Need advice on a Epic media file server.


Hello my fellow plexers.

I am starting a new project and need some advice. I have a large collection of shows that are stored on several my book live duo NAS drives. I have noticed that the drives have some bug's from time to time and can be a bit unstable. So I am looking for a better storage solution.
it needs to be:
  • silent, fan-less
  • able to expand storage to 30TB  or more.
  • Stream media to my media centre mac mini + Ipad.
  • stream media and upload at the same time without glitches.
  • less then $500 without HDD's
  • custom case (or no case)
  • water cooling
  • green, low power
  • freeNAS OS
I want to use a stone wall as cooling. 
I want to know what you guys think.
p.s. no I do not want do buy a professional files server, $4000 is way over budget.



Having just built a FreeNAS system myself, I can give some general advice. First, I'm not sure it can be "Epic" and be less than $500. That being said, it looks like your needs are modest, as you'd need to transcode to only one device (iPad). Below is a possible build for you, with the assumption that you'd be using FreeNAS and needing transcoding only for the iPad:

  • CPU: i3-3240; $120

  • Board: SuperMicro X9SCL; $149

  • Memory: 2xKingston KVR16E11/8GB; $170; FreeNAS/ZFS suggest 1GB of memory per TB of storage. You can upgrade later as you add more storage. The board supports 32GB.

  • PSU and Case: You'll need to choose your own here. I can't find anything that'll meet your requirements AND keep the price under $500. For fanless, you'll need a passive cooling PSU, and those aren't cheap; you'll probably want about 450W in order to support all those HDDs. For cases, there are tons of them out there, just make sure it's uATX compatible. The case I use is the Fractal Designs Define Mini. It's a hell of a case, with six HDD slots (which you'll need), and noise-insulating foam on the inside.

Hope this helps get you started with some ideas!


Silent requires SSDs - to get 30+ TB you'll need a lot of those ;)

CFI do a Micro ATX case with 6 hot swap bays (plus another 5.25" external and a couple of internal bays), Silverstone do one with 8 hot swap bays plus 4 internal 2.5" bays and there's the U-NAS case with 8 hot swap bays.

For the motherboard, the ASRock C2750D4I looks like a good choice, which includes a passively cooled CPU.

You are however almost certain to need some form of case fan, particularly if you're not running SSDs - the likes of Silent PC Review is a good resource for identifying good options.


Thanks for the great advice guys. I already had the ASRock C2750D4I in my sights but was unsure if the CPU would have enough power to handle everything. 

The plex server will not run on this file server and yes I was planning to use Freenas as the OS. My mac mini runs the plex server and client.

I will need to figure something out for the PSU. I am planning to use a stone wall to absorb the heat from to HD's. All the HD's will be pressed against the wall in custom case. Everything will be hidden behind some furniture, so the airflow is going the be an issue. I will try to make a picture of what I am thinking to give you guys an idea.


Sorry, found this a bit late while researching something else - my 2¢: You can't go passively cooled without great airflow. I don't think the stone wall is going to be an idea heat dissipator in the long run. I expect after a few hours it will just become an oven (kiln?). 1 ~600 rpm fan in and out isn't really any noise. I don't think you'd be able to hear it behind a couch or something of that nature.