My Budget FreeNAS Build

The Specs

  • Intel Xeon X5650 @ 2.66ghz*
  • Asus P6T Deluxe
  • 12GB DDR3 1600 (Non ECC**)
  • EVGA GT 610
  • Enermax ETS-N31
  • 6x 3TB Western Digital Red (Raid6/Z2)

I created a single Z2 pool with 10.48TB of usable storage space. So that’s effectively using 4 of the drives for storage and 2 for parity. I have three main volumes on this pool; iocage (for jails), Users (for critical data including windows user documents) and Vault (for non critical data, mostly media and Steam downloads). Right now the only jail setup is the Plex Server and there is also a Windows 10 VM.

Note*: I selected this because the server is mostly used for media storage and serving. I will run the occasional virtual machine but 6 cores and 12 threads is plenty for my needs.

Note**: It is highly recommended that you use ECC memory with FreeNAS because any errors or corruption created by the memory are passed straight on to the pool with no obvious way of knowing anything is wrong. For the time being, I’m okay with this based on the knowledge that the majority of the data on my server is replaceable, and I keep separate backups for the critical stuff. I’ll post a separate blog outlining my backup strategy another time.

The Build

As it is a budget build I picked up a trashed 4U case. I didn’t like the aesthetics so after a quick trip to my local laser cutter, I had the parts I needed to update it’s look. A little cutting, welding, grinding and a coat of paint, and the case had a fresh new look.

Overall I’m really happy with the outcome. Temperatures are right where I want them but it is winter here so I won’t get a true read until summer. The server rack is in garage which is typically cooler than ambient so it should be okay…

3 thoughts on “My Budget FreeNAS Build

  1. Zoran Reply

    How did you install FreeNAS 11.x on the ASUS P6T Deluxe? There is a MBR/GPT issue with the 11.2-U5 installer (USB stick won’t boot). I was able to install FreeNAS 9.10. Did you upgrade from 9.10 or directly install 11.x?

    best regards,

    • Samhaughey Post authorReply

      Hi Zoran, I did have to try a couple of different ways. It was a fresh install but I think I ended up upgrading from 9.10 in the end. I believe 11.1 will install via USB as well. Two important things to note. First, don’t setup any jails until you have upgraded to 11.2 U6 as the UI doesn’t let you administrate all jails created in 9.X. Second, you WILL need an additional LAN interface. The onboard marvel adapters are rubbish and whenever I put them under an extended load (e.g. more than 2mins of file copying) the adapter would crash. The only way to recover it was a hard reset of the server. Since I installed an Intel gigiabit card I’ve had no issues. Also booting from a SATA drive is a must. I’m just using an old 60GB laptop drive. I tried a USB install and it had pitifull performance with boot times up to 30min. A further note, I had no luck booting with drive connected to SAS. Hope that helps.

      The P6T is not the ideal board for FreeNAS but once I got it installed and ironed out the LAN adapter issues I’ve had no trouble. Up time is over 4 months now without a reboot.

  2. Zoran Reply

    Hi Sam,

    thank you for sharing your experience. I use a Mellanox ConnectX-3 10GbE (Chelsio and Intel cards are recommended) and a LSI 9211-8i HBA card in IT mode (P20). When the SATA controller of the P6T mainboard is supported, then i will use the onboard SATA ports for the mirrored boot SSDs. That’s great!
    Thank you Sam!

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