it anyway.  If you are doing it for the warm fuzzies then by all means go for it.  But economically I don't think it makes sense.

 

My suggestion is to go with your original Asus build, but swap the CPU with the cheap and low power Sempron 140.  Unless you plan on doing VMs or something, the Athlon CPU is wasted on unRAID.  This way you also avoid Gigabyte and the HPA issue.

 

Ok, thanks Rajahal, not doing it for the warm and fuzzies, just want to make sure that I build something that is good for my needs, whilst still not being power hungry and that I wont have to upgrade in 1 years time cause it won't handle, for example, streaming Bluray to my PS3 wirelessly(through my router) using PS3MediaServer.

 

So if that's what the Sempron 140/Asus combo can do, without any hassles then thats what it will be.

 

VM's??? sorry  ???

 

On a side note, and I realise this is not your responsability,I'd be happy to do it if people think it's a good idea, maybe on the hardware compatiblity page wiki, next to where it says 'Budget Box' it would be nice to have a description of what it can actually do, because for me, budget=cheap=can't do much. When in actual fact it can do exactly what 80-90% of us want.

 

It just seems to me, a noob, not very clear about that. A little bit to much technical jargon.

 

On the Limetech website it explains it a little, but not really on the compatility page(in laymans terms), which is the nuts and bolts of it.

 

Maybe something like,

 

'The budget box is the best compromise between the amount of power/electricity it uses(typically around ??W in idle with 3 Hdds) and upfront costs. It's powerful enough, after configuration(you have to add functionality like PS3MediaServer yourself), to store your data(movies/pics etc), stream DVD/Bluray/Pictures etc to xBox, PS3, XBMC etc.

 

'If your budget is bigger/unlimited and you just want to use less electricity, and still do the same as above, change the motherboard to a Supermicro xxxx. Where these boards are not readily available, eg: Australia, the extra costs are not justified.'

 

'It is not powerful enough to run Handbreak, VM's,............ please add whatever else it can't do.......... etc'

 

What do you think? Maybe even a sticky under the 'Applications' heading on the forum.

 

 

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Good suggestions Compass.  Rajahal championed that budget build and lots of users have benefited from it.  Each new perspective helps.  The problem with saying "best compromise" even is how do you define what that means.  Saying it's a good budget build, safe and tried in the field is a great way to get people going.  Beyond that you just have to do research based on your own interests and ask questions. 

Discussions about PS3, XMBC, Handbreak etc are very specific to the paticular user and I would consider advanced topics in this forum.  Many users have never used linux before.  Adding all that would be even more jargon for the beginner to wade through.

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Yeah maybe 'best compromise' are not the best words, even though for me, thats what it ends up being, so maybe, like buying a boat, car, house, wife................. ;)

 

'The Budget box is good because, it is cheaper to set-up, doesn't use much electricity and can do the following,

 

1: store your data(movies/pics etc),

2: add a little/basic functionality, and after configuring said functionality, stream DVD/Bluray/Pictures , you could, for example stream to a PS3 using PS3MediaServer(you have to add functionality like PS3MediaServer yourself, so it does help if you have a little understanding of Linux, there is tons of info in the forum on how to add functionality)

 

'If your budget is bigger/unlimited and you just want to use less electricity, and still do the same as above, change the motherboard to a Supermicro xxxx. Where these boards are not readily available, eg: Australia, the extra costs are not justified.'

 

'If you want to do more than the above, like run multipull apps, then you would need to browse the forums for advice on what components to use for a more powerful system.'

 

 

 

So, 'Saying it's a good budget build, safe and tried in the field' doesn't tell me anything about what it can do, besides store data, but the majority, I hazard a guess, want this build to act as a basic server too, and if this can do that, with a little bit of work, why not say so. I guess if I know what it's limitations are from the start, then I can decide wether to just say, that sounds like what I want, I'll look into that, or go and explore the forum for a more powerful build, and everything that goes along with that.

 

I feel if this sort of info is available from the start then more people would be interested in it, and not find it so confusing. A better 'jump off' point if you will.

 

;D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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