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My budget TrueNAS build

For quite a while I was using a NUC and an IcyBox USB 2 disk enclosing. But the enclosing was not able to use acoustic management. As the hardware is in the main hallway of my appartment and the bedroom is nextdoor, I was looking for a less noisy solution, which is upgradable.

Chosing the OS

Well, this was an easy task. Open Media Vault (OMV) does not currently support ZFS in its web interface. So I went for TrueNAS (formerly: FreeNAS). Also, I always wanted to have a *BSD in my home setup – just for the sake and fun of it! 😊

Chosing the hardware

Now, this was a little more work to be done. On the one hand, I wanted a system which did (almost) comply to the specs TrueNAS mentions. On the other hand, the build should be quiet and cheap.

Quiet means: Either very big fans (120mm or bigger) or no fan at all. A case is helpful, too. I was looking into two processors: A passive-cooled Intel Celeron J4005, or a AMD Athlon 3000G. As mentioned in this thread on TrueNAS forums, the J4005 is not sufficient. I went with it anyway to save some money and to have a passive-cooled server. Besides, I currently only have a mirror pool of two disks and some NFS shares – that’s it.

Cheap TrueNAS build

So, here’s the cheap build with an Athlon 3000G:

PCPartPicker Part List
TypeItemPrice
CPUAMD Athlon 3000G 3.5 GHz Dual-Core Processor €68.16 @ Amazon Deutschland
CPU CoolerAlpenföhn BEN NEVIS 56 CFM CPU Cooler €31.98 @ Alternate
MotherboardAsus PRIME A320M-K Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard €52.90 @ Amazon Deutschland
MemoryG.Skill Aegis 8 GB (1 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory €51.44 @ Computeruniverse
StorageIntenso 128 GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive €16.98 @ Amazon Deutschland
CaseAntec VSK 3000 Elite MicroATX Mini Tower Case €46.29 @ Amazon Deutschland
Power Supplybe quiet! System Power 9 400 W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply €41.85 @ Amazon Deutschland
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total€309.60
Generated by PCPartPicker 2021-03-22 14:23 CET+0100

Making an even cheaper build

Originally, I wanted to install onto a USB key. But they have deprecated that option because TrueNAS 12 writes much more onto the system partition. I leave this build up for studying reasons, but it is not much cheaper anymore – unless you have some spare parts lying around.

The drawback here is that you will now need a SATA expansion card and a drive. In my previous build I hadn’t had any of them in. If you dare to install to a USB key, you can save about € 44,- (2021-03). But since you need to add an SSD to both builds now, it is not that much of a difference anymore.

PCPartPicker Part List
TypeItemPrice
MemoryG.Skill Aegis 8 GB (1 x 8 GB) DDR4-3000 CL16 Memory €48.49 @ Mindfactory
StorageIntenso 128 GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive €16.98 @ Amazon Deutschland
CaseAntec VSK 3000 Elite MicroATX Mini Tower Case €46.29 @ Amazon Deutschland
Power Supplybe quiet! System Power 9 400 W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply €41.85 @ Amazon Deutschland
Case FanScythe Slipstream 4.5 CFM 120 mm Fan €15.73 @ Amazon Deutschland
CustomASRock J4005B-ITX – ITX Motherboard for Intel Integrated CPU CPUs €75.29 @ Amazon Deutschland
CustomZiyituod SATA 3.0 Card with 4 SATA Cables, PCIe SATA Controller Expression Card with Low Profile Bracket,ASM1061+ASM1093 Chip Non-Raid, Boot as System Disk, Support 4 SATA 3.0 Devices(SA3004)
Custom
Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts
Total€244.63
Generated by PCPartPicker 2021-03-22 14:17 CET+0100

This build is probably only interesting, if you need a *really* silent solution (as I do). Otherwise the other option with the Athlon 3000G is much more versatile without being much more expensive. You have 4 SATA slots on board and do not need to buy an additional card for up to e.g. a RAID-Z1 of three disks.

Labeling the disks

One thing I can really recommend is to label the disks one way or the other. If one of your drives fail, this way you can easily replace them without try-and-error.

Keeping the HDD spinning noise down

I bought some noise dampener for the HDDs. One goes to the side of the disk, the other one between the screw and the HDD cage. As we are using NAS HDDs, they are unsurprisingly not optimized for low noise.

A word of caution

This is a below-minimal build. Everyone in the forums will say, that this build is way too small. 16 GiB RAM and a much better processor were needed. However, I find my RAM not used more than 60% and the processor is mostly idling, even under small workloads.

Not Realtek again

I have to give you one warning: Avoid the Realtek network chip I posted in the cheaper build. FreeBSD does not support it properly. Sometimes the PC will not reboot with LAN at all, sometimes it just turns off after a few minutes. Only every umpteenth boot the network will stay up.

Conclusion

So, what do you think? For me, this setup is sufficient: Auto-Uploading photos from our android phones once a week, and that’s it. Is there anything you would have done different? Let me know in the comments! 👇

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