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Building a custom NAS box... specs recommendation?

Started by Gryzor, 13:37, 08 February 22

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Hello everyon!

After the latest Qnap srcew-up I decided enough is enough, and I'm looking to build a small pc to be used as an Open Media Vault box. My requirements are, first and foremost, the small footprint (no ungainly towers!) and silence of operation since it's going to live in our living room.

So I was wondering, what CPU should I go for?

The uses I've seen with my QNap box up to now are pretty simple - share files in the home network, run a torrent client and Sonarr (and a few other lightweight apps like MC or a copy of Kodi) and, very occasionally, a docker.

With that in mind, what CPU would you recommend as the minimum viable so that I can make it as silent as possible? Water cooling is probably out the question since I'm looking for a mini ITX cube to put the whole thing in.



You might consider the new i3-12100T. It runs at 35W TDP at normal operations and probably can be cooled with a small and still silent cooler, unless it's on heavy load. Very powerful compared to its price and power consumption.

With an ITX board, it can fit into a nice little box. I used to have the Cooltek Coolcube ITX cube. LGA 1700 ITX boards are currently a bit expensive though, but mATX start at 90€ already, so hopefully ITX will get into a similar range soon.


Or you can get an older tiny/usff branded PC, either refurbished or second hand, which should set you back just about as much you'd spend on a modern CPU alone, and then perhaps spend a few extra bucks to add memory and an SSD I'd guess. That should be fine for what you need, and you don't have to build it yourself ontop of everything!


CPC 664

Empiezas a envejecer cuando dejas de aprender.
You start to get old when you stop learning.


What was your problem with Qnap?I am using Synology now since 10 years (1st gen is now working as a backup in the attic, 2nd gen with 24TB is my "big" main one since 2017 in the basement, so it should survive everything below a comet impact), and it's so cool, easy and supported, that I can't imagine to build an own proprietary solution anymore.



Thanks for the replies, folks! Let me take them one by one...

@eto : didn't know about the  i3-12100T, that TDP is pretty impressive! I was looking at some low-end AMD CPUs at 60 or 65W... Unfortunately I can't find that CPU anywhere!

@rexbeng : that's a very nice form factor. Unfortunately, even if I remove the optical drive, it still doesn't fit my twin 3.5 HDD + SDD (for the OS) that is needed :(

@ajcasado : thanks for the suggestion :) I'm well aware of the Odroid units (I have a couple lying around) but, even if you manage to find one of their popular SBCs, the problem with that case is that it leaves the disks dangerously exposed to my toddler :D I tried looking for a nice case to accomodate such a board plus two 3.5 HDDs but there don't seem to be any real options...

@Prodatron : Synology is pretty safer than Qnap. Qnap seems hell-bent to offer really easy-to-use hardware at the expense of security. Every few months there's a new ransomware explicitly targeting QNap boxes. The company never releases vuln details so it's very opaque, and coupled with other bad practices (hardcoded passwords, apps running with admin privileges, apps opening ports without telling you so etc etc etc) it really makes their products vulnerable. In the latest instance someone has been targeting Qnap boxes using a 0-day exploit (nobody knows what) and the company's response has been pathetic to say the least. Oh, to add insult to injury, their malware removal tool removes the decryption page (without decrypting the files, of course) so that even if you pay you can't enter the decryption key :D

Admittedly, I only use VPN on my modem/router to access the local network, UPnP is disabled, no port forwarding etc. but it's becoming unnerving, to say the least. So I thought I'd migrate before I wake up one morning and find myself muttering "WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK".

It's a pity, because it's a pretty capable x86 box, able to even launch containers or VMs so you can do pretty much everything, but "everything" comes at a cost...


Oh! I guess that upon reading about 'small footprint' and 'silence' Ι instinctively ruled HDDs out. Then perhaps a desktop-ish SFF form factor with 3rd or 4th gen Core CPU might do the job. At least machines from that era seem to be pretty popular for the job. These are sold refurbished by many shops around here and you may find decent configurations varying between 100-200 euros for an i3 or i5. Also there's chance you'll even find some models sporting a 'T' variation for the CPU with the lower 35W TDP. But if you are looking for an even smaller CPU footprint, there's some newer SFFs equipped with mobile CPUs, namely the Ryzen 3500U which is a 15W part. That's 2 generations behind current CPUs, yet still better than Intel 3rd/4th gen, and such SFFs (I am looking at a particular one from Lenovo) are equipped with 16Gigs of ram and 512GB SSDs. But these go beyond the 500 euros mark, so perhaps not justified for the purpose.


Sorry, missed your reply; yeah you weren't wrong, but since it's a NAS it's got to have space for HDDs :D

CPU power is not a real deal breaker since you don't need much for anything you'd like to do so even a mobile CPU could be ok. But most probably not for the price you found, sadly...

The idea about refurbished ones is not a bad one! Any sources you know of?

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