iXsystems TrueNAS Mini X+ or Mini X?
Something that we wanted to note quickly here is the TrueNAS Mini X v. Mini X+. Here is the quick spec table that shows differences:
The vast majority of our readers will be better served with the Mini X+ over the Mini X at this point. For $250 more, one gets dual 10GbE versus quad 1GbE. That is an enormous difference in networking capability. In the 2020’s 1GbE is becoming very slow and is slower than many wireless connection options for phones and laptops.
One also moves from the Atom C3558 to the C3758. This effectively doubles the core count. We were hitting fairly high CPU utilization with 10GbE, so the extra headroom is welcome. The CPUs are not socketed, so this is a more or less “life of the system” CPU choice.
Finally, one gets 16GB more of RAM. RAM is upgradeable, but this is a nice feature to get twice the memory along with 5x faster networking and 2x the CPU core count.
In our view, the $250 upgrade is worth it unless that is out of budget. Once drives are added, these are $2000-2500+ devices so it is a 10% price increase for significantly more compute, memory, and networking.
Build or buy?
A lot of people ask about a build or buy in this scenario. Here are some primary components it is easy to get pricing for in the $1149 base system.
- Supermicro A2SDi-H-TF $515
- 32GB Memory $180
- 16GB SATADOM $40
With an additional fan, this puts us at around $750 not including the chassis or power supply. This leaves us with a $400 or so premium for:
- Power supply
- Quiet chassis fan
- Intel Atom C3000 HSF
- SATA Breakout Cables
- Assembly & Test
- Not having to research and order components/ settings
- Adding the enclosure view in TrueNAS Core
There are two ways to evaluate this. First, one can say $400 is $400 less the hard costs of components. Second, one can say that in either case, it is close enough that it is worth letting iXsystems do the work for a small premium.
In generations past, and frankly, with some current consumer NAS solutions, there are large premiums over hardware for pre-built NAS units. To us, this feels like a relatively small premium compared to the rest of the industry.
Overall, this is an excellent NAS unit. We like that iXsystems is pushing to 10GbE. We also really like that we have a manageable Supermicro platform which is a step up from many consumer NASes. There are clearly customization points such as the fans, chassis, and even the integration with TrueNAS enclosure management.
All is not perfect though. The system is in that middle ground where it is quieter than many self-built systems, but it is neither silent nor near-silent. The custom chassis is compact, and offers great storage connectivity, but that density and the screws, make it difficult to service compared to some other units. TrueNAS Core is great for those IT professionals and know storage, but it is a long way from the ease-of-use provided by Synology or QNAP if one does not know storage and just needs a place to dump files. That is somewhat the point of TrueNAS Core since it is really a power-user NAS solution.
Overall, if you are set on using TrueNAS Core, this is probably the best 5-bay NAS solution on the market. In our view, it is better than many self-built options, using new components, in this price range. The iXsystems team did a great job of putting together a package that is reasonably priced for a pre-built NAS that will appeal to power users.