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need thinkserver/thinkstatation reccomendations

IBM or Lenovo Desktops, Workstations, ThinkStations, etc. Recent vintage, hardware/software..
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Whitieiii
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need thinkserver/thinkstatation reccomendations

#1 Post by Whitieiii » Tue Aug 21, 2018 2:44 am

As much as I'd love to have a Lenovo x3650M3, I don't have the room for one but I love them dearly... that aside, I need to create a cheap NAS for storage and Plex and such and even though Synology is solid, their hardware is too expensive! I'm thinking of repurposing a Thinkstation or Thinkserver full tower for my NAS and need a recommendation... I would like to use it not only for storage but also for video transcoding... could I get away with an i3/i5 or could I go with an Xenon? i'll only need 4 or 8GB ram..... I like the idea of the hotswap bays on some of the Thinkserver towers but don't know if I can get lots of storage with those.... I need room for at least 4 3.5" hard drives including the CD drive (6 hard drives would be nice but 4 minimum) if going with internal drives.... I would like the ability to do hardware raid ether through the motherboard or a PCI-E card and if I can get away with windows 10 pro I'll go with that but if not it's server 2016 essentials or maybe Xpenology... last what kinda drives should I go with? if I have 2.5" hot swap bays could I get away with WD Blue/Segate Barracuda drives or should I stick to WD Red drives? I'd be limited to 8TB on Red drives or could go with up to 16TB of WD Blue/Segate Barracuda 2.5" but if I don't have hotswap bays I'd like to start with 3TB Segate Ironwolf drives how are they?

what do you suggest? I've posted before but now I kinda know what I want and i'm ready to build a NAS and know nothing about them
My Current Collection:
A30 Pentium 3 512MB ram 60GB HDD Win 98SE
HP 8460p 2nd gen i7 8GB ram 500GB HDD Radeon 6470m Win 7
T440s 4th gen i5 8GB ram 300GB SSD Win 10
T440p 4th gen i5 12GB ram GT 730m 500GB HDD Win 10

ThinkRob
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Re: need thinkserver/thinkstatation reccomendations

#2 Post by ThinkRob » Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:49 pm

I've built quite a few storage servers, and I've got a couple tips:

1) Build your own. Thinkservers/Thinkstations look cool, but you'll get much better value from doing your own HW build. Personally I'd get a SuperMicro chassis (if you're doing a high budget build) or a desktop tower with lots of 5.25" bays and some 3.5" hotswap adapters (if you're doing a low budget build.)

2) Use ZFS. It makes expanding your storage trivial, and does a great job of protecting against corruption. RAID sucks. ZRAID does not suck. Use ZFS.

3) Use ECC RAM. Bits flip, and you don't want to find out that bad RAM was slowly corrupting your data for a while without you realizing it.

4) Go with whatever the cheapest CPU is that supports ECC and can transcode whatever it is that you want transcoded. Most storage servers are IO- and RAM-bound, not CPU-bound.

5) Budget for a UPS. Even a cheap $100 one can save you a ton of time and agony. And FreeNAS/NAS4free can both be configured to auto-sync and auto-shutdown when the UPS switches to battery power...

If you want to spec how much space you need, how much redundancy you need (i.e. how many drives do you need to be able to have fail), your power requirements (15A @ 120V max, right) and what your budget is, I can post a build here for you.
Need help with Linux or FreeBSD? PM or catch me on IRC: I'm ThinkRob on FreeNode and EFnet.
Laptop: X270, running Fedora
Desktop: Intellistation 285 (currently dead)
Workstation: owned by my employer ;)
Toy: Miata!

Whitieiii
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:54 pm
Location: Kingston, WA

Re: need thinkserver/thinkstatation reccomendations

#3 Post by Whitieiii » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:41 pm

I'm thinking maybe an older server type build like in the Lenovo x3650 M3 generation of parts where a whole basic system costs around $200 to build and add on to that as time goes... I have no idea what to go with for amount of storage but I'm guessing it will be something like at least 1-2 TB per computer and how ever much for Plex so maybe something like starting out with 2x 3TB disks and expanding from there... I'll go with maybe 4GB ram to start with and add another 4GB stick if needed down the road (Synology boxes only uses 2GB ram) and amount of sata ports and power ports matter... would love to have 6-8 drives all at once but that won't happen all at the same time... Really if I can keep cost well below a Synology box I'd build one but if it come to where it's over the price of a Synology box I'll get a cheap PC to transcode and a Synology box... I've got options but don't know what to go with.... Any suggestions?
My Current Collection:
A30 Pentium 3 512MB ram 60GB HDD Win 98SE
HP 8460p 2nd gen i7 8GB ram 500GB HDD Radeon 6470m Win 7
T440s 4th gen i5 8GB ram 300GB SSD Win 10
T440p 4th gen i5 12GB ram GT 730m 500GB HDD Win 10

ThinkRob
Senior ThinkPadder
Senior ThinkPadder
Posts: 2393
Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 9:54 am
Location: near RTP, NC

Re: need thinkserver/thinkstatation reccomendations

#4 Post by ThinkRob » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:19 pm

I love Lenovo (and IBM's) case design, but I'd like to reiterate my recommendation for a DIY solution, particular if price is a concern. You don't have to buy new parts either; eBay is full of cheap, second-hand full ATX cases.

Personally I'd go with a FreeNAS setup with one RAIDZ2 pool with:

8 GB RAM (ZFS loves RAM)
cheapest CPU that you can get that supports ECC
4 x 2 TB drives (different manufacturers, used w/ low hours)

Cheap, expandable, and easy to fix.
Need help with Linux or FreeBSD? PM or catch me on IRC: I'm ThinkRob on FreeNode and EFnet.
Laptop: X270, running Fedora
Desktop: Intellistation 285 (currently dead)
Workstation: owned by my employer ;)
Toy: Miata!

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