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Discussion Starter #1
I've been wanting to build my own FreeNAS server but came across a used HP Proliant ML350 G6 for around $250 with the following specs:

x2 Intel® Xeon® E5502 (1.86GHz/2-core/4MB/80W, DDR3-800) Processors
8GB RAM
No HDD

See the photo I snapped. The guy has no idea what processors are in that thing so I figured it out through the sticker on the heatsink since it had an HP replacement part number that matched the E5502. They're just Dual Cores, though. To my surprise, the guy had two spare X5570 chips that he's willing to sell for $20 a pop.



Have I stumbled upon a good deal here? I've recently got into this whole FreeNAS fiasco and I'm not sure where to start. It's hard to find spare parts where I live, but there are lots of complete DDR2-era systems lying around.

Let me know what you think. Thanks.
 

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high power usage and a raid controller are the only problems I see.
 

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Should be fine - it's not likely to be efficient or quiet though. Great if it's somewhere where you're not likely to hear it (and you don't mind the power bills).

RAID card shouldn't be too much of a concern as long as you can use the card direct (in non-hardware RAID), FreeNAS will software RAID fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kane2207 View Post

Should be fine - it's not likely to be efficient or quiet though. Great if it's somewhere where you're not likely to hear it (and you don't mind the power bills).
Quote:
Originally Posted by NKrader View Post

high power usage and a raid controller are the only problems I see.
Dear God! I was planning on having it under my desk... in my room. Jeeeez! Thanks for the heads up! Power is not an issue, though. Will give it a spin at the shop and have a listen. I'd have to dig deeper into the RAID card thing to make sure.
 

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Well, 8GB of ram is now the minimum requirement for a FreeNAS server. How much storage will you be adding? I had 32TB of total storage in my first server with 32GB of ram and ram usage was 80-90% most of the time so you have to plan ahead. Will that thing take 4 or 8GB DDR3 ECC sticks? I'm guessing not so kind of at an end there.

I recently upgraded my server to an 8 core e5 Xeon and 65GB of ECC memory. I bought the CPU and the memory used for roughly 200 USD which was a steal.

Two dual core processors will be fine. FreeNAS isn't a particularly CPU intensive initiative. You just need a lot of ram.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crypod View Post

Dear God! I was planning on having it under my desk... in my room. Jeeeez! Thanks for the heads up! Power is not an issue, though. Will give it a spin at the shop and have a listen. I'd have to dig deeper into the RAID card thing to make sure.
Just check the fans, if you can replace them with something quieter, do that.

The rack mount Proliants (380s/580s) we use have 3200RPM fans, which are noisy as hell. The HP Microserver Gen8 I use for FreeNAS is relatively quiet - but uses a proprietary fan connector. I'd swap the system fan out if I could be bothered.

FreeNAS recommends against hardware RAID (if I recall correctly), so the card shouldn't make a difference as long as you can hang plenty of drives off it and they're all visible at the hardware level.

Have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
BTW I'm looking at the short PCB at the bottom with the yellow 256MB sticker on it and assume it's the RAID Controller. If that's the case, then it would be this one:

Embedded HP Smart Array P410i/256MB Controller (RAID 0/1/1+0/5/5+0)

As I understand, by simply not creating a RAID through that controller is sufficient to expose the drives for FreeNAS to use?
 

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Not a bad deal if you want server grade equipment, with the ability to have a lot of CPU power with a easy CPU swap.

Putting two quad or six cores in that machine will make it pretty loud, and power hungry.

I actually just replaced my old 771 to 771 Xeon System running at 3.6ghz with 4gb of RAM to a AMD FM2+ Athlon X4 845 with 8GB of RAM. I like it. Keeping 24/7 power usage down is important to me.

I have a total of 22TB's of Hard Drives in my server, granted half is being used for mirroring data. As I like my data on two different drives at all times, in case one fails. Will be adding a monthly backup at some point to protect against things like ransom ware.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post

Well, 8GB of ram is now the minimum requirement for a FreeNAS server. How much storage will you be adding? I had 32TB of total storage in my first server with 32GB of ram and ram usage was 80-90% most of the time so you have to plan ahead. Will that thing take 4 or 8GB DDR3 ECC sticks? I'm guessing not so kind of at an end there.

I recently upgraded my server to an 8 core e5 Xeon and 65GB of ECC memory. I bought the CPU and the memory used for roughly 200 USD which was a steal.

Two dual core processors will be fine. FreeNAS isn't a particularly CPU intensive initiative. You just need a lot of ram.
Initially, I'm gonna start with x2 2TB Western Digital Reds in RAID 1. Not sure how much RAM it can handle as I can't pinpoint the spare part sticker for that. I will have ZFS backups running on it as well as Plex transcoding. I tried to go cheaper and look for a Core i3 with ECC but I couldn't find any motherboards that support ECC and have 6 SATA slots.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kane2207 View Post

Just check the fans, if you can replace them with something quieter, do that.

The rack mount Proliants (380s/580s) we use have 3200RPM fans, which are noisy as hell. The HP Microserver Gen8 I use for FreeNAS is relatively quiet - but uses a proprietary fan connector. I'd swap the system fan out if I could be bothered.

FreeNAS recommends against hardware RAID (if I recall correctly), so the card shouldn't make a difference as long as you can hang plenty of drives off it and they're all visible at the hardware level.

Have fun.
BTW I'm looking at the short PCB at the bottom with the yellow 256MB sticker on it and assume it's the RAID Controller. If that's the case, then it would be this one:

Embedded HP Smart Array P410i/256MB Controller (RAID 0/1/1+0/5/5+0)

As I understand, by simply not creating a RAID through that controller is sufficient to expose the drives for FreeNAS to use?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crypod View Post

BTW I'm looking at the short PCB at the bottom with the yellow 256MB sticker on it and assume it's the RAID Controller. If that's the case, then it would be this one:

Embedded HP Smart Array P410i/256MB Controller (RAID 0/1/1+0/5/5+0)

As I understand, by simply not creating a RAID through that controller is sufficient to expose the drives for FreeNAS to use?
Depends if Freenas has the drivers for that raid card. Otherwise you just need to get one that is, or use windows server.

I personally use windows server 2012 essentials for my rig, as I run more than just a basic file system. I use my server as my Torrent Server, Plex Server, VPN, personal Cloud, etc. Was using windows home server 2011 before, and just great as well.

Also ECC Memory really is not a must for a personal data server. Nice to have, but I would hardly make it a requirement.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crypod View Post

BTW I'm looking at the short PCB at the bottom with the yellow 256MB sticker on it and assume it's the RAID Controller. If that's the case, then it would be this one:

Embedded HP Smart Array P410i/256MB Controller (RAID 0/1/1+0/5/5+0)

As I understand, by simply not creating a RAID through that controller is sufficient to expose the drives for FreeNAS to use?
I have no idea, you'd have to research it yourself once you've identified exactly what the card is. From FreeNAS own docs:
Quote:
RAID vs. Host Bus Adapters (HBAs)
ZFS wants direct control of the underlying storage that it is putting your data on. Nothing will make ZFS more unstable than something manipulating bits underneath ZFS. Therefore, connecting your drives to an HBA or directly to the ports on the motherboard is preferable to using a RAID controller; fortunately, HBAs are cheaper than RAID controllers to boot! If you must use a RAID controller, disable all write caching on it and disable all consistency checks. If the RAID controller has a passthrough or JBOD mode, use it. RAID controllers will complicate disk replacement and improperly configuring them can jeopardize the integrity of your volume (Using the write cache on a RAID controller is an almost sure-fire way to cause data loss with ZFS, to the tune of losing the entire pool).
As long as you can bypass RAID creation at the hardware level, you should be alright.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kane2207 View Post

I have no idea, you'd have to research it yourself once you've identified exactly what the card is. From FreeNAS own docs:
As long as you can bypass RAID creation at the hardware level, you should be alright.
No JBOD on that controller, unfortunately. The workaround is to make each drive a RAID 0 of its own. I'm not gonna risk that. Probably better to look elsewhere. Thanks for the advice!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks everyone for your prompt responses. I will be researching this further as it seems that the machine is gonna require more work than what it's worth. I'll be looking at other options.
thumb.gif
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ok so after looking at the motherboard, there seems to be some SATA slots on the far right, as seen in the photo below. Does that mean there's no need for me to use the RAID controller at all? Looks like regular straight-forward SATA to me. Also, I've been thinking, I could simply Use 1 CPU and strip out any necessary components. As for the fans, well, I do have a few 120mm corsairs lying around which could solve the noise issue.



I feel kinda dumb that I may have missed the onboard SATA. It's my first time looking at these things
thinking.gif


EDIT: Found this gem:
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crypod View Post

Ok so after looking at the motherboard, there seems to be some SATA slots on the far right, as seen in the photo below. Does that mean there's no need for me to use the RAID controller at all? Looks like regular straight-forward SATA to me. Also, I've been thinking, I could simply Use 1 CPU and strip out any necessary components. As for the fans, well, I do have a few 120mm corsairs lying around which could solve the noise issue.



I feel kinda dumb that I may have missed the onboard SATA. It's my first time looking at these things
thinking.gif


EDIT: Found this gem:
You also don't need to put drives in raid to use the raid card. As long as freenas supports that raid card, the drives will show up.

Also most motherboards have a few sata ports for the OS drive.

I would check to see if the raid card is detected by free nas, if so you are good to go. Otherwise I would pick up a couple sata to pci-e cards for cheap, depending on how many sata ports you need.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
UPDATE! Pulled the trigger on it along with the X5570 chips. Booting this thing on is like turning on a leaf blower but the fans eventually stabilize into a reasonable noise level. I'll have some fun with it until the end of April, then I'll convert it into the proper NAS it is destined to become. I'm gonna mess around with Windows/Ubuntu/FreeNAS/WAMP/VMs etc... and see what I can make of it, then I'll buy the WD Reds when cash is available.
thumb.gif
Thanks again!

I'll see what I can do regarding posting some sort of review or after-thoughts here in the next month or two but no promises. I'm not an expert on the matter, so it'd be from a hobbiyst/tinkerer perspective.
 

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Didn't really need the CPUs. A single dual core would have been enough.
 
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