Advice on Hardware for media vault and streaming

I want to take my existing UnRAID setup and make it the backup system. I want to build a TrueNAS system as my main media/family file vault for storage and streaming from. Currently have 14TB of files. Goals: Run Plex and sustain up to 4 x 4k streams with and without transcoding. Be able to download to server while streaming from it. I have a Case and HD’s that I want to use.

Case: Silverstone Technology CS380B
HD’s: 8 X Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD 10TB (Helium) 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s 256 MB Cache

I have parts lying around but don’t need to use them if it will sacrifice performance or reliability. Those are:

  1. Kingston KVR 8GBx4 DDR3 1600MHZ 1.5v KVR16E11/8EF ECC unbuffered RAM DIMM 240p
  2. LSI MegaRAID SAS 9361-8i 8-Port 12Gb/s SATA+SAS PCI-Express 3.0
  3. SuperNOVA 650 P5, 80 Plus Platinum 650W, Eco Mode with FDB F
  4. Samsung 1TB SSD PCIe 3.0 M.2 NVMe
  5. LSI 6Gbs PCI-E HBA FW: P20 Mode For ZFS FreeNAS unRAID

From what I’ve read I will not benefit from any cache SSD’s. I’m on here asking because I have a tendency to over spec when I’m not sure how things work. So I’d like to know what are some thoughts on CPU, Motherboard, RAM, GPU?, GPU on CPU?. Really appreciate anyone’s help here.

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4k streams are not too demanding, depending on how they are done. Are these full BR rips uncompressed? Those can suck up some bandwidth… or are they x264/x265 wrapped and much smaller which may only take 5-20Mbps of bandwidth per stream… (like Netflix sort of thing)

If you do not plan to transcode them locally, you don’t need much for a GPU…and CPU wise, comes down to budge and how old or new you might want. Since you have DDR3 ram, you are looking at older Xeon’s and a matching motherboard.

You are right, you do not need L2ARC, useless for this situation and amount of ram in the system (64GB or more is when you start to consider if your workload requires L2ARC or not)


Thanks for the reply. Not 4 streams uncompressed. 1 stream uncompressed and potentially 3 others compressed with x264/x265. My current setup with UnRAID cannot handle 1 stream uncompressed and it is really frustrating. I want this system to be stout for streaming. I would rather buy newer than older hardware honestly. So I can get DDR4 ECC memory. I would like the ability to transcode locally. I don’t want to pigeon hole myself. But I don’t want to buy a $1k processor if it doesn’t gain me anything either.

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How are the end devices connected? Wifi vs wired?

i use NVIDIA shield and my Sony just use Kodi but I am wired 1Gb on both and I can stream most content in x264/x265 no problems.

If you do want to transcode than adding in a GPU would be useful and if using plex, I beleive NVIDIA is still the way to go due to their engine they use for transcoding…

You def do not need a $1k CPU to stream from.

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Transcoding 4x 4K streams will most certainly require some sort of of hardware assist. Possibly QuickSync if you get an intel with an iGPU and make sure the motherboard supports quick sync pass through. Or a dGPU.

I’m not sure how many streams later quick sync iterations support.

This seems to be the trick to your build.

Make sure your LSI is flashed to IT mode.

Ensure the CS380 doesn’t roast the drives. There are cooling mods as 3D printables.


“MegaRAID” is not good. DDR3 RAM is unlikely to be helpful. There’s no clear use for the 1 TB M.2, which is way too large as boot drive, and will be more useful anywhere else.

So your journey begins with finding a motherboard—and checking how good the case actually is at cooling drives.
What about a C246 motherboard (AsRock Rack E3C246D4U2-2T from eBay) and a Core i3-9100, or Xeon E-2100/2200 for more cores? 8 SATA ports, so no HBA needed. iGPU for transcoding (but I don’t know how many streams it can handle).

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A Quadro P2000 or Tesla P4 from ebay will take care of that. Tesla P4 will need a cooling solution added.


Yep, unfortunately:

Good news is basic LSI 8i HBAs that are IT mode capable are pretty cheap these days on ebay (like 20USD!)

The 1TB SSD would probably make a nice “fast pool”, to completement your rust pool.

Alternatively, add another and use the pair of 1TB SSDs as a mirrored special vdev for metadata and small files.

Then use a small SSD of some sort for a bootdrive.

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everything is wired to 1Gb switches. In my HT room I have a HTPC with plex and kodi. I’ve been using kodi which I love but mostly due to the issue i’ve been having with UnRAID and Plex. in other areas it is a mix of Nvidia, smart TV, etc. But I use Plex on those. I have no issue employing a GPU if it gives me fixability in the future.

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LSI is flashed, thanks!
I’m not familiar with quick sync, will need to do some research.
As for roasting the drives, i’ll keep an eye on them and make mods as needed. I have access to some 3D printers, so that is interesting thought, thanks! It is sounding like a dedicated GPU may be the better option here.

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Thank you for the specifics! I was curious what GPU’s would be applicable here! The Tesla P4 is pretty reasonable on Ebay too. They can be had for $180 new. This would handle anything I throw at it from a transcode perspective?

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Thank you for the ideas. I wasn’t sure if a HBA connected on the main bus would be better than using the on board SATA ports. I was always told to use the PCI Lanes when possible. But if I’m limited by drive speeds then the SATA ports are fine? This is reaching the boundaries of my understanding so I really appreciate everyone’s help!

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I haven’t worked out the transcode limits of the gpus yet.

Art Of The Server specifically says that a Quadro P400 can do 3 simultaneous transcode streams, but a P2000 can do unlimited.

Not sure how a Tesla P4 compares.

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A SAS HBA is the sole recommended way to get more ports, and is almost necessary if running virtualised TrueNAS. For bare metal installations, go to the motherboard ports first… and stay with those if there are enough. No HBA = Less heat, one point of failure less.
So in your case a motherboard with at least 8 SATA ports is the best call.


Oh yes. Tesla P4 has 2 encoders. According to the NVIDIA fact sheet its good for 35 HD transcodes. So probably 7-8 @ 4K .


As I’m somewhat new to TrueNAS I’m not too familiar with “fast pool” or vdev for metadata. My data can be grouped into 3 categories which I feel is typical:

  1. Movies/Tv shows where files are typically 2-70Gb in size
  2. Family photos/videos where files are typically 3Mb-2Gb in size
  3. Documents where files are small

after some reading you are referring to a way to index for faster response when looking for files?

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Thank you!

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That is more than enough!! Thank you

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Dont forget to buy something like this .

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Well. The SATA ports are normally bottlenecks via the DMI bus of your CPU/Chipset.

Normally it’s 4x or so PCIe lanes, but the Gen can be different to your main bus.

Point is, everything from your chipset, sata, usb, and any chipset pci has to trunk across the DMI bus to your CPU.

On my X10 its only 5GTs, and 4x, so 20gbps, or 2.5GB/s, probably just PCIe2, Okay for HDs, but 4 SATA SSDs will saturate it.

8 lanes of 12gbps SAS is 96gbps :wink:

My ancient SAS2 HBA is PCIe2 x8, which is about 4GB/s, and the link between the HBA and Expander is 8x 6gbps, or 4.8GB/s… which gets bottlenecked at the card, not the PCIe bus.


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