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NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI

NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI

This guide is for all who place a high value on security. This NAS supports up to 16 GB DDR3 ECC memory for high data integrity. The Intel Core i3-4160 with AES-Ni does de- and encryption via hardware without losing performance.

The ASRock Rack E3C226D2I offers 2 Intel gigabit network interfaces and an additional IPMI 2.0 interface wich allows you to boot the system even if it's in off state. For that reason a display is not necessary - this is also valid for OS installation that can be performed through the IPMI (webinterface).

CPU, mainboard and memory

This NAS is packed with a lot of nice features. The most important component is the mainboard because we want to use ECC memory which is not supported by normal mainboard, we have to use a server mainboard. Our choice is the ASRock Rack E3C226D2I with socket 1150 from ASRocks server group ASRock Rack. The price for the mainboard is arround 210 USD - features and safety are expensive.

The ASRock Rack E3C226D2I is a Mini-ITX board with Intel C226 chipset and it's impressive how much features ASRock Rack realized on this mainboard. The mainboard can serve a maximum of 16GB DDR3 ECC memory in dual channel mode (1.35 and 1.5V) and offers a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot which can equipped with a hardware raid controller for example.

The 6 SATA3 (6Gbit/s) ports are supporting Intels onBoard raid (Raid 0,1,5 and 10) but we will not use the Intel FakeRaid. Instead we're using the Software-Raid "Raid-Z" from FreeNAS. Of course you can use OpenMediaVault as well.

Two Intel i210 lan interfaces can be grouped via Teaming / Link aggregation and the IPMI is realized through a Realtek RTL8211E with ASPEED AST2300 BMC controller. PXE boot via network is supported.

NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI

- 2x USB 2.0 (+2 USB 2.0 Header + 1 USB-A onBoard)
- 2x USB 3.0 (+1 USB 3.0 Header)
- 6x SATA 6G (max. ~550MB/s), Intel Raid
- 2x Intel i210 Gigabit LAN (Teaming, Wake-On-Lan, Wake-On-Wan, 802.3az EEE, PXE)
- 1x Realtek RTL8211E Management LAN
- 1x COM1 Serial Port
- 1x COM2 Serial Port Header

It may surprise you but the ASRock Rack E3C226D2I comes with an own graphic card and is not using the Intel HD graphics. Due to that fact the mainboard is compatible with Intels socket 1150 Xeon Server processors (most of the Xeon CPUs don't have a integrated graphic). A TPM (Trusted Platform Module) header is available but we will not use it in this guide.

We use Kingston KVR16E11/8 (8GB DDR3-1600, ECC, CL11, 1.5V) memory for 67 USD. If you want to pick another memory, make sure you really buy EEC memory. EEC memory is compatible with normal memory but not vise-versa.

If you decide to use FreeNAS keep in mind that FreeNAS is really memory hungry and a minimum of 8GB memory is a must and if you want to use a high capacity raid you should go with 16GB.

The case that best fits

You can pick any case with an ATX form factor and enough space for the amount of data drives you plan to use. Atm my favorite is the Fractal Design Define R5 because of it's eight 3.5 inch harddrive cages wich are cooled by 2 140mm fans. The internal fan speed management (5/7/12V) supports a maximum of 3 fans and helps to keep our NAS silent.

NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI

If you feel the 110 USD for the Fractal Design Define R5 are a bit too expensive, you can pick any case like a Rosewill Dual Fans ATX Mid Tower for 26 USD.

Power supply

For a 6 bay NAS we recommend you to buy a ATX power supply like the EVGA 430 W1 80+, 430W&tag=nm084-20&link_code=wql&camp=2474&creative=9066&_encoding=UTF-8" onclick="update_aff_link('840');">EVGA 430 W1 80+, 430W with 3 years of warranty for 35 USD. In our smaller 4 bay NAS we use a PicoPSU-90 with an external power supply but for a NAS with 6 data drives you may want to have a bigger one wich is more efficient on higher loads.

The x is equipped with 4x SATA-Power. If you want to connect 6 data drives, you need 2 PYO2SATA 6in SATA Power Y Splitter Cable (3 USD each).

OS system drive - SSD or SLC-Stick recommended

To keep the 4 SATA ports free for data drives, we recommend using an USB-Stick with SLC chips. SLC chips are more reliable and faster. MLC-USB-Sticks are known to easily die if used as linux OS disk (OpenMediaVault is based on a Debian 7 "Wheezy" Linux).

A good buy is the Mach Xtreme MX ES SLC USB 3.0 Pen Drive 8GB for 22 USD or the bigger and fast one, the MX-Technology 16GB USB 3.0 MX-ES Series SLC for 34 USD wich offers 170 MB/s read and 185 MB/s write speed. Both sticks come with a 5 year warranty. A good utility is the USB 3.0 A Type Female to Female 20 Pin Box Header Slot Adapter wich let us install the USB drive inside the case.

Alternatively - if you do not need all SATA ports - we recommend the ADATA USA Premier Pro SP600 2.5-Inch 32 GB SATA III Synchronous NAND SSD with a capacity of 32GB for 34 USD.

Data drives

The best choice for home NAS data drives are the WD Red drives wich are available from 1 to 6 TB for arround 40 USD per TB. We recommend to buy a larger one instead of two small ones. That saves money and energy and reduces the risk of a harddrive failure inside a raid - wich increases with the number of total drives used.

The WD Red harddrives offer TLER (Time-Limited-Error-Recovery). This function increases the stability of a harddrive inside a raid by communicating with the hardware controller. The warranty is 3 years.

NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI

Comparison of NAS operation systems

You're free to install every software you like - Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 with Windows Storage Places will also do. However as linux lovers we recommend OpenMediaVault wich is free and fast.

Base OSDebian 7 (Wheezy)FreeBSD 9.3
Raid-LevelJBOD, 0, 1, 5, 6, 100, 1, Raid-Z (5), Raid-Z2 (6), Z3
File systemsExt3, Ext4, XFS, JFSZFS, UFS
Memorymin. 2GBmin. 8GB
ManagementWebinterface, consoleWebinterface, console
Guidancecoming sooncoming soon


The assembly is very easy, the Intel Core i3-4160 is bundled with a fan on which a thermal pad is already installed. After CPU installation the fan can be plugged into the 4 holes in the mainboard. After that we need to install the memory. That's more a less all.

Bilder werden geladen ...
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI Thumbnail
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI Thumbnail
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI Thumbnail
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI Thumbnail

ECC vs. Non-ECC memory with FreeNAS

When it comes to FreeNAS and the ZFS filesystem you will often read that it's existentially to use ECC memory because of single-bit-flips from which ECC memory will protect you. If a single-bit flip is written to you data drive there is the chance of silent data corruption. The ZFS file system uses checksums to regularly check the written data but nevertheless there is a small chance that ZFS can not repair some data.

As ECC memory can prevent single-bit flips and is only arround 10% mor expensive you should go it if possible. This rule applies also to all other operation or filesystems.

The big problem with ECC memory is that only server or workstation mainboards are supporting it and those are indeed more expensive. For that reason ECC is not used in home or private systems till today even it offers a big security plus when it comes to data integrity. You can say a mainboard with ECC support will be arround 100 bucks more than one with the same features and no ECC support. Additional to the mainboard also the CPU has to support ECC memory.

There is a case study performed by Google and the university of Toronto that analyzied the occurance of bit flips over a period of 2 years. They used only servers with DDR and DDR2 memory so i don't know how much you can apply it to more actual technologies like DDR3 and DDR4 memory.

They monitored 6 servers and found that arround 8% of the memory was affected by single bit flips, 92% of the memory never saw a single bit flip. The affected 8% produced arround 4000 errors per year while the chance of a multi bit flip was at very low 0.2%. Even ECC memory can not prevent data corruption if a multi bit flip occurs.

Keep in mind that they monitored googles productive servers with an increddible high amount of data flow. In a private NAS the chance for single or multi bit flips are very little. So what is our recommendation ? Do we recommend ECC memory or is it waste of money ? Read the statement of the co developer of the ZFS filesystem, Matt Ahren:

Theres nothing special about ZFS that requires/encourages the use of ECC RAM more so than any other filesystem. If you use UFS, EXT, NTFS, btrfs, etc without ECC RAM, you are just as much at risk as if you used ZFS without ECC RAM. I would simply say: if you love your data, use ECC RAM. Additionally, use a filesystem that checksums your data, such as ZFS.

IPMI - Intelligent Platform Management Interface

By using the internal IPMI you can remotely access your NAS even if its in of state. The webinterface uses a Java application to show you a virtual display that feels like it is directly connected via cable with your NAS. To use the IPMI it is required to install the free Java runtimes on your client.

After installation of Java you can access the NAS by typing the IP-address of the IPMI in your browser. The standard username and password is "admin". You can download a manual for the IPMI at ASRock Rack.

Bilder werden geladen ...
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI Thumbnail
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI Thumbnail
  • NAS - Expert for up to 6 drives with ECC memory, AES-Ni and IPMI Thumbnail

We used the IPMI to configure FreeNAS through its console but it makes only sense if the webinterface is no longer accessible due to an error. FreeNAS (or FreeBSD) is supporting a virtual IPMI connection through a virtual network bridge so its enough to connect only one lan cable. As there are some limitations we recommend to use a second network cable to connect the IPMI.

Power consumption

Lets have a look on the energy efficiency of this NAS:

Power off, IPMI active2.8W
Running (without data drives)25W
Running (3 idle WD Red 3TB drives)30W
Running (3 active WD Red 3TB drives)39W


Here you can find a list of all used hardware components:

ProzessorIntel Core i3-4160 (2x 2.6GHz, HT, AES)118 USD
MainboardASRock Rack E3C226D2I210 USD
ArbeitsspeicherKingston KVR16E11/8 - 8GB DDR3-1600 CL11 1.5V67 USD
System-StickMach Xtreme MX-ES series MXUB3SES22 USD
System-Stick (alternativ)WINKOM-USB 3.0 Memory-Stick 16 GB35 USD
System-SSD (alternativ)ADATA USA Premier Pro SP600 (32GB)34 USD
Power supplyEVGA 430 W1 80+, 430W&tag=nm084-20&link_code=wql&camp=2474&creative=9066&_encoding=UTF-8" onclick="update_aff_link('840');">EVGA 430 W1 80+, 430W35 USD
CaseFractal Design Define R5110 USD
Case(alternativ)Rosewill Dual Fans ATX Mid Tower26 USD

Accessories (optional)USB 3.0 A Type Female to Female 20 Pin Box Header Slot Adapter6 USD
Accessories (5+ data drives) PYO2SATA 6in SATA Power Y Splitter Cable3 USD

Data drivesWestern Digital Red, Price per TB40 USD

SumCheapest compilation without data drives478 USD

Final words

The minimum price of our NAS - Expert is 478 USD - double the price of our NAS - Advanced that also can support 6 data drives but is laking of ECC and IPMI. Seimple speaking: "Security is expensive" is true also for a NAS. Our NAS - Expert offers you a maximum of security and data integrity. A regulary backup should be performed nevertheless.

FreeNAS is the ideal partner for the used hardware and can make use of the hardware benefits such as AES-Ni for encryption and the ZFS filesystem additional checksums your data while ECC memory is preventing single bit flips. You could use OpenMediaVault with Ext4 filesystem as well but as OpenMediaVault can not handle encryption natively it is much more work to get it working.

The ASRock Rack E3C226D2I mainboard offers a lot of features but and the IPMI is easy to use. As we're talking about a NAS guide for experts you may need some time to get into it but it's worth it.

The only disadvantage is the power consumption which is arround 10W higher in comparsion to our NAS - Advanced solution.

Please not that ASRock Rack officially gives no support for Standby (S3) mode on server mainboards. We tested Standby with Wake-up through lan in it worked fine. We recommend to update to the lastest Bios version.

Not the right NAS you're looking for ? Find it in our updated Self-build NAS guide for all skill levels.


by Stefan at 2016-05-22 Team

2 posts
@Bram: You can also install Intel Core i3/i5 processors. But the new skylakes are not well supported by FreeNAS 9.x and OpenMediaVault 2.x thats the reason why i do not upgrade the howto unless the new hardware is supported.

by Bram at 2016-04-03

Time to update this page. There is a new mainboard available ASRock E3C236D2I. :-) Only bad thing is that it requires Xeon CPU, although one is available with only 25W TDP

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About the author
Stefan is 32 years old and lives in Hamburg, Germany. He works as IT-Admin in a global acting, japanese company. He is founder of a german technic site named In 2015 the team launched the sites and