SilverStone CS280 NAS Hardware Installation
The motherboard we have selected for the SilverStone CS280 NAS build is the ASRock Rack EPC621D41-2M that we recently reviewed. This may not have been a perfect choice, but we wanted to go big.
We want to run our SilverStone CS280 NAS headless, the EPC621D41-2M features built-in IPMI and remote access that performs well, in addition, we will use an Intel Xeon Gold 6134 8 core / 16 thread processor and 32GB RAM. We generally would not tell people to use a $2200 CPU in this class of NAS, but we had it on hand so that is what we are using. With the LGA3647 socket, one can scale from 4 to 28 cores if desired.
The space between the power supply and the SATA backplane is very tight, we needed a PSU that allowed enough space to fit the SATA connectors. The power supply we have selected is SilverStone SFX-SX500-G as it fits the SFX PSU requirement.
The SFX-SX500-G is a very compact power supply at 125mm (W) x 63.5mm (H) x 100mm (D). In the spec sheet, it is noted that the PSU is black and uses “Lead-Free Paint.” We wonder how many use leaded paint these days.
Installing the ASRock Rack EPC621D41-2M system is easy enough with the drive cage removed, we had no issues here.
Here we have the SFX-SX500-G power supply installed for a test fitting. For final installation, we rotated the PSU so the cooling fan is facing down. Either position should work fine as there is space above the PSU. With cable management being a challenge with small form factor cases we needed to use the space above the PSU for extra power cables. That is why we rotated the PSU fan facing down.
Everything installed fine, with one small exception. We needed to remove the 2.5” SSD cage below the main 8-bay HDD cage to give clearance to the CPU heat sink. SATADOMs and Velcro are good solutions to adding a boot SSD anyway.
One challenge with the ASRock Rack EPC621D41-2M is it has only one mini-SAS connection on the motherboard for 4-ports. This will work if you only intend to use four SATA SSDs. If all eight are required than a RAID card will need to be installed in the PCIe slot. Many embedded motherboards built for this type of application, such as the Supermicro A2SDi-16C-HLN4F we reviewed, have two SFF-8643 headers natively and do not need the extra PCIe card. They are frankly better fits for this type of chassis.
Space between the PSU and SATA backplane in the SilverStone CS280 is very tight. We only have about one inch to work with. Power supply cables will take up the bulk of the space. We could fit normal SATA cables, but only the first four will fit, instead, we used a set of two HD Mini SAS cables with angled ends, these fit perfectly. We found these on Amazon.
Cable clearance is very tight but everything fits. The fully modular power supply is almost a must here.
Since we want to use all eight bays we used an LSI / Broadcom SAS 9300-8i RAID controller/ HBA card in the PCIe slot.
The ASRock Rack EPC621D41-2M motherboard has only 1x PCIe slot on the board. The PCIe slot location falls right under the 8-Bay 2.5” drive cage, our LSI-SAS9300-8i just fits here.
At the time of the build, all our M.2 drives were being used on other projects, the EPC621D41-2M has two M.2 slots on the bottom of the motherboard which would work great for cache or OS drive.
Instead, we used a SilverStone EXB01 2.5” SATA expansion card slot adapter for our SSD OS drive location. The EXB01 is a solid expansion card that included a locking drive door.
The SilverStone EXB01 uses an empty case PCIe slot location, the CS280 includes two PCIe slots so we had a free slot that could be used for this. It would have been nice if Silverstone included a solution that one could mount either under the 8x drive bay cage or in the PCIe slot making for a more flexible solution.
As a note here, cabling is rough. The chassis cables for the front panel connectors, buttons, and LEDs are long. There are 8-9 SATA cables that must be run. One needs two Molex cables for the backplane and an extra SATA power cable here for the OS SSD. We kept these photos without cable management just to show how much is going on. Cable ties can do a lot, but there is a high volume of cables in a small space.
The ASRock Rack EPC621D41-2M motherboard does not include USB 3.0 or audio headers, we will not be using the front USB/ audio ports, the supplied cables were fitted into the empty space at the front of the case.
Since we have seen many vendors claim that they have SAS/ SATA backplanes and we have seen them only support SATA, we wanted to test using SAS drives. We are going to test using 2.5″ SAS HDDs. More accurately, we are going to run out benchmarks with four Seagate ST300MP0005 2.5” 300GB SAS hard drives. These are 15K rpm drives so we wanted to stress the chassis cooling, and also validate SAS compatibility. We also had the chance to use eight drives, but we have been doing a 4-bay NAS series and wanted to see how the 15K rpm drives would fare in here.
The drive trays are not toolless and use mounting screws at the sides of the tray. The trays slide in and lock into place.
Now that we have all our components installed and ready to go let’s look at the NAS Configuration and continue on with testing.