Home Lab – freeNAS build with LIAN LI PC-Q25, and Zotac M880G-ITX

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I’ve decided to repurpose my IOMega IX4 and build out a freeNAS server for my ever growing home lab. In this blog post I’m not going to get in to the reasons why I choose freeNAS, trust me I ran through lot of open source NAS software, but rather on the actual hardware build of the NAS device.

Here are the hardware components I choose to build my freeNAS box with…

Tip – Watch for sales on all these items, the prices go up and down daily…

Factors in choosing this hardware…

  • Case – the Lian LI case supports 7 Hard disks (5 being hotswap) in a small and very quiet case, Need I say more…
  • Power supply – Usually I go with a Antec Power supply, however this time I’m tight on budget so I went with a Cooler Master 80PLUS rated Power supply
  • Motherboard – The case and the NAS software I choose really drove the Mobo selection, I played with a bunch of Open soruce NAS software on VM’s, once I made my choice on the case and choosing freeNAS it was simple as finding one that fit both. However 2 options I was keen on – 1) 6 SATA III Ports (To support all the Hard disks), 2) PCIex1 slot (to support the Dual Port NIC). Note – I removed the onboard Wireless NIC and the antenna, no need for them on this NAS device
  • NIC – the SYBA Dual NIC I have used in both of my ESXi hosts, they run on the Realtek 8111e chipset and have served me well. The Mobo I choose has the same chipset and they should integrate well into my environment.
  • RAM – 8GB of RAM, since I will have ~7TB of usable space with freeNAS, the general rule of thumb is to use 1GB of RAM per 1TB of storage, 8GB should be enough.
  • Hard Disks – I choose the hard disks mainly on Price, speed, and size. These hard disks are NOT rated above RAID 1 however I believe they will serve my needs accordingly. If you looking for HIGH performance and duty cycle HD’s then go with an enterprise class SAS or SATA disk.
  • SSD – I’ll use this for cache setup with freeNAS, I just wanted it to be SATA III

Install Issues and PIC’s

What went well…

  • Hard disk installs into case went well
  • Mobo came up without issue
  • freeNAS 8.3.xx installed without issue

Minor Issues….

  • Had to modify (actually drill out) the mounting plate on the LIAN LI case to fit the Cooler Master Power supply
  • LIAN LI Mobo Mount points were off about a quarter inch, this leaves a gap when installing the NIC card
  • LIAN LI case is tight in areas where the Mobo power supply edge connector meets the hard disk tray



5 Seagate HD’s installed…

Rear view…

Side Panel…

Zotac Mobo with RAM

Removal of the Wireless NIC….

Zotac Mobo installed in case with dual NIC…

Everything Mounted (Except for the SSD)….

11 thoughts on “Home Lab – freeNAS build with LIAN LI PC-Q25, and Zotac M880G-ITX

    Sam Kear said:
    November 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Very nice build! Lian Li cases always seem to be very high quality. I really like the hard drive mounting system used with the chassis you selected.


    jim said:
    December 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    RE: SYBA Dual NIC SY-PEX24028
    I cant find alot of user experiences online concerning this nic. Are you able to bond
    the two NICs together to increase bandwidth & throughput?
    What is the max MB/s throughput with your setup?
    Also does it support jumbo frames?


    […] I updated my home lab with a freeNAS server (post here). In this post I will cover my iSCSI setup with freeNAS and ESXi […]


    Radek said:
    January 23, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    HI, Please you do have 2x8GB (16GB all together ) memory in this Zotac mainboard? I am trying to put in Kingstone 2 x 8GB and mobo recognize it but works only wit 8GB. Thanks in advance.


      mattman555 responded:
      February 8, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      I’ve updated this post a bit as the Zotac board had issues around supporting the SATA III HD’s properly. I am now running a different board with 16GB RAM (2 x 8GB)


        Larry said:
        February 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

        Can you explain the board issues a bit further. I just went with a Zotac A75itx-b-e board and FreeNAS locks tight. I have run memtest for 24+ hours and Prime95 on the board for 8+ hours to stress it out and both are fine. However, every boot of FreeNAS 9.2.0 locks within about 4 hours and locks tight.


        lweidig said:
        February 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm

        Curious what the issues were. Have a Zotac A75ITX-B-E motherboard that locks up with FreeNAS every 4 or so hours. I have run memtest against it for 24+ hours and stress tested CPU with prime95 for 6+ hours. Figured it was a new build and maybe something in the hardware was an issue. Do have 4 SATA III drives attached to the motherboard (3TB WD RED) running ZFS.


        mattman555 responded:
        May 26, 2014 at 8:45 pm

        Sorry about the delay in getting back with you. The issue I’ve noticed with my Zotac board is they do not recognize all 6 SATA III drives properly in the BIOS. Zotac has acknowledged this to be a bug in their BIOS and since the board is end of life they will not be fixing it, however last I checked they still sell this board on their website. I had 6 SATA III drives connected to it but I migrated to an ASRock System board. The BIOS issues BIOS went away but FreeNAS kept giving me various issues so I plan go to VMWare vSAN.


    […] Note: I used my Lian Li case for my FreeNAS build, it’s a great case for those wanting to build a NAS (Click here for more PICS) […]


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