The eTeknix Guide To Building Your Own NAS System For Under $220

by - 6 years ago

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Building The NAS


Putting together a DIY NAS isn’t really any different to a normal system build. This is because a DIY NAS is a basic computer system designed specifically for file storage and transfer functions. As such we started as you would start any PC system build: by fitting the power supply into the case with the fan facing downwards and we then followed this by installing the rear I/O shield.

DIY NAS BUILD (1)

Next we installed the ASRock FM2A55M-HD+ motherboard with the AMD A4-4000 APU and Kingston 4GB DIMM attached. We installed the APU and memory while the motherboard was outside the case, we did not have to fit a backplate as we are using the stock AMD cooler to keep the cost down. If you were using a custom CPU cooler, such as a passive or low profile one, then you may be required to fit a backplate whilst the motherboard is outside of the case.

DIY NAS BUILD (2)

Next we installed the stock AMD CPU cooler, this is fairly easy to do as you simply place it over the APU, align the two locking notches and then push the lever down to secure into place. We also installed the various motherboard power connectors and the CPU fan connector.

DIY NAS BUILD (4)

Next we added the two Western Digital 2TB Red hard drives, we opted to space these our by just a single 3.5 inch bay to ensure improved airflow and less vibration transfer. You could spread the drives out even further but in our case the front intake fan is centrally located so we wanted to ensure adequate cooling. As we’ve already explained heat and vibration transfer shouldn’t be too much of an issue anyway because Western Digital’s Red series drives have unique firmware that minimises heat output, vibration output and ensures suitability for 24/7 operation. We also connected all the front panel headers and SATA cables at this stage.

DIY NAS BUILD (5)

The completed system is far from a work of art. There is no cable management behind the motherboard tray, due to this being a compact budget micro-ATX case, and this results in a mess of cables being visible. You can stuff these cables into the drive bays and tie them down to clean things up a bit but the reality is you’ll only be able to keep things tidy by using a modular power supply with short cables and lots of cable ties, or by using a more expensive case with better management options. Cable management isn’t really essential though because there isn’t anything that runs particularly hot in this case and those cables are not obstructing airflow to the hard drives as the bulk of the cables are at the top of the case whereas the fan is in the middle.

DIY NAS BUILD (6)

As you can see there is space for a further three 3.5 inch drives as well as a few more up at the top if you use some 5.25 inch to 3.5 inch bay adapters. The build only took 15 minutes because it is so simple to do, the hardest part was attaching the front panel connectors which you do not really need anyway – only the power button is essential and even this isn’t that important because once turned on you will likely have your NAS on 24/7, or if you put it to sleep frequently the waking mechanism of choice should be the Wake On LAN “magic packet” which does not require any physical interaction with the system.

DIY NAS BUILD (7)

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Choosing The Parts & Part Pricing
  3. Building The NAS
  4. Installing The Operating System
  5. Configuring The NAS For Use
  6. BIOS Tweaking, Performance and Power Consumption
  7. Final Thoughts
  8. View All

Author Bio

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12 Comments on The eTeknix Guide To Building Your Own NAS System For Under $220

  • Avatar conservative61 says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is the purpose of a NAS? We use cable broadband with WIFI in the house; all or computers have SSDs and/or HDDs. It appears a NAS is basically a local cloud storage system. My wife and I have three desktops, two laptops, two tablets (with WIFI only), and one smartphone. So what advantages would a home NAS offer that the “old fashioned” way lacks? I’m just looking to increase my fund of knowledge and know this is a great place to do so.

    • Avatar AndyM says:

      The benefit of a NAS is always on connectivity so any computer can access the data.

      For example to get something from your main computer to another PC would require having your main computer on when the file is needed.

      A NAS is designed for 24/7 access so you don’t have to go and switch a specific PC on for say a single file. Also, a NAS can be set up for low power consumption (as in this article) so it doesn’t run up a big electric bill.
      Your typical PC will consume much more power as you wouldn’t throttle the CPU/GPU every time you boot up to share a file whereas a NAS would be set up for low power mode all the time.

      My main PC uses around 150w just idling due to the fact it has a GPU, multiple fans, sound card, usb devices and a dvd drive. A NAS will have unnecessary devices disabled to save even more power.

    • Avatar Ryan Martin says:

      Yes pretty much what Andy says below. It’s effectively a centralised form of storage that all computers can access, it doesn’t have to be “always on” but that’s normally the easiest way to make sure it is always accessible to everyone. The idea behind a NAS is that it is designed primarily for mediating access to storage but obviously there are a lot of things you can do with this storage. You can set up internet gateways so you can access it when you’re away from your home network, you could host a website off it, you could use it to stream music, films, TV shows, photos. You could use it as the destination for automated backups from your laptops/PCs in the house. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination really. In most cases people will just use it as somewhere to dump large files when their device is low on storage. E.g. I use a tablet with only 32GB of storage, really difficult for me to store films on it but it is really easy for me to stream films onto it from my NAS. Hope this helps.

  • Avatar conservative61 says:

    Thank you, Gentleman. That was very enlightening. I can easily see advantages over our current system. Especially when I offload picks from our cameras and must upload to five computers just so they’ll be available when/if necessary. I’ve owned computers since the old TRS-80 and Commodore days and have been building them since 1991, but I’ve still not joined the 21st century as far as ease and practicality of connectivity; I bought my first cell phone from Walmart last February for $15 and have used it once. But a NAS, thanks to you guys, is something I’d like to do so I’m off to do some research. A new project with lots of benefits.

  • Avatar josephbagadoughnutz says:

    hey yall, welcome to the new century !!!

  • Avatar josephbagadoughnutz says:

    hey, good one, $220, a NAS with no NAS

  • Avatar Steve says:

    Gents thanks for the great write-up. One question; what do you reckon, would the FM2A88M Extreme4+ mobo be a viable alternative to the one you recommended? My trouble is sourcing all of these from one (decent) place is nigh’ impossible in Australia, and the aforementioned mobo is available (altho it puts the price up a bit, there’s nothing in the price range of the other one)

    • Avatar Ryan Martin says:

      Still a good option Steve. It has Gigabit LAN and 8 SATA ports so there’s plenty of room for expansion, you can have up to 8 drives with it. Remember that you could go even cheaper if you wanted to, it all depends on how many drives you need, for example you could use an AM1 motherboard if you only want to use 2 drives as most AM1 boards still have gigabit LAN. Best of luck!

  • Avatar Dave Wold says:

    Hi i’m new at this where does the black cable from pso9b plug into the motherboard

  • Avatar Roger Griffith says:

    for even less – sleek media center and expandable NAS – works great, super fast on over-clocked raspberry pi b+ http://www.ebay.com/itm/xbmc-Portable-Media-Center-Expandable-NAS-/171709257100?

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