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Help with a parts list


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Hello Everyone,


I have been tasked with building a NAS for my workplace and I have been allowed to spend around £600 to do so. I decided to use UNRAID so that I can take advantage of the virtual machines which it offers. I need to have use of a windows system on here for VPN connections to other clients across the UK. There are only 8 people in my workplace and I already have enough hard drives to use already so I don't need to include that in the price. Below are two options which I have come up with so far but because I am new to this I ideally would love some community help. I have also thought about using the cache pool with two 256gb SSDs as we will not be writing that much data per day.


Current list:

Intel i3 8100 or Intel Pentium G5500

Cooler Master Hyper 212

Asus Prime B360m-A

Onboard graphics or a gt 1030

Two 256gb SSD's for Cache pool

Fractal Design R4

500W Power Supply (probably EVGA) 



The problem I have is choosing whether to go with the i3 and use onboard graphics or to go with the Pentium and use a gt 1030. As you probably might have guessed, I have to use new components. 

Also, would this be suitable?


Thank you in advance.


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Why are you even considering an add-in graphics card?   IT would only be used by a text-based  Command Line interface.  (In fact unRAID could actually headless but this sometimes can make trouble shooting much more difficult.)  Were you intending to pass it through to a VM?  In that case, you should be looking at a CPU with a lot more cores  and horsepower.

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I plan on running just one VM with a slight chance of running two of them therefore, I thought that I would need to pass the graphics card through to it.

Would you recommend excluding a graphics card and moving up to a six-core instead? Unfortunately, I am not allowed to go used so a Xeon wouldn't be in the price budget.


I am sorry for the questions but I have not done something like this before.

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I was hoping that someone with more experience would have jumped in to offer some advice.  (Note of disclosure:  I have never setup a VM.)   You need to devote one or two cores to the base unRAID OS and any plugins or Dockers that you may have running.  You will need to assign as many cores, memory, GPU horsepower to the VM as you would have for a free standing computer running that OS.  (There is no such thing as a 'Free Lunch' here.)  I also seem to recall that the VM's work best if you have a SSD installed to contain the VM install.   Obviously, running a command line Linux VM will have a much lower system requirement than a Win10 VM gaming setup!


Your hardware also has to meet certain requirements.  Unfortunately, I could not locate a up-to-date list of requirements/working-components that I could point you to.  However there is a sub-section of the forum devoted to the topic of VM's.  Here is a link to it:




Get an idea of what you want to do, read through the various threads, pick out a preliminary list of components and pose any questions you have there .  

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@Alfie798 / @Frank1940 -


The requirement (or at least strong recommendation) if you are going to run VMs, is to have one core (both threads if hyperthreading enabled) reserved for unRAID. The remaining cores can be assigned to VMs. Not doing this has resulted in unRAID being "starved", which crashes the server. Of course this was determined a long time ago, and not sure anyone has given any serious effort into trying to determine if that is still a real concern or not. 


It is not necessary to dedicate cores to VMs. So you could have two VMs each sharing 3 cores. Of course the performance may be gated if one is doing process intensive tasks. I've done this with a VM and Plex (two heavy CPU tasks), and run into trouble that the VM would become unresponsive when Plex was doing heavy transcodes. I had  success in dedicating 1 core to each, and then allowing other cores to be shared. With a quad core CPU, that would mean one dedicated to each, and then 1 shared. But with a hexcore, it would mean one dedicated to each and then 3 shared. (With a 12 core, 1 dedicated to each and 9 shared). Sharing the cores enables the power to be used by the process in need, and not sitting idle "just in case" it is needed by another. The single dedicated cores ensure no one is completely starved.


I'd definitely prefer the i3. It does have a built in iGPU so a standalone video card may not be important (depending on what kind of video performance you need from your VM). The iGPU can be passed through if desired (never done myself, so you might want to confirm, but 99% sure). If you want to step up to the hex-core with iGPU, I'd do that vs adding the video card. Again, unless you need the faster video card. Many iGPUs are able to do "Quick Sync" which is an excellent feature if transcoding video is in your requirements.


The 4 core i3 will have enough horsepower to run a VM very respectably. It would have 3 3.6GHz cores. With the Pentium, it would have only 1 3.8GHz core. Quite a difference. With a hexcore (e.g., i5-8600K), you'd have 5 3.6GHz (4.3GHz turbo) cores for the VM. But unless you are doing processing intensive tasks, 3 cores should be quite acceptable. But if you wanted to run two gaming VMs off the same server, I'd definitely look at hexcore.

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