I'm actually thinking to only run the nas on schedule like when I'm only home on week nights and weekends but still of course I want the power draw to be minimal as well. The 40 off any mobo at MC with that specific i3 3225 cpu seem to be a good deal so for what I intend to use the nas, i think it's ok.
What specific Crucial ram are you looking at btw?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148654 this RAM. There's also an 8GB version, which I'd get for running Windows. For unRAID you'll be less RAM-dependent.
I also considered FreeNas but from what I read, it's not flexible in extending arrays. Same thing with WHS as the drive extender was pulled out.
The drive pooling features that were DROPPED from WHS come back in full force in Win8 as "Storage Spaces". Full pooling support.
Unraid seems to be the "in" thing nowadays for nas builds as it's efficient to not spin any hdd in the raid array that's not being used since it's not striped but uses a single parity drive. That makes hdd independent and recovery shld be easier fr what i read.
FlexRAID works exactly the same way, plus runs in Windows and you can run the parity calculations on a schedule instead of realtime, to isolate all of that extra CPU and overhead.
With Win8, I haven't read much about it but just high level and of course it's not free but looks to be a viable solution as well. I think I'll try unraid first since the first 3 hdd setup is free and go from there. It's just I have to make the unraid nas be dedicated for its purpose as it cannot serve as htpc and nas at the same time. While w Win8, it can boot as htpc and function as nas as well from what you described. I also plan on checking out XBMC as front end to access nas files. Right off the bat, for now I'll use my old ps3 dlna to stream media. So there, I'm trying to keep the budget down w no ssd add on and just use free unraid setup..
Btw just a thought about the 5.25bay of the CM120, why don't you just use velcro on the SSD? Saves you $36 lol
One slot for the SSD, sure, but three additional slots for extra 2.5" drives to keep expanding my storage pool... you can get a 2.5" 1TB drive for like $60-70... so a good way to squeeze every last bit of space out of the case for adding storage capacity. I wouldn't buy this thing until I actually had to add more drives of the 2.5" variety...until then, yes velcro the SSD to the case.
Now im REALLY getting off-topic here, but another advantage for me personally, to running something within Windows, is I can offload more tasks from my desktop and onto this server to run always, and consume less power than my big beastly tower... IP security camera recording, automatic torrent downloading, Plex Media Server, Crashplan Backup destination repository... these RAID-specific OSes wouldn't allow all that extra functionality.