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trurl

mITX motherboard which can support 7+ drives on board

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My motherboard died so I have temporarily downgraded to the previous mobo with i3 CPU which I still had in the attic.

 

Looking for mITX motherboard, need 7+ drives on board, though one could be M2 for cache as long as there would still be at least 6 SATA for my 5 data + parity. I am hoping to keep the expansion slot free for possible graphics to play with some VMs. My previous mITX builds have always needed to use that slot for additional SATA.

 

I will also need a CPU to go with it, Intel with iGPU.

 

I have never used a server motherboard, or anything with SAS->SATA. I don't have the broad experience some on the forum do with different hardware.

 

These look like they would work for me:

 

https://www.newegg.com/asrock-c236-wsi-intel-xeon-e3-1200-v5-v6-series-processors/p/N82E16813599009

 

https://www.newegg.com/intel-xeon-e3-1275-v6-lga-1151/p/N82E16819117784 

 

pcpartpicker doesn't seem to think that motherboard is compatible with any Xeon but that CPU is definitely on the supported list according to the manufacturer website. Looks like CPU went out-of-stock on newegg while I was researching this, but Amazon still has it, and there are other e3-1200 V6 models that are compatible.

 

And I guess I might splurge on ECC RAM while I'm at it.

 

Anybody have anything to say about those or any other ideas?

 

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Posted (edited)

@trurl I used the ASRock Rack C236 WSI motherboard for about three years for my main unRAID server.  It worked very well.  I just sold the MB/CPU/ECC RAM combo earlier this month when I upgraded to the E-2288G Xeon with compatible motherboard and 64 GB ECC RAM.

 

I was using the as Xeon E3-1245 v5 with it, but it definitely supports the E3-12x5 V6 CPUs as well. 

 

Here is a link to the system I had for sale with a couple of pictures.  You can compare your needs to how I used the system to see if they are similar. From what you have described, it will work well for you.

 

Unless you really need the extra .1 GHz CPU clock speed, you may find that the E3-1245 V6 (if you can find it) will do just as well for you as the E3-1275 V6 but at a lower price point.

 

There is also an ASRock C246 WSI if you want go with the current generation entry-level Xeons with the E-2100 and E-2200 families that have up to 6c/12t and 8c/16t support respectively.

 

That one supports 8 SATA ports as well with 4 onboard and 4-more via an OCULink cable.  It also has M.2 PCIe or SATA NVMe support, but with some tradeoffs with SATA port support.

Edited by Hoopster

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@Hoopster thanks very much for replying. It is your builds that got me thinking along these lines. 

 

I figured anything that had M2 would sacrifice SATA ports for it but I just threw that out there. My current cache is SATA SSD and I would be fine with keeping it that way.

 

I noticed that C246 and maybe I would like it better since it sounds like it supports newer CPUs, but I wasn't sure about that OCULink, something I had never heard of until seeing that board. Will there be any problem using that with Unraid? What cables would I need if I just wanted to use the OCULink for SATA drives? Something like this?

 

https://store.supermicro.com/cable/sas-sata/oculink/supermicro-50cm-oculink-to-4-sata-cable-cbl-sast-0933.html

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, trurl said:

What cables would I need if I just wanted to use the OCULink for SATA drives? Something like this?

Yes, that should work.  I have personally never used OCULink but I assume there would be no issues with unRAID (but, you know what happens often when you make assumptions!)

 

If you want a Mini-ITX board with IPMI, the E3C246D2I is a good option.  Same OCULink requirement for 8 SATA drive support.

 

If you are interested in current-generation entry-level Xeons, the E-2278G at Provantage (they have had the lowest prices on the E-2200 CPUs and stock available when others don't have them) is what I would recommend.  I have the E-2288G because I got it in a bundle, but, I would have preferred the E-2278G for the lower TDP.  It is only about $100 more than the E3-1275 v6 you were looking at and has double the cores/threads.

 

If you want to step down to the E-2100 family, the E-2176G is a 6c/12t processor for less than the 4c/8t E3-1275 v6

Edited by Hoopster

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@Hoopster hope you don't mind my picking your brain a little more on this.

 

 

I think you've talked me in to the E-2176G. Now I'm trying to decide between C246 WSI and E3C246D2I.

 

I run headless so IPMI seems like a no brainer, except I have never used it. The WSI has more video output options but maybe I don't care if IPMI will do what I need. I would still use iGPU for plex transcoding.

 

Currently when I need to troubleshoot something I can use the monitor for the desktop PC sitting beside my server, but it doesn't have VGA. I have a VGA monitor that still works but it is in storage.

 

If I understand IPMI correctly, it will let me access the BIOS over the network. Is that a web interface or some other client application? Will IPMI also let me access the Unraid boot menu if I need to select SAFE mode boot for example?

 

I already have Noctua NH-L9I. Do you think that will be sufficient? I am reusing my Lian Li PC-Q25 case but I might be able to squeeze something a little taller in there since I am also using SFX PSU.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, trurl said:

I run headless so IPMI seems like a no brainer, except I have never used it. The WSI has more video output options but maybe I don't care if IPMI will do what I need. I would still use iGPU for plex transcoding.

The latest versions of ASRock IPMI run as HTML5 in a browser.  Before that it was JAVA based (still an option), but the HTML5 is so much nicer.

 

Here's a screenshot:

image.thumb.png.2bd8a8115ffead2b47422be06340fc80.png

 

One thing you need to be aware of is that you will likely need a special BIOS from ASRock to support the iGPU and IPMI/BMC.

 

I have the mATX E3C246D4U motherboard and E-2288G CPU.  ASRock has provided several of us unRAID users with a special BIOS that allows the iGPU to be utilized for transcoding even though the board was designed for video output via the BMC only.  I am fairly certain they have a version of the BIOS for the E3C246D2I as well.

 

Through IMPI over the network you can power the server on and off, enter the BIOS, update the BIOS or BMC firmware, get server logs and temperature sensor readings, etc.

 

1 hour ago, trurl said:

Will IPMI also let me access the Unraid boot menu if I need to select SAFE mode boot for example?

Yes, through IPMI, you can watch the server boot as if a monitor was attached and the unRAID boot menu is presented.

 

One important caveat; when modprobe runs from your go file to initialize the iGPU, video output to the IPMI KVM console is lost.  It's the same on SuperMicro boards with IPMI and the BIOS tweaks to support the iGPU.

 

Generally, this is not a problem.  You still have full access to all IPMI functions via the HTML5 interface, you just can no longer see the server output via the IPMI KVM.  This has never been a problem for me because at that point, I prefer to use the terminal in the unRAID GUI anyway or a Putty session.

 

1 hour ago, trurl said:

I already have Noctua NH-L9I. Do you think that will be sufficient?

I think so.  I was using the Noctua NH-L9x65 (65mm low-profile) CPU cooler on the E3-1245 v5 CPU in both the Lian-Li PC-Q25 and in my larger Silverstone case.  The E-2176G has the same 80W TDP and I had no excessive heat issue to speak of.

 

I hope that addresses your questions adequately.  I will PM you the contact information for the person at ASRock who can help you with an iGPU-enabled BIOS for the E3C246D2I.

Edited by Hoopster

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Thanks for all this info and the contact. Some of these IPMI considerations are making me think I might be more comfortable with the WSI now though. And it would save me a little money.

 

I just remembered that NH-L9I died some time ago and I went back to the stock cooler. So I will get that NH-L9x65, certainly looks like it would do more cooling.

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1 hour ago, trurl said:

Some of these IPMI considerations are making me think I might be more comfortable with the WSI

You can certainly live without IPMI, as you have been doing for years.  It's one of those things that you can happily do without until you use it and then you wonder how you got along without it.

 

You will be happy with either board, I believe.

 

Frankly, since I have a monitor and keyboard attached to my main server, IPMI is not an absolute necessity there.  I went with an IPMI board on my main server for the first time in my recent upgrade.  It was just a matter of convenience more than necessity, but, I was willing to pay a little extra for the convenience and the iGPU special BIOS issue is really is not a bother to me.

 

On my backup server (E3C226D2I motherboard) it is a necessity since I run it completely headless in a closet in my basement.  Because of IPMI, my backup script is able to power it on when needed, backup my main server to it, and then power it down.  This all happens unattended once a week.  It is also handy for updating BIOS/BMC; otherwise, I would have to haul a monitor and keyboard down to it.  Fortunately, it is old enough that updates are not a real concern any more.

 

1 hour ago, trurl said:

I will get that NH-L9x65

It is a surprisingly good CPU cooler for one so small.

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And it looks like I can step down to the E-2146G without losing much and so impress the wife with how much money I'm saving.😉

 

Looks like Amazon has everything as cheaply as anyone, except those CPUs. They are getting them from Provantage and marking them up a bit. And they don't have the OCULink cable.

 

Working strictly from the C246 WSI CPU and Memory lists.

 

Here is what I have so far and I think it is all I need since I have the case and PSU already:

 

AsRock Rack C246 WSI Mini-ITX Server Motherboard

Intel XEON E-2146G Processor

Noctua NH-L9x65

2 x Hynix 16GB DDR4 PC4-19200 2400MHZ ECC REG DIMM

Supermicro 50cm OCuLink To 4 SATA Cable

 

 

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1 hour ago, trurl said:

And it looks like I can step down to the E-2146G without losing much

Yep, looks like the only difference is .2 GHz on the base and turbo boost clock speed.

 

1 hour ago, trurl said:

You might want to double check that memory.  These chipsets and Xeon CPUs support only unbuffered ECC RAM and not the registered variety.  Make sure the RAM spec says it is a UDIMM or unbuffered

 

Here is a link to a 32GB (2x16GB) kit that is compatible with the C246 WSI according to the Crucial site.  I used Crucial RAM on my C236 WSI board with no problems whatsoever even though it was not on the QVL.  ASRock doesn't test a lot of RAM modules with their boards, but, if they meet the specs, they usually work just fine, QVL or not.  Impress you wife even more by saving a few more $$$

 

Other than the RAM, the parts list looks good and will be a great upgrade for you.

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12 minutes ago, Hoopster said:

You might want to double check that memory.  These chipsets and Xeon CPUs support only unbuffered ECC RAM and not the registered variety.  Make sure the RAM spec says it is a UDIMM or unbuffered

 

Here is a link to a 32GB (2x16GB) kit that is compatible with the C246 WSI according to the Crucial site.  I used Crucial RAM on my C236 WSI board with no problems whatsoever even though it was not on the QVL.  ASRock doesn't test a lot of RAM modules with their boards, but, if they meet the specs, they usually work just fine, QVL or not.  Impress you wife even more by saving a few more $$$

Exactly the sort of feedback I was hoping for, thanks. I almost asked you why you weren't using registered ECC.

 

And Amazon lets me save even more money on those Crucial sticks.

 

Crucial 32GB Kit (16GBx2) DDR4 2400 MT/s (PC4-19200)

 

 

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4 minutes ago, trurl said:

And Amazon let's me save even more money on those Crucial sticks.

👍 Your wife is really going to be in shock and awe over all that money you are saving. 

 

Either that or she will expect you to take her to dinner with the savings.  😀

 

Hmm, unRAID is giving me all sorts of notifications about increasing UDMA CRC errors on a drive to which it is currently recording.  Looks like I may have a bad SATA cable or a connection that worked itself loose I need to go investigate.  Errors have increased from 3 to 23 in the last 20 minutes.

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1 hour ago, Hoopster said:

Looks like I may have a bad SATA cable or a connection that worked itself loose I need to go investigate. 

I had a backup/test server in a Node 304 that I got the mobo out of for my current temporary setup. I had no end of connection trouble with that one every time I ran a parity check. I don't know if it was those suspended disks, or maybe the locking cables weren't playing nice with my WD disks, or both. I may try to get it going again after I get my main server rebuilt.

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15 minutes ago, johnnie.black said:

Those are non ECC

@trurl LOL - Johnnie Black is correct.  I was so focused on the UDIMM/unbuffered RAM type that I failed to notice that the link I provided was for a non-ECC Crucial part.   My bad!

 

Here are a couple of UDIMM ECC RAM options:

 

https://www.amazon.com/NEMIX-Replacement-Samsung-M391A2K43BB1-CTD-DDR4-2666/dp/B07YXCMBPS

 

https://www.amazon.com/Timetec-2400MHz-PC4-19200-Unbuffered-Upgrade/dp/B07NQ2PRJT

 

 

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Posted (edited)

@trurl

 

And if you really want to go crazy, the board now supports 32GB modules for 64GB total RAM.

 

Here is the ECC UDIMM RAM module I am currently using on my mATX ASRock E3C246D4U board.

 

No more impressive savings for the wife though!

 

 

Edited by Hoopster

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I pulled the trigger before going to bed last night. Amazon had not shipped so I cancelled the RAM.

 

So that blows all my "savings". I ordered the slower (cheaper) Timetec.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, trurl said:

I pulled the trigger before going to bed last night. Amazon had not shipped so I cancelled the RAM.

My apologies for the inconvenience caused.

 

Apparently, as of April 24, 2020, there is no longer any Crucial branded ECC RAM.  The server ECC RAM is now produced exclusively under the Micron brand name.  When I searched for "ECC" under Crucial brand it brought up "non-ECC" results since ECC RAM is no longer a Crucial product. I did not notice this.

 

Although you have ordered some ECC RAM that will work, for the sake of anyone else looking, here is a link to the Micron ECC UDIMM/Unbuffered RAM on Amazon.  And here it is on Newegg.

Edited by Hoopster

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I blame aggressive salesmanship by search engines. While looking for that OCULink to 4 x SATA cable I was given all sorts of results to places that didn't have it even when I searched on the exact part number. 

 

No real problem and you've been more than helpful. 

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11 hours ago, Hoopster said:

@trurl LOL - Johnnie Black is correct.  I was so focused on the UDIMM/unbuffered RAM type that I failed to notice that the link I provided was for a non-ECC Crucial part.   My bad!

...

"Was that nine chips, or only eight? In all this excitement ..." -- Dirty Harry 😀

 

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OcuLink spec is governed by PCI-SIG and can be found here: pcisig.com  You'll need to be a member to get access to the actual spec. Wiki entry can be found here: en.wikipedia.org  Basically it stands for optical copper link. In enterprise storage servers, it is used to connect SATA, SAS, NVMe, & U2 backplanes to the baseboard using that same OcuLink cable.

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Thought I would update this now that I have everything going again.

 

I used my Node 304 as a test bed since the parts were coming in over several days and I kept my main server going on the old mobo in the meantime. I had already lost 2 ports going to that old mobo, but one was unassigned and the other was parity2. And the new mobo wasn't going to get me back to 10 ports without using that expansion slot, so parity2 wasn't coming back. I only had 5 data disks anyway. So while I tested the new stuff as it came in, I reconfigured my storage on the still running main server.

 

Since I already had some SSDs reclaimed from other projects, I upgraded my raid1 cache pool from 2x275GB MX300 to 2x500GB 850EVO. Then I thought it might be fun to use the M.2 slot on the new mobo, what with multiple cache pools in our future, but that meant I had to give up another SATA port (and another part to buy). I shuffled files until I could shrink the array, only giving up one 4TB drive in the process (all others are 6TB).

 

Since my former parity2 was 7200RPM instead of 5400, I decided to use it to rebuild one of my remaining data drives. One of the other disks threw 41 pending sectors during that rebuild, but the rebuild seemed to be OK anyway and a filesystem check didn't find anything. I ordered an 8TB disk which I will use for parity swap when it comes in Sunday. That will get me started on upsizing my old drives, now that they are one fewer.

 

So today the last part came in (except that parity swap disk), a 256GB M.2. Everything worked as it was supposed to, including that OCULink cable. The M.2 took one port from that though.  I moved all the new stuff into my PC-Q25 case. No problems so far on the new hardware.

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Posted (edited)

I was planning on updating my current system awhile back, but other expenses came along and i had to wait longer than i planned.  My current system has been in service since 2012 and consist of a Intel Xeon E3-1240 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz, Kingston 16 GB, SUPERMICRO X9SCM-F-O Micro ATX Intel Xeon E3 Server Motherboard, (2)- LSI SAS9201-8i.

 

I was looking at what Hoopster posted about his system and thought it looked like a nice upgrade path. I read that you installed a modified firmware to allow you to use the onboard video adapter for transcoding.  I have a Windows 10 VM that i run Blue Iris software for my security cameras.  My current Xeon cpu does not have Intel Quick-sync support and thought this would help with my high CPU usage.   I have listed below the parts you used Hoopster.   Any changes?

 

https://www.newegg.com/asrock-rack-e3c246d4u-supports-intel-xeon-e-2100processor/p/N82E16813140021

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VB3Y89E/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_4?smid=A1Z5H6ZGWCMTNX&psc=1

https://www.provantage.com/intel-cm8068403380116~7ITEP69T.htm

https://memory.net/product/m391a4g43mb1-ctd-samsung-1x-32gb-ddr4-2666-ecc-udimm-pc4-21300v-e-dual-rank-x8-module/

 

 

 

Edited by JM2005

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, JM2005 said:

I have listed below the parts you used Hoopster.   Any changes?

I bought my system as a bundle from a very, very reputable eBay seller.  The bundle saved me $300 over individual component prices. 

 

The closest bundle to the one I bought from him is available here.

 

That bundle does include the most powerful CPU available for the motherboard which is the Xeon E-2288G (8c/16t).

 

If you want to step down a bit, I would go with the E-2246G from Provantage rather than the E-2146G.  It has slightly higher clock speeds, is the latest generation, still has 6c/12t and, is still only 80W TDP and, costs slightly less (UPDATE:  Looks like Provantage dropped the price on the E-2146G so the 2146G and the 2246G are now roughly the same price.)

 

Are you limited by your case to a certain CPU cooler height? 

 

If you need a low-profile cooler, the one you have linked is extremely good.  If you can go bigger, I would go with something like the Noctua NH-U12S.  That way if you decide to upgrade the CPU in the future to one with more cores/threads and higher TDP, that cooler will still handle it where the low-profile cooler may not.

 

The RAM you have linked is what I would use if you want/need 32GB modules.  That RAM is on the QVL as the only tested 32GB modules for the motherboard so you know it will work.

Edited by Hoopster

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, JM2005 said:

I read that you installed a modified firmware to allow you to use the onboard video adapter for transcoding

Here is the thread that documents my experiences (and that of several others) with the bundle I purchased for my upgrade.  Towards the end is a link to the latest BIOS (L2.21A) that supports the iGPU for transcoding in addition to the BMC for IPMI.

Edited by Hoopster

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