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DIY low power NAS 2022: 1 - The hardware

  • This is the beginning of a series of articles where I go over my choices and what other options I found for building a low power nas, as concisely as possible and hopefully help you along the way.

CPU and motherboard

  • If you want to build a 24/7 nas, a very important benchmark to look at, is idle power usage because chances are you're not going to be accessing your nas most of the day. You can look at CPU's TDP but almost always idle usage will be lower.
  • Unfortunately most desktop CPUs are not good options. If you're aiming for 10-20w idle, you can try undervolting them but usually you need a very specific combination of motherboard and CPU to achieve a good result. Here is a list of good combinations with benchmarks.
  • That leaves mobile chips, you have 4 options here.
    • You can use an arm Single Board Computer like the raspberry pi. They mostly idle under 5w, but they have limited sata ports without extension boards.
    • You can use a laptop or a mini pc, but you're limited to 1 or 2 sata ports but you can convert NVME, mini pcie slots to sata or you can use usb enclosures, but you may need an external PSU to power those new sata ports.
    • Another option is to buy a mini itx motherboard with an integrated mobile chip.
    • Right now good quad core options are the biostar/asus/asrock branded boards with j4125, j5005, j5040 chips they idle at 8-10w (I'm using the asrock j5040).


  • If you choose an arm solution most likely the gpu will be pretty weak and hardware acceleration will be limited.
  • If it's an intel/amd CPU from the last 5 years it will probably have decent support for hardware acceleration.
  • You can try to add a low end gpu like the gt 1030 but it adds about 9w to the idle power consumption and if your media server is only used by few people you might not need it.


  • I would advise 8gb to be on the safe side but if you are using linux you can get away with 4gb too.


  • If you don't need much storage go with an ssd, they mostly idle below 3w.
  • On the other hand if you have a lot of *cough* legitly downloaded media *cough* hdd's are much cheaper, also 5400rpm drives are slower but they consume little bit less power than 7200rpm drives.


  • If you went with the mini Itx option you will need an efficient PSU.
  • Atx PSU's start at 300w and mostly the advertised efficiency does not apply to less than 50% load. Instead you can use a 60-160w pico PSU which uses an external ac to dc adapter like a laptop, it's slightly more efficient but they are harder to find.


  • Hopefully i managed to help you, if you found an error or i missed something, please comment below. Happy Building!


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