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Question Looking for a not very expensive case for DIY tower server, SSI-EEB or EATX, and multiple HDDs

Vatharian

Junior Member
Jul 25, 2019
3
0
6
Hello!
I'm currently looking to expand my home server, and I am on extended hunt for a case to hold it all. I'd like to ask for recommendations.

My requirements are as follows:
- ability to house full 12x13" SSI-EEB motherboard, or at least full-size EATX (dimensions are the same, mounting holes are different, but this no issue for me);
- ability to hold 12 or 16 3.5" hdds;
- ability to hold either 8x 2.5" hdds or 2x 5.25" bays, for a cage with backplane I have;
- at least one additional PCI bracket under the motherboard, so at least 8 slots - this alone basically crosses out every single rack mounted case, this is for remote KVM expansion card, so it's important;
- optional: potentially space to accept 360/45 mm radiator for CPUs (I have all required hardware for LC, but no space);
- optional: dual PSU mount, as that many HDDs are a real challenge to power from single PSU;
- optional: high feet, removable feet, and/or ability to mount off-the-shelf casters.

Budget: Ideally less than 180-200 Euro.
I am fine with hunting down older used and damaged cases if it's needed.

What I tried (cases I have or had) that didn't work:
- Fractal Design Define XL R2, which fits 8 HDDs, has 4 bays, so potentially 12x HDDs are possible if I remove 2.5" cage, it has a space for 30mm 280mm radiator (which is incompatible with what I have), top mounted, but it's extremely cramped.
- Lian-Li V2010, which has space for 8x HDDs in bottom compartment, 7x 5.25" bays and dual PSU mount, but no watercooling support at all, and the bottom compartment is very badly ventilated. With all HDDs mounted half of them reach over 60°C (enough to trigger SMART warnings), and it's outside of any decent PSU operating range. On top of it, since it's rather aged case it has literally zero cable management.
- Thermaltake Core X9, which fits the motherboard, has excellent LC support, three 5.25" bays, but can hardly fit and 3.5" HDDs thanks to eerily retarded mounting system in otherwise excellently large bottom... well, half.
- Cooler Master Cosmos S, which has 11 5.25" bays (10 exposed, 9 or 8 with radiator mounted), so fitting HDDs is challenging, but most importantly it had only 7 PCI brackets

What won't work:
- Phanteks Enthoo Pro/Elite - it will fit the motherboard, but has no place for HDDs
- Rosewill cases, since I am located in Europe - shipping would eat half of my budget.
- Cooler Master Cosmos II - Oh gods and monsters, why. While it potentially it would fit everything this is absolute nightmare to work with (had it at work, busted my back working on it almost empty). Has a tendency to overheat everything in PCI region. Far too expensive on top of that.

What would work (mostly):
- Corsair Obsidian 900D - if I hunt down extra HDD cages it'd fit 15 HDDs out of the box, but it's extremely rare to pop up on auction sites. HDD cages are usually what's missing from them, forget tracking extraneous ones.
- Nanoxia Deep silence 6, if I give up liquid cooling and any pretense of cable management; 13 hdds here if I hunt extra cage and find very short PSU;
- Lian-Li PC-D8000, Lian-Li PC-D600W, or Lian Li PC-D888WX - if I ever win a lottery
- Thermaltake Core W200 or (probably) Core W100
Of course all of above are over my budget, and were manufactured in such llimited quantities it's real trouble to hunt them new, get spare parts or find used.

What would work perfectly...
- full DIY from a test bench in a self made box.

Any other suggestions?
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,292
986
126
- at least one additional PCI bracket under the motherboard, so at least 8 slots - this alone basically crosses out every single rack mounted case, this is for remote KVM expansion card, so it's important;
as you state this about alone kills any and all possible cases, including supermicro's.

I would of said possibly a used supermicro, you could probably find them on ebay, either empty or cheap with stuff inside and just gut it out.

You are also aware the X9 is stackable right?
You can get essentially 2 X9's and stack them ontop of each other.

 

Vatharian

Junior Member
Jul 25, 2019
3
0
6
You mean Supermicro rackmount chassis, or tower ones? Do you have some specific ones in mind?

On a side note I'd like to find one of those Supermicro 'proprietary ATX' machines, since they made SSI-EEB derivatives with i.e. 11 PCI slots or additional 1" of PCB over top edge to accommodate either extra memory channels, VRMS, or to shift everything up to make space in central board area. But these machines are so rare and expensive in my area, so if I had that kind of cash, I'd rather buy complete solution, i.e. Dell Poweredge T640, or just switched to that Supermicro system.

In general I am not crying over rackmounts not fitting, since I'd need 4U or 5U chassis anyway, and I don't have (and don't plan to get) a rack.

X9 is stackable all right, however, it won't fit:x9.jpg
(weird angle - wide lens, but there is around 1/3rd of X9's height space over the one I have). On top of that it is still absolutely humongous case, in which nothing can be installed. Have you seen the HDD mounting system? Beside being completely retarded, bottom part would easily accommodate 24 hard disks, possibly at the cost being permanently fixed to the floor, until five guys come over to help haul it, while Tt managed to barely fit 7, of which one is inaccessible, in the way of CPU cooler mount, and two 3-disk cages that are PITA to use.

I like this case, it has insane potential, even non-stacked, but it takes significant labor and planning to tap into this potential, and TT orphaned it already - spare parts are definitively out of stock.
 
Feb 25, 2011
16,553
1,323
126
pcpartpicker has filters that let you punch in requirements. There are quite a few cases with 8+ expansion slots. The list doesn't really get uncomfortably short until I put the minimum number of drive bays up past 8.

Also, you probably don't need as many drive bays as you think you do. If you're building some KVM hydra, you can easily fit a pair of 2.5" drives in a 3.5" bay with a cheap bracket.

The Antec P101 is inexpensive, has 8 expansion slots, EATX support, and 8x internal 3.5" bays. Otherwise, well, here's your list.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,292
986
126
lol i couldnt agree with you more on the x9.
I had one then stepped up to the tower900, as it was more flexible with the LCS system i am running on it.

You can find server pull used on ebay sometimes, and get lucky.
I ended up getting one, gutted the old system out, and threw in a newer version inside it while still costing significantly cheaper then if i were to get the case new.
 

Vatharian

Junior Member
Jul 25, 2019
3
0
6
pcpartpicker has filters that let you punch in requirements. There are quite a few cases with 8+ expansion slots. The list doesn't really get uncomfortably short until I put the minimum number of drive bays up past 8.

Also, you probably don't need as many drive bays as you think you do. If you're building some KVM hydra, you can easily fit a pair of 2.5" drives in a 3.5" bay with a cheap bracket.

The Antec P101 is inexpensive, has 8 expansion slots, EATX support, and 8x internal 3.5" bays. Otherwise, well, here's your list.
Of course I need as many drive bays I think! I actually need BOTH 3.5 and 2.5 disks. One of several functions of this system is a NAS. So from 12 to 16 3.5" hard drives in addition to 8 2.5" drives or 2x 5.25" bay for a cage I have for them.

So yeah.

I don't exactly know, what KVM hydra is, but my board has an IPMI remote management solution, like most server and high end workstation boards do. Only difference is it's not embedded directly on the PCB, but attached on additional expansion card that's mounted on PCI bracket and connects to the mainboard using a ribbon cable attached below last PCI-Express slot. In the original system I pulled the board from, last PCI-Express is not meant to be used when the KVM is installed. Since I intend to use them all, I need to mount the card one slot below.

I looked at the Antec P101 and it won't fit the board. It says EATX, but most motherboard manufacturers label EATX anything that's 3mm wider than standard ATX. In fact where the HDD trays begin, roughly half of second CPU is. Only Antec case that fits my board is Nineteen hundred, which is also, within my budget, only... there isn't even one for sale, like anywhere.

I know about PCPartPicker, and I use it.

One case that I didn't cover for is Tt View 91. Beside being 2x over budget, it won't fit that many drives, until I buy extra hdd trays, which is impossible. I wrote 4 or 5 mails to Tt support, only to be promptly ignored.

From that list, Xclio is an one ugly m...r, but mostly it's an antique case, and unbuyable. Anidees has no space for SSDs.


lol i couldnt agree with you more on the x9.
I had one then stepped up to the tower900, as it was more flexible with the LCS system i am running on it.

You can find server pull used on ebay sometimes, and get lucky.
I ended up getting one, gutted the old system out, and threw in a newer version inside it while still costing significantly cheaper then if i were to get the case new.
X9 is a case (pun intended) of someone having one genius idea too much.

Tower 900 was a case I expect to fit a hardcore gaming system, but definitely not a server, or at least not a NAS. Compute node may be fine :D I think this is the only case on the market beside old CaseLabs and LLs 8000 being able to fit 560 mm radiator. But thanks to X9 I am a little bit reserved to Tt now. I'd definitely want to touch before buy, next time.

Used servers are a gamble. Rackmounts are out, since they have only 7 PCI slots, and towers/pedestal machines more often
than not have some proprietary crap going on, like HP Z machines absolutely nuts shaped power supplies with abstract 3-part ATX connector and Dell having motherboard split in two in a shape of a two Chinese traditional characters depicting dog fighting a moon and a dragon fart, interlocked. Finally good part of those CAN be rack mounted anyway, introducing that 7 slot restriction.

Finally Europe is a place, where most of big companies cannot resell used hardware, since it's troublesome accounting problem, or consciously choose not to, there is very little going on on auction sites, and there are several bigshots that actually refurbish enterprise hardware, but charge so insane premium, that 2011-era systems often cost more than when they were new.

Darn, I really wish I could move to US :/
 

Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
5,450
147
106
Basically you need to be thinking about what modifications you can make to a case to get what you are looking for as a case simply does not exist which meets your requirements. The closest you can come to are 4U rack mount cases by Supermicro or even Norco Technologies and they won’t be cheap unless you can pick one up used off eBay.

I think the cheapest is the Norco RPC-4224 which has 24x3.5” hot swap bays that you can fit your 16 3.5” and 8 2.5” drives into. It does not have an 8th expansion card slot, but with some tin snips, Dremel, etc. you can cut away some of the mesh on the back above the other slots and jury rig it to fit without much work at all. See photos on website:
http://www.norcotek.com/product/rpc-4224/

It will not fit a water cooling radiator without extensive modifications (I.e. you cutting a hole in the top panel and mounting it there with enough slack that you can open the panel still and disconnect it from the panel). Almost all rackmount gear is all designed for high flow air movement and not water systems.
 

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