Asrock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax: best choice for Mini-ITX in 2024?

I am currently running my home NAS on an Asus P9D-I , 16GB DDR3 ECC RAM and 8x16TB HDDs in RaidZ2 in a Jonsbo N3

It works, but the platform is really old and I have come to hate it:

  • The BMC is basically unusable now, since it requires Java - and Java that is so old it cannot be run on modern OSes at that - for console redirection
  • Video output does not work with the displays I have around home (using a DVI to HDMI cable does not work either on my 4k displays) I have to borrow an old 1080p one every time I something goes wrong and I need to see video output
  • Only PCIe 2.0, only gigabit ethernet, no way to expand since I need the slot for the HBA and there’s not M.2 slots
  • The CPU is dog slow by today standards. Sometime I need to crunch numbers on my saved data (say to recompress a few TBs worth) and to do so I need to have the crunching happen on a different PC and copy back and forth over single gigabit. Would love to be able to create a VM when needed and crunch there instead

I want to upgrade, but the only other server grade options I can find that still do ECC, 8 SATA ports, more than gigabit networking and are somewhat available are either:

  • A2SDI-H-TF: insanely expensive (800 dollars) for an Atom class SoC from 7 years ago
  • X570d4i-2t: still quite expensive (420 USD) and with a lot of annoyances (needing to source SO-DIMMs ECC RAM, take extra steps to adapt a cooler to the mounting holes, most likely needing a C-style one - which is not ideal for the airflow in that case vs a tower one - like the Noctua NH-L12S because otherwise the chipset overheats and still worrying about the NIC overheating as well).

Neither supports NBase-T (maybe the Intel X550 does on Linux/Truenas Scale?), which is not great since I have 2.5Gbit switches at home (uplinks are 10Gbit but SFP).

Honorable mention for the mobile Ryzen based CWWK/Topton boards, which would be the ideal pick if it wasn’t for the fact that only the Ryzen 7735HS supports ECC and no one seems to have seen that variant anywhere.

And then I came across the Asrock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax, which provided I can also source a Ryzen 5xxx Pro APU, looks like the best option:

  • Actually available without pulling out hair (the Pro APU is going to be the hard one to get instead)
  • Less than half the price of the X570d4i-2t
  • Supports full size DIMM ECC RAM
  • Has two M2 slots - one on the back can be used for an SSD and the front one can be the way to connect 8 drives with an M2 to SAS adapter like this
  • Intel 2.5Gbit NIC onboard
  • The PCIe slot can then be used for extra networking (can get SFP NICs instead of being locked into Base-T)
  • Actually usable HDMI and DP video out
  • One gets a GPU for transcoding for Plex/Jellyfin

Does my reasoning check out?

For me, a gaming board can NOT be a good choice over a genuine server board.

Do not touch this kind of contraption with a ten mile long pole…

As storage plateform in mini-ITX size, the Atom C3000 range is still the very much current gold standard. As you only need 8 SATA ports, and not 12, a C3558 board with a NIC in the PCIe slot may be a cheaper alternative to a C3758.
The X550 NICs, including the embedded variants are actually the best (only?) option fo NBase-T with CORE or SCALE.

Damn, the thread about the M2 to Sata adapters is gutting to read. I honestly hoped it was going to be a good solution.

Is the Atom board recommended over the X570d4i-2t as well? Speccing two builds based on both, the Atom is slightly more expensive…

If you do need additional SATA ports, a refurbished 9300-8i can be found for less than the price of these M.2 to SATA thingies…

As for the recommendation, it depends on what you want to do. Atom C3000 are low power, and a NF-A6x25 on top of the SoC heatsink will pretty take care of cooling. :smiley:
X570D4I-2T with a Ryzen can provide much more computing power for VMs/apps… but with less RAM than what a C3000 could hold.

I bought my A2SDi-H-TF for about 500 E (new), and eventually found an extra second-hand A2SDi-H-TP4F (C3958 yeah!) at this price level. $800 seems a bit high. But consider the total price.
A2SDi is expensive new (and rare second-hand), but it comes with everything and uses cheap second-hand RDIMM.
A Ryzen 5600 comes cheap, but ECC SO-DIMM is an expensive rarity. The total bill may come close from that of the A2SDi.

Sometimes used Supermicro X11-SDV can be found for reasonable prices.
Xeon D-2143 (8C / 16T), 8 onboard SATA, 10Gbe Base-T, PCIe x8 for something like a Quadro T1000. Runs with dirth cheap ECC RDIMM (2133).

Playing a bit with my favourite (Austrian) search engine to see what’s available, new, in mini-ITX size with 8 SATA and ECC in full DIMM slots, I’ve found AsRock Rack E3C246D2I. Ca. 300 E here; a Core i3-9100 could be cooled by a low profile cooler such as a NH-L9. Add a 10 GbE NIC ($50).

@mrpasc Admittedly, mini-ITX X11SDV boards fit the requirements here. But reviews at STH show that Xeon D-2100 idles around 60 W, higher than the full load power of the previous generation Xeon D-1500. If cooling in the N3 is a concern, this is not promising.

that Xeon D-2100 idles around 60 W

Holy crap that looks positively insane. Let alone cooling in the case, that thing is going to be unbearable to be around in summer…

@etorix Where did you find the A2SDi-H-TF for that cheap? At 500 EUR it is a lot easier to justify as a purchase.

That was the price back then, from a Dutch reseller. I see that many A2SDi boards are out of stock now.

If you’re in Europe and 600 E is still acceptable, ask Anafra if they can supply or what they have in stock…