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mc999

Home NAS advice - use commercial product or Roll-Your-Own?

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mc999

Thanks to all for your suggestions, hints and advice! Definitely lots to think about.

 

With regards to the Gen 8 my only concern with it is the fan noise I've read about. It supposedly can be mitigated if the onboard raid controller is used and have one hdd set to raid0 but I'm not quite sure how that works when installing OS (don't have much experience with server builds, etc). If installing FreeNAS (or Nas4Free, OMV, etc) would the os be installed on the HDD/SSD that is being assigned as raid0 and then the other disks just be managed by software raid by os? No such fan noise issues with N54L and can even be made quieter with change of fan. But as is noted it is lower powered although no slouch.

 

LoneWolf --> thanks for suggestion of 216play. I have been looking at lower spec'd synology boxes I just wasn't sure what a minimum would be... Saw a well priced 213+ but wasn't sure if it had enough oomph or future proof enough... Not that we're talking holding onto these for a decade!

 

Still.. Have left me with lots to think about... I'm not wanting to overspend too much.

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mc999

As an update... a friend has offered me an Antec mid tower case that has an i3 with a ga-h55m-usb3 board and 60GB SSD. I have some 1600 ram (16 GB of 2 x 8GB sticks) that i think works for this mobo/cpu combo. Nice case and fairly quiet with 2 x 120mm fans and enough room for minimum of 4 hdds so good for expansion.

 

Would this combo serve me ok? Or is the m3700 a better choice?

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itGeeks

Al_Borges has a great answer.  It depends on whether you want a device --or whether you want a hobby.  And you have one sort-of-in-between step; I'll get there in a moment.

 

As a device, the Synology DS216+ is a decent choice.  The Celeron N3050 processor is actually a dual-core Atom (Braswell core) which also has some hardware video decoding features, though that won't apply to heavy transcoding.  With the Shield, transcoding may not be all that necessary, and it will probably serve for anything shy of H.265/HEVC.  For HEVC, you may wish to compare the (actually less-expensive, but not Intel) DS216play, which can transcode H.265, and is good forward thinking for the future.

 

On the hobby end is building it totally yourself.  A decent mini-ITX board; example:  The ASUS N3700-ITX, which I have in my home theater system, which uses a quad-core Pentium N3700 (the same Braswell core, but faster with four cores), and, say two 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMMs (dual channel memory = better throughput).  An Intel ET dual-port PCIe gigabit NIC in the one PCIe slot (best driver support comes with Intel).  And several SATA drives done in software, with a small case and modest power supply.  Load FreeNAS or XPenology, and you're good to go.

 

The final option would be something like the base-model HP Microserver Gen8 to do the same, or an HP Microserver N54L.  The initial processor is enough. 4GB or 8GB of RAM (8GB if you want to do FreeNAS).  A dual-port NIC is standard on the Gen8, but it requires more expensive ECC memory (though that's more stable; the N54L can use ECC or non-ECC, just don't mix it).  The N54L isn't as fast, nor is it as good for transcoding video, but both have four bays so you can do a nice job with drives.  I tend to think the Gen8 is a better choice, if you have the cash.  Most of this system is built for you, and easy to work with.  It might cost slightly more than the DIY solution, but it's solid hardware.

You have given the OP some great options and more things to think about but we all need to keep one thing in mind, Plex does not utilize the hardware trans-coding on these boxes so CPU power is key here. When we all start talking Plex running on the NAS devices it changes everything. The DS216play does not have an Intel processor so that would be a deal breaking for me. One needs to be very careful here or your going to be very disappointed with the results and if you wait to long to find that out you will be spending more then twice the money to do it right. Again I would say if your going to run the Plex server on the NAS spend the extra money and purchase the DS716+ its a solid choice for 1-2 streams with trans-coding, Lots of these NAS devices will handle 'Direct Play' without a problem but once you start saying your not going to use an HTPC with the Plex (fat client) aka Plex (home theater) then you need to make sure you have CPU power. Any other type of device that you use uses what Plex calls there "thin client" and in most cases there maybe some form of trans-coding that will go on. Again the other option would be just use the NAS for storage and some of the Synology great apps and use a separate server to run Plex, In this case a Core i5 will more then handle your needs and you will never have to deal with thinking what format your media is in or you could use the N3700 suggested above, The N3700 has a Passmark score of 1902 so on paper that will allow one 1080p stream with trans-coding but I bet you will get more out of it.

see score here http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Pentium+N3700+%40+1.60GHz

 

The DS716+ that I keep telling you to get uses the Celeron N3150 and has a Passmark score of 1670 and has been reported that Plex runs great on it with trans-coding to one-two devices

See score here https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Celeron+N3150+%40+1.60GHz

 

The DS216+ that your considering uses a Celeron N3050 and only has a Passmark score of 925 the lowest score of everything suggested by all of us.

See score here http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Celeron+N3050+%40+1.60GHz

 

Keep in mind what I said before Plex says use a Passmark score of 2000 for every 1080p stream that needs trans-coding, I am sorry to keep pounding this info but with all the great info and options being given I don't want you to forget this info as its extremely important....

 

And again I want to remind everyone the Plex does not use the hardware trans-coding supported on the NAS devices so the fact it has it wont apply here, The only software that will utilize the hardware trans-coding is Synology very own DS-Video and Synology other streaming apps but as I said before it has problems with some audio formats, Most notably Dolby Digital....

Edited by itGeeks

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itGeeks

As an update... a friend has offered me an Antec mid tower case that has an i3 with a ga-h55m-usb3 board and 60GB SSD. I have some 1600 ram (16 GB of 2 x 8GB sticks) that i think works for this mobo/cpu combo. Nice case and fairly quiet with 2 x 120mm fans and enough room for minimum of 4 hdds so good for expansion.

 

Would this combo serve me ok? Or is the m3700 a better choice?

What is the exact model number of the Core i3?

What are you planing on doing with it?

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itGeeks

That nVidia Shield as media player looks like a very interesting device and it maybe a great alternative to building a HTPC, I have had my sites on this devices for sometime now but I have not had time to purchase it for testing. Please let me know how this device works out for you. After I get settled in my new place and have time I may want to try it out as a replacement for my aged HTPC.

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mc999

itGeeks... With regards to the ds716+, that's a little too pricey for what I want to spend at the moment.. I just need the NAS for hosting my media and some documents (which I'll be backing up as well).. This will be a little toe-poke-in-the-water type thing and then I'll worry about diving into more advanced NAS. After reading the FreeNAS recommended hardware requirements I'm a little worried that the budget will blown well and truly out of the water. I don't think I need to go down that path...The CPU is an i3 530 I think clocked at 2.93 MHz - mobo has 8G RAM already (2 x 4GB), it will allow 16GB but my 2 x 8GB won't work but 4 x 4GB will. The motherboard is GA-H55-USB3 (I incorrectly typed GA-H55M-USB3 before!). Seems like this will be a good fit to test the waters.. I've only had teh Shield for a little while and been pretty happy with it so far... hasn't had an issue with any of the media I've used and Kodi on it is works quite well.. I've got the 16 GB version but also added a 128 GB microSD..

 

Lots of useful suggestions here... still thinking which way to go though...

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Poppapete

Unless your 100% sure your device will not be doing any transcoding then make sure which ever way you go the device has enough CPU power or is at least upgradable.

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mc999

@Poppapete: How can I be sure the device (I'm assuming you're referring to the NAS device, be it homebuilt or commercial) will not be doing any transcoding? No idea what media files I'll have in the future... Is the i3 530 not powerful enough? If only one client is being streamed to that requires transcoding (I think the Sheild should not need it) will this cpu not suffice?

 

Given that you're in Oz (albeit in a warmer part!) do you have any suggestions for something affordable within our sunburnt country bounds? ;-)

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itGeeks

Unless your 100% sure your device will not be doing any transcoding then make sure which ever way you go the device has enough CPU power or is at least upgradable.

Agreed, this is sound advice.

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itGeeks

@Poppapete: How can I be sure the device (I'm assuming you're referring to the NAS device, be it homebuilt or commercial) will not be doing any transcoding? No idea what media files I'll have in the future... Is the i3 530 not powerful enough? If only one client is being streamed to that requires transcoding (I think the Sheild should not need it) will this cpu not suffice?

 

Given that you're in Oz (albeit in a warmer part!) do you have any suggestions for something affordable within our sunburnt country bounds? ;-)

@mc999. The only way you can be almost 100% sure there wont be any trans-coding needed is A) Install the "Plex Home Theater" (fat) Client on a Windows, MAC, Linux box for streaming https://plex.tv/downloads or B) do offline trans-coding of your media into the proper format the device can play using somthing like Handbrake or the new Plex "Media Optimizer" https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/214079318-Media-Optimizer-Overview

 

As for the Core i3-530 that has a Passmark score of 2589 and based on Plex recommendation of needing a PassMark score of 2000 for every 1080p stream needing trans-coding then yes on paper you should be able to get at least 1 full 1080p stream trans-coding while doing "direct play" to other devices at the same time my only concern is the Core i3 is only a duel-core, I would much rather the CPU was qued-core like a Core i5 that I have used and Plex ran great on that CPU but that maybe just me.

 

PassMark score for the i3 https://cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i3+530+%40+2.93GHz&id=737

Plex recommendations for CPU https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/201774043

Edited by itGeeks

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