Setup Impressions and Platform Analysis

The setup process for the file server included assembling the hardware as well as installing the operating system and configuring the shares. The install process on the motherboard side was quite simple - the ASRock Rack C2750D4I (already reviewed by Ian last year) is not a socketed motherboard and the SoC as well as the heat sink come pre-installed. I won't go too much into the motherboard itself, as it has been already covered in detail in our review. The gallery below presents some photos of the motherboard during the setup process.

We decided to use the U-NAS NSC-800 for our build. The U-NAS NSC-800 comes with eight drive bays in front of a hot-swappable back-plane (both SAS and SATA ones are available, and our chassis came equipped with the latter) and a compact size that can accommodate a mini-ITX motherboard. There are three internal 2.5" drive bays (which can be used for SSD cache drives) and / or for OS drives). There is space for a 1U power supply. There are two 120mm chassis fans just behind the drive bays. The drive sleds can accommodate both 3.5" and 2.5" disks, and the overall construction feels solid.

Compatible PSUs can be ordered from U-NAS itself. The 1U PSU that came bundled with our chassis was the 400W ASPOWER U1A-C20400-D. The PSU carries a 80 PLUS GOLD rating. It must be noted that the 5V and 3.3V outputs should not be subject to a load of more than 150W.

Pretty much the only downside of the chassis for a modern build is the absence of a front USB 3.0 port, but, given that the ASRock Rack C2750D4I doesn't have a USB 3.0 header, this is a non-issue in our build. The chassis comes with the cables from the backplane neatly laid out to enable easy connection to the motherboard. The challenge in assembling the build was actually routing all the wires from the PSU to the motherboard connectors while keeping it managed enough to place the chassis cover unhindered. Despite being a very compact 8-bay unit, the chassis supports a single slot PCIe card. The ASRock Rack C2750D4I does have a spare PCIe slot, and we populated it with an Intel ESA I340-T4 just for the purpose of the build (not used in the benchmarking). The gallery below presents some photographs taken during our assembly process.

The ASRock Rack C2750D4I platform has already been extensively analyzed in our dedicated review. However, I will reproduce the SoC diagram and how the motherboard components are laid out below.

It is important to have an idea of the platform during the assembly of the NAS. Instead of just choosing eight ports at random to connect the backplane to, the layout analysis allows us to select the proper ports. The configuration mentioned in the table in the previous page ensures that the Avoton SoC can talk to the drives of the system with maximum possible bandwidth.

Introduction and Testing Methodology Performance Metrics - Phoronix Test Suite
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  • ethebubbeth - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    Your proposed setup does not support ECC memory, which is essential for any sort of software RAID style configuration. The system in the article does. I would not want to run a NAS without ECC memory unless I were using a hardware RAID card with cache battery backup. Reply
  • brbubba - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    This system is quite capable of running Plex transcoding, check the cpu benchmark scores. If you want even more power grab a E3C226D2I and throw in an i7. Reply
  • HideOut - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    All this power an d still USB 2.0 ? Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    It's a 2013 SoC, so no native support on Intel's support. I'm not sure if ASRock deliberately decided not to support it; or just ran out of PCIe lanes. It looks like they should have a few still available but I might be missing something. The SoC has 16 total; 8 go to the PCIe slot, 2 go to sata controllers, 3 to lan controllers, the GPU is a single lane PCIe model. That leaves 2 lanes unaccounted for... Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    Also, it was never intended for use in consumer systems. USB3 primarily matters for backing a NAS to an external HD (or pulling files off of one); Avonton was intended for higher end business class NASes, that whether rackmount or standalone would be primarily accessed over the network. Reply
  • brbubba - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    Glad to see more mainstream sites posting these types of reviews. I was seriously considering the U-NAS boxes, but they aren't exactly what I call mainstream and I have yet to see any US retailers stocking their products. Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    It appears you can order their cases direct from the manufacturer and pay in USD, so the lack of 3rd party resellers is not a major problem. For my location in the US northeast, they wanted $16.66 to ship the 4bay case. No indication of shipping time was given; so if they don't have a US distribution point they're either shipping slowboat or eating the cost of airmail. Reply
  • Paul357 - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    A great system for a NAS/Plex Media server. Still though, I'd wait to see what Denverton brings to the table. If it even is announced this year.... Reply
  • bobbozzo - Monday, August 10, 2015 - link

    Hi,

    1. would like to have seen more discussion about the power supply quality and other possible choices; will most 1U PSUs work, or is cabling going to be a problem? Would an SFX PSU fit?

    2. I didn't notice any mention of noise levels.

    3. any idea why the VDI performance was poor?

    thanks!
    Reply
  • mdw9604 - Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - link

    Would like to see an option for redundant power supplies, even it means a bigger chassis.

    I have a couple of Synology DS1813+ and like them, but my next NAS will need to be beefier and will want some enterprise features, so looking at ZFS, redundant power supplies & possibly an iLO/Drac /Remote Console Card, as it will be located in a data center.

    This one doesn't quite make the cut.
    Reply

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