Case Selection

1 09 2008

So lets be honest. If you are building anything you need a place to put it and one of the first things I did was check out cases.  I basically needed enough space for 2×3.5″ hard drives, the motherboard, and an OS drive of some sort.  The other thing to consider is power supplies that ususally come with the case. 

Reuse Options – What I have laying around

Morex 3677

  • Pros – Small form factor, low consumption power supply (when in idle it draws less phantom W’s than a standard ATX powersupply)
  • Cons – No room for 3.5″ data drives (only space for a 2.5″ OS drive), 60 W power supply (I need enough power to run at least two 3.5″ drives, the motherboard and OS drive)

Generic Extra ATX Case

  • Pros – Space for 3.5″ data drives. Lots of them.
  • Cons – Very large form factor for a small apartment where it will have to be in plain sight, grossly oversized power supply even for a motherboard and 2×3.5″ drives (the phantom draw alone with probably be around 10 W which isn’t that far from what I would like my whole system to run at), would have to alter the mount holes to fit a mini-itx motherboard

The New Shinny Contender – The object of geek lust

Chenbro ES34069 Mini-ITX Home Server/NAS Chassis

  • Pros
    • Fit 4×3.5″ drives + OS drive + motherboard + expansion slot
    • Power supply that can handle all that (120 W max load I believe)
    • Small form factor for a home server (10″x5″x10″!!!)
    • Supposed seperated bays so HD and motherboard cooling are seperate
    • Looks nice (not super importnat but doesn’t hurt when you have to look at it as  you fall asleep)
    • Expandable in the sense I only want 2 HDs right now but can put up to 4 in
    • Has an expansion slot (would need that for 2 more SATA ports if I wanted to add 2 more SATA drives)
    • UPDATE: Compatability – My coworker bought the Chenbro case and I was able to test it with my motherboard with complete sucess.  One worry over!
  • Cons
    • Cost – $224 just for a case!!! I’ve seen it as low as $184 at reputable sources but still a fair amount for a case.
    • Availability – This case is rather new and I haven’t seen any site that has it in stock and I’ve heard of it before.  Some site’s list it as in stock but a few days later it is backordered so I’m just not sure what the exact availablity is: are they hot or not in yet at all? Unclear!
    • UPDATE: See Pros Compatibility with the EN15000G – I read one forum somewhere (I will try and find the link- UPDATE – Found the link here) that two people report that specifically the EN15000G doesn’t work in the Chenbro case for them.  They claim the EN15000G will run with other powersupplies and other mini-itx board will run in the Chenbro case. I haven’t read anything going the other way (no suprise but that is part of why I strated this log).  The whole thing just makes putting out $200 harder to swallow or just “try”.. especially when I am trying to keep this inexpensive. But that is part of the geek lust that goes into this one. 

That is most of my options. Some other ones that floated by involved plexiglass, tuberware, self-made cooling, and a few other parts that didn’t last long in the plan. However, the current “plan” isn’t to far off from those ideas. 

Current Case/Mounting Plan

Morex 3677 with holes in the backplate punched out and 2 SATA and power cables running to two “external” hard drives using internal connections.  The biggest problem with this plan is a) power and b) mounting.  Power was resolved by the choice if hard drives which I will cover later (but basically there should be enough power for 2×3.5″ hard drives, the motherboard, and the OS on flash).  The mounting hasn’t really been resolved quite yet but the idea that stopped the insanity of looking for better answers was actually an internal hard drive bracker for some server product that is just a metal bracket with place for 3 hard drives for around 20 dollars somwhere online.  (those details are in  an email to myself, I will look it up some day and post it). I also found a cheap way to build my own temperature sensor to control fans so if I can make the sensor and put it on the external harddrive cage than cooling, power, and mouting will be taken care of.  I will also look for that link cause it was really interesting unto itself.

UPDATE: Fan Controller Plans

Synopsis

Hopfully Future Case / Current Case Lust – Chenbro ES34069 Mini-ITX Home Server/NAS Chassis

  • I’m hoping a coworker will order one and I can try it with my board
  • Or I find a retailer selling one in stock and decide its time to go for it

Working “Case” Design

  • Morex 3677 with a temperature control sensor on an external hard drive cage. 
  • This can only run 2 hard drives BUT all other parts are identical so it should be an easy migration to the Chenbro if I want to add drives. Of course I will have to add a SATA controller to it as well but the Chenbro has a slot for that luckily.

Actual Current “Case”

  • Morex 3677 with its top off and hard drives laying on the floor of my apartment :) Photos to come sometime I hope.
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