JayP NAS 2.0 – A Real Home Server, Part 1.5: Realizations set in

The last article was started before I actually started putting the pieces of the new home server together, but finished during benchmarking. Now that it's been a bit over a week I think it's time to do some updates on where things are.

Silverstone CS380 is not friendly to disks

God damn the drives are hot. They idle in the high 40C's. Ask around and people are saying drill holes in the drive cage, or mess with the side panel to create a better shroud... screw that, I'm returning it. I really want to like this case, it's otherwise really great. The goal of this case is getting a bunch of hot swap drives in there, though... and if the drives are running a solid 10C over where they should be that's not good. Just crap design. It's out.

Picking a replacement case is rough!

When I was spec'ing out the new server I had considered that the CS380 might have the exact problem it does have. The smaller version, the DS380 which only supports Mini-ITX motherboards, has the same exact problem. The drive cage in the CS380 is a slightly updated design in a couple regards but those changes aren't enough.

Knowing it could be a problem I was prepared. I didn't want to go with a more traditional server chassis for a few reasons but knew I might have to. I'm adamant about using the Noctua CPU cooler I got as it's a great performer, and it'll be a tight fit in the vast majority of 4U server chassis. It absolutely won't fit in anything smaller, and 5U's are tough to find. Most alternatives are super expensive, too.

With the drive temps so high, I figure it's time to bite the bullet and pickup a more proper server chassis. There are a lot of options with built-in hot swap bays but getting something with a bunch of 5.25" drive bays and outfitting it with 3x5.25" to 4x3.5" hot swap bays is almost universally cheaper. The problem there is if you want a quiet system (aka: 12cm fans) you have very few choices. The biggest hurdle I was dealing with picking a chassis was finding something that checks all my boxes for a low price. I wanted 120mm fans all around, the ability to get 8 3.5" hot swap drive bays, and enough room for the other big stuff. The ability to neatly cable things would be an added bonus but not expected in the price point I'm looking at.

What I ended up on was a Rosewill RSV-R4000 combined with 2 Icy Dock Black Vortex MB074SP-1B cages. I'm also picking up a couple Nanoxia Deep Silence 120mm PWM fans to replace the Noctua's I had purchased. The Noctua's are nice but not pushing enough air unless they're running at full speed, creating more noise than I like. Besides the Nanoxia fans (won't be here 'til next week) I've built the system in the new chassis, and right now temps are only a couple of degree cooler than the Silverstone which is... irritating. It should be far easier for me to "fix it" here than in the Silverstone, though.

Some notes:

  • The heatsink fits, but just barely. The heat pipes that run through the heatsink fins just barely scrape the chassis' top panel. It might be a good idea to go with something at least a hair shorter.
  • The Icy Dock cages aren't my first choice. I'd have preferred 2 of the Rosewill RSV-SATA-Cage-34 cages, but I was under a time constraint. I needed to make sure I got something in so I could get the Silverstone returned to Amazon in time. The Rosewill's have been backordered on Amazon and they delayed my shipment 2 weeks, and NewEgg wouldn't be able to get them to me until the end of this week.
  • The problem with the Icy Dock option is they're $20 more than the Rosewill's, they look a bit ridiculous, they only have one 5.25 mount point so mounting them sideways in the chassis leaves them not fully supported, and the build quality is a bit spotty. However, having the fans in front of the cage should provide better cooling, they use SATA power adapters opposed to the Rosewill MOLEX power adapters (better compatibility with modern PSU's), the dumb LED lights can be turned off (or just replace the fans, which is what I did) and they still fit fine, so it's almost a wash. The Noctua's fit in the Icy Dock's mostly fine but they're really difficult to open and close again, I believe due to the Noctua's anti-vibration pads. The wiring also leaves something to be desired, but that's mostly due to the Noctua's having pretty short wires.
  • I removed the 80mm dual fans from the back of the Rosewill chassis. Besides being 80mm fans, they use MOLEX power so there's no adjusting their speed. General system temps are still fine, but it wouldn't hurt to get an exhaust fan in there... I'm looking at a few options to maybe 3D print a PCI slot 120mm fan adapter, which will be interesting to say the least. Instead of getting some other 80mm fans to replace the included ones in the Rosewill, this would give me exhaust fans that move more air and are quieter.
  • The PSU wiring extensions I got are meaningless now. I returned those as well.
  • To fit the Icy Dock's properly I had to completely remove the Rosewill RSV-R4000's front door. I attempted to remove the handles but it's excessively difficult to open the cage without the them, so the chassis' door had to go instead. Annoying mostly because the door would have been a nice mask for the blinking lights of the drive activity LED's, power LED, etc. Electrical tape to the rescue.

The rest? How'd benchmarking go?

It's good. Great performance, low temperatures at idle and under load for things like the CPU/RAM, so I'm happy. The LSI HBA I have is running great but I've gotten a couple of comments from people suggesting I need to get active cooling for it. I'm picking up a Noctua 40mm fan to just slap on it to help. Software setup was easy but I'm hesitant to start setting up the VM's and/or Docker as I was hoping for a few things. My goal there is to get a few services compartmentalized, but in a way that if I don't like any given tool I can scrape it without ruining the rest of my setup, but I really want to get the hardware in a stable place before I focus on those things. I feel like getting the drive temps to a place I'm comfortable won't happen until I can relocate the server to a place where running the fans at full blast won't be a bother. I might also give up on dropping the temps further at some point, since from what I can find the temps I'm seeing now are roughly normal for this model line.

Copying data was fun. I used scp to copy things, then ran rsync after to check for anything missing. I realized a bit too late I should have just rsync'd from the beginning, I just got used to scp'ing to my VPS servers. Started it Sunday afternoon and it wrapped up Tuesday afternoon-ish, so my estimate of a couple of days proved accurate. I'm surprised Plex handled moving my library to the new server so gracefully.

I'm really not into how the Supermicro handles fan control. The IPMI default settings are a bit slow to adjust to temperature changes in both Standard and Optimal fan modes, and there's no way for it to detect drive temps so I'm basically doing that by hand right now. I'm looking into options for a secondary fan controller but I'm hoping for something that can be controlled by lm_sensors' pwmconfig and fancontrol in software. I'm so used to systems that identify temps and change fan speeds accordingly, on the fly, as needed, and it feels like the IPMI fan control just isn't doing that. A hardware fan controller (maybe even the Icy Dock's built-in one) is a last-ditch effort as that's up to me to notice "oh things are getting hot" and turning a knob or flipping a switch.

One advantage to switching to this chassis means that at some point, when I have the opportunity to move things around and replace some furniture, I can actually get this system into a "proper" rack. Now, when I say proper rack, I mean a Lack Rack. At some point I'm gonna invest in a 16 or more port gigabit managed switch, and being able to rack both right next to each other will be nice.

Where are the pics?

The last of the parts for this JayP-NAS 2.1 upgrade came in Saturday morning and I was more concerned with doing the switch to the new chassis than taking pictures. However, I'll have to do a minor deconstruct to install the new Nanoxia fans when they here so I'll snap some pictures then.

What's going on with Part 2?

It'll be a bit longer. I can't decide how I want to write it. I got to a ridiculously long version of "Here's all the crap I considered and why I did what I did" because there doesn't seem to be any singular place out there that does what I want clearly. Everything that exists is either far too dense for a newbie, or worse says, "do this" without explaining why, and in some cases is just plan wrong about certain things. I really want to write a concise, detailed "Here's what you need to consider, here are your options, and a list of pro's and con's for each option" guide for people. What I already wrote is kind of that, but it's the opposite of concise right now.

What I'm thinking is Part 2 will be the software side of things. What benchmarks I ran, installing Ubuntu server, setting up ZFS, copying the Plex library over, copying files over, setting up transmission-daemon/FlexGet/Filebot... Making it what Part 3 was supposed to be. It'll be long enough as is. Then I may start a series, "Setting up a home server" type thing reviewing all the choices you have.

This article was updated on 20/10/08 11:43:37