Water cooled NAS made from spare parts

with Macguyverish solutions for common problems

Posted by Christian Haschek on 2015-09-21
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In this project I will build a water cooled NAS made from my 51$ water cooling solution and hard drives I have laying around

The finished product

You hardly notice the water cooler radiator behind the screen.

Thoughts on the drives & RAID

The heart of every NAS is of course the storage, eg the drives. I have a few older disks of mixed age and capacity (1TB to 2.5TB). Since I want to use all of them in one RAID-like environment I chose a software RAID namingly Microsoft Storage. This is a feature introduced in Windows 8.0 and you can use that to create pools that can grow over time when you add new disks.

It even works with upgrading so if you have a 300GB disk in your RAID and find a lager one, you can take the one disk offline and put the new disk in and the storage pool will grow and replicate the lost data from the old drive.

Also a nice feature of the MS Storage is that even if your controllers die or your mainboard you can just install a new windows, connect the disks and they will find themselves again since the disks themselves know they belong to a certain pool and will recreate it automatically even if the hardware is changed.

I will make several benchmarks with different storage pool settings later.

The hardware

the case
I got this case from a friend. It's a 4U 19" rack mountable case

open case
It's very roomy because it's made for consumer grade hardware. You can put off-the-shelf PSUs, fans and mainboards in it.

I had this old ASUS P5LD2 SE with LGA 775 socket laying around and thought I could see if it still works.

open case with mainboard
I was playing around for a while to find a good spot for the radiator. The position here is of course not the one I chose since I didn't want to make holes in the case to fit the tubes. Also it wouldn't be the best idea to push the hot air from the radiator right on the mainboard

Reservoir in the case
The reservoir fits perfectly in the case and then the case is closed its so tight that it couldn't fall over. I just had to make another hole in the side so I could fit the tubes in. The holes in the top were perfect for filling the reservoir

Radiator on top
This is where I ended up putting the radiator. Since the tubes are fairly flexible I can move it on the top or let it hang out of the back

cable management
Time for cable management

top view
Still looks very clean and tidy. Since this will become a NAS we have to put some disks in there.

closed case
Looks okay. The radiator on top looks pretty industrial but it's not too bad

The disks

Since this case had only support for two HDDs I had to improvise.

perforated tape
I used perforated tape to create a simple HDD holding system. I put rubber under each screw so it wouldn't transfer vibrations too much

tape holding it together
The distance between the disks is perfect for airflow so the disks won't overheat

disks together
Looks good to me

top view again
If I had enough SATA ports on this mainboard I could easily fit 10 drives in there.

top view
But I ended up putting the disks sideways so they'll get more airflow and also the cables don't hang too much over the board

Close up of the disks

Temperature problems

I forgot how hot the LGA775 CPUs got. This is almost as bad as a Pentium 4. Initially the CPU said it was at 85°C / 185°F. Passivley cooled by the radiator btw.

This Pentium D was running at a 3GHz clock so I tuned it down to 2.2GHz and now it runs smoothly at 49°C / 120°F


I'm still thinking about switching the board for something slightly newer since this board also sucks up electricity en masse.

Setting up the drives

As stated before I'm using Microsoft Storage Spaces which are a part of Windows since Windows 8 (I think only in Professional and Enterprise versions)

Screenshot of Storage spaces

To see which would be fastest I did a simple benchmark using Crystal Disk Mark. These are the results:

disk mark

I'm going to stick with 2-way mirror since I have enough disks and it's faster than parity (which is known for it's bad performance)

Not the best performance but good enough for a NAS at home (for me)

copying files

If a drive would fail

I would see it in the Storage Spaces overview

Overview of Storage Spaces

Now I have a water cooled NAS made from spare parts with good performance and gave old disks a new purpose.

Everybody wins! (most of all the power company)

Tags: diy | pc | server | nas | scrap | spare

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