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If you were starting over ...

Gordon Shumway

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I recently came into some money and I would like to build a new Unraid server.  My current Unraid server is a hodge podge of disks, memory, etc. Yes, I already did the right thing and put new windows in the house (and bought a few toys) so let's just keep the focus on building the "best" Unraid server that money can buy (or at least around $3k).  Performance, maximum capacity, and reliability are focal points.


If you were starting over, and had a few grand just burning a hole in your pocket, what disks, cpu, memory, and main board would you build a new Unraid server with?   Thanks for your replies.



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Home use. I'm using about 6 of 15TB of usable storage today. Over 90% is Video storage that I and playback through my home network devices (pc, other streaming devices) , and an Emby internet connected server, backups of LAN connected computers and several ISO images that I occasionally boot from. Also have a home cloud server that mounts unraid shares (NFS) to internet connected file servers. I am mostly concerned about performance within my local area network when playing video. I have a ridiculous fast internet connection so downloading from my server is important too.

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My current server is in a medium sized tower case in my home office (spare bedroom). I believe I have six drives or whatever the maximum was for the cheapest unraid license (I'm currently out of the house) . I have 16GB of ram in the unraid server. I do have a gigabit Network. I am not running any dockers on the unraid server which is only due to my inability to get the darn things to work.  The Emby server is running as a VM on an ESX installation on an HP dl380 G6 with two physical CPUs quad-core hyper-threading and 24 GB of RAM.


Hot swappable drives would be nice and I would also consider upgrading my unraid license to more Drive count. I am basically looking for something here that I will not have to maintain for quite some time.

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I'm going to assume you are in the US. I found this case on Newegg, I have no experience with it but it appears to be the only tower case I could find with hot plug drives.




It's a bit pricey but you did say your budget was around 3K. This case would allow you to use 8 drives and depending on the drives sizes you go with that's a lot of storage.


For board, CPU and RAM, it's really up to you what CPU you want will determine the board and in some cases the ram. You could go with a Xeon CPU 8 or 10 core, a Super Micro board, some ECC and then get the emby docker working on this server and decommission your DL380 if that is something that interests you.

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You have some pretty nice stuff in your signature.  I have never built a Super Micro system, how much different are they than the standard offerings they have at the local Microcenter?  


My bad experiences with dockers on Unraid, again my own fault, led me to decide to let the Unraid do just NAS stuff.  Although I have quite a mix of Ubuntu instances on my VMware server (Kloudspeaker, SABnzbd, Spotweb, Owncloud, Emby and experimenting with an LDAP instance), I really didn't want to put too much important stuff on a single box.  I actually run a Pfsense install on another DL380 G6 by itself.


I'm assuming that running any of the above apps as dockers on Unraid with a robust Supermicro build would probably speed things up pretty substantially for all apps, given that the storage and network are local to them, and maybe I could retire the DL380.  

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Do you care if the noise level is substantially higher than what you are currently dealing with? If not, then a supermicro rack mount server in a short 4 post rack with rack mount UPS and gigabit managed switch with a couple 10GBE would be my ideal money no object starter rig.


If you are noise sensitive, then there are few if any factory solutions that satisfy hot swap + multiple disks + 24/7 reliability + quiet. You will probably need to do fan swaps and creative airflow management to build that kind of rig.


If you have a home office remodel in the budget, you can spec out a server closet with ventilation and noise suppression, and go nuts with real 24/7/365 server stuff.


Also, I recommend budgeting in some network infrastructure like cat6a drops to strategic locations, both wall and centrally located ceiling drops for real Wifi access point(s).


I know this is rather far afield from you original ask, but the guts of the server are pretty meaningless if you don't have the infrastructure to keep them healthy and easily accessible.

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18 minutes ago, Gordon Shumway said:

What kind of price range are the Supermicro rack mount servers?



Seriously, you can easily spend your 3K on a chassis, controller, and motherboard barebones if you buy new. Add 1K+ for a pair of CPU's, as much as you care to spend on RAM, and about the same on drives.


Alternatively, you can buy a decommissioned unit from some of the reputable corporate refurbished places like https://usedserversoutlet.com/index.php  That specific company has been used successfully by many here, and you end up paying pennies on the dollar for great equipment. They rotate through inventory fairly regularly, and I believe they are familiar with unraid, so maybe call or email them and give them your goals and see if they have anything that fits. The main criterion I would ask for besides the most current stuff they have would be your desired number of hot swap drive bays, and the IT mode controllers to run them. I didn't see anything on their website currently that really jumped out at me, but like I said, they rotate through product fairly often. They do have some rather old stuff too, so specify relatively recent motherboards. The older stuff can still be quite potent, but at a power consumption premium.


Your post implies new, but used server grade stuff is probably closer to your budget and end goals. There are a fair number of threads on here about that.



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when i built my unraid box I wanted to just consolidate a bunch of random size drives and I could get away with using parts I had laying around (core i3 3320 w/4gb ram) but had to rely on 2x sas expanders (AOC-SASLP-MV8) because the motherboard had limited sata ports.  also at the time, unraid didnt do cache pools, dual parity, or dual wan.


I'm unhappy with my limited throughput with so many drives going though the expanders (parity/cache not being on separate controllers).. then of course could use 10gbe along with more cpu+ram to be able to keep things more local (vm/dockers) and rely less on addon cards.


so maybe a motherboard like these:


https://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Fatal1ty Z370 Professional Gaming i7/index.asp


Why I mention something like this.. if your going to rely on a sas expander you dont want other things taking up pci bus. like 10gbe or nvme/m.2/etc for ssd.

  • has 10gbe Aquantia and 1gb intel
  • eight SATA 6Gbps - six being powered from the chipset directly and the other two being governed by an ASMedia ASM1061 SATA controller
  • two M.2 slots are present with the primary slot (top slot with heat sink) being PCIe 3.0 x4 and the secondary slot (bottom) sharing bandwidth with the full-length PCIe 2.0 x4 slot consequentially disabling the slot if an M.2 drive is populated.


Now things I did right initially.. use a nice case with soundproofing along with drive cages.

It keeps things nice and tidy and makes dealing with drive changes very easily. Along with having much better control of cooling and power.

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