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Mini-ITX boards with 8 to 12 SATA connectors aren't that exotic. But what about matching cases? Basically, I am looking for something similar to the SuperChassis 721TQ-250B - but with more hot-swap drive bays. Like 10 of them.

  • 1
    I'm curious as to what your use case is for this. Might it be better to buy a server as is? – JMY1000 Dec 18 '17 at 5:40
  • @JMY1000, cost-efficient archiving and backup storage - some of the drive bays to be used used to rotate redundant drives off-site. I assume that an off-the-shelf server has a worse price/performance ratio and provides less flexibility regarding the choice of components (e.g. mainboard). – maxschlepzig Dec 18 '17 at 9:04
  • I'd agree with flexibility in most cases, cost will heavily depend. Do you have a height requirement (1U, 2U?) – JMY1000 Dec 18 '17 at 13:24
  • @JMY1000, no, height isn't that important. – maxschlepzig Dec 18 '17 at 13:42
  • Does it need to be rack mountable? 2.5"/3.5"? – JMY1000 Dec 18 '17 at 14:01
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TL;DR: Get an R510 instead of a case. If you already own a motherboard or need to buy new, get an RPC-4116 (if you need to buy new or prefer a cleaner solution) or a DAS and an LSI 9200-8e.

Finding an enclosure with 10+ hot-swap bays is incredibly easy–just take a look at Newegg's server chassis page.

enter image description here

Right away though, you'll notice the first issue: price. As a general rule of thumb, server chassis are far more expensive than their "consumer counterparts", even accounting for the fact that many include PSUs.

There's a second, less obvious issue: how are the drives connected to the motherboard? Almost all of these cases use a SAS backplane, not a bunch a of individual SATA connections–something a standard motherboard won't be able to connect without a special controller.

This seems to leave four options:

1. Buy a cheap chassis and the appropriate card

Norco has a solid reputation, so the RPC-4116 seems to make sense. I'm less familiar with HBA cards, but the IBM M1015/LSI 9211-8i is popular and cheap.

2. Buy a chassis that uses a SATA backplane

Sadly I couldn't find one, I'll edit this if I find one.

3. Buy a complete server (used?)

Given the high cost of buying a chassis and bringing your own hardware, unless you seriously value flexibility or have your own hardware already, buying a complete server could be seriously worth it.

The Dell PowerEdge R540 supports up to 12 x 3.5" hotswap bays barebones at $1,848.99. enter image description here As does the ProLiant DL380 G10 barebones at $2,259.99. enter image description here

However, both of these are rather expensive options given that used server hardware is available much, much cheaper while allowing for cheaper memory and CPUs.

The R510 can support the same with barebones starting around $50. enter image description here

Or the DL180 G6 starting around $75 (though they have a reputation for being extremely noisy without a fan mod, and as such, I'd recommend the R510 over it.) enter image description here

If you do decide to go the used route, I'd recommend using LabGopher to search for a good deal.

4. Buy a DAS and connect it to another computer

Another option would be to buy a DAS and an external HBA like the LSI 9200-8e and connect it to any old computer with a free PCI-e slot–server, tower, whatever you can find for the cheapest or have on hand.

The Lenovo ThinkServer SA120 has 12 x 3.5" hotswap bays (couldn't find anything too cheap at the moment, all $300+.)

enter image description here

Or the Dell Xyratex Compellent HB-1235 for about $70

enter image description here

5. Throw some hot swap bays in the 5.25" bays of a normal tower

Title is pretty self explanatory here. The value is that you won't need an HBA card; the devil is finding a case with that many 5.25" bays in this day and age and in cost effective adapters.

The Antec 900, AZZA GT1, Azza Genesis 9000 and Cooler Master Storm Trooper all have 9 5.25" bays for around $100 with varying looks.

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Older cases like the Lian Li PC-A17 and such also have a high number, but availability on anything with lots 5.25" bays is mediocre. There's a chance you can find something on Craigslist or the like, but no guarantees.

The adapters aren't cheap either; this StarTech one is $24.06.

enter image description here

OP has also pointed out that SuperMicro makes the CSE-M35T-1B a 3 x 5.25" to 10 x 3.5" bay for $100.

enter image description here

This gives some more flex in case choices, starting from about $50 and working up. Just pick one you like.

These are still expensive solutions though, and if you're not getting something equally hot swappable or just jury-rigging something yourself, you might as well just get a normal case and stick the drives in normal 3.5" mounts.

  • The $50 offer for the R510 is for a used/refurbished one and doesn't include the drive cages, right? Supermicro has some SATA backplanes in its portfolio, e.g. the CSE-M35TQB and CSE-M35T-1B. That means each has 5 standard SATA ports on its back. For some reason they call them 'mobile racks' but each is just a 5 times 3.5" drive internal hot swap drive bay solution that occupies 3 5.25" slots. In Europe, you can get them starting at 105 € (new, from a real vendor). – maxschlepzig Dec 20 '17 at 9:53
  • @maxschlepzig Yes, I'd recommend searching using LabGopher. Thanks for the info on the Supermicro enclosure. I've added both of those things to my post. – JMY1000 Dec 20 '17 at 16:07
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The SilverStone DS380B has 8 hot-swappable bays plus 4 fixed ones. Fair enough?

  • The four fixed bays are 2.5", while the comments to the question specify 3.5" drives. – Mark Dec 19 '17 at 22:07
  • @Mark the comments was added after my answer... But anyhow he didn't stress 10 (only 'like 10') so even 8 might be fine for him – Yisroel Tech Dec 19 '17 at 22:17

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