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First self-build server

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So coming here as i want to replace my Synology NAS with a self build server. Mind you never build my own server before, so this is my first time and might reflect in what follows 😉


What will it be used for, well next to storage some Docker containers will be run and also maximum 2 VM's. No transcoding is actually needed and also at maximum only one stream will be running at anyone time, so there my marial status is out there 😀

Regarding the case i'm in doubt between two Fractal Design cases, the Define R5 and Node 804. Guess with the Define R5 it's easier to make a more quiet build than with the Node 804, is that correct ?


For the motherboard and CPU i'm leaning towards the ASUS PRIME B360M motherboard with a Intel i3-8100 CPU

Would it be better or what are the advantages for a server motherboard compared to a consumer motherboard? As i have zero experience with motherboards, are there better alternatives for the ASUS motherboard out there?


Regarding SATA connections (really at a loss here what connects where actually), the ASUS has 6 but i would need 8, so guess would be better to use a SATA board, but i have no idea what i should pick here, so tips are more than welcome? Also does it matter which SATA cables i pick?


For the PSU i'm looking at the Corsair SF450, hope this is OK for drives up to 8 drives (possibly more in the future) and a SSD drive?

What fans are recommended for an as quiet as possible build? Was thinking about be quiet! Silent Wings or some Noctua fans, but maybe there are other options?


Memory and HDD's (will be 8x Seagate 4TB IronWolf from my NAS) will not be a problem to pick the correct ones.


Anything else i forgot to make a complete build? Either way looking forward to the comments

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Both cases are among the quieter already so I would prioritise other needs over noise level. So if, for example, the best mobo you can find is an ATX then you would not pick the 804.

When you have enough HDD (and fans to cool those HDD), it won't be whisper quiet anyway.


CPU is ok for budget build and what you described as its use case.


I would prefer Gigabyte motherboard because their BIOS has a lot of flexibility with regards to Initial Display Output so, for example, you can select the IGPU or any of the other PCIe x16 slots as primary (what Unraid boots with). So if you ever need to pass through a powerful GPU on the 1st PCIe slot, a Gigabyte motherboard will make your life a lot easier.


I personally would not pick the Asus B360M because it has only 1 PCIe x16 slot. Again, flexibility is paramount and I would value an extra PCIe x16 slot (albeit running at x4 speed) over any bells and whistles.


Server board is not a requirement for Unraid. It's a need thing e.g. if there's a certain feature that only server boards would have. You may even have to consider the overall costs of the alternative. For example, I had an Asrock C236 WSI build because that board is the only ITX motherboard at the time to have 8 SATA ports - perfect fit for a NAS build with the 304 case (2xSSD, 6xHDD). It was expensive but the cost of a cheapo motherboard + a LSI controller is at least 50% more expensive.


6 SATA ports are typically aplenty for home uses. You don't "NEED" 8. You should aim to get fewer high capacity drives instead of going for a big load of low capacity drives. In terms of price / GB, 8TB and 4TB HDD's don't differ by much (if at all). So instead of 8x4TB, you should be getting 4x8TB.

Due to how HDDs fail (in a probabilistic manner), doubling the number of drives almost double your chance of having a failure.


If you still want extra ports, you can go on Ebay and search for "LSI IT Mode" and pick (quoting johnnie.black) "any LSI with a SAS2008/2308/3008/3408 chipset in IT mode, e.g., 9201-8i, 9211-8i, 9207-8i, 9300-8i, 9400-8i"

Given your admitted skill level, I would not recommend clones of the LSI boards e.g. Dell H200/H310 and IBM M1015 just to make your life a tiny bit simpler.

It is still best of you keep it to the number of SATA ports from your chipset (see point above).


For PSU, go to pcpartpicker and select all your parts and see if the wattage estimate matches. I personally add about 20% to the pcpartpicker estimate for extra safety margin and future expandability.


In terms of fans, I'm a Noctua fan 😅 . They are fugly but they are dang good.


You are likely to need additional HDD anyway because it is highly unlikely you will be able to just move your HDD from the Synology (RAID) NAS to Unraid because you can't just randomly remove any number of drives from a RAID. What you forget probably is a migration plan i.e. how you plan to migrate your data from the Synology NAS over to the new Unraid server. Trust me, once you put it down in a plan (and double check on here if it makes sense), you probably will discover a few not-nice surprises.


Edited by testdasi

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@testdasi, thanks for the thorough advice 👍


Did a quick check on Gigabyte motherboards but oh boy they have a lot of them, also with 1151 sockets. Which one would you recommend if i also would like to have IPMI?


Follow you on the flexibility so the Asus board seems limited in that way.


Think the Gigabyte GA-B250M-DS3H is good one, but doesn't have IPMI when checking the specs for it. So I'm curious which one you would advice.


Great tip on the LSI IT mode board, especially since i intend to keep my Seagate HD's but buy an extra 8 TB for parity, don't like to live life on the edge like you do 😁


Noctua is indeed great, saw a video once from someone who swapped out the stock fans in a Unifi 24 port switch and it was a lot quieter after the swap.

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You can go to pcpartpicker website and add the i3-8100 to check the compatibility (and availability if you are in the US / UK - not sure about EU) and filter stuff by features too. It's a very useful resource for new builders.

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3 hours ago, Stiibun said:

Would it be better or what are the advantages for a server motherboard compared to a consumer motherboard?

One of the features I personally can't live without is only offered on server boards. IPMI / remote management.


If the server is going to be in a normal living space with a local monitor / keyboard / mouse, and someone will be home pretty much constantly, then it's not an issue. However, if the server will live in a basement or closet, or you are away from the house a large amount of time, it is so nice to be able to bring up the server's local console in a browser from anywhere that has internet access. Even if the OS has crashed or is denying network access, you can work with the server just like you were sitting in front of it, including a hard power down and restart if necessary, as well as access the BIOS. All you need is a VPN tunnel hosted on another device on the network, typically your router, and it's just like you were there sitting beside the server.

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I'm stepping down from IPMI for the moment, as this that brings me into another price category.


So I used PCpartpicker and got to this list;


CPU: Intel Core i3-9100F (so different CPU and a bit cheaper in NL compared to the previous one)

CPU cooler: Noctua NH-L9x65 33.84 CFM CPU Cooler

Motherboard: Gigabyte H370M DS3H

Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-2400 (on the Gigabyte board support list this is listed as DDR4-2133, so not sure this memory is OK)

SSD: Gigabyte UD PRO 512 GB (guess 512 GB for a cache drive is plenty enough ?)

Videocard: MSI GeForce GT 710

PSU: Corsair CX (2017) 450 W


Estimated wattage for the build would be 300W so guess I'm safe with a PSU of 450W

Fans I still need to check, but will go with Noctua fans


Did I make a big mistakes with the above list? I did check the Gigabyte support files to make sure it matches.

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The reason the CPU is cheaper is because it doesn't have integrated GPU.

If the no-iGPU option is just a bit cheaper (need to include the cost of the GT 710 to the calculation), it's better to get CPU with iGPU.

At the very least, it saves you a PCI x16 slot (e.g. for a future HBA SATA card). As I said, flexibility is paramount.


Check if the CPU comes with a bundled cooler.

Intel bundled cooler, while janky, is generally good enough if you don't overclock.

If there's a bundled cooler then don't buy a 3rd party cooler until you have completed the build. It may just be good enough.


The RAM should work. At worst, you simply run it at 2133MHz base speed but 2400 is generally something that doesn't require any special sauce to work.


512GB cache is generally enough, unless you are downing Linux iso at 50GB+ each or if you are doing write-intensive stuff.

Just curious why you picked Gigabyte SSD though. Usually they are not the cheapest (in terms of price / GB).

Whatever you pick, remember to make sure that it's 3D TLC (or V-NAND) and not QLC.


Did you add the HDD to your build on pcpartpicker when doing the power estimate?

The HDD's eat a lot of power.


Don't buy the fans until you have the build done. The Fractal Design case fans are actually quite good and quiet.

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Once again thanks for your excellent advice on this @testdasi.


So I've changed my build list to the i3-9100 with iGPU, it comes slightly above the price of the non-iGPU but indeed leaves me open a PCI slot for future use so that beats that price difference any day. The CPU I checked is a boxed version so it should come with a fan.


Could get the Gigabyte SSD for 74€ so I suppose that's a good price and was on the lower price end in the pcpartpicker list. And it's a Toshiba BiCS3 3D TLC so I should be good there.


Will all parts and also fully loaded with eight HDD's pcpartpicker estimated 300W so I guess I'm safe with a 450W PSU. Either way I'll start out with three of my existing discs and a new bigger disc (8TB) for parity.


So all in all with the current parts I can make a build just below 550€ which is way cheaper than an 8-bay 1000€ Synology NAS. And pretty sure that self-build will run circles around that Syno regarding performance 🙂

Off course to be fair I also need to take into account the unRAID license and most probably will go with the Pro license.

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11 hours ago, Stiibun said:

Off course to be fair I also need to take into account the unRAID license and most probably will go with the Pro license.

Don't buy the license yet. Start with trial and set things up. If for some reasons you can't complete in 30 days, you can ask LT nicely and they are usually understanding enough to give you a trial extension.

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OK understood.


Probably also going to swap out the PSU and change it to a Be Quiet Pure Power 11 CM as that has a 80+ Gold certificate compared to the Bronze for the Corsair.

And also changed changed the SSD to a Kingston A400 480GB model as that cuts cost a bit more.

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48 minutes ago, Stiibun said:

And also changed changed the SSD to a Kingston A400 480GB model as that cuts cost a bit more.

Don't get the A400. That's a (normal) TLC.

You want 3D TLC or V-NAND. The "3D" part matters (i.e. the TLC bits are stacked vertically hence "V" for vertical).

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Ah OK understood.


One other, and actually for me quiet embarrassing question. Regarding SATA cables, I'll need one to power and data for the drives, but I guess only power is supplied with the PSU, is that correct ? What the data SATA cables concerns, what should I look out for?

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Sorry, already figured out. Seems the Gigabyte board has one cable included, the rest I need to buy. And of course the PSU provides the power cables, duh ☺️


The PSU I have on the list is semi-modular so that also helps to only need to use the cables I'll need.

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17 minutes ago, Stiibun said:

One other, and actually for me quiet embarrassing question. Regarding SATA cables, I'll need one to power and data for the drives, but I guess only power is supplied with the PSU, is that correct ? What the data SATA cables concerns, what should I look out for?

SATA data cable: it's the narrower connector and connects to the drive to your motherboard.

Your motherboard should have some included but you are likely to need more.

The connectors can be straight or angled or low-profile but straight is the most common. They can be latched or without latch. Take care that if your connector has a latch, you have to release the latch before pulling the cable (or risk silly stuff happen). Latchless is completely fine but I only use latched connectors nowadays because they tend to lock stuff in place when I do cable management.

The cable is usually flat but Silverstone makes ultra-thin one and there are some round cables too.

You don't have to get expensive branded stuff. Cheap stuff (e.g. Startech brand) will be fine. I haven't had many failed SATA data cable but surprisingly the ones that failed came with the motherboards so go figure LOL.


SATA power cable: that's the wider connector and connects drive to the PSU.

Your PSU will come with SATA power cable. Usually it can power 3 or 4 drives per cable. Depending on the PSU, some will come with 2+ SATA power cables and some only 1.

If you run out SATA power cable from the PSU then you can run the MOLEX power cable (also included with your PSU) and use MOLEX to SATA converter.

The recommendation here is to use crimped connector and NOT molded connector. The latter was reported to have caught fire due to arcing. It's sometimes hard to tell so either you have someone giving you a specific recommendation or you can check review - some kind folks had checked and reported in the review. I remember there's a topic recently about that too but can't tell from the history so you may just need to do a quick search on the forum.




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Is there any advantage to go for Gigabyte GSM motherboard instead of a regular one?


Thinking of choosing the H370M D3H GSM instead of the H370M DS3H. Read somewhere that the D3H GSM has an extended warranty and lifespan compared to normal models, and also I see the connectors are slightly different than on the DS3H board. But then again the DS3H has one extra PCI 1x port compared to the D3H GSM model. Apart from that there isn't much else different (actually don't care much for a DisplayPort)

Edited by Stiibun

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Check the official Gigabyte spec sheet and your seller for warranty info.

They are pretty similar-ish so pick whatever feature / warranty that you want more. 


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Default warranty period in Europe is two years, but on the D3H GSM board there's a 3 year extended warranty so I went with that board. Only 2€ more expensive than the DS3H board, so not bad for an extra year 😀


Final order is in, so now waiting on the parts. Part list now looks like this


Case: Fractal Design Node 804

Motherboard: Gigabyte H370M D3H GSM

CPU: Intel Core i3-9100

Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-2400

SSD: Gigabyte UD PRO 512 GB (this one even dropped to 66€ instead of 74€)

PSU: Be quiet! Pure Power 11 CM 400W

Disc: Seagate IronWolf 6 TB for parity

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I'm looking here a little bit too late.


For any other new builder that wants a normal ATX motherboard I must let you consider ASRock.

They have 2 nice things.

1. There is a fan controller in the BIOS. You can make a fan "curve" control with several numbers for temperature and power (speed).

This is really good, and will immediately control fans at startup (but they still spin upp to max for like 2 seconds).

Other motherboards normally only have windows apps for that (useless for linux/unraid) and they are often buggy and badly updated on top of that. Only downside on BIOS solution is when flashing a new BIOS version everything is wiped so write down your favorite setting, before you update your BIOS version.

2. ASRock normally use open 1 channel PCIe ports on their boards. You can plug any size PCIe cards (16 channel if you like) into those.

This is especially useful if you get a SAS Expander card on top of your HBA card to be able to connect a lot of HDDs.

One expander card can give you connections to 16-20 HDDs depending on if you use 1 or 2 SAS cable connection to it.

You can daisy chain as many expander cards as your HBA card supports (think it is normally 256 or 1024 drives).

But unless you power the expander cards from a separate backplane or separate "pcie slot power adapters" your motherboard slots will limit the cards/drives. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjFouPv6K-o


Note. Many expanders has a 8 pcie channel long slot connector but do not use any of them for communication.

So they are perfect to put into any of ASRocks open 1 ch pcie slot.


ASRock is in the affordable, get much for the price range. If you want best and most efficient power regulators (usually= infineon components) for your cpu or other higher quality and pricier components ASRock is probably not for you and I suggest Gigabyte for those. For a stable "serious" server ASRock is probably not what you look for.

As a "cheap" good start home server to learn on please consider ASRock boards.

I think level1tech (youtube) quite likes them to, has relatively good linux support.

Edited by Alexander

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@testdasi, I’m wondering if the PSU I chosen is actually good. The Be Quiet Pure Power 11 CM has two rails it seems +12V1 (A)24 and +12V1 (A)20, and the unRAID wiki advices to use a single rail PSU. Then again the Seagate Ironwolf’s are 5900 RPM discs and only need 4,8 W to spin up so I guess this is still OK ?


Unfortunately cannot find a diagram which rail feeds what. If I had to guess is that the fixed part is one rail and modular part is another, but off course without a diagram this is guesswork.



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You probably need to google some reviews I guess. I generally prefer PSU reviewed by jonnyguru.


I would not be too concerned about the single-rail vs multi-rail argument, especially considering your load. It was a rather archaic argument (for tech stuff) back in the early 2000. It's more important that the PSU comes from a reputable brand and has at least decent review.


PS 1: the Unraid wiki has to take into account people running 20+ HDD array. Those guys probably would prefer single rail.

PS 2: the Unraid wiki is also quite old (for tech stuff) so back when it was written, multi-rail PSU had a certain notoriety of being cheap brandless knock-offs that randomly blow up.

Edited by testdasi

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Thanks again. Indeed the wiki page was last updated seven years ago, guess some things have changed since then. Either way found a review for it, and although it's certainly not the most modern technique be Quiet! uses it's still a very decent PSU. Also did some calculations how much the Seagate Ironwolf pulls from the PSU, and found that's 1,8 A so all in all think I'm good.


Will also follow your tip, larger disks is better than a whole bunch of disks. So starting out with 3 4TB data disks and one 6 TB parity disk. Later going to buy either a 10TB or 12TB disk for the new parity disks and swapping out the 4TB for larger ones, whenever the need arrises, which will not be anything soon if I look at how much I fill up space these days (was a lot more in the past, hence the 12-bay Synology DS2413+ I still have and which is going on sale)

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