So I promised that I would make an update on the Marvell 88SE9215 sata controller card for FreeNAS. Like you probably know, it have been nearly one year since I build my NAS, and the Marvell board have not failed once. I have 2 drives connected to it in Raid 1, and it seems to work just fine.
So will the Marvell 88SE9215 work with FreeNAS?
Yes it will, and you can find the correct one here: https://amzn.to/2o50458. I am currently on FreeNAS 9.10. So if you are on an older version, I cannot guarantee you that it will work on your system.
What about the NAS?
The NAS has been doing its ting. No problems at all. It is only one thing that keeps annoying me, is that I cannot add more RAM. And it bothers me so much, because i see the RAM gets maxed out every time i use the NAS. But i cannot see that it affects the server, it still does its job without problems.
I am thinking of adding two more drives to my NAS, because the ones i have now is maxed out on about 90%, above the recommended. Not sure of what size i am going to go for, but probably 1 TB or more. I have a really low budget on computer parts after the Noctua and RX 480 upgrade of my main computer, so the NAS is not really on top priorities right now.
Other than that, i did not know that it was possible to remove the front cover of the Fractal Design Node 304. So just imagine the amount of dust that was collected in the air filters. And yes, there are fan filters there. Bet you are as surprised as I am if you have the same Node 304 case.
So, how much did the NAS project really cost? I want to discuss this topic because i have seen they sell NAS servers at a start price around 99 USD. So what is the best? Building your own or buy a 99 USD one.
Are you a simple guy or a tech guy?
I think most of the time this matters. Are you a simple guy who just want to store your files somewhere? Then the 99 USD NAS is probably something for you. If you are like me, and like to build PC stuff, you would probably do the same as me and buy the parts to build your own NAS. Access to old computers for power supply and cables would probably be a advantage.
A cheaper alternative
Raspberry pie– Raspberry pie is a small motherboard that includes a CPU, RAM and a place to store your SD Card. And here you can get a lot of stuff very cheap. But something that your should think of, is that you also need to power the drives, so you would still need a power supply. One time saw a picture of a card that you could connect to the raspberry pi, something like a SAS card. Tell me in the comments if you know anything about this.
Not making a Mini-ITX NAS – I chose to use a Mini-ITX motherboard, because i wanted to use the Fractal Design Node 304 case. But you can choose whatever motherboard you want. I have seen some motherboards that already have up to 6 sata slots, so here you save money on a lot of stuff. You would not need a sata card, the case could be some old free junk with a power supply. Look for an old motherboard that supports LGA775 processors and you would be good to go. Also, buying an old motherboard that supports Intel Xeon CPU’s is also not a bad idea, but the motherboards do not always fit with modern cases, so you should get one with a case.
Buying the 99 USD one from Amazon – The easiest choice is to buy one, but that is no fun. But if you are a simple guy, it is probably the best. But some disadvantages is that you probably cannot install FreeNAS and install stuff like Plex Media Server, Transmission and so on.
Product list with final price for a NAS server
So i want to show you how much i used on the NAS. Let us take a look! Tell me in the comments of what you think of the total cost of the NAS server. Remember that i already had the disks, i did get a free power supply, sata cables and some RAM and i did also get the Fractal Design Node 304 cheap from a local store.
I got the Fractal Design Node 304, and i am now ready to build!
I chose to buy the white Node 304 because everything i have is black, and well if my server was going to be black it would be boring. But this case have a white finish with some black details that i think is very nice. Also, the case comes space for six drives. I have been thinking about if i am going to have 6 drives or not, and i think i will go with just 4 HDD’s and two SSD’s. One SSD for FreeNAS and one for the jails and plugins. But buying SSD’s and new drives will be later, because i can’t afford that right now.
Building the server!
So building the server went nearly without problems. Some stuff that i had problems with:
The cables were too long, from the case and the power supply. But i managed to do some cable management.
Screws were to hard, or maybe i had a bad screwdriver. And even the “hand tight” screws, could not be tightened or opened hand tight without the screwdriver.
This has nothing to do with the case, but the power for the harddrives were a bit short. So i had to choose to either power the SSD or my old Samsung drive. And i had to use the SSD for the OS, so my old drive will be without power for some time. In the future when i need the extra disk i am going to buy this 4X SATA power splitter cable.
And som positive stuff:
They included three fans! And they are really quiet, even on high speed.
Fan controller with a fan speed of slow, medium and fast. It had connectors to all three fans that came with the case.
Making everything fit was no problem, i can say that the designers did some good job with that.
It includes the cap that you can fit on top of the motherboard mounts, so you can use your screwdriver to tighten them.
Cable management was a bit hard with all the cables. But a pluss is that the designers tried to make it more easy with cable management slots.
Here are some pictures of the final build, please do not get a heart attack when you see the cable management.
Something that you should think of before buying the case, is that you do need an Mini ITX motherboard. I can believe that some guy bought this with a normal motherboard an was like, “Why doesn’t this fit!?”.
It have been some time since i posted about the FreeNAS server. And a lot have been done since then. I got the $22 USD 30GB SSD and the Marvell 88SE9215 Sata card. And i can confirm that the Sata card works perfectly without any issues. I did also get 2 free cables which is nice. The card also came with a normal- and a small bracket for probably mounting in smaller PC cases. I can also confirm that i have bought the Fractal Design Node 304 case, but it is still on the way. A friend had an old Lenovo desktop computer, and he gave me the power supply for free. Also the PC had computer memory that did fit in my motherboard, that i also got for free, so i am on 4 GB total of computer memory.
I wanted to build this server that much that i could not wait no more, so i took the cardboard the motherboard came with and, well, made a server out of it.
What do you guys think? Pretty neat huh?
And yeah it works! But it will be great to get the Node 304 so i can start building the server for real.
Marvell 88SE9215 Sata card
Like i said, the card works with my seagate drives and can handle raid. Here is what is looks like inside the cardboard server:
New quad core CPU
I installed Plex Media Server inside FreeNAS and everything worked fine until i tried to stream the highest quality of my tv shows. The show started, but then begin to stop and start all the time, that was very annoying. I checked where the bottle neck was, and it looks like it could be my dual core 3.0 Ghz E5700. So i decided to buy a new one, and the best and cheapest alternative was the Intel Q8400 that is a quad core 2.66 Ghz CPU. And yes, i did already buy it, but installing it will happen when the Node 304 arrive.
Only 100 Mbit/s transfer speed 🙁
Something i noticed when i transferred files to the server, is that i only had a 100 Mbit/s transfer speed. And that was way to slow. Especially with my new CAT6 internet cables. After searching the whole web and i could not get any answer, i asked on a forum. They told me to change the port my internet cable was connected to in my Dlink router and voila, it works! I do finally get 1000 Mbit/s transfer speed, much faster than 100 Mbit/s.
This is a follow up on the 6 year old Samsung HD154UI 1.5 TB Hard Drive. So i wanted to test my old hard drive to check if it is any good, and the results look bad. I tested my SSD’s, my 2 TB drives and the 1.5 TB drive.
Here are the results:
From top left: Samsung 850 SSD 120GB, Samsung 850 SSD 250GB, Seagate 2TB (in raid 1 so only one test) and the old Samsung HD154UI 1.5 TB.
As you see the old drive is a bit far behind on my seagate hard drives, about 100 MB/s. And even worse on the SSD’s. The SSD’s are about 5-6 times the speed, and that is impressing for the SSD’s, but not for my old drive. I got a motherboard and cables that supports Sata 3. Every drive is Sata 3 without my old hard drive, the Samsung HD154UI, it is Sata 2. So the problem is probably there.
So here we did some good results, i am a bit worried of the speed if i put the drive in the NAS server. Because it would not be the internet that slows down the transfer speed, but the drive. I should think about buying two new drives. It would have been fun to use this drive to, to check how long it would have survived.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment if you have any questions or want me to test other stuff. 🙂
My NAS motherboard does only have 2 Sata slots, so i would need 4 more. I found a lot of cards online, on both eBay and Amazon. But my motherboard does only have one PCIe x1 slot, so not all cards would fit on my motherboard. A card that works great with FreeNAS is a SAS card, but it does not fit on my motherboard so i do need to find another one, like a Marvell 88SE9215.
Why choose a SAS card instead of a normal Sata card? Well, it got some issues having a normal Sata card, some of them is that it does not allow you to run SMART on your drives. But anyway, i am using the Sata card because it fits in my PCIe x1, and it is a bit cheaper. It is a risk to take, i have read that sometimes it would not work, but i am taking the risk. I found Marvell 88SE9215 Sata card for $36.5 USD, it got 4 x Sata 3 slots. It is not important that it got Sata 3 (Sata 2 is fine), but why not.
Something i have been thinking about is what to do if i want 6 sata drives and what to do with the SSD that store my FreeNAS OS. If that day comes, i think i would install FreeNAS on a USB, not recommend but i think it will work.
Updates on how the Marvell 88SE9215 card did, will come in future posts.
So i have been watching some videos on YouTube and got inspired to make a NAS server at home. I am trying to get the most bang for the buck, so i will use minimal with money on my server.
I have desided to go with a white version of the Fractal Design Node 304. Wasn’t this a budget build? Well, yes, but everything budget without the case!
I really like the case, the design is just beautiful. Another plus is that it got 6 x trays for 3.5″ drives, which is perfect for a home NAS.
Because of the case, i would need a mini-ITX motherboard, i got a Pegatron IPX41-R3 motherboard included a Intel Dual Core E5700 and 2 GB DDR3 RAM. Price: 504 NOK (59 USD).
I got a 30GB SSD from China for about 210 NOK (25 USD). I know it would not be the best SSD on the market, but it is good enough for my NAS server. I will do some more testing and benchmarking of the SSD when i get it.
I think i got an old power supply at home, so i do not need to buy a new one (hopefully).