My First FreeNAS: Part 1 – Build and Burn-In

Kscope16 is over, my parts have arrived, and its finally time to start my FreeNAS build.  Today I’m going to run through my actual build process and the start of my burn-in process.  Let’s start with the hardware…what did I order again?

  • SuperChassis 846TQ-R900B
  • (2) E5-2670 @ 2.6 GHz
  • Supermicro X9DR7-LN4F-JBOD
  • 256GB Registered ECC DDR3 RAM (16 x 16GB)
  • Noctua i4 Heatsinks
  • (5) Noctua NF-R8 (to bring the noise level down on the chassis)
  • (2) SanDisk Cruzer 16GB CZ33
  • (2) Supermicro AOC-2308-l8e
  • (3) Full-Height LSI Backplates (for the AOC-2308’s and the P3605)
  • (6) Mini-SAS Breakout Cables
  • Intel P3605 1.6TB PCIe SSD
  • (9) 2TB HGST Ultrastar 7K3000 Hard Drives
  • (4) 10Gb Twinax DAC Cables
  • (2) Intel X520-DA2

An here’s the pile of goodies:


I always start with the motherboard by itself:


Next up…the CPU(s):


CPU close-up:


Before we install the heatsinks, let’s install the memory.  The heatsinks are petty big and have a habit of getting in the way:


That’s a lot of memory…how about a close-up:


Now we can install the heatsinks:


Like I said…huge:


Now that we have all of the core components in place on the motherboard, let’s put it into our case:


Obviously, we have a quite a few other components to add (hard drives, add-in cards, etc).  But for now, I like to keep it simple for the burn-in process.  So how do we go about that?  For the basic hardware, there are two recommended steps.  Because memory is so important to FreeNAS, we have to make sure that our memory is in good working order.  For those of us purchasing used hardware, this is especially critical.  Once we have the memory tested, we will then test out our CPU’s to make sure that they are functional and to take a look at the temperatures.

So how do we do this?  You can download utilities like memtest86+ or cpustress and boot up directly using those tools.  But, being that I’m averse to additional work that has already been done by someone else, I just downloaded the latest Ultimate Boot CD.  This comes with a mega-ton of tools including the two I need to start with:  memtest86+ and cpustress.

You can download the ISO here.  Once you have downloaded the ISO, you have two choices.  You can use one of my favorite tools, Rufus, to burn the ISO to a USB thumb drive.  Then you can just boot from the thumb drive.  Your second option is the preferred option.  Hopefully you purchased server-class hardware for your FreeNAS box and that hardware has IPMI and Remote KVM.  If so, then you will likely be able to mount the ISO over the network and easily boot from the virtual media.  This is the option I went for.

My Supermicro board even has two options for this option (options on top of options!).  You can do this through the IPMI interface and mount an ISO from a share or you can use the iKVM to mount the ISO.  Connect to your server with iKVM and select Virtual Media and then Virtual Storage.


Switch to the CDROM&ISO tab, select ISO File from the drop-down, and click Open Image:


Select the ultimate boot CD image name and click Open:


Finally click Plug In:


Once we reboot (or boot up, if you have no other OS installed, it should just boot right in):


We’ll go down to Memory and select Memtest86+:


Memtest86+ is a somewhat newer release of a really old memory testing utility I have used for over a decade: Memtest86.  This release takes the older code and brings support for newer hardware and fixes a number of bugs.  Even still, it is pretty old.  It also takes a long…long time to run with 256GB of memory.  So I ran a single pass to start:


Once that first pass completed (roughly 24 hours), I focused in on stressing my CPU’s.  For this I used cpustress, also included in the Ultimate Boot CD.  I’m less familiar with this stressing tool, as I’ve always been more Windows focused and used tools like Prime95 for this purpose.  Again we boot into the Ultimate Boot CD:


This time we’ll select CPU and then CPUstress:


CPUstress should start up automatically:


This gives us one more menu…I just went with option 1:


Overall, it seems to work pretty well:


Now with that running lets take a look at the CPU temps:


The temps look pretty good for running wide open.  There appears to be headroom for the additional heat that will be generated by the hard drives that will be added to the system.  So how does power usage look?


The numbers look pretty good here.  Again…no drives, so this number will go up considerably by the time we are completely done.  I burned the CPU’s in for a little over 24 hours and then went back to Memtest86+.  I ran that for roughly four more days with no errors.  That’s all for today.  In our next post we’ll finally load up FreeNAS, get our controllers ready to go, and burn in our hard drives.

The EPM Week In Review: Week Ending July 16, 2016
Hyperion EPM Week In Review: July 23, 2016


  1. Where did you get the temp info and graphs from? Did you make them on your own or is it part of the CPU Burn? If it was on your own, how did you come up with it? Also, do you know what the other options do?

    • That’s actually a screenshot from the management console of the Supermicro motherboard.

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