garycase Posted October 4, 2013 Share Posted October 4, 2013 There are quite a few threads here on SFF builds using the Lian-Li PC-Q25B ... I've posted a variety of comments in many of them, so I thought I might collate my thoughts in a single place to hopefully capture most of what's good/bad about this (IMHO) superb little case => and so I don't have to answer the same questions repeatedly, but can simply link to this thread. I've looked at quite a few SFF cases, and I simply don't think there's a better choice for a SFF build ... although I admit the HP Microserver is a nice factory-ready choice; and the Fractal Node 304 is an excellent competitor. First, a few thoughts on the case itself. There are plenty of pictures posted in the other threads, so I'm going to be sparse with those, but if you haven't seen it, take a look at the pictures that Newegg posts, as they cover it from several angles: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112339&Tpk=PC-Q25B The case holds 5 3.5" drives in hot-swap cages, and up to 2 more 3.5" drives on an aluminum plate on the bottom -- you can also mount a 2.5" drive between those drives (or you can mount up to 3 2.5" drives there). All of the drives are very well cooled => the 5 in the cage by a 140mm fan that blows directly across them; and the bottom-mounted drives by air that comes in through a vented bottom ... pulled by the 120mm top-mounted exhaust fan. Drive temps on my system and a few I've built for friends never get above the low-to-mid 30's, even during parity checks. This case simply cools drives better than any 5-in-3 cage I've used (many); and better than most rack-mount setups unless they have very high-speed (and noisy) fans. Yet it's very quiet ... my system sits about 6' from my ears when I'm at my desk, and I can NOT tell if it's even on without looking at it. [i am, however, 65 -- so my hearing's probably not as good as it once was ] Lian-Li has changed the case design slightly over the past year or so ... I've seen some that had the SATA connections on the backplane angled in such a way that it was very inconvenient to neatly mount the cables unless you used very-hard-to-find left-hand SATA cables; but the last couple I've seen don't need these. My personal system is like this -- so I felt obliged to find some left-hand cables => and succeeded For anyone that needs those, here's where I got them: http://www.cpustuff.com/left-angle-to-straight-sata-cable/ Most of the builds in the other threads using this case use a full-size ATX power supply. I did one build like this, but I think that's simply too crammed-in to really allow good airflow ... and in fact it's so tight that only a few ATX units even fit. Look at the pictures of the builds and you can easily see how full it makes things. I found that a good SFX PSU is a much better choice => I did a build for a fellow Un-RAIDer who posted a picture of his build, and you can see how much space that leaves for little things like cables, fingers, AIR, etc. in the picture I'll post at the end of this comment. This is the power supply I recommend for this case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256063 ... or the modular version of the same: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256084 Note that these units are also excellent choices for the Fractal Node 304 case, should you prefer that to the Lian-Li ... or for the other similar Lian-Li cases such as the PC-Q08B [LED fan anyone? ] I've not had "hands-on" the new BitFenix cases, but I suspect they'd be a good choice for those as well [brightly-colored plastic cases with handles aren't something I'm likely to use ] An alternative to using an SFX supply is to use Lian-Li's ATX extender ... which puts part of the PSU outside the rear of the case. Not, IMHO, as good a choice -- but it does let you use a PSU you may already have, of if you're very price sensitive use a bargain basement PSU (I'm not a believer in scrimping on PSU quality). For anyone who wants the PE01 extender, here's a source: http://www.coolerguys.com/llpe01.html Except for the PSU and perhaps the left-hand cables, all of the builds in this case are very similar --essentially varying only in what motherboard/CPU is used. My build uses a SuperMicro X7SPA-H-D525-O motherboard ... the same Atom D525 CPU used in Limetech's AVS-10/4 (although I don't know if they use a mini-ITX board in that). This is a superb very-low-power board -- draws about 20w with 6 3TB WD Reds spun down; a bit over 30w in typical operations; and about 48w during parity checks. But it doesn't have the "horsepower" to do transcoding of some of the other functions the more popular plugins demand. I just wanted a pure NAS, so it's perfect for my needs, but if you want more power you need to choose differently. By the way, while I'm thinking about it-- the Supermicro board has a VERY handy on-board USB A female port, so you can plug your flash drive into the board internally -- makes for a very clean exterior (only needs power, network, and a USB cable from the UPS). If you use a motherboard without this, you can do the same basic thing with a simple USB head to Type A cable like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812200294 Look carefully at the picture of the system I'm posting at the end of this, and you'll see a USB Flash drive above the power supply => I used Velcro to attach it to the back of the case, and plugged it in to one of these cables. Keeping the flash drive in the case also eliminates most causes of damage to it. Several builds use an Ivy Bridge Core i3 in an Asus P8H77 For example: http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=24786.0 http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=18872.0 http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=28860.0 ... dirtysanchez's "Landfill" and spencerss' "SFF Unraid" both use that combination, for example, and phillippp's is very similar. The system in the picture at the end uses almost the same thing -- an i3-3225 in an Asus P8H77-I motherboard. It's an excellent combination that has a lot more "horsepower" than the Atom ... at about a 10-15 watt "power penalty". Not bad for the amount of additional power it has. If I was building myself another server in this case, I'd use the newer Socket 1050 version of that Asus board: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813132032 ... and a Haswell i3 or i5 CPU. This would be a really superb choice for a high-performance UnRAID "Plus" license. All of the boards I've mentioned support 6 drives, but have a PCIe socket that you could add an additional controller to if you wanted to maximize the drives that will fit in the case. I think it's "perfect" with 6 drives -- but if you want a cache drive you'd need the additional SATA port. The only thing left is the drives. I'm a BIG fan of the WD Reds and the Seagate NAS units. My system has six 3TB WD Reds (4TB drives weren't available when I built it). The system in the picture below uses the 4TB Seagate NAS units, which are also superb drives. Both of these drives are 1TB/platter, have 3 year warranties; and perform VERY well. The Seagate units are a bit faster, as they rotate at ~5900rpm vs. ~5400 for the Reds. But both can saturate a 1Gb network link ... providing about 120MB/s transfers on reads. The NAS drives have better write performance, since they're faster drives -- low-to-mid 40's (MB/s) compared to mid-30's for the Reds [some of that difference may be due to the faster CPU in the Seagate-based system]. You can, of course, use less expensive WD Greens or the lower-end Seagate drives; but I only buy the NAS-quality drives. In fact, I'd have bought the WD SE Enterprise-class units, but they're not 1TB/platter (yet) -- and I no longer buy anything that's not 1TB/platter. Hopefully this provides plenty of "food for thought" for anyone who wants to use this case. In a simple nutshell, if you want the lowest possible power and just need a NAS, I'd use the Atom board; if you need more power; the Ivy Bridge choice is excellent and a bit less expensive than a Haswell-based system; but the Haswell CPU's are, of course, the latest generation. Use an SFX PSU and high-quality drives and this can make a superb 20TB UnRAID in a very compact case. Here's the picture I mentioned: Quote Link to comment
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