Considering buying a Main board to use as a NAS / server

Just throwing an idea around at the moment but I am wondering if I could buy a main board, put it in a 3D printed case and then use it as a NAS. The appeal being that it would be exceptionally low power (essentially paying for itself), and very small.

I guess I would just need a SATA / HBA type expansion module.

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Take a look at these approaches:

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Those are some awesome projects.

Do you have any idea what the power draw of the mainboard (when setup in a server config) would be when idling? I suspect it must be quite low due to its laptop heritage!

How would you go about attaching drives? I would probably want 6 or 8 drives and usb hubs arent going to be a good experience. Could an M.2 to SATA adaptor work?

Yes - 5-port version, 2-port version.

Seems ideal, but apparently the PCB is quite thin and bends, so much so that the cable strain may bend the PCB. Also this:

“This card is only design for storage use only, can not boot any OS/ system drives.”

Something like FreeNAS/TrueNAS can boot from a USB drive - you’d have to do that.

These use JMicron JMB585 (5 port) or JMB582 (2 port) PCIe 3.0 x2 to SATA bridge chips, I see there are also ones based on the Asmedia ASM1166/ASM1164/ASM1064/ASM1062/ASM1061 bridge chips available on eBay or AliExpress, those might perform better though it’s still doubtful that you could boot from it since it needs to be supported in the BIOS.

I think thats fine since I would probably look to use Unraid - so I would boot from a USB, then access the array on the Sata drives.

Maybe not ideal as I wouldn’t have access to any high speed storage.

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There are 20 Gbps USB M.2 enclosures, but they’re expensive and would not be as reliable as M.2 or SATA internal drives for always-on server use. I’d hate to have them in an array and one drop out during a drive operation, ZFS would mark the drive unusable and degrade the array.

I have thought about this use case for a while since my TrueNAS is on Haswell-era hardware and is aging. The Framework mainboard would be both more powerful and more efficient. But it’s the lack of disk I/O, ECC and IPMI that’s holding me back.

What would be really nice would be a more cost effective Thunderbolt to PCIE adapter so you could use a bunch of SAS cards/expanders. Alas, for that you’re either buying one-off’s from China or dismembering eGPUs. Or using that super durable looking ADT-Link contraption.

I wonder if the mainboard can be stuffed inside a Sonnet DuoModo single egpu enclosure, along with a video card - would make a rather small desktop PC that way. (the video is just to show the size - Echo series are non-gpu enclosures).

EDIT: Actually - now looking at what Echo I supports - it does include several pro video cards, which probably means that bigger ones with low power usage might work too. Not sure though.

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