Well, I can guarantee that the DFI LANParty UT nF3 250Gb boots without an AGP card in, and I'm sure I've tried another board that worked as well, (and obviously most boards designed to go in servers work too). If I just used DAS then my computer would have to be on when ever anyone needed access. Also, having a bit of physical distance between my desktop, and the server theoretically makes my backups more secure (although having it in the next room doesn't make much difference I suppose). The advantage having a more general purpose computer doing the serving is to allow stuff like DNLA streaming with transcoding, or an itunes library share. Sure, some appliance NAS's offer some of these services, but only for a price. Also, your FreeNAS can be upgraded to add support for new services (eg bit torrent). Not sure why you insist that it's not a 'proper' NAS if it's "if the file sharing management/replication/backup system is not integrated into a dedicated hardware ASIC", all the professional NAS's I've ever used have just been standard servers with lots of disks attached, our old one at work was a Dell 1U server, running w2k3 storage edition, with four 160Gb sata disks. (ok, that was a cheap one). Things like redundant PSUs are complete overkill for home use, it's not like it costs you anything if you can't view your holiday snaps for 10 mins while you swap in a new PSU.