First NAS, Hardware Sanity Check Please

Hello everyone,

I’m getting closer to transforming my box of bits into my first NAS… I’m also in the process of setting up my first homelab network, where this NAS will reside.

HP Z240 Tower Workstation:

  • Intel Xeon E3-1245V5 (3.5Ghz, 4c/8t)
  • Integrated graphics and GbE
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM (4x 8GB, non-ECC)
  • 400w PSU
  • All PCIe slots are 3.0

The motherboard has 4x SATA connectors, and I plan on using two of them for a pair of mirrored boot 256GB 2.5" SATA3 SSDs.

The motherboard has 4x PCIe slots (x16, x16(4), x4, x1). In the x1 slot, I have a 2.5GbE (Dual Port) network card. This may be a RealTek card, but I just need it to work for now, with the understanding it should be replaced.

In my first thread on these boards, I asked about putting my LSI SAS 9300-16i 12GB/s HBA (8 lanes) in a x4 slot, and I understood the half-speed performance answer I received.

My next question is would this system benefit more from a NVIDIA Quadro K4000 (3GB GDDR5) in the x16 slot with the LSI HBA running at half-speed, OR should I omit the K4000 and put the LSI HBA in the x16 slot?

  • On one of my SFF-8643 to 4 SATA cables, I will connect 2x 2.5" SATA3 1TB SSDs for a mirrored fast pool.
  • On one of my SFF-8643 to 4 SAS SFF-8482 cables, I will connect 3x 3.5" SAS 8TB 12GB/s HDDs (4kn). I’m thinking about using zpool1(2,1).
  • The other two SFF-8643 connectors will be for future expansion.

I’m not sure about heat. I know the LSI HBA needs cooling, but should I be concerned with the 7200 rpm SAS drives too?

Does this seem like I’m on the right track so far? Am I overlooking anything obvious?

Thank you!

The PSU is way undersized for the number of drives your HBA could support.

As a matter of principle, a HBA should have as many PCIe lanes as possible, and coming directly from the CPU, so as not to be a bottleneck. Everything in a x4 or x1 slot hangs from the PCH and goes through the DMI link. If the HBA is not in a CPU slot, you could as well attach the “fast pool” to SATA3 ports from the motherboard.
What’s the purpose of the K4000?


Discovering the underpowered PSU limitation was a part of my learning journey to get this far. Considering it significant, I included it in my post. I realize that I will need to overcome this obstacle before expanding the number of drives.

The K4000 was in a system I decommissioned previously. I was thinking it might be useful with encoding if I put a media server on this system.

If the chipset is C236 you may use the iGPU for transcoding instead.

The main constraint with your system is that there’s only one PCIe slot from the CPU and, if you have to use a HBA to support SAS drives, you want to put the HBA in this slot and nowhere else.

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The transcoding idea would have been nice (I don’t yet know the iGPU chipset), but it should not be a concern with the projected small workload. If I discover a desire to revisit transcoding, I will address it when I upgrade the server platform.

I will give the LSI HBA the full x16 slot to support the drives.

Thank you! My educational journey continues.

realistically I highly doubt you’d notice a significant decrease in transcoding performance with fewer lanes available unless you’re trying to get dozens of streams going. I’d at least try to dump the card into an x4 slot & test to see if it meets your needs.