phillipppp

My SFF media server/storage tower: Colossus

44 posts in this topic

First things first: I know this is not an original setup. I want to give credit where credit is due and hopefully help anyone else new to unRAID.

Here are a few posts/links I've used as reference to be sure this is the setup I want:

SFF Unraid - Separating XBMC from server

Landfill - My SFF unRAID with SAB/SB/PLEX

These two guys have done so much work to provide a comprehensive guide to this type of build. I'm hoping to consolidate some of their information and provide a clear setup guide for newbies like me.

 

My main motivation for building a SFF unRAID box was to get rid of all the external hard drives I have laying around and put them in one place. I also wanted to set up a nice little media server. I'm in college so, keeping these two goals in mind, I also wanted to save on cash. I think this setup is the best solution I've found that fills all those criteria perfectly. So, let's get to it.

 

PARTS LIST:

OS at time of building:  unRAID Server 5.0-rc16c AiO ($69.00)

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120T Sandy Bridge 2.6GHz LGA 1155 35W ($134.99)

Motherboard: ASUS P8H77-I LGA 1155 Intel H77 ($109.99)

RAM: Kingston HyperX LoVo 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 ($49.99)

Case: LIAN LI PC-Q25B Mini-ITX ($119.99)

Power Supply: Corsair CX430 V2 Series 430W ($19.99 after $20 rebate)

Cables: Rosewill 10" Serial ATA III Red Flat Cable w/ Locking Latch (x6) ($0.99 x6 = $5.94)

          Link Depot Model POW-ADT-3PY 3 Pin Fan Power Y Cable ($3.99)

TOTAL: $513.88

 

This is where I stray. I found some great deals on external storage that I will just take the drives out of. This is generally frowned upon, but I gotta work with what I can.

DRIVES:

WD Elements 3.0TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive ($149.99-$90.00 in rebates= $49.99)x2

Seagate Expansion Desktop 3TB External Hard Drive ($109.00)x1

Seagate Expansion Desktop 3TB External Hard Drive ($153.99-$90.00 in rebates= $93.99)x1

(Plus two drives I had laying around)

TOTAL: $302.97

 

Plan for setup:

BAYS CAPACITY

1 HS 3TB (parity)

2 HS 3TB (data)

3 HS 3TB (data)

4 HS 3TB (data)

5 HS 2TB (data)

6   1TB (data)

7

_______________

Total: 11TB (data)

 

 

Primary Use:

- Centralize storage

- Media Server

- SABnzbd+, CouchPotato, SickBeard, Plex

- Time Machine Backups

 

Likes:

- Drive capacity: Holy cow! 5 hot swap bays plus two more for SEVEN 3.5" drives!?! In this tiny case?! It doesn't seem real.

- Hot swapping: While I don't plan to use this feature very often, it will make replace/upgrading drives painless.

- Energy consumption: Like I said, I'm on a budget. And for something that will run 24x7, I'd like to save, save, save.

-

 

Dislikes:

- NONE SO FAR

 

Add Ons Used:

- NONE SO FAR

 

Future Plans:

- From dirtysanchez's build, I saw he swapped the stock fans to some quieter ones which I may do later if noise proves to be an issue.

Noctua NF-S12B FLX 120mm ($24.99)

Noctua NF-A14 FLX 140mm ($24.99)

 

- In order to move the USB inside the case, I will need to get an adapter such as this:

Koutech USB 2.0 Header-Pin to Dual Type-A ($7.99)

 

- Add a power backup

 

Completed Photos:

o2ygSMU.jpg

 

IGAR5VP.jpg

 

(more below)

 

Closing:

(08/09/2013)

Parts are on the way. Updates will be happening very soon.

Going on vacation for a week(08/10-08/15), moving into a new apartment(08/16) and hopefully building before school starts(08/21).

(08/18/2013)

Everything has arrived. I put together the whole build in ~3-3.5 hours. This includes me setting everything up to take pictures as I went.

(08/20/2013)

Started pre-clearing two 3TB drives today. Going to have to migrate data over before I clear out the other drives. Guess it'll be a few days before we are at max-capacity.


 

 

Future Edits:

Boot (peak):

Idle (avg):

Active (avg):

Light use (avg):

 

 

ADVICE AND COMMENTS WELCOME!

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Looks like a great build.  You've obviously done your homework and you're well on your way to having a great media server and NAS.

 

Any particular reason you went with the Sandy Bridge 2120T as opposed to the Ivy Bridge 3220T?  The 3220T should be the same price or a few dollars less, has a little more horsepower, and it also idles with slightly lower power draw. The difference in power draw is really negligible to be honest, a difference of a few dollars a year on your power bill.  But since you stated power usage was a factor in your decision, I thought I'd ask.

 

Enjoy your server!  I love mine and its been a fantastic build.

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You could save a fair amount on the CPU IMO - an Ivy Bridge Celeron or Pentium is around $60. At idle, which is where your CPU will spend most of it's time, it will use the same or less power compared to the low voltage Sandy Bridge you listed. Not sure if Plex can take advantage of hardware video transcoding offered on the i3 (and missing on the Pentium/Celeron?). You could save even further by going with an Atom or AMD Brazos CPU if you won't be transcoding. You really don't need that much CPU power for a NAS that's mostly serving files and downloading a few things.

 

Don't forget to factor in an unRAID license, which you'll need for more than 3 drives.

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You could save a fair amount on the CPU IMO - an Ivy Bridge Celeron or Pentium is around $60. At idle, which is where your CPU will spend most of it's time, it will use the same or less power compared to the low voltage Sandy Bridge you listed. Not sure if Plex can take advantage of hardware video transcoding offered on the i3 (and missing on the Pentium/Celeron?). You could save even further by going with an Atom or AMD Brazos CPU if you won't be transcoding. You really don't need that much CPU power for a NAS that's mostly serving files and downloading a few things.

 

Don't forget to factor in an unRAID license, which you'll need for more than 3 drives.

 

Looks like a great build.  You've obviously done your homework and you're well on your way to having a great media server and NAS.

 

Any particular reason you went with the Sandy Bridge 2120T as opposed to the Ivy Bridge 3220T?  The 3220T should be the same price or a few dollars less, has a little more horsepower, and it also idles with slightly lower power draw. The difference in power draw is really negligible to be honest, a difference of a few dollars a year on your power bill.  But since you stated power usage was a factor in your decision, I thought I'd ask.

 

Enjoy your server!  I love mine and its been a fantastic build.

 

Overall, I think it was a balance of price and performance. I do plan on streaming upwards of 1080p to an Apple TV and possibly laptops.

 

Also, I just wanted to place one order on Newegg and get as much as possible and from a reliable source and newegg either doesn't carry the 3220T or it has been discontinued.

 

I don't know how much of an effect it will have but I also got the LoVo RAM.

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You could save a fair amount on the CPU IMO - an Ivy Bridge Celeron or Pentium is around $60. At idle, which is where your CPU will spend most of it's time, it will use the same or less power compared to the low voltage Sandy Bridge you listed. Not sure if Plex can take advantage of hardware video transcoding offered on the i3 (and missing on the Pentium/Celeron?). You could save even further by going with an Atom or AMD Brazos CPU if you won't be transcoding. You really don't need that much CPU power for a NAS that's mostly serving files and downloading a few things.

 

Don't forget to factor in an unRAID license, which you'll need for more than 3 drives.

 

The IB Celeron G1620, for example, would indeed be more than enough for transcoding (even multiple concurrent streams) and is half the price of the i3. Plex can't yet take advantage of the Intel hardware transcoding in the i3 (at least as far as I am aware), but should be able to in the future once the FFmpeg devs add that functionality.

 

As for the Atom and AMD Brazos, they would indeed be the perfect fit IMO for a low power NAS that only serves files.  That said, most people that use Plex also do transcoding with Plex, so unless the OP is using Plex in a very specific manner (no transcoding, as you stated), I'd stay away from these CPUs.

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Overall, I think it was a balance of price and performance. I do plan on streaming upwards of 1080p to an Apple TV and possibly laptops.

 

Also, I just wanted to place one order on Newegg and get as much as possible and from a reliable source and newegg either doesn't carry the 3220T or it has been discontinued.

 

I don't know how much of an effect it will have but I also got the LoVo RAM.

 

Yes, while I ordered most of my components from NewEgg, I did have to get the 3220T from Amazon. I don't know how much of a difference the LoVo RAM will make, should be interesting to see. Again, we're talking a few dollars of electricity a year, not going to break the bank either way.

 

One thing I forgot to mention earlier, if you are running Plex/sab/SB/CP/etc on 4GB of RAM you MAY see issues.  A number of people around here suggest more than 4GB if you will be running that many plugins. FWIW, I have 8GB in my server, but I've never seen RAM utilization exceed 4GB (or even come close to it for that matter).

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Overall, I think it was a balance of price and performance. I do plan on streaming upwards of 1080p to an Apple TV and possibly laptops.

 

Also, I just wanted to place one order on Newegg and get as much as possible and from a reliable source and newegg either doesn't carry the 3220T or it has been discontinued.

 

I don't know how much of an effect it will have but I also got the LoVo RAM.

 

Yes, while I ordered most of my components from NewEgg, I did have to get the 3220T from Amazon. I don't know how much of a difference the LoVo RAM will make, should be interesting to see. Again, we're talking a few dollars of electricity a year, not going to break the bank either way.

 

One thing I forgot to mention earlier, if you are running Plex/sab/SB/CP/etc on 4GB of RAM you MAY see issues.  A number of people around here suggest more than 4GB if you will be running that many plugins. FWIW, I have 8GB in my server, but I've never seen RAM utilization exceed 4GB (or even come close to it for that matter).

 

 

All very good points, all that I'd probably never know on my own. This is very much a learning experience for me (my first build). I think by far one of the greatest features of building my own vs buying a drobo (for example) is the upgradability. If, later on, I do realize 4GB isn't cutting it, I'm able to simply swap it out. In the same sense, even if the CPU isn't the best, being overpowered can't hurt. And may aid in the longevity (hardware-wise) of the whole system.

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Overall, it was a pretty easy build. I got it up and running with no drives. Since I am moving, I decided not to start pre clearing as I will have to unplug it and move it. I haven't even powered it up with the drives in it yet. Once I start pre clearing, I will update again. For now, I'll show the build process. Also, a link to the whole album with full-res images on imgur.

 

Full Imgur album

 

Well, here it all is. This is pretty much everything, just waiting to be ripped open.

897leue.jpg

 

This Lian Li case is great. From the outside, it's so clean and simple. On the inside, it's packed full of features. You can look more photos up on this case if you want.

QdEEvBW.jpg

 

It even looks good from the back. Here is all the hot swap bay connections.

IEVnQd6.jpg

 

Here's what comes in that little white box inside the case.

vvEqrVx.jpg

 

So let's begin building!

 

Unboxing the motherboard (minus the metal mounting tray from the case).

nuQxLcX.jpg

 

Mounting the MoBo to the removable case tray.

jWC2YI7.jpg

 

Unboxing the CPU.

Hu00hbJ.jpg

 

CPU and Fan/Heatsink all attached.

i2OmQn9.jpg

 

LoVo Ram, ready to go.

N9VNSSG.jpg

 

Ram loaded onto the motherboard.

DH4sVUn.jpg

 

The unboxed PSU. Somewhat regretting that I didn't buy a modular, but it works.

dAn9lRp.jpg

 

The case has a bracket that you mount to the PSU in order to attach it to the case.

prZ9U4Y.jpg

 

I had to remove the long CX430 stickers from the sides in order for the PSU to fit. Thats how tight it is, but it fits!

EXqh058.jpg

 

And here is the back side. You can see the open space quickly fading away.

NApWE9x.jpg

 

Now for the fun part: connecting it all. I realized later on that I forgot the ATX-12V connector (doh!). Scared myself for a minute...

0iLZMJ0.jpg

 

I got a little carried away connecting everything and forgot to take some pictures.

You get the idea though, here it all is installed and connected. I liked that the PSU had one cable with 3 Molex connectors, that way I could just run one cable to the hot swap bays.

You'll also notice that I removed the tray at the bottom of the case. I was having trouble getting the MoBo back in and once I took out that bottom tray (two thumb-screws), I was able to slide it right in.

Cksqtz5.jpg

 

From the other side, you can see how it's all connected and managed with the PSU removed. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

KZetp4J.jpg

 

With the PSU back in and the extra cables tucked away, it cleans up pretty nicely.

9rrUFyq.jpg

 

Fingerprints everywhere. Oh well……

PAf165i.jpg

 

Last shot of the back of the MoBo, I swear!

IGAR5VP.jpg

 

Okay, one more. But this is really to show the backside of the case and the connections. You can see my tiny USB drive in there.

Nktb33c.jpg

 

Final shot of cable management before the drives go in.

mW2NzaB.jpg

 

Not too much to look at on the outside…just the way I like it. 

kIpEZZd.jpg

 

The drive just slid right out of here.

B4GGD8z.jpg

 

So here's what I'll be running. Not the best, but eh.

K6uxOoI.jpg

 

Drive number two.

RTlUh8g.jpg

 

Just as easy.

U2yA6wL.jpg

 

Attaching the drive rails.

xflJCRG.jpg

 

Two drives in. 3TB parity, 3TB data so far.

0G27sS2.jpg

 

A little size comparison. It's insanely small.

gsohVGn.jpg

 

All closed up.

o2ygSMU.jpg

 

pDRjrKd.jpg

 

Full Imgur album

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Very nice detailed build with lots of pictures.  BTW, I had to remove the PSU stickers as well to get it into the chassis, it's a very tight fit!

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Very nice detailed build with lots of pictures.  BTW, I had to remove the PSU stickers as well to get it into the chassis, it's a very tight fit!

 

I was amazed at how tight of a fit it was!

 

But I wanted to document as much as possible for anyone else trying to do a build as well.

 

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It's indeed a very tight fit if you use a CX430.    I've built several systems with that case -- one with the CX430, but for all the others I've used an SFX power supply [This one:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256084

and this one:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256063

 

Fits MUCH better -- the case is nowhere near as crowded.

 

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It's indeed a very tight fit if you use a CX430.    I've built several systems with that case -- one with the CX430, but for all the others I've used an SFX power supply [This one:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256084

and this one:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256063

 

Fits MUCH better -- the case is nowhere near as crowded.

 

Maybe if this one dies on me, I'll go with one of those. But at $19.99, I'm not complaining for now!  ;)

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I've been looking at this case as well but there are not many ITX boards with 8 SATA ports.  I read you can fit 7-10 drives in the case.

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I've been looking at this case as well but there are not many ITX boards with 8 SATA ports.  I read you can fit 7-10 drives in the case.

 

The case is designed for up to 7 3.5" drives [there are 5 hot-swap bays; and a bottom-mounted tray that will accommodate 2 3.5" drives or 3 2.5" drives].

 

Most ITX boards with 6 onboard ports also have a PCIe slot that you could add a controller card to for additional ports if needed.    This board has 7 SATA ports if you'd prefer to not use an add-in controller:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157357

 

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Thank you for sharing your build, very nice! I'm just building a system in the same Lian-Li case and to my surprise there seems to be quite a few differences in the case itself. I think my case is an older revision, so far I've detected the following differences:

- Corsair CX430M fits nicely without the need for removing the stickers

- Backplane of the drive cage has a different sata and power port alignment. In mine you cannot use normal right angle cables since they would go over the power ports. But straight cables just as good

- Motherboard tray does not have a cut out so you cannot replace the CPU-cooler with backplate without removing the MB (see also next difference). Minor issue since most low-clearance coolers won't utilise back plate.

- I couldn't find a way to remove the motherboard tray nor it was documented in the user manual.

- The center horizontal divider in the drive cage is misplaced. This is an actual error and prevents installing one of the drives in the cage. I've reported it directly to Lian-Li to.

 

I'm planning on using this case when building several SFF-systems. I think I have to order a few samples from different sources to see which can provide the latest version.

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In mine you cannot use normal right angle cables since they would go over the power ports. But straight cables just as good

 

I've built several systems with this case as well.  The case you have is a bit older than what they're shipping now.    A much better solution than straight SATA cables for neatly cabling the backplane in that version is to use left-hand SATA cables -- which are available here:  http://www.cpustuff.com/left-angle-to-straight-sata-cable/

 

All of the recent cases I've bought have the newer arrangement which doesn't require the left-hand cables.

 

In any of them, however, an SFX power supply provides a MUCH "cleaner" build.

 

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I've been looking at this case as well but there are not many ITX boards with 8 SATA ports.  I read you can fit 7-10 drives in the case.

 

correct, the board I bought has 5 SATA ports, so for anything over that, you'll need a sata expansion card. I haven't tried it yet but it'd be a tight fit.

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Thank you for sharing your build, very nice! I'm just building a system in the same Lian-Li case and to my surprise there seems to be quite a few differences in the case itself. I think my case is an older revision, so far I've detected the following differences:

- Corsair CX430M fits nicely without the need for removing the stickers

- Backplane of the drive cage has a different sata and power port alignment. In mine you cannot use normal right angle cables since they would go over the power ports. But straight cables just as good

- Motherboard tray does not have a cut out so you cannot replace the CPU-cooler with backplate without removing the MB (see also next difference). Minor issue since most low-clearance coolers won't utilise back plate.

- I couldn't find a way to remove the motherboard tray nor it was documented in the user manual.

- The center horizontal divider in the drive cage is misplaced. This is an actual error and prevents installing one of the drives in the cage. I've reported it directly to Lian-Li to.

 

I'm planning on using this case when building several SFF-systems. I think I have to order a few samples from different sources to see which can provide the latest version.

 

Where did you order from? sounds like you got a bad deal all around! The power supply probably would have gone in with the stickers if I put some more work into but it was much easier (and caused less damage) without them. The motherboard tray simply had 4 screws and came right out for me.

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thanks to @gary for all the info since I am by no means an expert! This is my first case and it's very much a learning experience so far!

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All around great build! I love the unopened stack of boxes picture. I like the motherboard tray on your Q25B with the cutout in the middle; mine doesn't have that if I recall. Nice idea of using the Low Voltage RAM!

 

I had no idea that Plex doesn't gain anything transcoding with an i3 CPU. Sounds like the Celeron G1620 is a decent CPU to save a buck.

 

The SFF PSU idea seems cool, but you really can't beat a $20 power supply.  :P

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I had no idea that Plex doesn't gain anything transcoding with an i3 CPU. Sounds like the Celeron G1620 is a decent CPU to save buck.

 

Well, the i3-3220T (which I used) for example has no current "benefits" over a Celeron as far as Plex is concerned, but it is more powerful and therefore will be capable of delivering more concurrent transcoded streams if necessary.

 

PassMark CPU ratings:

i3-3220T = 3703

Celeron G1620 = 2779

 

That said, the Celeron can definitely save you $50 or so and is still capable of multiple transcoded streams, just not as many as the i3.  Whether or not its worth it to someone to pay the higher price for the i3 is specific to their situation.

 

For myself, I felt the additional $50 was worth it considering the number of clients in the household and the real possibility of 4 or 5 concurrent streams, 3 of which might be real-time transcoded.

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I love it! I'm already using this case for my low-power unRAID server (AMD E-350 w/ 4GB RAM), but I have a spare Core i5-2500K and 8GB of RAM from an older build that's going unused so I'm going to upgrade. It currently only does file serving, but I'll be installing ownCloud, Plex, sabnzbd, sickbeard and Couch Potato. I'm sure it's still way over-powered for that, but it's already paid for so why not? This setup should last me for many years into the future. I'm pretty sure I'll have hardware failure before I encounter a scenario where I don't have enough horsepower.

 

I really like the motherboard you're using because of the 6 SATA ports (and their placement). Since that's the one thing I'm currently missing, I think I'm going to jack your idea. I'm also keen on those 10" SATA cables. It's a lot cleaner than my currently mismatched arrangement. :P

 

I also see that MicroCenter is selling the CX430M for $35 after rebate so I might have to bite on that, too. I'm currently using a full-sized PSU that only sort of fits when I jam it up against my drive cage. It works, but it makes me nervous. The peace of mind is worth $35 to me.

 

I'll probably just use the old E-350 mobo/CPU/RAM in a set top box build.

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It really is a great board, I've had zero issues with it.  Good luck revamping your build.

Thanks! I grabbed the board and PSU last night, but i won't have time to install them until this weekend.

 

I threw away the stock CPU cooler when I built my last machine since I upgraded to a much larger one. I found myself wishing I had it back for this new case. As luck would have it, though, I found a guy on craigslist selling a brand new Intel 1155 OEM cooler for $1. That'll come in handy. :-)

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You'll definitely need it too.  There's no room in that case for anything but the stock low-profile CPU cooler!  :o

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