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Sptz

Build for everyday VM usage and Plex (direct play)

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Hi everyone,

 

I'm absolutely brand new to unRAID and managing a server.

 

I'm planning on doing a build to use for Plex (direct play only), general backups and VM use.

The VM use is the big one as this would serve, for example, as everyday use for both me and my gf. So both would have cheap chromebooks, for example, and access the VMs for day to day use.

 

My question is, how reliable would that be from the experience perspective as well as unRAIDs? Obviously out of the house internet is the factor but that's not my main worry. The usage won't be very heavy at all, just a bit of Photoshop etc. So would an AMD 2700 would suffice here?

 

Build here: https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/user/Sptz/saved/xXtgt6

 

Also, one of the reasons I'm asking this is because of this:


 

Quote

 

What are the disadvantages of unRAID compared to similar products?

No striping. So, although it performs well, better than many NAS solutions, it's generally slower than a RAID 0, RAID 5, RAID 6, or RAID 10, etc. If performance is very important for an array you may be building, then one of those 4 RAID types will be a better choice than unRAID

 

 

Many thanks in advance.

Edited by Sptz

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Things that come to my mind:

  • The Ryzen 7 2700 is sufficient for the use cases you described so no worry there.
  • I use VM over network frequently (albeit not day-to-day) using Windows built-in RDP (client is a Surface tablet also running Windows) and the experience is smooth and simple.
    • I don't know how smooth RDP client app runs on Chromebook so you may want to research a bit on that (e.g. Youtube vids tend to give a good feel).
  • You mentioned "out of the house internet". Your Unraid server should NOT be exposed to the Internet!
    • If remote through-the-internet access is required, you should use a VPN instead (e.g. Wireguard or OpenVPN).
    • Again, your Unraid server should NOT be exposed to the Internet!
  • Given what you said about your experience level, I would recommend getting a low-end GPU for Unraid to boot with (e.g. GT710 is going for less than 30 quids). It doesn't guarantee you can pass through the GTX 1060 to your VM but it sure will make your life much simpler.
    • Gigabyte is a good choice for motherboard with Unraid (especially with new user) because Gigabyte is the only brand on the market (that I know of) allowing you to pick which PCIe (x16 physical width) slot as Intial Display Output (i.e. what Unraid boots with). That will save you from wasting the fast first PCIe x16 slot on the low-end GPU.
  • You need to think very carefully about which VM get a passed-through GPU. Your current choice of M-ATX motherboard (and case) means only 1 of the 2 VM's will get a dedicated GPU (see the above point about having 1 low end GPU for Unraid to boot with). I would recommend ATX motherboard (and case) just to give yourself some flexibility in case things change in the future.
  • The performance mentioned in the quote is about NAS performance of the array, not VM performance. Your vdisks will be stored on the SSD cache pool, not the array so there's no need to worry about that.
    • Also given you only have 1 HDD, it's academic because none of the RAID applies to single HDD anyway.
    • Unraid speed is reasonable for most users (because it is not too far off the performance of a single drive).
    • Data striping gives you higher performance but also comes with risk of total data loss, which makes it great only if you understand and appreciate the risks.
      • There's a ZFS plugin (which Wendell from L1Tech trusts enough to recommend) so push-come-to-shove you still can run a RAID config (albeit NOT recommended due to the risk of total data loss as mentioned above).
Edited by testdasi

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2 hours ago, testdasi said:

Things that come to my mind:

  • The Ryzen 7 2700 is sufficient for the use cases you described so no worry there.
  • I use VM over network frequently (albeit not day-to-day) using Windows built-in RDP (client is a Surface tablet also running Windows) and the experience is smooth and simple.
    • I don't know how smooth RDP client app runs on Chromebook so you may want to research a bit on that (e.g. Youtube vids tend to give a good feel).
  • You mentioned "out of the house internet". Your Unraid server should NOT be exposed to the Internet!
    • If remote through-the-internet access is required, you should use a VPN instead (e.g. Wireguard or OpenVPN).
    • Again, your Unraid server should NOT be exposed to the Internet!
  • Given what you said about your experience level, I would recommend getting a low-end GPU for Unraid to boot with (e.g. GT710 is going for less than 30 quids). It doesn't guarantee you can pass through the GTX 1060 to your VM but it sure will make your life much simpler.
    • Gigabyte is a good choice for motherboard with Unraid (especially with new user) because Gigabyte is the only brand on the market (that I know of) allowing you to pick which PCIe (x16 physical width) slot as Intial Display Output (i.e. what Unraid boots with). That will save you from wasting the fast first PCIe x16 slot on the low-end GPU.
  • You need to think very carefully about which VM get a passed-through GPU. Your current choice of M-ATX motherboard (and case) means only 1 of the 2 VM's will get a dedicated GPU (see the above point about having 1 low end GPU for Unraid to boot with). I would recommend ATX motherboard (and case) just to give yourself some flexibility in case things change in the future.
  • The performance mentioned in the quote is about NAS performance of the array, not VM performance. Your vdisks will be stored on the SSD cache pool, not the array so there's no need to worry about that.
    • Also given you only have 1 HDD, it's academic because none of the RAID applies to single HDD anyway.
    • Unraid speed is reasonable for most users (because it is not too far off the performance of a single drive).
    • Data striping gives you higher performance but also comes with risk of total data loss, which makes it great only if you understand and appreciate the risks.
      • There's a ZFS plugin (which Wendell from L1Tech trusts enough to recommend) so push-come-to-shove you still can run a RAID config (albeit NOT recommended due to the risk of total data loss as mentioned above).

 

First of all, thank you so much for the detailed response. I really appreciate it.

 

  • I never intended to expose the unRAID server to the internet ever. I was planning on using something like Parsec and even run an OpenVPN on unRAID to tunnel directly when outside the local network.
  • I've decided to move to ATX for sure, I wanted to keep it a tiny box but there's tons of small-ish ATX cases so I'm gonna go with that for upgrade-ability. I've seen people mentioning some ASUS boards do allow to boot without a GPU but I'm guessing UnRAID *NEEDS* to have some sort of actual GPU assigned for it to boot right? As that GPU will become unusable for Passthrough. Am I correct in saying this? If so, I'll definitely go with a Gigabyte X470 or B450 then.
  • There will never be gaming of any kind done with this build. So I might even go with two cheaper cards like a 1030 or something like that. It'd obviously be great if unRAID didn't have to "use" one of them, so a GT730 or something would be the third choice just to boot it up then.
  • The 1 HDD situation is just for the beginning as I plan to add more overtime as it's needed. Do you know if M2 SSD drives are natively recognized? As to keep space wasting to a minimum.

Thanks once again for all the help.

 

EDIT: Extra question: is there a motherboard that woud allow to "fool" unRAID without the need for a GPU or a G series CPU?

 

 

Edited by Sptz

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2 hours ago, Sptz said:
  • I've decided to move to ATX for sure, I wanted to keep it a tiny box but there's tons of small-ish ATX cases so I'm gonna go with that for upgrade-ability. I've seen people mentioning some ASUS boards do allow to boot without a GPU but I'm guessing UnRAID *NEEDS* to have some sort of actual GPU assigned for it to boot right? As that GPU will become unusable for Passthrough. Am I correct in saying this? If so, I'll definitely go with a Gigabyte X470 or B450 then.
  • There will never be gaming of any kind done with this build. So I might even go with two cheaper cards like a 1030 or something like that. It'd obviously be great if unRAID didn't have to "use" one of them, so a GT730 or something would be the third choice just to boot it up then.
  • The 1 HDD situation is just for the beginning as I plan to add more overtime as it's needed. Do you know if M2 SSD drives are natively recognized? As to keep space wasting to a minimum.

...

EDIT: Extra question: is there a motherboard that woud allow to "fool" unRAID without the need for a GPU or a G series CPU?

M.2 SSD (NVMe, SATA and even PCIe AHCI) all work fine for a while.

 

Now let me clarify the point about 2nd GPU.

  • Unraid does NOT need a GPU to boot (as long as the motherboard allows it to boot "headless", which seems to be the case nowadays for all the brands).
  • The GPU that Unraid boots with generally CAN be passed through. It's just that there are certain hoops that I observe new users tend to have troubles with (most frequently reset issue for AMD cards and error code 43 for Nvidia cards). These hoops make it rather frustrating for both the users as well as anyone trying to help.
    • The exception is iGPU. I have not seen any success story with passing through iGPU for current gen (both Intel and AMD).
    • Of course, with the appropriate skill level (and a cooperating GPU), it's entirely possible to do it with a single GPU. It's just that new users don't tend to have the skill and familiarity.
  • Having a dedicated GPU for Unraid to boot with makes it easier to work around the aforementioned hoops. For example:
    • Dumping vbios is pretty dang easy with 2 GPUs. Doing it with a single GPU is virtually impossible. Downloading vbios from Techpowerup is prone to user error (i.e. downloading the wrong vbios).
    • Some AMD cards have reset issue so if it's already initiated at boot, it just can't be passed through to the VM, end of.
      • Note that these cards, even if successfully passed through, will require the entire server to reboot if the VM reboots for the GPU to work again.
      • This is a long-standing AMD problem that is unlikely to be fixed any time soon so don't keep your hope up.
    • All recent Nvidia GTX / RTX GPUs will error itself out with error code 43 if it's initiated at boot and then passed through to a VM without the right settings e.g. vbios, hyper-V etc.
      • This is because it detects that it is being used in a virtualised environment, which Nvidia doesn't want you to use cheap consumer-level GPUs for i.e. it wants to force you to buy more expensive Quadro cards.
      • The problem is error code 43 is a generic error code that just says the card doesn't work i.e. it overlaps with issues such as an actual bad GPU or incomplete pass through or corrupted drivers etc. That leads to frustration trying to diagnose and work around it.

So in other words, having a GPU for Unraid to boot with (and not used by a VM) is a quality of life item and not a hardware requirement.

 

If you have 2 GPUs for 2 VMs then things are slightly different.

It's actually now worth your while to test it out first without a dedicated GPU for Unraid. Basically try to pass through the one Unraid doesn't boot with first to get the familiarity and skill up. Then once successful with 1 then you can start working on the other one (and hopefully at this time, it's less frustrating to deal with issues).

If somehow it still doesn't work then you can then get a dedicated low-end GPU for Unraid (assuming you get an ATX motherboard). This is when the Gigabyte motherboard flexibility still comes in handy because you can put this low-end GPU on the slowest PCIe slot and reserving the 2 fast ones for the 2 GPU's to be passed through to the 2 VM's.

 

 

Edited by testdasi

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