Nilpunk

Cases & Power Supplies for 16+ Drive Arrays

Recommended Posts

I have outgrown a 1.5 TB fileserver and assorted enclosures so now I am looking to move to a larger fileserver in the 5 TB range that will hopefully cost between $2,000-$3,000. Speed is not a concern, the goal is large size with a resonable degree of reliability (RAID 5 with hot spare or RAID 6). I work with very large database servers so I am familar with the RAID controllers and drives I will need however I am having problems finding cases & power supplies that can hold & power 16+ SATA drives.

16+ drive server cases tend to be expensive rack mount setups targeted at business servers. Can anybody recommend any large cases that are under $300-$350 that will comfortable hold that many drives without any worries of overheating? Any DIY links to build my own drive racks?

Also I have to find a power supply that can keep up with that many drives. My best guess is I will will need at least 600-650 watts. Most of the quality high wattage power supplies I find are aimed at users running multiple video cards in SLI setup... so I'm not sure if they are the ideal for this need. I'd like to find a solution that doesn't require having 12 extra SATA power adaptors and 6 or 8 extra power splitters along with a tangle of all the cables I won't need. Has anybody found some solid power supplies that work well with this many drives?

Edited by Nilpunk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm kind of in the same situation, but I'm looking at either 12 or 14 drives max (I've got 10 currently). You could get a Stacker with three 5-in-3 enclosures (like this) and you'll have some space left in the case. I'm actually looking into a Lian Li G70 since I've only got one of those enclosures.

You could also go for one of the big Lian Li cases like the the V2100. I think Newegg has them within your budget (around $310 or so I think).

About the power supply; it'll be very stressful to start up 16 drives all at once. It might be best to find a case which can handle two independent power supplies and split the load if you can't stagger the spin-up times. From what I've seen, spinning up a drive from a stand-still takes up to 2A worth of current. So 16 drives and it'll be 32A just from those (and I think they get the current from the 12v line, but I'm not 100% on that). I'm personally looking at a dual power case since I don't think I have the option to stagger my spin-ups (either from the motherboard or from the controller card). On a side-note, hearing 10 drives spin-up all at once is really something (hearing 16 spin-ups would be even more-so)!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, get a controller that allows stackered spinup, or you will have to horribly overdimension your PSU.

2nd: If you dont want to deal with Y-cables and stuff, look around for Raid cases with backplanes (although that could be a bit too tight a fit for your budget)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Also I have to find a power supply that can keep up with that many drives. My best guess is I will will need at least 600-650 watts.
10W is enough for running desktop drive, even peak seek consumption would be under 15W.

Startup power consumption is around 30W so staggered spinup would be definitely preferable.

Or then at least PSU with single strong 12V rail for avoiding possible problem of overloading one virtual rail.

And from normal PSUs you won't find that much SATA connectors... I think Seasonic M12's 8 is one of the highest. (700W model's 56A 12V rail could definitely crank up "couple" HDs)

CM Stacker is definitely one of the most spacious non-server cases. With Coolermaster's own 4 HD modules there would be space for 12 HDs but not for 16 unless power button module would be removed. (Like I've been saying 12 5.25" bays is couple too few)

It might be possible to make some kind module for three HDs to in place of second PSU position and then put 16th HD to 5.25" bay with adapter.

Chieftec BA/CA-01 maxi tower could take 8 HDs directly with six free 5.25" bays.

Lian Li 2000/2100 claims to be able to house 12 HDs which I doubt because cooling of HDs doesn't look good without fans directly next to HDs (air goes through easiest route if it has any space for that) so 8 might be more realistic amount. Fortunately there would be 7 5.25" bays.

That HD enclosure suggested by rsxdemon would definitely help with amount of required power connectors and space requirements.

Also what size HDs you intended to get? 500GB models are quite reasonably priced (at least WDs... which can use either SATA or Molex power connector) and with those less than 16 would be enough for that capacity.

PS. Now this is literally stacking of HDs:

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=2765

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies guys. I was already planning on getting a RAID card that supports a staggered spinup. I was hoping to use 400 GB drives as the price increase to 500 GB is still a bit steep. I was already looking at the biggest Lian Li cases.

Thanks rsxdemon I had not seen those 5-in-3 enclosure before, assuming those don't get terribly hot those would be really handy.

Also thanks to E.T. for pointing out that Seasonic power supply with 8 SATA power connectors. I don't mind having a few Y converters... but anything that can reduce that number a bit is great. All the advice on power supplies is great, it looks like my estimats may have been a bit high.

I did dig up this 16 bay server case http://www.calpc.com/catalog/large_server.html that I'm still waiting to here the price on (though I suspect it will be way out of my price range.... if money was no object I be snatching up that 32 bay super server case they have http://www.calpc.com/catalog/super_server.html )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nilpunk, that particular Supermicro bay-thingy has a 92mm fan in the back I believe, and if you look closely, the removable bays have slots so that air can be drawn in from the front of the case. I'm using speedfan, and the drive in the bay are all between 29 and 33 degrees.

Good luck. I'm kind of interested in this topic as well since I haven't made up my own mind as to which case my system should migrate into.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You need to factor in drive price vs total price of the system. As an example:

16x 400gb drives give you 6.4TB space (assuming raid 6 you get 5.6TB)

12x 500gb drives give you 6.0TB space, 5.0TB in raid 5.

You can fit 12 drives into quite a few cases, a TJ-07 will do it comfortably with a few 2x5.25" to 3x3.5" converters, and you still get 3x spare 5.25" bays.

In fact that is the setup I have, I have 2x Adaptec 6 channel SATA PCI-X cards from HP Servers. One has 6x 250gb drives on it in the bottom 6 hdd bays in my TJ-07, the other has 6x 320gb drives on it in the cd bays using Lian Li EX23 drive bay converters. I still have 3 cd bays free. What I've done with them is have a DVD-RW drive, a removable SATA rack, and another 2x 5.25" to 3x3.5" rack right up top, using the top cd bay, and the exmpty space at the top of the case. (kind of like having 8x 5.25" bays).

I would suggest a setup like this with a single Areca 12 channel PCIe raid card and any enthusiast level motherboard with 2x PCIe slots like an Asus P5W DH, P5N32-E, A8N-SLI, whatever. 12x 500gb drives in a setup like this will cost you a lot less than 16x 400gb drives because with 16 drives you will need to go up to the next level of case size, controller card, and you will have even more case and cooling problems :)

I use an Acbel 550w psu to power the motherboard, cpu (p4 3.46ghz ee) and 4 of the drives at the bottom of the case, and an Enermax 701AX to power the remaining drives.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a *VERY* good thread that should be kept for some time.

I was wondering what is your opinion on putting down some money and getting a real server case?

A Chenbro or Supermicro that can hold 15 or 16 drives, then you can hot-swap all of the drives and it is simple to remove/replace a drive.

I currently have an Aspire X-Navigator case with 12 HDD's in it:

10 x 400GB (raid5)

2 x 74GB raptor (raid1)

Which works extremely well, but it takes 1-2 HOURS to remove a drive and put a new one back in because (depending where it is) you need to take apart the entire case to remove a drive.

What is your guys' opinion on a real case?

Look at the costs too...

A good ATX case is $250-$300 (Lian Li)

Factor in the 5.25" to 3.5" converters (with hotswap you are looking at $100 each), $300 for three.

At this point, we're at $600, for $100-$200 more you could get a real case with hot swap drives.

Of course, you may need to spend a little more on the RAID card or interface cards; question is, is it worth it?

Or is it just worth getting say, a Cooler Master Stacker and putting in the 5.25" to 3.5" converters and just having to power off the box to remove the drives/etc unless you go with hotswap?

Opinions?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All the advice on power supplies is great, it looks like my estimats may have been a bit high.
Basing to reviews 2.5A is quite realistic startup peak draw from 12V so at least from that perspective 500W Seasonic M12 (38A 12V) might be capable to cranking up 12 HDs without staggered spinup but it's definitely preferable... and propably every RAID card for that amount of HDs supports staggered spinup.
I'm kind of interested in this topic as well since I haven't made up my own mind as to which case my system should migrate into.
For second PSU option and 12 HDs Stacker (two PSUs in original STC-T01) would be extremely affordable if hotswapping isn't required. Coolermaster's own HD modules are very cheap, about 20 euros and there would be still two 5.25" bays left after three HD modules.

And again if hotswapping capability is required internal 3.5" bays are pretty much out of question so Stacker would be still strong option because you would need to buy Supermicro like modules also for other cases. (and other non-server cases can't even house as many of those)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding the power, I use an Antec TruPower 550W PSU in my case.

Setup:

3.4GHZ P4

1GB Ram

All available PCI slots filled.

AGP slot filled.

The motherboard is maxed out with the exception of the RAM.

Upon boot, using a watt meter I see it initially hit 268 then 475 then 500 then it varies between 480-520 watts for about 5-10 seconds when the drives spin up.

After they've spun up, the system idles between 230-280 watts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Concerning the Lian Li v2100, i can't recommend it for big storage. I have mine running 12 hds for now (i added 5.25 --> 3.5 converter bays so the enclosure maxes out at 21 hds & DVD drive)

The HD compartiments only have one 12cm fan... for 12 hds. this is enough for the 6 hds in front of the cooler, but the 6 hds behind the 6 first arent nearly cooled enough. they overheated for me.

That's why i moved towards a Chenbro Rackmount a few months ago. They're expensive, but not by that much, if you build them yourself. My 4U rackmount with 16 hot-swap S-ataII bays was around 600 euro, with a seasonic 600w powersupply.

I added a server mobo from asus to it, a gig of ram, and a cheap amd64. Raid is done by an areca 16port pcie8x card.

This would get you to a total cost of around 2000euro, but without any harddisks. Seeing that 320gig hds sell for around 100 euro here, that'd add 1600 bucks for 5120gigs of hd space... roughly the 5tera you wanted.

Hope that helps a bit :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I currently have an Aspire X-Navigator case with 12 HDD's in it:

Which works extremely well, but it takes 1-2 HOURS to remove a drive and put a new one back in because (depending where it is) you need to take apart the entire case to remove a drive.

Now that's like changing bulb in modern cars... :P
A good ATX case is $250-$300 (Lian Li)

Factor in the 5.25" to 3.5" converters (with hotswap you are looking at $100 each), $300 for three.

Stacker would be under 150.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Which works extremely well, but it takes 1-2 HOURS to remove a drive and put a new one back in because (depending where it is) you need to take apart the entire case to remove a drive.

What part takes that long?

Remove side panels, remove cables, remove 5.25" bay, replace drive and the other way around.

Hours?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Which works extremely well, but it takes 1-2 HOURS to remove a drive and put a new one back in because (depending where it is) you need to take apart the entire case to remove a drive.

What part takes that long?

Remove side panels, remove cables, remove 5.25" bay, replace drive and the other way around.

Hours?

Well first I have to disconnect it (case is on a high level (+5-6 feet off the ground) and move it to another room. Then I open up the sides of the case, it is a mish-mash if SATA+IDE (about half and half). With the last drive that died, it was near the bottom, of course, I have PCI cards in all of the slots, so I cannot back the drive cage out without removing the PCI cards. There are a TON of cables (IDE+SATA) in all of the drive cages, need to disconnect those from the upper two drive cages as well unless you want to risk breaking something. Oh, then need to remove the AGP card or else the drive cage will not come out fully. Then once the cage is removed, I can proceed by removing the 4 screws, inserting a replacement and then putting everything back together. I have 4-5 power (Y) splitters as well, I need to make sure all of these are hooked up. Then, I need to make sure the case's 5 fans are working and the additional 5-6 fans I've added myself. Once completed, then I go move the case back to where it was and hook everything back up like it was and power it back on.

That Cooler Master stacker case with 2 additional HDD modules looks quite nice.

Edited by jpiszcz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CM Stacker_STC-T01.pdf

However, reviewing the manual, it still suffers from the problem all of these standard cases have, it is still a PIA to remove & replace a failed drive. Other than that the Stacker appears to be quite nice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CM Stacker_STC-T01.pdf

However, reviewing the manual, it still suffers from the problem all of these standard cases have, it is still a PIA to remove & replace a failed drive. Other than that the Stacker appears to be quite nice.

Ah, I take that back, it may still be a PIA but not as much as my case, you can slide the cage out from the front, an excellent feature!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ah, I take that back, it may still be a PIA but not as much as my case, you can slide the cage out from the front, an excellent feature!
Despite of manual telling to attach HD module to case with screws for "reinforcing structural integrity" that's unnecessary unless you and couple buddies are going to sit on top of the case all at the same time. Case is trong enough without that and plastic drive rails keep devices well on their place. (or two screws would be enough if you want to be sure with "fully loaded" HD module)

With CM's own HD modules one noteworthy thing is that 5.25" bay covers stay somewhat tightly in their places at first and require one open bay for getting fingers behind them. Maybe few remove/install cycles or at least careful smoothing of locking knurls would make it possible to get those off by just pushing them forward with HD module.

Here's better pics of case than in manual or in CM's site:

http://www.systemcooling.com/cm_stacker-04.html

http://hardware.gamershell.com/articles/co...master_stacker/

http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles/view....d=1121&pg=5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right now I am seriously looking at buying the Chenbro RM41416-B. At around ~$450 for a 4U rack with 16 hot-swappable bays plus a couple extra bays for a DVD-RW and floppy it seems like a pretty good deal.

http://www.serversdirect.com/productdetail?product=104534

The coolmaster stacker looks great choice if I decide to go with fewer drives though. My other thought is to just build my own drive rack. I'm not the handiest so I'm sure it would be super ugly, but I think that I could just go to the hardware store buy some cheap aluminum tubing, drill some screw holes every couple inches. Basically something along the lines of what this guy built ( http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php?t=475428 ). Only bigger of course. The main thing is it would be cheap to expand. Just pop another 12-16 port RAID card in the computer and then construct another ugly tower or two of disks to plug into it.

For a while I was looking at the NORCO DS-1220 for around $~750. While it has 12 Bays it seems that at least with the included card no more than 5 drives can be in a RAID set. Plus the speed doesn't seem that great (then again I don't need much speed for my usage.. but it would be nice). But it might interest somebody else.

http://www.mwave.com/mwave/skusearch.hmx?SCriteria=BA23172

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Right now I am seriously looking at buying the Chenbro RM41416-B. At around ~$450 for a 4U rack with 16 hot-swappable bays plus a couple extra bays for a DVD-RW and floppy it seems like a pretty good deal.

http://www.serversdirect.com/productdetail?product=104534

The coolmaster stacker looks great choice if I decide to go with fewer drives though. My other thought is to just build my own drive rack. I'm not the handiest so I'm sure it would be super ugly, but I think that I could just go to the hardware store buy some cheap aluminum tubing, drill some screw holes every couple inches. Basically something along the lines of what this guy built ( http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php?t=475428 ). Only bigger of course. The main thing is it would be cheap to expand. Just pop another 12-16 port RAID card in the computer and then construct another ugly tower or two of disks to plug into it.

For a while I was looking at the NORCO DS-1220 for around $~750. While it has 12 Bays it seems that at least with the included card no more than 5 drives can be in a RAID set. Plus the speed doesn't seem that great (then again I don't need much speed for my usage.. but it would be nice). But it might interest somebody else.

http://www.mwave.com/mwave/skusearch.hmx?SCriteria=BA23172

Hmm I was seriously considering the Stacker but your Chenbro post just blew me out of the water, that is cheap for that kind of case, wow!! Hmm.. I would not recommend the NORCO DS-1220-- it was either that or another model that had the last two drives 'hanging' out there, not on a dedicated, but shared controller, I think the review may have been on newegg. eSATA, etc, no thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right now I am seriously looking at buying the Chenbro RM41416-B. At around ~$450 for a 4U rack with 16 hot-swappable bays plus a couple extra bays for a DVD-RW and floppy it seems like a pretty good deal.

http://www.serversdirect.com/productdetail?product=104534

The coolmaster stacker looks great choice if I decide to go with fewer drives though. My other thought is to just build my own drive rack. I'm not the handiest so I'm sure it would be super ugly, but I think that I could just go to the hardware store buy some cheap aluminum tubing, drill some screw holes every couple inches. Basically something along the lines of what this guy built ( http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php?t=475428 ). Only bigger of course. The main thing is it would be cheap to expand. Just pop another 12-16 port RAID card in the computer and then construct another ugly tower or two of disks to plug into it.

For a while I was looking at the NORCO DS-1220 for around $~750. While it has 12 Bays it seems that at least with the included card no more than 5 drives can be in a RAID set. Plus the speed doesn't seem that great (then again I don't need much speed for my usage.. but it would be nice). But it might interest somebody else.

http://www.mwave.com/mwave/skusearch.hmx?SCriteria=BA23172

Hmm I was seriously considering the Stacker but your Chenbro post just blew me out of the water, that is cheap for that kind of case, wow!! Hmm.. I would not recommend the NORCO DS-1220-- it was either that or another model that had the last two drives 'hanging' out there, not on a dedicated, but shared controller, I think the review may have been on newegg. eSATA, etc, no thanks.

Ah, no power supply and the power supply, http://www.serversdirect.com/productdetail?product=98322 just about the cost of the case itself at $419.99.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm I was seriously considering the Stacker but your Chenbro post just blew me out of the water, that is cheap for that kind of case, wow!! Hmm.. I would not recommend the NORCO DS-1220-- it was either that or another model that had the last two drives 'hanging' out there, not on a dedicated, but shared controller, I think the review may have been on newegg. eSATA, etc, no thanks.

Ah, no power supply and the power supply, http://www.serversdirect.com/productdetail?product=98322 just about the cost of the case itself at $419.99.

Correct about no power supply, but the case is roomy enough to use any power supply you might want (or two power supplies to split up the power). For a 24/7 business server I'd definately buy the redundant power supplies but for a home fileserver you can probably live with being down for a day or two if the power supply dies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about the Lian-Li PC-343B? Its $350 and has 18 external 5.25" bays. You could stick whatever 5in3, 4in3, or 3in2 bay device that you wanted. There is also a hardmount bracket for the rear of the case.

As far as the PSU goes, its easy to find a PSU that will power 16 drives. Its hard to find a PSU that will do so without nasty splitters and a whole bunch of unneeded connectors to clutter your case. My advice here is to determine all of your other components then pick a PSU that will meet your needs and get it custom cabled. For example, the PC&C Silencer 610 should power that system with ease, assuming that you aren't building an SMP or SLI system. PC&C does custom cables, too. There are other shops out there that will do the same thing.

I have a storage server build with a CM Stacker. I used a Zippy 700w PSU, no custom cabling, and hardmount 5in3 bays for 18 drives. Bad, bad idea. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that no drive fails until after I get my new storage server built as it will be a nightmare to dig out that drive. Hotswap bays are your friends in large drive situations, even for home use, even if you never plan to hotswap. The system is rock solid, otherwise...

My wishlist for this kind of system: 5in3 SAS hotswap bays with expanders/daisy chain ability OR 4in3 SATA hotswap bays with drive fail/activity LEDs (or I2C for Areca) and multilane support...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now