MEGAROAD-01

I said I was going to post about this way back in August and it’s taken this long for me to actually find the time to write this entry… but here it is, hooray!

Back when I started planning my newly built house, I made sure all the major rooms had CAT6A network connections and that one of these connections would be in the walk-in-wardrobe of the master bedroom where I planned to keep a small server PC.

With that in mind, the server PC I was to build needed to be small and quiet enough to be able to live inside the walk-in-wardrobe without it lacking any of the power and features I wanted out of it.

This server was to be both a file server as well as a media server and be as reliable as possible. With that in mind, I spent a long time researching all the components I needed as well the operating system needed to run this server.

The choice was easy in terms of the operating system since I have been aware of FreeNAS for quite a long time, but the hardware was a little trickier. Thankfully, since there are a lot of people who have built FreeNAS systems, all I needed to do to find a direction was rummage through all the informative conversations people had about their own server PC builds to figure out what I needed to do to make this all work.

After all that research, I came up with all my parts… and yes, it is pretty overkill but in all honesty, what did you really expect from me?

MOTHERBOARD+CPU: Supermicro X10SDV-TLN4F SOC Xeon D-1540
RAM: Samsung 8GB DDR4 2400Mhz ECC – M393A1G40EB1-CRC x4

PSU: Corsair SF450

USB: SanDisk Cruzer Fit CZ33 8GB USB Flash Drive x2*
HDD: WD Red 3TB NAS Hard Drive WD30EFRX x6

CASE: SilverStone DS380

UPS: Eaton 5S 550 AU

* I actually have 12 of these, I use 2 of them in the build with the other 10 set aside as backups just in case.

Like I said, it’s overkill. What you’re seeing is a parts list for server PC used by a small business rather than a single person at home.

So let’s break it all down starting with the motherboard and CPU. This was the most important part of the build for me as it needed to be two very specific things: Compact and foolproof. I’m new to building this kind of PC which meant that it would be smarter on my part to find a system on chip board which would eliminate any uncertainty I had about motherboard and CPU combinations, etc. It also needed to be small and wanted to use the SilverStone DS380.

After some searching, I finally found the Supermicro X10SDV-TLN4F which was exactly what I needed. A small mITX motherboard with a SOC Xeon D-1540, 6 SATA3 ports… and even better, not one, but TWO 10Gb ethernet ports. It was everything I ever wanted out of a server motherboard and everything else that came after fell into place very easily.

With the 6 SATA3 ports, I would be able to run a RAID-Z2 array using 6 3TB WD Red NAS Drives which would get me 10.9TB of usable storage. Yes, again, that’s a lot of storage for just one person, but that amount of storage (and power) also gives you flexibility in terms of a volume shadow copy service and media transcoding.

Of course, following the advice from a lot of people online who build FreeNAS systems, the RAM is error correcting and I made sure I got enough of it to run the operating system and account for the total raw storage (18TB) I had on the 6 HDDs in my array. That meant that the total RAM size needed to be at least 32GB which is more than enough to handle what I’m throwing at this server.

The hard drives themselves are pretty standard. Everyone gets Western Digital Red NAS drives, though I was eyeing some HGST 3TB drives before I settled on the WD Reds… mostly because the HGST drives I was looking at before had been discontinued and I couldn’t buy them anymore lol.

For the OS drives, I use a pair of 8GB Sandisk Cruzer flash drives that are mirrored. This is an insurance measure just in case one of the flash drives fails for whatever reason, I can easily swap it out and keep the server going without having to deal with reinstalling the boot drives and reloading backed up settings, etc.

To finish everything off, I made sure to get myself a UPS in case of power outages since I don’t want any data degradation to creep in.

Since building the server PC back in August, I’ve been further familiarising myself with FreeNAS, getting everything running the way I want it and making sure it is all running the way it should be… and it’s great.

It’s summer now, so the last two drives in the array have reached 40-41 degrees Celsius at times during the last week, but nothing major has happened and everything is pretty smooth sailing.

My new server PC, officially dubbed “MEGAROAD-01”, is the first of a new generation of PCs I’ll be building. The next build I’m planning will be a refresh of my gaming rig which I’ll be building inside my (still empty) Lian Li DK-04 PC Desk.

I can’t wait for that build because I’m going ALL OUT with it.