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Building a RAID5 NAS

  • Homebuilt
  • NAS / RAID
  • PCI
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
December 27, 2005 11:42:37 AM

Well my first post here and I'm asking questions.

I'm looking to build myself a NAS. Not too hard a challenge me thinks.

So far I've done a lot of reading and have got ideas for most components, but I'm having issues selecting a mobo.

The RAID cards I'm choosing from come in both PCI-x and PCIe variations and I'd like to be able to upgrade to 2 RAID cards in the future.

This means I'm looking for a mobo with either two PCI-X (64-bit/133MHz) slots or two PCIe (X8 ) slots. Both cards are hardware RAID so I don't need hi spec CPU's or lots of fancy on board graphics and such. I was looking at the VIA all in one range but they don't do PCI-X or e.

Can anyone recommend a good motherboard that fits these criteria?

1. Cheap (or should that be Good Value)
2. At least 1 (if not 2) PCI-X or PCIe (X8 ) slots
3. USB & FireWire ports
4. 10/100 LAN if not GBLan.

I'm hoping to run my OS off of a CF card so a single IDE is needed but other than that I'm not going to hook anything else up to it so the most basic mobo but with v.good PCI-x or PCIe support is what i need. (I think)

Thanks in advance for any help.


More about : building raid5 nas

December 29, 2005 8:35:19 AM

Ok. No takers so far...

Lets try and add some more info then.

I'm likely to go for either the 3ware® 9550SX 8port RAID (PCI-X 64-bit/133MHz) or the ARC-1120 (PCI-X 64bit/133MHz) or the ARC-1220 (PCI-Express X8). The AReCa cards are basically the same just use the two different connection types.

These are all Hardware RAID controllers so i'm looking for the cheapest stable mobo that will give me either 2 PCI-X or 2 PCI-e X8 slots.

CPU wise I'm probably looking at the Athlon XP range. I've seen people running 2000+ for NAS, although I'm under the impression that these are now obsolete.

Looking for mobo's that have 2 slots I've come across

Asus A8R-MVP (2 PCIe x16) @ £80 (Cheapest cpu ~£80?)
Asus A8N-SLi (2 PCIe x16 Ithink) @ £80 (again cheapest CPU ~£80)

Am I just thinking too cheap? Hoping i can get some input on this. I really wanna get started building this baby and the mobo is my biggest stumbling block.

Should this post be in the mobo section?

3ware Areca
December 29, 2005 1:21:55 PM

Maybe grab a Tyan S2882G3NR-D + 1 inexpensive Opteron some Corsair XMS REG ECC and one or more 3Ware PCI-X CTRLs.

The S2882G3NR has 2 independent PCI-X buses for TWICE the bandwidth! And is relatively VERY reasonably pirced at only $372!

I have actually built servers with this setup here are some disk benchmarks on FC3 i386 and FC3 x86_64:

Good luck!
Related resources
December 29, 2005 1:29:37 PM

Biostar NF4SLI-A9
GB LAN on a good but basic and inexpensive SLI board. What OS and protocol are you planning on using? How much RAM?
December 29, 2005 2:24:26 PM

Thanks for the input guys, although i fear the Tyan S2882G3NR is a bit rich for what i want but seems to be missing things like firewire and usb2. it is the only 2 slot pcix i've seen so far though.

The Biostar looks like a good example. I'll have a check round and see if its available.

Thanks again and does anyone else have other recommendations?
December 29, 2005 3:12:28 PM

You don't need 2x PCI-e 8X... 1X =~ 1GB/s

Can't clog that.
December 29, 2005 3:25:52 PM

If I want to run two RAID cards i will need two lots of PCI(x or e) slots.
December 29, 2005 3:30:50 PM

But you asked for TWO 8X PCI-Express.

1X PCI-Express is more than enough.
December 29, 2005 3:32:28 PM

OK. I might be being stupid but if a card requests an 8x slot i can't put it in a 1x slot. can I? I read that you can put an 8X card in a 16X slot but i don't think the reverse would work. or would it?
December 29, 2005 3:46:17 PM

OK. I might be being stupid but if a card requests an 8x slot i can't put it in a 1x slot. can I? I read that you can put an 8X card in a 16X slot but i don't think the reverse would work. or would it?

I didn't knew that! Sorry

Still, check, cos I think you can mix. (Unless they take off some of the positioning marks).
December 29, 2005 3:58:14 PM

You're right - PCIe cards are compatible with larger PCIe slots, but not compatible with smaller ones. The x8 card will work in a x16 slot, but a x4 will not work in a x1 slot - the x1 slot is physically too small.
December 29, 2005 4:04:50 PM

1X is the smallest, and all the cards have that "mark" that will allow you to plug larger cards there.

What I don't know, is if the cards can work there.
December 29, 2005 4:20:40 PM

A close look to the picture was enough... thanks!
December 29, 2005 4:21:08 PM

Thanks for confirming what i thought Rugger.

The question is can anyone recommend a PCI-X board? The difference in PCI X and PCIe Cards is about £100 So its kinda like a balancing act in cost here. I wanna do this as cheaply as possible and at the moment i'm not too sure its possible.
December 29, 2005 4:37:24 PM

Power: NP

DJ: NP and that's a helluva price difference in those cards! :shock:
Have you priced out any pre-built systems? If the cost is close, there is good/inexpensive expandability and you don't have to worry about the setup/configuring of the system, then it may be worth the extra cost....just a thought.
December 29, 2005 5:46:37 PM

The couple of prebuilt systems are

The terastation is £520 with 4 250GB IDE drives.

The Infrant Ready NAS. Comes in two flavours. The X6 is the newest and you can buy it empty (it takes 4 SATA drives) for £480. (pre-bought populated £700)

I'm looking at at least £800 before i even get to buying HD's. I'm spec'ing higher than what i can buy but its still not "close".

The terastation got alright reviews mostly "its the cheapest out there. go buy it". While the Infrant is getting better reviews and has a more "solid" feature set.

Dontcha just love making decisions when moneys involved.
December 29, 2005 6:13:07 PM

It always sucks, but you have to find the best fit for your wallet and usage...

Got links to their specs?

What's your current prospective setup looking like?
December 29, 2005 7:08:33 PM is the ready NAS X6 and is the terastation

The spec I'm looking at is the Areca 1120 (PCI-X) RAID 5 8port SATA card. CoolerMasters new Stacker case and a supermicro hot swap case (

Gonna start off with 3 HD's and expand upto 8 as and when i need to. OSwise looking at running a version of linux off of a CF card.

At the moment. the Infrant X6 looks better than the terastation. although neither are hotswappable or expandable beyond 4 HDs I don't think i can make an empty case for the cost of a x6 empty though...