Building a Fast, Energy Efficient NAS box – Part 6

Part 6 – Choosing the right case for your NAS

The sixth installment in our NAS building project we will review potential  choices for a case.   The case selection is dependent on the type and size of NAS you want to build:

  • Boot, 0 RAID disk + eSATA and external disk expansion module
  • Boot, 2 RAID disk with or w/o eSATA and external disk expansion module
  • Boot, 4/5+ RAID disks with or w/o eSATA and external disk expansion module

It is generally best to keep the boot device as small and power frugal as possible such as a 2.5″ sata disk, a Mini-PCIe SSD or a USB thumb drive.  Here are number of accessories that can help you save previous spaces for your 3.5″ RAID disks.

PCI slot 2.5" caddy

Mini PCIe SSD

Other accessories can help you transform a benign mini-tower into a nice RAID box with hot-swap compatible RAID backplane or RAID Cage or multi-bay backplane as those units tend to be called.   Essentially, those modules slide in a hole for 2/3 5.25″ external bay and transform it into a 3 to 5 3.5″ hot swap, fast access, RAID disk bay.   Pay close attention to the product reviews.   The cheaper units tend to be more noisy and while this may not be a big deal in the server room or the closet,  you might find it objectionable if the box resides under your desk.   Here are some available models.

3 in 2 cage

4 in 3 cage (opened)

5 in 3 cage

Also remember that most cases come with their own PSU.  As discussed in the previous posting, try to purchase a case with a 80PLUS certified PSU or plan to do some power usage measurements and potentially replace the bundled PSU with the case with something a big smaller/more efficient.

Finally, remember that you can also fit a MINI-ITX, MINI-DTX or a FlexATX  motherboard in a MicroATX case.  This can give you a little more selection and potentially some room to grow when you decide to modernize your NAS box a few years down the line.  Similarly, you can fit a MicroATX motherboard (and generally a Mini-ITX/MINI-DTX or FlexTAX) in a full ATX case.

Note: We only considered cases with at least 1 expansion slot (full or half height) so we can at least add a eSATA card for an external disk expansion module.

Cases to use with 3 to 5 Disk SATA RAID cage (built-in or add-on):

 

  • $30 – Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower
  • RAID Disks  4 to 9

    Rosewill R101-P-BK

  • NO PSU (ATX PSU size)
  • MicoATX (Mini-ITX etc…)
  • Disk:
    • 3x 5.25
    • 2ext + 4 int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″ (use exp slot caddy)
  • 4x – Exp slot
  • Size:  15.00″ x 7.50″ x 13.80″
  • NOTES:  Smallest tower I could find with 3 5.25 bay that can be filled with a professional looking RAID disk cage (4/5 disks).
  • Option:  Same price, same spec, different faceplate  Rosewill R102-P-BK

 

  • $94 – Antec NSK3480 Black/ Silver 0.8mm cold-rolled steel
  • RAID Disks  4 to 5

    Antec NSK3480

  • 380W PSU (80PLUS)
  • MicroATX (Mini-ITX…)
  • Disk:
    • 2x 5.25
    • 1ext + 1 int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″,
    • 4x – Exp slot
  • Size:  14.00″ x 7.75″ x 13.75″
  • NOTE:  Can use a 3 RAID disk hot swap cage.  Great PSU included.  Antec cases are usually top notch to work with.

 

  • $120 – CHENBRO ES34169-BK-120  Pedestal Server Chassis
  • RaID Disks: 4

    CHENBRO ES34169-BK-120

  • 120W PSU (internal)
  • Mini-ITX (might fit a Mini-DTX)
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25 (for slim DVD, req bracket)
    • 4x 3.5″  (hot swap)
    • 1x 2.5″,  (there are actually 2 spots)
  • NOTE:  GREAT little case!  Highly Recommended! That is what I used in my build. I love the hot swap disk bays and the little 120W PSU is very clean (not certified 80PLUS but it seems pretty good from my tests).   The only ding is that the PSU fans are not silent… not particularly loud but I love the very very quiet ones which these are not.   If I had to do it again, I would probably order the 180W model below in hope that there would be no internal fans.

 

  • $40 Foxconn KS136-ISO450 Black  MicroATX Mini Tower
  • RAID disks:  8 to 11

    Foxcon TKS136 ISO450

  • NO PSU
  • MicroATX  (implies Mini-ITX …)
  • Disk:
    • 2x 5.25″
    • 2ext 3.5″ + 2 int 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″
    • 4 Exp slots
  • Size: 14.96″ x 7.09″ x 13.86″
  • Alternate model (identical price/specs $40 at Newegg)

 

 

Designer Cases with ability to host at least 4 x 3.5″ SATA disks:

If you are willing to spend a bit more for a “designer” case that will look good (but may not have an external hot-swap raid trays), this section introduces a few models of interest.   Note that you hardly ever have to swap disks in your NAS box so having internal disks is not that big of a compromise.    In my selection, I just wanted something that would feel like a high end Synology or QNAP box and all of those have hot-swap raid cages.

 

  • $95 – LIAN LI PC-V351B Black Aluminum MicroATX Case
  • RAID disks: 4-6

    Lian_Li_PC-V351B

  • NO PSU
  • MicroATX (Mini-ITX…)
  • Disk:
    • 2x 5.25
    • 1out + 2in x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″,
  • 4 – Exp slot
  • Size:  14.69″ x 10.98″ x 10.31″

 

  • $75  – SILVERSTONE SUGO SG02-BF  MicroATX Case
  • RAID disks 4

    Silverstone sugo SG02-BF

  • NO PSU
  • MicroATX
  • Disk:
    • 2x 5.25
    • 2int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″,
  • 4x – Exp slot
  • Size:  15.47″ x 10.63″ x 8.35″

 

  • $130 – LIAN LI PC-V352R Red Aluminum MicroATX Desktop Case
  • RAID disks 4-6

    Lian Li V352R

  • NO PSU
  • MicroATX
  • Disk:
    • 2x 5.25
    • 3x 3.5″ (internal)
    • 0x 2.5″,
  • 4 – Exp slot
  • Size:  15.70″ x 11.00″ x 10.80″
  • NOTE: Also available in Black (PC-V352B)

 

Cases with room for 2X internal SATA RAID disks:

This section outlines cases that can accommodate 2 internal SATA RAID disks and one boot device with at least one expansion slot for a eSATA board to connect a disk expansion module.

 

  • $70 – LIAN LI PC-Q07 Black Aluminum Mini-ITX
  • RAID disks 2

    Lian Li PC-Q07

  • NO PSU
  • Mini-ITX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1x 3.5″ (internal)
    • 1x 2.5″,
  • 1 – Exp slot
  • Size:  8.19″ x 7.60″ x 11.02″

 

  • $52 – Sentey Slim Series SS1-2421
  • RAID disks 2 to 3

    Sentey SS1-2421

  • 450W PSU (not certified)
  • MicroATX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1ext + 1int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″,

 

  • $42 – Linkworld 617-03-c2228U Black/Silver MicroATX Slim Case
  • RAID disks 3

    linkworld 617-03-c2228U

  • 400W PSU
  • MicroATX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1ext + int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″
  • 4x – Exp slot (low profile)
  • Size:  13.39″ x 5.31″ x 13.98″

 

  • $60 – IN WIN BK644.BN300TBL Black MicroATX Mini Tower Case
  • RAID disks:  3

    in_win_BK644

  • 300W PSU
  • MicroATX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1ext + 1 int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″
  • 4x – Exp slot (low profile)
  • Size:  10.80″ x 5.50″ x 12.70″

 

  • $50 – IN WIN BM650.AD160TBL Black Mini-ITX Tower
  • RAID disks:  2
  • PSU 160W (PFC corrected)
  • in_win_BM65

  • Mini-ITX / Mini-DTX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25 (slim) + 3.5″
    • 1x 3.5″ (internal)
    • 1x 2.5″, (0x if Mini-DTX board)
  • # 1 – Exp slot (low profile)
  • Size:  9.10″ x 4.40″ x 10.40″

 

  • $54 – IN WIN BP655.200BL Black Mini-ITX Case
  • RAID disks: 2

    in_win_BP655

  • PSU 200W
  • Mini-ITX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 2x 3.5″ (internal)
    • 0x 2.5″,
  • 1 – Exp slot (low profile)
  • Size:   12.20″ x 10.40″ x 3.90″

 

  • $64 – IN WIN wavy Black Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
  • RAID disks:  2 to 3

    in_win_Wavy

  • PSU 120W
  • Mini-ITX  / Mini-DTX
  • Disk:  
    • 1x 5.25
    • 2 or 3 x 3.5″ (internal)
    • 0x 2.5″,
  • # 1 – Exp slot (low profile)
  • Size:   9.06″ x 4.41″ x 10.39″

 

  • $50 – Rosewill R379-M Black Slim MicroATX  Case
  • RAID disks: 2

    rosewill_R379-M

  • PSU ATX12V Flex 300W
  • MicroATX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1int x 3.5″  1ext  x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″,
  • # 4 – Exp slot (low profile)
  • Size:  15.8″ x 12.8″ x 3.9″

 

  • $50 –  APEX MI-008 Black Steel Mini-ITX
  • RAID disks:  2

    apex_MI-008

  • PSU 250W  SFX 250W
  • NOTE: 271 good review (4 eggs)
  • Mini-ITX (maybe Mini-DTX)
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1ext + 1int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″
  • 1 x Exp slot (FULL size)
  • Size:  11.80″ x 8.70″ x 5.1″

 

  • $50 – Rosewill RS-MI-01 BK Mini ITX Case
  • RAID disks:  2

    Rosewill RS-MI-01 BK

  • PSU: 250W
  • Mini-ITX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1ext + 1int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″,
  • # 1 – Exp slot (probably full size)
  • Size:   13.00″ x 8.70″ x 5.10″

 

  • $65 – Thermaltake Element Q VL52021N2U Mini-ITX Case
  • RAID disks: 2

    thermaltake element Q

  • PSU 200W
  • Mini-ITX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1ext + 1int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″,
  • 1 – Exp slot
  • Size:  13.00″ x 8.66″ x 5.12″

 

  • $40 – APEX MI-100 Mini-ITX Case
  • RAID disks:  2

    apex MI-100

  • PSU: 250W
  • Mini-ITX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1ext + 1int x 3.5″
    • 0x 2.5″
  • # 1 – Exp slot
  • Size:  11.80″ x 8.70″ x 5.10″

 

  • $50 – APEVIA X-FIT-200 Black Steel Mini-ITX Case
  • RAID disks:  2

    APEVIA X-FIT-200

  • PSU  250W
  • Mini-ITX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25
    • 1x 3.5″ (internal)
    • 1x 2.5″
  • 1 – Exp slot
  • Size:   12.09″ x 7.87″ x 4.13″

 

Cases with room for only a boot disk:

The cases in this section are cute little affairs with only room for a boot disk (2.5″).  All cases here have at least 1 (full or half-height) expansion slot so we can add an eSATA card to drive the disk expansion module where the RAID disks will reside.

  • $70 –  Antec ISK 300-65 Black Mini-ITX Case
  • RAID disks:  0

    antec ISK 300-65

  • PSU 65W external brick
  • Mini-ITX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25 (slim)
    • 0x 3.5″ (internal)
    • 2x 2.5″,
    • 1 – Exp slot (half-height)
  • Size:  12.90″ x 8.70″ x 3.80″

 

  • $80 – Antec ISK 310-150 Black Mini-ITX Case
  • RAID disks:  0

    Antec ISK 310-150

  • PSU: 150w
  • Mini-ITX
  • Disk:
    • 1x 5.25 (for slim DVD)
    • 0x 3.5″ (internal)
    • 2x 2.5″
  • # 1 – Exp slot (half height)
  • Size:   12.90″ x 8.70″ x 3.80″

 

 

About admin

My name is Christian Marcotte.
I live in San Diego with my wife Carolyn and our son Jeremiah.

This site is a recording of my currrent ponderings, hobbies and interest.

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2 Responses to Building a Fast, Energy Efficient NAS box – Part 6

  1. Jonathan says:

    thanks for sharing this info, I don’t usually comments on blogs but this was very good info, helped me a lot, one of the best information out there for DYI NAS !!!!

    thanks!

    cheers

  2. Rob says:

    Thanks for the great information. I have been thinking about doing the same thing and wasnt really sure on where to start. Your page has helped get a handle on where to begin.

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