If you are building a DIY network attached storage, then choosing the right motherboard is the first step.
A DIY NAS can end up being much cheaper as well as more powerful than a pre-built NAS station. The beauty of DIY NAS is that you can choose the amount of storage drives, the processor as well as the RAM, among other things, for your setup.
Whether you want to build a NAS for your home or for your office, there are a few things that most DIY experts take into consideration which we will review below.
In short, here we will look into the best motherboards for NAS and also into some tips and points that can help you with building your NAS.
Comparison of Top Motherboard for NAS
|MSI B365M |
I AORUS PRO
List of Best Motherboards for NAS in 2021
We have chosen the following motherboards based on their overall value and important specs like SATA port count.
- ASRock RACK C236 WSI – Mini ITX – Intel – 8 SATA Ports – Best Mini ITX Motherboard for NAS
- ASRock H370M – Cheap NAS Motherboard – 6 SATA Ports
- MSI B365M PRO-VDH – 6 SATA Ports – LGA1151
- ASRock B550M-ITX/AC – AMD AM4 NAS Motherboard – 4 SATA Ports
- ASRock X570M Pro4 – 8 SATA Ports – Recommended Micro ATX NAS Motherboard
- Gigabyte C246-WU4 – 10 SATA Ports – Best Motherboard for NAS Server
1. ASRock RACK C236 WSI – Mini ITX – 8 SATA Ports – Best Mini ITX Motherboard for NAS
A mini ITX motherboard with the highest number of SATA ports found on this form factor : 8 SATA Ports. Supports ECC RAM as well.
When it comes to a NAS setup, this motherboard most certainly stands apart from the rest.
While it is from a lesser known brand name, this motherboard offers exactly what a DIY NAS builder would look for.
It has a mini ITX form factor and offers a whopping 8 SATA 3 ports. This is the highest amount of SATA 3 ports that can be found on a mini ITX form factor.
As mentioned ealier, mini ITX is the smallest form factor for consumer grade PC and hence it is highly sought after for compact NAS builds.
You can add upto 8 hard drives on this thanks to the 8 SATA ports.
As far as the processor support goes, it has an LGA 1151 socket with support for Intel Xeon E3-1200 V5/v6 processors.
While this is an older motherboard, there is none out that can give a configuration as this.
Another important point to note is that while it has a maximum support for 32 GB of DDR 4 RAM with 2133 MHz Max, it supports both ECC and non-ECC RAM Types.
The common RAMs, as we know them, are known as non-ECC or non error correcting code memory. The ECC RAMs, on the other hand, are server grade, they are expensive AND they are much more stable. Therefore, while it is not a MUST to have an ECC memory here, it is still a great option to have.
All in all, if you are looking for the highest number of SATA ports on a mini-ITX build then this is the best motherboards for NAS.
2. ASRock H370M – Cheap NAS Motherboard – Intel – 6 SATA Ports
An affordable mini ITX motherboard for an Intel build. Has 6 SATA ports which is a significant amount for this form factor as well as price tag.
Next we have a very affordable mini-ITX board for an Intel build. Unlike the motherboard listed above, this does not have 8 SATA ports, however, it does costs significantly less.
This motherboard offers a total of 6 SATA ports. This is on the higher range of the SATA ports found in a mini-ITX form factor as it is not uncommon to find 4 or just 2 SATA ports in most cases.
In reality, 6 SATA ports at this price range turns out to give you a better overall value than the motherboard above.
Another great aspect of this motherboard, as compared to the previous, is that it has an LGA 1151 socket that can support all common processors from the Intel 8th and 9th generation ranging from Pentium all the way to Core i9.
Therefore, for the purpose of a simple NAS, you can get a highly affordable Intel Pentium or low-grade i3, for instance, and you will be good to go.
One downside is that it does not support ECC RAM and therefore, if you were looking for server grade build, this may be a concern but not a deal breaker in most instances.
The cherry on cake here is that this does have WiFi which add another layer to your connectivity options with the NAS.
All in all, for a budget, compact mini ITX setup with a decent amount of SATA ports, this is the best motherboard for NAS in our opinion.
3. MSI B365M PRO-VDH – Micro ATX NAS Motherboard – 6 SATA Ports – LGA1151
A 6 port Intel LGA 1151 based Micro ATX NAS motherboard with an affordable price tag.
If the Mini ITX form factor with 6 SATA Ports above is a bit too expensive for you this then we highly recommend you stick with the Micro ATX motherboards.
Micro ATX motherboards are generally much cheaper and also offer a higher level of expandability of their price.
This motherboard feature the LGA 1151 socket and hence is capable for supporting the 9th and 8th gen Intel processors.
It features a single PCIe X16 slot along with 2 x PCIe X1 slots.
If you are looking for a bear minimum and an affordable motherboard, then this is the best nas motherboard in our opinion.
4. ASRock B550M-ITX/AC – AMD AM4 NAS Motherboard – 4 SATA Ports
A mini ITX AM4 motherboard with 4 SATA ports. Suitable for small home NAS builds.
AMD processors are generally cheaper than their Intel counterparts. Therefore, if you want to make a budget compact build with AMD components then you may want to look into this.
This motherboard is NOT extraordinary for NAS, but for a COMPACT AMD build, you don’t have much of an option.
This is a mini-ITX motherboard with 4 SATA ports. Unfortunately, AMD based mini-ITX board cap out at 4 SATA ports. Until that changes in the future, a board like this can come in handy.
This motherboard has an AM4 socket with support for AMD Ryzen and Athlon processors. Along with that, it also has a WiFi that may come in handy when building NAS that can be accessed wirelessly.
It should also be noted that being one of the latest motherboards, it offers the latest Bluetooth V5.0 as well.
All in all, if you are hell bent on building a COMPACT system with AMD components, then this is the best motherboard for NAS.
5. ASRock X570M Pro4 – 8 SATA Ports – Recommended Micro ATX NAS Motherboard
If you don’t mind a somewhat larger Micro ATX form factor, then you will find this to be of an excellent value.
Micro ATX motherboards have a size of 9.6 x 9.6 inches as compared to the 6.7 x 6.7 inches size of the mini ITX we saw above.
Therefore, you will require a somewhat larger chasis, however, you also get a lot more added functionality with a larger form factor.
For starters this is an AM4 based motherboard for the latest AMD Ryzen and Athlon processors. AMD processors generally are quite popular for affordable DIY builds since they are cheaper.
On top of that, it has 8 SATA ports. This is quite the significant number for building a decent sized NAS. You can add 8 hard drives to this board.
Being a larger motherboard, also gives it significantly more capability as compared to a mini-ITX motherboard. It has 4 RAM slots and thsu can support upto 128 GB of DDR 4 RAM.
Furthermore, it supports both ECC as well as the common non-ECC RAMs. However, to use ECC RAM, you will need to get your hands on the expensive Pro series CPU which would not be ideal if you are making a budget build. In that case, you can stick with the regular non-ECC RAM.
Another thing to note is that unlike mini-ITX boards above, this has 2 x PCIe X16 slots with a configuration of X16 and X4 – the second slot works at X4 bandwidth.
This is quite significant if you plan to expand as you would be able to experiment with RAID controllers, add-in-cards etc to customize your NAS even further.
One very significant, and often overlooked, feature here is its amazing phase power design. A phase power design genrally entails the amount of Voltage Regulator Modules (VRM) used by a motherboard.
The higher the number, the more stable is voltage passing through the board and thus the less prone it is to damage or malfunctions.
It is essential for NAS to remain stable 24/7. A good phase design ensures that. This motherobard has a 10 Power Phase Design.
All in all, if you are okay with a somewhat larger form factor, then this is the best motherboard for NAS with its 8 SATA ports.
Also Read: What is VRM in a Motherboard
6. Gigabyte C246-WU4 – 10 SATA Ports – Best Motherboard for NAS Server
A server grade ATX motherboard with Intel C246 chipset, LGA 1151 socket ad 10 SATA ports.
This is the largest motherboard in this list with an ATX form factor and the highest price tag. However, to be fair, it is still quite reasonable in terms of price if you compare it with ASRock RACK C236 WSI above. This is basically a nas server motherboard given the sheer amount of SATA ports it has.
Despite offering so much, it is still quite reasonably priced. Of course, the downside here is that you will need a large chassis as well as a large area for your NAS storage.
The motheroboard has a whopping 10 SATA ports. You can 10 hard drives to this to make the ultimate DIY NAS for yourself.
Being a server grade motherboard it supports both Intel Xeon processors as well as ECC RAM and Non-ECC RAM.
However, if you want to build a budget setup it is equally capable since the LGA 1151 socket here can support processors all the way from Intel Core i9 to Celeron from 8th and 9th generation.
If you are serious about expanding your motherboard with some SATA PCIe Card to add even more Hard Drives to your NAS, you can do so with the plethora of expansion slots its offers.
It offers one PCIE X16 slot running at X16 bandwidth, one PCIE X16 slot running at X8 bandwidth and 2 PCIe X16 slots running at X4 each.
Hence the expandability you can perform here is huge.
For the ultimate DIY option, we recommend this to be the best motherboard for NAS. However, since it is expensive, it may not be suitable for average setup that most DIY builders aim for.
Are Storage Controllers worth it?
Logic controllers such as this LSI SAS 9207-8i can expand the amount of SATA ports you have significantly but are expensive.
Storage controllers are basically add in cards that you can attach onto your PCIe slot to expand the amount of SATA ports avaiable to you on your motherboard.
Many find these to be an excellent alternative to getting a motherboard with a large amount of SATA ports built in.
With this strategy, you can simply get a very cheap motherboard and add on to these expansion slots.
There are two drawbacks to these however. For starters, they require a free PCIe slot with atleast X4 lanes in most cases and are also quite expensive.
A good Storage controller such as the LSI Logic SAS 9207-8i can cost more than a motherboard itself.
On top of that, you will need to invest in separate SAS to SATA cables. A SAS cable can basically connect a PCIe Controller like the one above to 4 discrete SATA hard drives.
Therefore, the total cost of acquiring this controller plus the cables can get quite expensive for those on a budget.
Also Read: Best Motherboards with Integrated Graphics
What are People Looking For in NAS Mobo?
While the beauty of a DIY setup lies in the fact that you can make your ideas come true, there are still a few pointer that can get you started with sifting through the nas motherboards if you are new into building them.
Higher SATA Port Counts
It goes without saying that SATA ports are single handidly the most important ports for NAS mainboard. The more the number of SATA ports you have, the more hard drives you can fit into the motherboard.
Therefore, you can follow this notion as a rule of thumb that the higher the number the better.
In this article, we have actively listed motherboards that tend to feature the most SATA ports for their price or size category.
Mini ITX Form Factor – Great for NAS Motherboards
Many love the idea of their NAS builds to be as compact as possible. That is where the form factors matter.
A smaller form factor of a motherboard would mean that you can fit it into a small chassis.
The smallest form factor available for consumer grade use is the mini ITX. It has a dimension of 6.7 inches x 6.7 inches.
Therefore, the holy grail is to find a Mini ITX form factor with the highest possible SATA ports.
Balance between SATA Counts and Price
Of course the number of SATA ports is not the only main consideration. You have to balance the cost of the overall build as well.
For example certain high end motherboards do feature upto 13 SATA ports. However, such motherboards are not just expensive themselves, but the processor they require is also significantly expensive.
As such, here it would be illogical to invest in such a premium setup as you would otherwise practically be able to build multiple smaller NAS storages for the price of a single setup with the premium motherboard and processor.
Not Processor Hungry – Particularly True for Home NAS Motherboard
A NAS setup is NOT really a processor hungry setup. However, in the end, it does depend upon what you want to accomplish. If you plan to use the setup as workstation or perhaps build working VRMs, then a faster processor may be best.
However, if you are going to use the NAS as a static storage space, then budget processors would do just fine. Many users are okay with suggesting low key processor i.e Pentium, Core i3 etc as ideal for most NAS.
Ofcourse the type of hardware that you get would depend a lot upon your use case. Do you want a home NAS motherboard or an business NAS motherboards?
Home NAS motherboard would obivoulsy be cheaper with low key components installed. A server grade nas mobo would have more expensive components.
Here we looked at some of the best motherboards for NAS in our opinion while taking into consideration the most common pointers for a DIY setup.
Ofcourse, your NAS setup does not have to be expensive. It just depends upon what you want to accomplish on it. For basic NAS, any budget motherboard with an entry level processor would do just fine.