DIY NAS Build: Gigabyte GA-J1900N-D3V & Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX

    This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

    • DIY NAS Build: Gigabyte GA-J1900N-D3V & Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX

      I ran OMV on a Banana Pi between 2016-2018. It worked well enough for a single-user Samba share but I always saw potential to use OMV for more. I’d never built a desktop computer before so it seemed a good time to try something new. The hardware is somewhat random but it works well enough

      Specs:

      • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-J1900N-D3V - €86.03
      • Power Supply: 450W Corsair CX450 80+Bronze - €49.60
      • Case: Cooler Master | Elite 110 Mini-ITX - €41.68
      • RAM: 8GB (2 x 4GB) Samsung DDR3L SO-DIMM 1600Mhz 1,35V - free
      • Storage: 2 x 2TB Seagate Barracuda 2,5, 1 x 1TB Seagate Momentus 2,5 (5TB total) - €160
      • OS drive: Samsung Ultra Fit USB - €14.99
      • Additions: Mini-PCIE SATA card - €11.99 (Amazon)
      Total: €361.29 (Prices current, based upon the cost of buying new as of 15.1.18)

      Motherboard

      The motherboard was a gamble because I had read lots of very poor reviews, mostly in regards to issues with the older BIOS revisions (F1, F2 & F3). On the other hand, the board uses little power, is fan-less, the specs are good and it also uses laptop SODIMM memory, of which I already had 8gb. I also considered the ASRock J3455 and the Asus MB SOC N3150I-C but these require RAM, that I did not already own. For my use, I feel that either of those board would also have also been fine. The GA-J1900N-D3V that I chose has dual Ethernet ports, which might be useful in the future.

      I took a risk and bought the board, intending to update the BIOS to the F4 version myself. Luckily, I got a board with the F4 BIOS revision pre—installed, which seems to have fixed all of the issues that had been reported before. The board runs headless and I haven’t had any network issues - in fact, I haven’t had any issues of any kind. I have been very impressed so far. The install was problem-free and I did not have any issues in getting the Realtek Ethernet ports working.
      The board has 2 SATA ports, so I added an 'XCSOURCE 'AC696 mini-PCIE card from Amazon. This gave a total of 4 SATA ports. The Mini-PCIE card worked out-of-the-box and I have had no issues with running it on Open Media Vault. So far this is fine however I may also have the option of using a PCI SATA card in the future.

      Power supply

      The power supply is massively over-specced but it was very cheap and is quiet. To be honest, I had no idea that Pico PSU’s existed prior to finishing the build. It works well enough but a modular PSU would be better for this case. I hid the cables behind the front grill and the case looks tidy inside. The PSU fan is inaudible unless you place your ear against the case and it doesn't seem to cause an issue that I am using it as the sole source of exhausting warm air from the case.

      Case

      I wanted a cube case and this aesthetic goal was the main vision for the NAS. I found the Coolermaster Elite 110 to be perfect, as it is both small and unobtrusive. It only holds 3 x 3,5 HDD’s but since I plan to just use 2,5 HDD’s, it’s not a huge issue as 4 can be installed easily. I didn’t connect the fan or the LED lighting to help keep it quiet and discrete - no issues with temps so far. I did my best with cable management - many cable ties were used. I checked the temperature and the CPU stays at 41oC while Samba streaming and the hard-drives stay around 30oC under heavy usage. Seems that having only the PSU fan to exhaust hot air works ok and I can live with temps like this. OK, a revision: I decided to run the 120mm case fan from 5v instead of 12v and the fan noise has been brought down to a similar dB level as the PSU. CPU temps now sit at around 33oC under use and the hard-drives sit at around 27oC. It doesn't make a huge difference at the moment but come the summer months, I think the fan will be useful. I nearly bought a fan controller but then I took a look at the user manual and figured that I could easily just undervolt the fan and make it run slower. Looking on line suggests that other people have also done this.

      Memory

      I already had the RAM, which saved me some money. You need the low-voltage 1.35v sticks for this board. 8GB is absolutely overkill but I don't have any other systems that require this type of memory so I may as well use it with my NAS. The motherboard runs the memory in dual-channel mode.

      Storage

      I initially had 2 x 3,5 drives installed but they made the system much louder. Both drives were removed and 2,5” drives were installed to replace them. 2,5" drives are more expensive and come with some drawbacks but they are quieter. The NAS has to be in the same room that I sleep and work in, so I don’t mind paying more and dealing with some of the drawbacks of using 2.5 drives. I find it hard to concentrate with humming and whirling sounds in the background, so a quieter NAS works well for me.

      The 2TB Seagate Barracuda drives sell for €80 per piece at the moment, which was the cheapest that I could find. I added a Seagate Momentus 1TB drive that I already owned, this brought the storage total to 5TB. I still have the option to add another 2TB drive but so far it has been fine. In RAID0, the drives hit 113MB/s Samba transfer speed, which is more than adequate. The very important data gets backed up to another 2 places, while the media gets backed up to just one. An addition: these drives are slightly louder than the quieter 2,5 drives but they're also a lot cheaper to purchase. Despite this, the 2,5 Barracuda drives are still noticeably quieter than the 3,5 drives.

      Additions

      The motherboard only provides 2 SATA slots, so I used a Mini PCI express card to add an additional 2 SATA slots. This works fine - does’t seem to have affected my transfer speeds. There’s the option to add even more SATA ports with a PCI card but 4 should serve nicely for the moment. I’m considering moving the OS drive to a spare SSD that I have - the USB 3 Sandisk works fairly well though and keeps a SATA port free.

      Conclusion

      This is my first build and I think I worked things out ok. The system isn’t hugely powerful and I will have to see whether the quad-core Atom CPU proves to be a big limitation in the future. For the time being it’s very adequate and serves its purposes nicely. A modular PSU would have allowed more space in the case

      Plans for the future:

      Set up the system as a VPN server, to connect remotely. I haven’t ever opened up devices to the internet before, so this will be an interesting project. The ability to access files remotely would be perfect. I have an issue that I use a VPN service to access the internet, so I imagine that using a second VPN just to access files on my home network might be an issue. Networking is new to me, so I would gladly appreciate any input. Essentially, I'd like a secure way to connect to files remotely and the web GUI interface without much work required (Lots of work required to set-up is fine) - if my fiancee (Not so tech savvy) can use it too, then it would be perfect.

      Side View



      Top View




      Back View- Blurry Photo Quality

      Images
      • cc.JPG

        127.49 kB, 866×532, viewed 447 times

      The post was edited 7 times, last by Bennni: I wired the case fans to run on 5v from the Molex connector. The fan noise is now pretty much the same as the PSU noise and the case itself feels cooler inside. The CPU temps have dropped, as have the HDD temps. Right now it doesn't make a huge difference but come summer, extra airflow will be useful. No change in noise and a bit more cooling - a good result all round. You have to place your ear to the case to hear anything with the disks spun down, which is how it was before. ().

    • OK, so I have now switched to an internal SSD drive as the boot disk.

      I am very disappointed with the Sandisk Ultra Fit drive. It starts off very fast but quickly gets so hot that the speed is reduced, down to below even a slow USB 2 stick. I saw 5MB/S at one point. Looking online, this seems to be a common issue. I had a SATA SSD drive that was not being used, so I installed the OS there. Startup and shutdown times are very quick - will partition the disk to claim back the extra storage space.

      The system has been solid so far - it worked out of the box without requiring anything other than an USB installer and the GUI menu to install. Next step is to work out how to get remote access to work - that can be a task for the weekend!
    • Bennni wrote:

      I am very disappointed with the Sandisk Ultra Fit drive.
      Tiny format --> shitty heat dissipation (I own the same thing but tested it too late).

      Since it's strongly recommended to test each and every flash drive with either F3 or H2testwprior to usage this is also easy to spot while initial testing (and then returning the drive due to crappy performance after a short period of full usage)
    • Maybe u have a bad product . I have +10 UltraFit USBs 16 and 32 GB and all perform the same.
      At first they write very fast 30 40 MB/s after some time they slow down to between 10 and 15 MB /s, but I never got below 10 MB/s
      I usually use them as a Linux livestick and they are very fast and reliable.
      I am very pleased with their quality
    • For the last part, accessing your files from the outside, I set up SFTP for start and use no-ip.com free dns services.
      I installed the no-ip duc for external Ip updates.
      For file transfers you can use any FTP Client.
      I share only one folder, and transfer the stuff I need outside there, or upload from anywhere to that folder.
      It's pretty useful :)
    • tkaiser wrote:

      Tiny format --> shitty heat dissipation (I own the same thing but tested it too late).

      Since it's strongly recommended to test each and every flash drive with either F3 or H2testwprior to usage this is also easy to spot while initial testing (and then returning the drive due to crappy performance after a short period of full usage)
      +1 for what @tkaiser recommends. I have an older 32GB Sandisk Fit drive that works flawlessly. Doesn't get too hot, and while it slows down a bit over time, throughput is still acceptable. Based on that experience, I got two others recently, and they were AWFUL. Got so hot you couldn't touch them. After I saw one of tkaiser's recommendations to test my media...sure enough they were fake! I've since tested all my flash media, and found several other fakes.

      The build looks good! Thanks for sharing the pics.

      Historically, the J1900 has had some C-State issues when running Linux that sometimes caused systems to lock-up. As far as I know, they haven't been fixed yet, so in case you have any random lock-ups in the future, that's a place to start troubleshooting. The fix isn't difficult though. Depending on your UEFI/BIOS options, you can either fix it with a setting change there, or change your boot parameters in GRUB.

      I've had several machines using the Realtek 8111 series NIC. They all workrf fine with out any tweaking, but infrequently throughput will stop suddenly for 10-30 seconds. Nothing is ever lost, and it always picks up again where it left off, but it was a bit unsettling the first time I encountered it!
      Working with computers since the days when unboxing and set-up required 3 weeks with a soldering iron!
    • Thank you for your kind input Markess! I haven't yet experienced any issued with lock-ups - that will certainly be worth bearing in mind for the future. As for the NIC, this hasn't happened yet - although I only use one NIC at a time. I can guess it would be unnerving when this happens - I'll remember this, in the event that it happens to my system.

      I love the Cruzer Fit drives and have a number of them - the one that is connected to my Joggler has been running for circa 10 months while being used as the boot drive. They are not very fast but the small form factor is very useful. The Ultra Fit currently sits on my key-chain and for short bursts of activity it's fine, so it's not wasted. I checked the Ultra Fit drive and it doesn't show as being a fake -

      Thanks Bunilla - I set up a No-IP DDNS account but experienced a number of issues with my router. I'm currently occupied by work but once I get a day of free time, I'll look into it further and try your suggestion. TBH, the router is pretty old (No AC support and limited Gig E ports being 2 things that are annoying), so I'm strongly considering an upgrade.

      All working well still - no complaints. Thank you for again for your help and advise.