Customize Your Storage: Building a NAS to Meet Your Unique Needs

April 6, 2023

I built a NAS! After years of on and off thinking about wanting to get a NAS for data storage at home, I finally picked up PC parts to build a custom NAS.

What is a NAS?

A NAS (Network Attached Storage) is a type of file storage system that is connected to a network and allows multiple users and devices to access the stored data over the network.

Why a NAS?

So why would you want a NAS? Storage! Well, at least it used to be just about storage, but now with most NAS operating systems offering features beyond storage solutions, you can run virtual machines, game servers, and even your own cloud platform.

So why do I want one now? I wanted one now because I need a place to store photos, videos, documents, and backups somewhere central that’s not tied to my personal computer that I use. My wife can then also use this NAS for the same purpose. We also plan to run a Plex server off the NAS too so that we don’t have to constantly turn on my computer and keep it on.

So why not another computer that’s not used? I’ve tried it before where I turned one of my older computers into a HTPC that was kept on 24/7 and hooked up to the TV for anyone to use. It just didn’t work out well because it was a full tower, inefficient, and drives weren’t setup to support drive failure (think RAID arrays). It was clunky and I’m glad I got rid of it!

So why not buy a NAS that’s made by companies like Synology, QNAP, Asustor, etc.? I looked at those too. I looked at the features that those companies offered on their NAS and the NAS OS that they run. Trust me, I did my research and I also asked good friends of mine who work in IT infrastructure before I finally settled on a custom NAS. One of the things I looked at was cost. It was going to be about the same if I went with a Synology DS1522+ and 4 Seagate Iron Wolf 8TB drives versus a custom NAS and 4 Segate Iron Wolf 8TB drives.

Synology DS1522+ v.s. custom NAS

When I first started looking for a NAS, I looked at the Synology DS1522+ because I planned on at least a RAID5 or RAID6 setup and needed a NAS OS that was user-friendly. The price for the Synology DS1522+ and 4 Seagate Iron Wolf 8TB drives was $1259.95 before taxes.

Then I priced out the cost for a custom NAS and 4 Seagate Iron Wolf 8TB drives, and that came to $1315.36. The custom NAS was going to be just a little more than the DS1522+ but the trade-off is the performance and the ability to turn the custom NAS into a gaming PC later if we wanted to do that.

PC Parts for the NAS

The following prices are all in USD. Feel free to shop around at other places such as Microcenter or use https://www.pcpartpicker.com to help.

ASUS PRIME B760M-A AX LGA 1700 microATX$174.99Motherboardhttps://www.newegg.com/p/N82E16813119640?Item=N82E16813119640
Fractal Design Node 804$124.99Casehttps://www.newegg.com/black-fractal-design-node-micro-atx-cube-case/p/N82E16811352047?Item=N82E16811352047
Noctua NH-L9i-17xx$44.95CPU fanhttps://amzn.to/3Gs4cUf
G.SKILL Flare X5 Series AMD EXPO 32GB (2 x 16GB) 288-Pin PC RAM DDR5 6000$117.99Memoryhttps://www.newegg.com/g-skill-32gb/p/N82E16820374419?Item=N82E16820374419
Rosewill PMG 550, 80+ Gold Certified, 550W Fully Modular Power Supply$79.99Power supplyhttps://www.newegg.com/rosewill-pmg-series-pmg-550-550w/p/N82E16817182433?Item=N82E16817182433
Intel Core i5-12600K$241.00CPUhttps://amzn.to/3MlVfzw
Seagate 8TB IronWolf 7200 rpm SATA III 3.5″ Internal NAS HDD (OEM, 4-Pack)$519.96Hard drive(s)https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1671528-REG/seagate_8tb_ironwolf_7200_rpm.html
SAMSUNG 980 SSD 1TB PCle 4.0 NVMe M.2 Internal SSD$89.99Hard drive(s)https://amzn.to/3KE4A4q
Total Cost$1393.86
Affiliate link disclosure: I may get monetary incentives from any Amazon affiliated links that have been listed.

Explanation of each part

This motherboard has 6 SATA 6Gb/s ports. For a NAS, you want to have as many SATA ports as possible! It also supports DDR5 memory AND up to 128GB of RAM if needed.

Fractal Design Node 804
Small, but still enough room for everything you need. If you ever decide to get a bulky graphics card in the future, this case will fit most of them. Great option for a case if you want a small form factor but need it to fit a lot of hard drives. 2 HDD cages that will fit 3 3.5″ HDDs each. There’s also other areas in the case that can be used for other 2.5″ and 3.5″ HDDs.

Noctua NH-L9i-17xx
Low profile CPU cooler that does a pretty good job of it too!

G.SKILL Flare X5 Series AMD EXPO 32GB (2 x 16GB) 288-Pin PC RAM DDR5 6000
DDR5 RAM for a motherboard that supports DDR memory.

Rosewill PMG 550, 80+ Gold Certified, 550W Fully Modular Power Supply
Fully modular power supply is nice to have especially when space is limited. I did not have to use everything that was included which was great for cable management on the side that the PSU sits on.

Intel Core i5-12600K
Really good CPU with a decent integrated GPU. For a NAS, this will handle most things and have seen nothing but really good reviews on it. Can be used in a future conversion into a gaming PC by just adding a dedicated GPU!

Seagate 8TB IronWolf
Seagate Iron Wolf hard drives run at 7200 RPM whereas Western Digital Red hard drives, you need to buy a higher priced model, Pro, to get that 7200 RPM. Going with these are more cost effective if you want to keep cost down a bit. Bought four of these, using 2 as parity drives in Unraid.

SAMSUNG 980 SSD 1TB PCle 4.0 NVMe M.2 Internal SSD
This SSD is used as the cache disk in my NAS setup with Unraid. Works great, no complaints!

Final thoughts

My motherboard arrived DOA with the socket pins bent in a small area so I had to send it back and repurchase another one so that I can just overnight it. Other than that, everything was put together and I decided afterwards that I needed more case fans. For case fans, I went ahead and bought 3 Noctua NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM, High Performance Cooling Fan, 4-Pin, 1700 RPM (120mm, Grey) at $15.95 each. A good friend of mine loves Noctua fans because of how efficient and quiet they are for small form factor builds so I decided to take his advice and get some myself for this build.

If you plan on using Unraid as the NAS OS and do not have a USB thumb drive that is capable of having a UUID, then I would suggest the SAMSUNG MUF-64AB/AM FIT Plus 64GB – 300MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive, Black/Sliver. That Samsung USB thumb drive has a low profile form that is barely noticeable when you stick it in the back of the NAS. Plus, it’s only $10.99 for 64 GB, so it’s not a bad price for a decent thumb drive.

More posts to come, hopefully, of how things are going with this NAS build!

Any questions or comments? Shoot me an email via the contact form!

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