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REVIEW ITX NAS - case review and build log

Discussion in 'Storage & Backup' started by Speedster20, May 15, 2013.

  1. Speedster20

    Speedster20 Member

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    As promised in the largish non-rackmount setup thread, a mini-review of the case that arrived this week. I am awaiting a fan splitter cable and Flex-ATX/1U PSU bracket to start the build but here is the info on the case.

    It is a U-NAS NSC-800, delivered direct from China to my door in a week. Thank you FedEx (and StarTrack who picked it up in Sydney on a Friday and had it in Perth the following Monday)!
    Purchased online from U-NAS' US website. Direct link to the product page.
    I paid US$199.99 for the case with US$27 for FedEx International Economy shipping from China. Perhaps a little expensive for the case considering no PSU is included.

    As it arrived. The smaller satchel contained the PCIe x16 ribbon extension cable.
    [​IMG]

    The box unwrapped. It survived the trip very well.
    [​IMG]

    Here is the PCIe ribbon cable from the satchel, and an additional 2.5" HDD mounting plate that I also ordered.
    [​IMG]

    The case itself was well protected inside the box. You can also see the eight included SATA cables. I was a little disappointed, on an overclockers.com thread one recipient there received SFF-8087 to 4xSATA cables, already connected. I have cables in my current build anyway, but it would have been nice to have pre-run cables of the correct length.
    [​IMG]

    The other goodies in the box. HDD screws, cable ties and some other screws for mounting the PCIe card, and a 2.5" HDD mounting plate.
    [​IMG]

    The NSC-800 removed from the box.
    [​IMG]

    Front view with its eight hot-swap bays. I was impressed that the brushed aluminium cover had protective film on it, that was unexpected.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    View of the backplanes with all trays removed. Of note, there are two separate four port backplanes, and the numbering of each from left to right is 4-3-2-1. Must remember when cabling!
    [​IMG]

    Rear view. 1U PSU hole, PCIe slot and hole for the motherboard I/O.
    [​IMG]

    Time to get the cover off. Five small screws. I would have preferred thumbscrews but I guess the case is also used for their own prebuilt NAS product. The inside edges of the cover were a little sharp, perhaps something U-NAS can improve on.

    Here we see the power connections for the backplane and the front panel connectors. The motherboard mounting is unique! Two corners screwed in from above and two from below (you can see what looks like an extended motherboard riser about 3/4 of the way up). What's that sheet of plastic? Well given the small clearance to the side of the case it's to prevent the underside of the motherboard shorting against the side of the case. A nice touch.
    [​IMG]

    The back panel and fan wall come off with another seven(!) screws to reveal a couple of Gelid Silent 12 fans. With a Y-splitter these will go into the SYS_FAN header on the motherboard for temperature controlled speed.
    [​IMG]

    And that back panel will need to come off to connect the SATA cables. Here we see the power is daisy chained to both backplanes, and there is a reasonable number of openings for keeping the disks cool.
    [​IMG]

    Overall the case looks good and I can't wait to start the build. Hopefully next week by the time everything arrives! Only negatives I have:
    • Would have liked thumbscrews on the back
    • Sharp edges on the case
    • SATA cables instead of SAS-SATA (as provided to others)
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  2. OP
    OP
    Speedster20

    Speedster20 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2002
    Messages:
    266
    Location:
    The Vines, WA
    Parts:
    Intel Core i3-2100
    Intel S1200KP C206 ITX motherboard
    16GB (2 x 8GB) Kingston DDR3 ECC memory
    Noctua NH-L9i low-profile HSF
    Seasonic SS-300M1U mini-1U PSU
    IBM M1015 SAS HBA (flashed with LSI firmware)

    Disks
    Samsung Extreme 120GB SSD (OS and some VMs)
    WD Scorpio Blue 500GB HDD (scratch space)
    8 x 2TB WD Caviar Green

    ====================================

    The build starts with getting the backplane connected. My shorter SAS-SATA cables have right angled connectors, so no go here. Fortunately there was space under the drive cage to coil the excess cable.
    [​IMG]

    After several trial and error attempts at getting the fan panel back on, some cable ties to hold the cables back away from the fan blades allowed me to continue.

    Next - the SAS controller. The PCIe extension screwed into the chassis and the card slotted in.
    [​IMG]

    I had to pry the small slot where the bottom of the card bracket slides through for it to fit properly. All in!
    [​IMG]

    Now the system SSD and 500GB scratch drive. This is how the mounting plates stack, courtesy of some M3 spacers.
    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately the M1015 is a little long and touches the SSD, hence the ghetto folded cardboard on the SSD to prevent shorting. Instead of a plate U-NAS should really make it a U-shaped bay so the drive doesn't stick up as high.

    The i3 with the stock HSF removed and cleaned up. What a beast!
    [​IMG]

    The NH-L9i was simple to install, four screws under the mobo into the HSF's own bracket. It only just peeps over the ECC DIMMs next to it, which is rather important for what follows.
    [​IMG]

    The mobo mounting area is cramped. Making the mistake of mounting the drives and SAS card first, I had to remove them to make room to work in. It took 45 minutes to get the thing in, mainly because I had to do it twice - first time I found out the ATX and 4-pin power cables were too short. Fortunately I had Bitfenix extensions for both from when the gear was installed in the Define R3.

    Here it is all installed with the PSU hanging loose as the mounting bracket hadn't yet arrived.
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the clearance above the heatsink is pretty small. Fortunately it can suck air in via the drive cage. The side of the case does have some ventilation holes behind the mess of SATA and power extension cabling. I'm not sure the HSF would draw much from there anyway.
    [​IMG]

    Now the moment of truth. Will it power up after being jammed into a small space?
    [​IMG]

    Yes!

    I didn't want to risk my data drives on the first power up :)
    [​IMG]

    In its new home in the linen cupboard; under the comms cupboard, next to the cable modem with the RPi resting on top. All drive activity lights are on as I kicked off a ZFS scrub to see what temperature the drives got to in the new case.
    [​IMG]

    The PSU bracket finally turned up this week. Just mounted it properly tonight.
    [​IMG]


    =============================

    Despite everything being crammed in, temperatures are fairly reasonable.

    The CPU idles around 37º, under load it's nearly 60º. Load was generated by compiling a virtual image of OpenELEC on both cores. I didn't consider burn/stress tests as the compile is the most taxing thing the server will do on a regular basis, and even then it's only on a single CPU VM. Regardless, I don't think you'd want to be placing a high TDP CPU in here.

    Hot swap disks are at 27º standby, 32-33º spinning and 37º when under sustained load (ZFS scrub). The 2.5" drives up top sit on 33º so the rear fans are circulating air up there as well.

    All in all I'm pleased with the build. Due to the difficulty in mounting the motherboard I wouldn't be keen on replacing the CPU or memory regularly, so this case is definitely one for "building and leaving alone"!
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2013
  3. FatBoyNotSoSlim

    FatBoyNotSoSlim Member

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    Damnit. This was going to be me 2 weeks ago with the Unas box... Went overkill with a Norco 4224 instead.

    Definitely interested in your results.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  4. Jim G

    Jim G Member

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    Haven't seen one of these before, very impressive looking chassis - will watch this with interest.
     
  5. mitsimonsta

    mitsimonsta Member

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    Yes, do want! I don't usually, but I am subscribing to this one.

    Can you put in a direct link to the source of the case, along with the costs of purchasing and shipping?

    Would love to know what CPU/Mobo you are going to put into it, along with all the other info.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Speedster20

    Speedster20 Member

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    Done and done. The fan splitter cable and PSU bracket are in the post from Qld and the US respectively. I'm hoping Shipito's Priority Airmail will get here next week (sent last Friday) but it could be a long wait!
     
  7. mitsimonsta

    mitsimonsta Member

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    Looks like a promising build. Was wondering what you were going to use for extra SATA ports - most ITX mobos have 6 at most, although I think there is an Asrock FM2-socketed MiniITX with 8 SATA ports on it.

    I'm more a Microserver guy and I can tell you the next model in that line up will be very interesting, but I will be watching this one closely.
     
  8. [M4C4]Ekulman

    [M4C4]Ekulman Member

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    Any updates with this? I'm very interested to see the final result.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Speedster20

    Speedster20 Member

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    Yes, my apologies. I'm still waiting for the PSU bracket to arrive, but went ahead and completed the build without it.

    Been one of those weekends though! I'll endeavour to update the second post with the build and photos in the next couple of days.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Speedster20

    Speedster20 Member

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    Updated as promised. Imageshack haven't generated thumbs yet though :(
     
  11. Quoccus

    Quoccus Member

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    try imgur.com
     
  12. gr8bob

    gr8bob Member

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    So the PSU and 2.5" drive mounting brackets are optional with this case?
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Speedster20

    Speedster20 Member

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    Yes, the PSU is optional - it does not ship with one. You need a 1U PSU of less than 230mm length.

    One 2.5" mounting plate is included, I ordered a second so I could mount two drives.
     
  14. Davo1111

    Davo1111 Member

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    very nice. In the future try imgur :)
     
  15. gr8bob

    gr8bob Member

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    I should probably re-phrase, I meant the PSU mounting bracket, is that optional or something that is specific to the Seasonic 1U PSU? :)
     
  16. OP
    OP
    Speedster20

    Speedster20 Member

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    Ah no worries. The Seasonic is a "Mini-1U" - 1U form factor in height but slightly narrower than a normal 1U, it is Flex-ATX width and has the same mounting points.

    I looked at a Zippy 1U PSU which is a proper 1U but was put off by the generic-sounding name :)
     
  17. gr8bob

    gr8bob Member

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    Fair enough, that cleared things up.
     
  18. Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    Just a quick Q - don't you need a Xeon to make use of the ram's ECC?
    Only generic to people who dont live in the server world - zippy have been high-end server PSU makers for decades :)
     
  19. OP
    OP
    Speedster20

    Speedster20 Member

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    Intel officially support ECC in Ivy Bridge i3 desktop processors, but it does work on Sandy Bridge as well. See this post on HardForum. I ran the C program listed there (my NAS runs Ubuntu) and the first byte (right most number) is a 3, which according to Intel means ECC enabled and active for I/O.

    Code:
    speedster@sook:~$ sudo ./ecc_check
    5004-5007h: 20 0 62 3
    5008-500Bh: 20 0 62 3
    (if you're wondering about the hostname, it's because I own haveacry.com :p)

    Good to know in case the Seasonic blows up. Zippy does sound a lot like the Shaws and Sparkes of this world though!
     
  20. BavFan

    BavFan Member

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    Hey Speedster20, curious how you created your array. Did you create 1 8 disk vdev or multiple vdevs? Did you go raidz2?

    I've got this chassis and am putting together the parts to run likely Freenas 8 or 9 if I wait long enough. I'd like to maximize use of drives, but at the same time, make sure I have enough redundancy. I was going to create a 8 disk vdev running raidz1, but then am reading that rebuild times may be too long that if another disk failed, I'd be in trouble. So current thought is to buy 9 disks, run raidz2 with 1 spare on the shelf. I haven't played with ZFS yet, so I don't know what a rebuild would look like with either 2TB or 3TB disks.

    Curious how you built yours and how you're liking it.
     

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