After some research I am inclined towards using an Intel NUC. But considering that there is only one SATA port and an mSATA port (I think), is there any way to add more storage to the NUC?

If not is there another device I can use which offers more storage options?

The features I like to have are:
1. Small form factor
2. The low power consumption
3. Good CPU power
4. Support for 3 or more hard disks (not looking for RAID but for something like snapRAID or unRAID with sufficient fault tolerance)

Intel NUC qualifies points 1 to 3 above.

  • you mean a USB 3.0 hard disk enclosure? Or something like an external hard disk? Also since I am looking for something primarily for data storage how would data transfer speeds be? – Nithin Feb 7 '16 at 11:55
  • Nucs are drive limited for a reason. I'd just see if I can find a atom or celeron mini itx box with a similar chip if I needed tons of space. – Journeyman Geek Feb 7 '16 at 12:06
  • yup. Speeds are pretty good on modern USB 3.0 drives - they even hang SSDs off em. – Journeyman Geek Feb 7 '16 at 14:28
  • Someone recommended me a HP Microserver device for a similar use case, e.g. www8.hp.com/us/en/products/proliant-servers/…; similar CPUs to the cheaper NUCs, and it is just big enough to host 4x3,5" drives, so no need for external enclosures. Older generations are available used for pretty low price. – liori Feb 7 '16 at 19:32

If you want a non NUC class machine, just go with a mini ITX system. They arn't as ludicrously small but they have more expansion capability.

Looking at these reviews something like the asrock 3150 or 3700 based boards might be a good fit - up to 4 Sata ports (or even 2 in the alternatives) one mini pcie slot (which might be good for 2 more) and a PCIe slot (which might be good for even more).

Physical size depends on your case and power supply, but this would be a better fit for "I need a ton of hard drives for as little space and power as possible"

Outside of physical form factor, these are fairly similar to nuc class machines and ought to have similar power use. Of course, form factor depends on your case, and such, and this won't be barely the size of a 3.5 inch drive, but you can pick drives as needed for maximum density

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Its a bit tricky. There's three elements to your problem and each of this needs to be handled seperately. Data, Power and 'space'

Easiest way? USB 3.0 Hard drives. They are typically fast enough for bulk storage these days, though clearly you arn't going to get blazing fast speeds. A 2.5 inch drive goes up to 2tb, which is pretty impressive data density, and this is the neatest solution. You could also get an enclosure with more drive bays connected over NUC. Newer NUCs would do thunderbolt wihich is even faster.

This is the sane way to do this. I did once figure out how you could get 3 drives into a NUC tho. This is entirely theoretical and somewhat impractical IMO.

If you need more speed, you can trade your wifi adaptor for more storage - a mini pci-e adaptor can be broken out to sata for 2 more drives, which takes care of your data.

Power is tricky - You might be able to split the internal sata power adaptor or get a power brick specially designed for hard drives. Split this and you have power for the hard drives. They are laptop drives so power needs might be low but something like this should cover it handily

Space? Intel has an option to 3d print lids. Design a new lid to hold the drives, 3d print it. Hard drives are pretty standardized.

Personally, the USB 3.0 HDD option or external drive bays are the way to go, especially since you can turn off unwanted drives as needed.

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  • I think having multiple external hard drives sitting around your NAS box makes them a lot more susceptible to getting knocked over while you're vacuuming, or moving something else around. Hard drives don't like tipping over while they're running. It depends where you're going to keep it, and what kind of USB3 external hard drives you're looking at. Bus-powered 2.5" drives, maybe. 3.5" drives each with their own wall-wart? Ewwww. 3.5" drives are still cheaper per TB than 2.5" drives, like a 3TB 3.5" for similar price to a 2TB 2.5" (Which is better than I expected for 2.5". interesting) – Peter Cordes Feb 7 '16 at 16:20
  • Yup but much more cabling, messier and more power uss – Journeyman Geek Feb 7 '16 at 23:29
  • Fair point about power use. ~5 to 8W idle vs. what, something under 1W idle? I'm thinking about building a new home server, and was thinking low-power CPU but ATX case to hold multiple 3.5" drives. (To replace my trusty old PIII 450MHz that's been my firewall / mail server for over 15 years. :P) – Peter Cordes Feb 8 '16 at 3:12

Theoretically, you can use a SATA port multiplier Intel NUC. Another option is a dirt cheap SimpleNAS Pro, which is based on Banana Pi and allows 2 HDDs in RAID0/1 configuration.

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