Advice needed on building a cheap yet large NAS

    • OMV 4.x

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    • Advice needed on building the cheapest yet large NAS

      Hello everyone,

      A couple months ago, I bought an ODROID-HC1 to leverage a spare 1TB drive. Running OMV, it has served its purpose well to this point.

      The issue is, as devices get inevitably replaced, I find myself with more and more new old disks sitting there. And I cannot make use of them at the moment because of the lack of more SATA ports on the HC1.

      So, I'm trying to figure out what new board is best suited for my use case:

      The board is mainly used for torrenting and media storage, i.e. big files that don't change.
      No plan for a Plex Server or a build farm. So no need for a workhorse of a processor.
      The data is backed up to the cloud and not of crucial importance, so losing a disk is not a big issue. I therefore plan to use a mix of used and new disks as my needs expand.
      My Internet connection is about 300 Mb/s both ways at the moment. Backing up data to the cloud and redownloading it from there on my laptop is, most of the time, even more convenient than local transfer for me. So the Internet connection really is the bottleneck in terms of speed.

      As for the hardware requirements, here is what I think I need:

      - Low power consumption
      - Gigabit Ethernet
      - As many SATA ports as possible

      And of course as cheap as possible.

      Having looked at quite a few posts and vendor sites already, I have identified 4 interesting contenders:

      - Kobol Helios4, with 4 SATA ports, ECC RAM and a neat looking enclosure.

      - Marvell Espressobin, 1 SATA port + one Marvell 88SE9215-based mPCIe expansion cards for 4 SATA ports, 5 SATA ports total.

      - GnuBee PC2, with 6 SATA ports, but I've read posts about poor performance, I would appreciate further explanation on this.

      - SolidRun ClearFog Pro, + 2x Marvell 88SE9215-based mPCIe expansion cards for 4 SATA ports ; and one Marvell 88SE9235-based M.2 card for another 4 SATA ports, for a whopping total of 12 SATA ports. Another plus of this one is that I get a 5 ports GigE switch (I see 6 on the pictures but whatever) in the bargain.

      I am currently waiting for updates from Kobol on the availability of the Helios4 ; but I may already need more than 4 SATA ports in the coming months, so I'm more leaning towards the other 3 options, the last one in particular.

      Anyway, the purpose of this post was to have your advice and comments on my project. I'm still a newcomer to the SBC world and any feedback is appreciated.
    • Azaverte85 wrote:

      SolidRun ClearFog Pro, + 2x Marvell 88SE9215-based mPCIe expansion cards for 4 SATA ports ; and one Marvell 88SE9235-based M.2 card for another 4 SATA ports
      My Clearfog Pro is limited to SATA on the M.2 slot so I would double check whether you can switch from SATA to another PCIe lane here (I know it should work with more recent Clearfog Base revisions with a bootloader tweak but there's one mPCIe slot less).

      Then I personally would start the other way around and think about housing and powering first. If you only think about 2.5" disks then this is not that much of a problem but with a bunch of 3.5" HDDs you need a really good PSU with sufficient juice on both 12V and 5V rails. With such a large PSU the consumption of the NAS board in question becomes more or less irrelevant and you could also look at an inexpensive mini-ITX x86 solution.
    • tkaiser wrote:

      My Clearfog Pro is limited to SATA on the M.2 slot so I would double check whether you can switch from SATA to another PCIe lane here
      Very good point, it is indeed true and IMO not stated explicitly enough on SolidRun's website.

      However as I was looking into that I stumbled upon another one of SolidRun's products: the ClearFog GT8K. For $209 you get 4 switched GbE ports and most importantly in my case 3 mPCIe slots. That means for a little over $300 you can have your 12 SATA ports via 3 Marvell 88SE9215-based cards.

      What are your thoughts on that ?
    • Azaverte85 wrote:

      What are your thoughts on that ?

      I personally hate dealing with that much HDDs (I do storage for a living for over 20 years now and dying disks never were fun). And as already said: I would start from the other direction. If you want to attach 12 disks why not thinking about an appropriate enclosure and powering first? 88SE9215 cards are available for regular PCIe x1 slots as well (bottlenecking 4 HDDs all the time slightly due to the single Gen2 lane).

      With something like this in mind and if I would want to deal with that much disks (which I won't) I would most probably take an ASRock J4105M or something similar...

      The Clearfogs are great (especially if you can make use of the advanced networking -- 2.5GbE or even 10GbE) but a bit expensive at the same time...