I have been using Unraid for over 2 years now and it has a great in-between a full solution such as a NAS dedicated hardware and a homelab DIY solution.
The idea was to use it as a server and a machine for the family.
The primary purpose was to replace a QNAP TS-451 used purely for storage and an older Intel i5 4000 series running Ubuntu Server. The QNAP has been around since 2015.
The additional goal was to see if it can act as a secondary computer for the family. It will be used for gaming and using Linus Tech Tips as inspiration to reduce hardware costs.
A base OS / distribution such as Ubuntu was also a factor and I had been running one for years. The maintenance and upgrade was a bit of a pain so a managed solution was what I was looking for.
I have tried Proxmox but it supports LXC rather than the Docker implementation of containers and it was not something I wanted to learn. Since then, I found you could run something like portainer to manage containers using Docker however the boat has sailed at that point.
I intentionally increased the spec if it was going to serve double duty as a server and gaming PC.
I used various hard drives I had and migrate the existing ones from the QNAP.
The hardware build was as expected. The hard drive sleds were hard to come by but they became more available as time went on. A bonus was having an internal USB breakout board which allows the Unraid USB stick to stay inside the case as there is no reason to have it easily accessible (unless you badly need to restore configuration files).
Passing through hardware directly to the Windows 10 virtual machine was easy but was unreliable. For example, getting sound out to headphones was harder than it looks. I wasn’t able to pass the onboard sound card. I bought a USB sound card using the Creative Sound Blaster X G6. However, to get it to work, I had to pass the whole USB controller which ended up down a USB PCIe card to get working. Even then, it stopped working after a couple of months.
In the end, it was easier to move to a dedicated machine and with anti cheats prevent games run in VM coming down the line it will cause even more issues.
This has only been a problem with gaming. If it was used for browsing and general office work then it would be OK. Also, I have Home Assistant running in it’s own VM and it has been flawless.
Without the gaming side, it’s now an overkill of a machine sucking more power than it needs to run the services it has.
It has become an integral, single point of failure system in the house running all sorts of services from real life impacting things like DNS, Home Assistant to file storage and backups. Power to run things is no longer a concern but it has gone the opposite and I would like to reduce the power consumption (~3.5kWh per day).