Overwhelmed with hardware options

Hi, I am currently researching building my own Nas after my Qnap died and is unrepairable.
It’s mainly used for backups/Time Machine but may run Home assistant and store movies to stream around the house.

I need a small form factor case and have decided on the InWin MS04, cant really go any bigger and have looked at Jonsbo N2, N3 Node 804 but they are all just a little too big in one way or another.

So basically I am looking for the following,

Motherboard to fit a mini itx case but really need to be able to access the bios from my laptop with IPMI and I m thinking intel i5 13500 processor.
I want to install 4 x sata drives and run truenas from the NVMe.

I would jut like something thats going to be better than the qnap/synology nas option and last me a good few years and I can possibly upgrade.

I have gone through quite a bit of the resources but my brain is fried and I need some pointers to get me back on track that are in layman’s terms and hopefully I can get this thing built.

If I have missed anything (and I probably have) please let me know.



4 SATA + M.2 in mini-ITX is an easy fit. IPMI is somewhat more restrictive in this small form factor.
Typical candidates would be second-hand Supermicro X10SDV boards, or A2SDi if you can find one.
Throw in a half-height GPU if transcoding is required.
Ultra-cheap option: Gigabyte MJ11-EC1.
If you want a more recent and/or more powerful CPU for VMs, you’re limited to whatever C2x6 motherboard you can find in mini-ITX size (micro-ATX is typical). I do not know of a mini-ITX W680 board for a i5-13500 with ECC and iPMI.

1 Like

I might have to re think the nas placement then and opt for a Fractal Node 804 micro atx case, will this open a few more avenues for me?

With regards to the processor I have seen a few installs with this and seems to liked. I could be choosing the wrong one though.
Any tips would be great if you can.

iXysystems sells the Mini, which will do what you want. The Mini is solid, pre-engineered, and the customer service at iXsystems is really good. Hopefully, the disk cooling issues I experienced with the older Mini XL have been overcome in the new case.

If you’re determined to DIY, it’s too bad that the Q26A or B are no longer made by Lian Li though Jonesbo seems to be making some Lian Li knockoffs.


Thank you for the reply, I have already looked at the iXsystems but they are very much out of budget and quite expensive in the uk. I can appreciate the work that has been put into them and if I had the budget I would seriously consider.

I recently built my own NAS after my old QNAP gave up the ghost, so I feel your pain.

For your setup, I’d suggest the ASRock Rack E3C246D4I-2T motherboard. It’s mini ITX, has IPMI for remote BIOS access, and pairs nicely with the Intel i5 13500. It has enough SATA ports for your drives, and running TrueNAS from an NVMe should be smooth.

The InWin MS04 case is a solid pick. I used a similar small form factor case, and it’s perfect for tight spaces. Just double-check that your cooling solution fits well in there.

If you can, go for at least 16GB of ECC RAM. TrueNAS loves it and it’ll give you a more stable system.

1 Like

Consider a Supermicro barebone based on the A2SDi or X10SDV boards, then. They have a really nice case for up to 4 spinning disks, if that is enough for your needs.

1 Like

Being C246, this one takes (with ECC) a Core i3-8100/9100 or Xeon E-2100/2200 (8-9th gen.) but not a i5-13500. It should do the job, but mind colling with the most powerful CPUs.

It would open A LOT of options, as micro-ATX is a very common size for server boards and the Node 804 has room for any kind of CPU cooler.
It is also bulkier, and likely noisier. The Node 804 has an open mesh at the top, so drive noise gets out unobstructed.
Define what you need or want as number of cores, RAM, networking speed, extra services and we could help sorting out options.

Another possibility could be a commercial NAS, and the UGREEN models look like the ones to beat (though I’ve also heard good things about the TerraMaster units). At the Kickstarter price they were really attractive (I bought a six-bay unit that just arrived yesterday); I’m not sure what they’ll go for “on the street.” You’re still not going to get IPMI, but you’ll get a decent x86 computer with reasonable expandability (even the smallest models can go to 16 GB RAM; the four-bay “Plus” model and higher can go to 64 GB) and what seems like a decent design. TBD how well they’ll cool drives.

Thanks, I was looking at the Ugreen but they are not available in the UK at the moment. I have also looked at the TerraMaster F4 424 and F4 424 Pro, I think the pro might be over my budget though. Have you seen the specs and would they work with Truenas?

I haven’t looked closely into the Terramaster units, though I think @Protopia is using one. But some further information here:

1 Like

As am I, but for a strict “cold storage, occasional backups” solution.

TerraMaster F4-223 (upgraded)

  • 4 drive bays (3.5-inch HDDs)
  • Dual-Core Celeron
  • 32 GiB of non-ECC DDR4
  • 512 GiB NVMe boot drive

The CPU is noticeably under-powered, even for innocuous tasks, such as encryption over a large SSH replication.

It’s built very solid and feels like a quality product

Drive temperatures remained mostly cool, but that’s probably because they are helium-filled.

Easy access to upgrade the RAM or add up to 2 NVMe m.2 SSDs.

I don’t believe I would be happy with it as a primary “live” NAS, due to the weak CPU, and I’m not really sure how consistently the temperatures will stay low if it runs 24/7.

1 Like

I have to say, after reading this thread, I agree with the thread title. :grin:


CPU on models Fx-22x are indeed quite low power, but my experience is that it is quite adequate for file serving and media serving (including background transcoding) etc. even if it is not really powerful enough for heavyweight encryption.

In general terms, Terramaster units are well built but the Terramaster NAS software does not use ZFS and so the earlier models tend to have limited memory capability.

My F5-221 comes with only 2GB memory as standard and Terramaster offer only a further 4GB upgrade (and this is insufficient for TN Scale). However 8GB upgrade is supported by the hardware and works great, and 10GB is adequate if you are not using VMs and only limited apps.

I wrote this wiki page and indeed most of this section of the wiki precisely because I struggled with deciding what hardware to use.

I chose a commercial NAS appliance simply because I wanted something physically small i.e. not a rack and (although I have the skills to build a box from parts) I didn’t want to have to put in that effort and wanted instead to focus on installing and configuring the software and the learning curve that involved.

1 Like

Thanks for that, it’s very useful. I am siding more with buying a pre built nas, either the Terramaster F4 424, F4 424 Pro but not sure if I would be able to see things on the nas like temps etc

My F5-221 can see drive temps etc. The SATA ports are 2xMB and 3xHBA as far as I can tell and they seem to fully support SMART (providing the disks do).

I am actually wondering if I should go down the mini pc/server route and then connect a das, that way I can keep my HA and anything else separate from my backups.
Any suggestions for a device would be great. I have seen the Minisforum MS 01 but it does not look like it supports ecc ram.

The only supported way to permanently connect external drives is to a SAS drive shelf through a HBA. USB is not reliable enough and Thunderbolt is not officially supported (it may work, or not, and then break because a necessary component was removed by an update…).

It does not, unfortunately. Pity, because it’s a nice-looking piece of kit otherwise.

Thanks again everyone, I am getting to the point of overthinking this but partly because I want it to last a good few years and dont want to make the wrong choice, buy once cry once (but with a budget lol).

Anyway I have seen the Terramaster T6 423 for a decent price but wondered if anyone has any experience using this is Truenas? As mentioned I would be using for backups, home assistant and storing movies.

T6-423 NAS storage is equipped with N5105/5095 Quad-core 2.0GHz CPU, 4GB RAM DDR4 (expandable up to 32GB) . With dual 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet ports, the NAS server supports up to 5 Gbps under Link Aggregation. A powerful 6 bay NAS designed for SMB High Performance Requirements.