A few months ago we covered the launch of the iXsystems TrueNAS Mini X+. The appliance was launched at a time when FreeNAS was still the company’s stable project and was still a few months away from the TrueNAS Core unification. Now that we have transitioned to a stable TrueNAS Core (and not seen an abandonment of the new platform), it is time for our review.
iXsystems TrueNAS Mini X+ Hardware Overview
As we started to do earlier this year, we are splitting this review into internal and external hardware overview versions since this section tends to be quite long. We also have an accompanying video if you want to hear more about the unit or see some additional angles.
We go in-depth in that video on a lot of topics, so our suggestion is to open that in a new tab and watch in YouTube. You can also put it on in the background while reading this review.
iXsystems TrueNAS Mini X+ External Overview
The outside of the system is a 8.25″ x 10.5″ x 9.5″ or 210mm x 267mm x 241mm enclosure making it relatively compact. It is actually just slightly smaller than the company’s 4-bay TrueNAS Mini E, but they are effectively a similar size. This is thoroughly a desktop chassis not a rackmount NAS.
The front of the unit is heavy on mesh to allow airflow for the drives. We have features such as status LEDs, but perhaps the big one is the lock. A lock on the system prevents accidental removal, accidental action on the power button, or can be considered a small theft deterrent as well.
Inside the system, we have five 3.5″ drive bays and two 2.5″ drive bays. The 3.5″ bays have their own drive locks which is a nice touch, again to prevent accidental removal. User error is a key component of modern RAID failure, so these may seem trivial, but they are important.
One can see the two different backplanes, one for the 5x 3.5″ bays and one for the 2x 2.5″ bays. All of these drive bays are SATA based.
Moving to the rear of the system, we have a fairly standard mITX NAS layout. The top of the system has the power supply and the system’s primary fan. Something we like is using thumb screws to access the side panels.
We were not fans of the “Tamper Resistant” feature. For a system like this, based on TrueNAS Core, one almost expects people will look inside making them not ideal as a warranty checking device. While the system says “Tamper Resistant” this adds little to the security of the system.
The rear I/O panel has an out-of-band management port, two USB ports (to accompany the two front ports behind the main door), a VGA port and two RJ45 networking ports. These network ports are 10Gbase-T from the Atom C3000 series SoC. Overall, that is an awesome feature. One will also notice we have an optional Chelsio T520 NIC in the system. Chelsio is a NIC provider that has long been the choice for FreeBSD communities, so it is nice to see iXsystems is offering their NIC over potentially less expensive options.
The one item that needs to be addressed is the sheer number of screws involved. There are four thumb screws, two for the side panels. The motherboard tray is held in by six screws which is just too much. If you want to remove the top cover that involves four more screws.
Even after removing the top cover, there is another internal top cover that has two more screws and even at that point, one cannot remove the top cover to get easy access to the expansion slot screw.
Sixteen screws into the process, we still could not get easy access to the expansion slot screw which is important because the Chelsio NIC was preventing the motherboard tray removal.
We very much appreciate that iXsystems has its own chassis design, but at the same time, it is not forward-thinking in terms of accessibility. That is a trade-off one makes. The reward for making this trade-off is that iXsystems pushed the capacity of its NAS platform in this footprint up by an additional 3.5″ drive and two additional 2.5″ drives.
Next, let us take a look inside the system to see what it offers.