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Rajahal

Help me design an unRAID miniBox recommended build!

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queeg, I took the pictures you asked for.  Let me tell you, it was no simple matter getting these.  I had to nearly take the whole thing apart just to access the fans!  Putting it back together was not trivial either.

 

So the bottom line is that while remove the fans is possible, it certainly isn't easy, and I definitely would not include that procedure as part of a 'recommended build'.  Simply disabling the fans but leaving them installed would be much simpler, it would only require a pair of needle-nose pliers and a steady hand.

 

I took pictures of the back with the fans on and off.  You'll see that I had to bend the metal housing slightly to even access them properly, I couldn't figure out how to remove it altogether.  I also took some pictures of the vertical slats that allow the air to flow from inside the 5-in-3 past the fans.  In one picture I held the unit up to the light to help make these slats more clear.

 

After I took the pictures, I decided to run a few tests on it.  Turns out the reviews you linked are right - they do run a bit hot.  I installed three drives adjacent to each other (I don't have 5 drives to test out at the moment), and started a parity check.  I kept taking screenshots of what I thought would be the hottest temperatures, then had to keep replacing them as the temperatures kept climbing.  The peak temperature I saw was 50 C.  That was after the parity check had finished with the smallest drive.  Included below is a screenshot of the highest average temperature across all drives, around 48 C.  This is definitely above the level of 'acceptable'.

 

Keep in mind that all of these drives are 7200 rpm, not green drives.  If I'm able, I'll rerun the test with 5 green drives to see if that makes a difference.  Also, I had the 5-in-3 cage sitting on top of my Norco 4220, so the only cooling was from the included 60 mm fans.  Adequate case fans may help the situation as well.

 

Edit: Get ready for the image dump:

 

From the back:

 

e6QP5.jpg

 

Accessing the fans (had to bend the metal a bit):

 

m290B.jpg

 

Accessing the fans (angle):

 

7OQiK.jpg

 

Removing the fan (I have really stubby thumbs):

 

UP8BC.jpg

 

Showing the fan connector:

 

DuyQO.jpg

 

Attempting to show the airflow slots between the fans and the drives:

 

P6oHW.jpg

 

And again:

 

HOlpC.jpg

 

Showing the airflow slots from inside (HDD's view, if you will):

 

X11Gx.jpg

 

And again:

 

JkJ6f.jpg

 

And again with backlight, to help make it more obvious:

 

1fZv5.jpg

 

My testing scenario (i.e. no case fans to help out, just the two rear 60 mm fans):

 

piThk.jpg

 

Testing scenario, sexy ass shot:

 

iaFq9.jpg

 

In this scenario, the drives definitely run a bit hot:

 

t76ft.png

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Keep in mind that all of these drives are 7200 rpm, not green drives.  If I'm able, I'll rerun the test with 5 green drives to see if that makes a difference.  Also, I had the 5-in-3 cage sitting on top of my Norco 4220, so the only cooling was from the included 60 mm fans.  Adequate case fans may help the situation as well.

 

I'm sure the 5400's will still climb in temp. I really think a well designed case with proper exhaust and controlled intake is important.

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I've been looking at the CHENBRO SK33502-BK-H 3 x ODD bays to 5 x 3.5" hot-swap HDD bays.  I downloaded the manual and it seems the fan module can be removed making it short enough for this case.  If the fan that comes with it can be repositioned below with a simple type of cowling wrapping around to connect it to where the fan normally goes it might work.

 

Does anyone use these Chenbro units?  Are they pretty good and do they keep the drives cool?

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816212014&nm_mc=OTC-Froogle&cm_mmc=OTC-Froogle-_-Server+-+Accessories-_-Chenbro-_-16212014

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Looks like the Chenbro uses trays, right?  Not a bad unit.  The fan looks easily removable.

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The chenbro has a good chance of fitting if you turn it so the SATA ports are on the bottom.

Still, from what I've surmised by review, the metal chassis itself will be the part that hits the motherboard.

 

I ordered one of these micro atx cases too. I've been wanting to try a micro atx style build.

I still feel that flex-atx or itx would be the answer if you want 5in3.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FlexATX

 

I would bet the 3 of the single fanless trayless removable sata units would fit well.

 

 

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Interesting - spacing the three drives in the 5-in-3 cage as far apart as possible (far left, middle, and far right) kept the temperatures in a more acceptable range during a parity check, less than 45 C (see pic).  While using only 3 bays of the 5 bay cage isn't an ideal solution, at least it is something.  I'm still confident that I'll be able to make these 5-in-3's work with adequate (or perhaps exaggerated) case cooling, though.  All my new parts should be arriving tomorrow, so I'll play around with it tomorrow evening.

5_in_3_spaced.PNG.1309c62f83278ffe0ca4915d1ef059b0.PNG

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The chenbro has a good chance of fitting if you turn it so the SATA ports are on the bottom.

Still, from what I've surmised by review, the metal chassis itself will be the part that hits the motherboard.

 

I ordered one of these micro atx cases too. I've been wanting to try a micro atx style build.

I still feel that flex-atx or itx would be the answer if you want 5in3.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FlexATX

 

I would bet the 3 of the single fanless trayless removable sata units would fit well.

 

 

 

I've been waiting for a couple years for the Flex to come down in price.  Still too high.  There was talk about the DTX boards but I doubt we see them anytime soon.

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I'm still confident that I'll be able to make these 5-in-3's work with adequate (or perhaps exaggerated) case cooling,

 

Two 120 MM exhaust fans and cover up extraneous vents should work fine!

That could be up to 60cfm.

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I've been waiting for a couple years for the Flex to come down in price.  Still too high.  There was talk about the DTX boards but I doubt we see them anytime soon.

 

I think the X7SLA-H-O has a decent price considering it has a CPU in and embedded video already.

But for a lil more I would go for the ITX atom board with IPMI.

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My prototype miniBox is complete!  My initial impressions are positive.

 

Da specs:

Mobo: BIOSTAR A760G M2+ - $40.99 (open box)

CPU: AMD Sempron 140 - $32.99

RAM: 2 x 512 MB DDR recycled from a friend's ancient, dead computer - Free

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W - $49.99 (I'll be switching this out eventually with the 380 W Antec Earthwatts that I already have, the price is about the same, and I would prefer to use the 400 W in my Budget Box)

Case: Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $25

Hot Swap Bay: 5 in 3 BP-SATA350 - $75 (though I actually got them for about $50 from WeeboTech  :-*)

HDDs: My same three testers - 1.5 TB Seagate 7200 rpm (brand new), 500 GB WD 7200 rpm (old), 320 GB 7200 rpm (really old)

USB Drive: This 4 GB microSD card via USB adapter but with a 2 GB microSD card installed - $13.75

 

Total: $212 + ~$10 shipping + hard drives + unRAID Plus license

 

The size of the case is exactly what I hoped it would be.  The aesthetics aren't bad either.

 

UFQuu.png

iHqq5.png

 

My initial cabling is crap, but this is just a rough draft.  You'll notice that I jerry-rigged the cables coming out of the PSU to change their course slightly.  Otherwise, I feared that they would block all airflow out of the back of the 5-in-3.  I accomplished this by tying off the bundle of PSU cables to the fan guard on the bottom of the PSU with some twist-ties.  Zip ties will obviously be a better permanent solution.

 

nry5U.jpg

 

As you can see, there's plenty of room between the 5-in-3 cage and the microATX motherboard.  The only slightly tricky part was that I had to plug in the rear molex power plug for the 5-in-3 before the 20 pin power plug for the motherboard, otherwise I couldn't get enough leverage on the molex plug.

 

g7cDt.png

 

Other thoughts: The case quality is about what I expected - thin metal, cheap plastic, but at least it is painted well.  The power button seems slightly flimsy, but nothing to be concerned about.  You need a pen point or something to press the reset button, it is very tiny.  Not really a problem for unRAID.  The out-of-the-box noise levels are perfectly acceptable.  I removed the CPU cooling duct as I felt it impeded airflow more than helped it.  I have not yet added a second fan to the case, and I'm currently running a parity check on the server and keeping an eye on the drive temps, I'll report back on that later.  I also have not blocked any vents or done any other case modification besides what was necessary to install the 5-in-3.  Bending the tabs in the 5.25 bay out of the way was somewhat of a pain, I wish I had a nibbler for that part of it.  I used needle nose plyers and a hammer (swinging the hammer didn't work since it had to be done from inside the case, so I used some lever-action to 'smooth out' the tabs and I made the inital bends with the pliers).  A modular PSU would be a great asset to this build, since a good half of the PSU's cables weren't needed.  All I needed were the two mobo cables and a single molex cable (using only two of the three plugs); the other molex cable, the two SATA cables, and the PCIe cable were completely unused and just got in the way.

 

All in all, the case was definitely worth $25.

 

Finally, here it is, the whole unRAID 'recommended builds' family, as I envision it (well, almost).  On the left we have the 5 drive miniBox, on the bottom left the 20 drive Beast, and on the right the 6-12 drive budget box (though the budget box should be housed in a CM 590, not an Antec p180):

 

npHkp.png

 

I now have three unRAID servers in my house.  Muahahahahahahaha!

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It looks real nice.  The red handles look better than I expected.  There is plenty of room behind the 5-in-3.  It might be pretty easy to nibble out the back of it and mount a 120mm fan to replace the two smaller fans.  

 

There is also room on the right side of the 3.5in bays to stuff the extra psu cables.

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I'm pleasantly surprised by the results of my heat test.  I placed my three drives in the worst possible configuration - parity in between the two other drives, left the two right-most slots empty - and ran another parity check.  The temperatures climbed pretty quickly as before, but the peak temps I saw were much lower, 47 C on the parity drive being the highest I saw.  This gives me hope that just a bit of work, such as controlling the airflow better, organizing the cables, etc., may give it just enough to stay in the adequate range.  Of course that may all go out the window when the cage is populated with 5 drives, who knows.

 

queeg, I like your idea of just ditching the rear metal plate altogether to accommodate larger fans, but the problem is the fans attach to that plate, and only that plate.  So I think one would have to drill some new screw holes as well (being careful not to drill through the electronics on the other size.  I'm not sure I'm comfortable enough to do that.  Super glue, on the other hand, is something I can handle.

 

I'll probably try adding some new case fans next.  However, the only obvious spot is in front of the internal 3.5" bays.  I'm not sure that placing a fan there will really help the drives in the drive cage.  What do you guys think?

miniBox_heat_test.PNG.2b6eaf78c1319bf4e0cf2acd698f3e5d.PNG

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What I was thinking was leave the back plate on, remove the smaller fans.  Attach a large single fan outside of the back end.  Probably cutting away more of the back plate so the fan can get more air moving.  Experiment by hot glue the fan on to see if it works better.  

Another way, just attach two 80mm fans on the outside to take the place of the 60's.  That might also cool it down substantially and it's the least change to the unit for starters. 

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I was suprised by how much room you had behind the 5-in-3.  Finally I had to check the dimensions of your BIOSTAR A760G compared to my Asus board.  Your's is about 1" smaller in both directions.  I'm impressed.  8.6 x 7.9.  I've never bought anything but Gigabyte and Asus so I never even looked at Biostar before.  But this size difference is a big deal in this little case. 

 

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This was one of the reasons I bought those 5in3's. I wanted to build a mini box like this.

I had always been eyeing up that rosewill case. Good Job Raj.

 

I'm going to test out the supermicro's and see how they fare. It may be harder, but it will be interesting anyway.

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Thanks guys, I'm pretty happy with it.  I forgot to mention, I lost the 'open box' mobo lottery and the mobo shipped solo, no accessories whatsoever.  I can deal without the screws, SATA cables, etc, but I really need that mobo back plate (not sure what it is called, the plate that sits between the mobo and the case and protects the ports in the back).  Newegg wouldn't send me one (which I expected), so I contacted Biostar.  Hopefully they'll come through.  I've got another spare plate that I could probably modify with a nibbler, but it wouldn't be pretty.  I hope to sell this server some day, so aesthetics are important.

 

Any suggestions on simple 'taping up vents' type of solutions that may help keep these drives a bit cooler?  This weekend I'm going to swap out the PSU for the Antec Earthwatts 380 W.  After that, I'll clean up the cabling so as to help airflow.  Past experience tells me that clean cabling can make at least a 1-2 degree difference in temps.

 

If the drives still run too hot after that, then I'll start experimenting with adding case fans. 

 

As it is now, this is how I expect the airflow from the 5-in-3 looks:

 

(a lot of heat circling in that bit of dead space, and only a small bit finding its way out the back through the case and PSU fans)

67llR.png

 

I think the best solution might be to cut a new fan vent right between the back of the 5-in-3 cage and the PSU.  That would allow hot air coming out of the back of the 5-in-3 to vent directly up and out of the case, instead of having to go underneath the PSU and out the back.  As it is now, the 60 mm fans on the 5-in-3 basically blow against a flat wall (the side of the PSU, and the bundle of cables).  I can't imagine that helps airflow too much.

 

I really don't know how to go about cutting a new fan vent, though.  I kind of doubt I could do it myself and keep the aesthetics up.

 

Thinking of cutting a new vent and adding a fan here:

 

i7Uy4.png

 

Another idea I had is to simply help direct the airflow down into the path of the case fan a bit better.  It seems to me that a simple piece of strategically placed metal or cardboard could help airflow quite a bit.  Something like this (red line being the metal/cardboard, red arrow being the desired airflow):

 

PWJG2.png

 

That could also double as a way to contain the bundle of cables coming out of the PSU, instead of my current ghetto twist-tie fix.

 

Both of these fixes would also be compatible with queeg's suggestion of a new fan(s) on the back of the 5-in-3.  There's definitely room for it.

 

 

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Got Biostar's response about the back plate:

 

Newegg clearly states that these motherboards do not include back plates and other accessories when purchasing open box items.

 

You may purchase one from us for $12.  Please send a paypal payment to paypal@biostar-usa.com.

 

In the comments section state that you want an I/O panel and include your motherboard model number.

 

Weak.  $12 pretty much eats up the savings from going open box in the first place.  Guess I should have gone retail.  I'll try making my own plate first, then if that fails, I guess I'll give in to this.

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Got Biostar's response about the back plate:

 

Newegg clearly states that these motherboards do not include back plates and other accessories when purchasing open box items.

 

You may purchase one from us for $12.  Please send a paypal payment to paypal@biostar-usa.com.

 

In the comments section state that you want an I/O panel and include your motherboard model number.

 

Weak.  $12 pretty much eats up the savings from going open box in the first place.  Guess I should have gone retail.  I'll try making my own plate first, then if that fails, I guess I'll give in to this.

 

This is typical. I've seen this price range from $4.00 to $18.00.

Take a close look at the back and look on eBay, you may get one that fits cheaper.

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If you post a pic of the back, I might have a backplate that will fit.. (I have a whole bunch of various ones lying around..)

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Any suggestions on simple 'taping up vents' type of solutions that may help keep these drives a bit cooler?  This weekend I'm going to swap out the PSU for the Antec Earthwatts 380 W.  After that, I'll clean up the cabling so as to help airflow.  Past experience tells me that clean cabling can make at least a 1-2 degree difference in temps.

 

I just got mine. I use clear packing tape to tape up the vents.

It's not that pretty, so you may want to do this on the inside.

I would put a 120MM exhaust fan on the bottom facing out.

 

Although, you may not need it.

I believe the antec earthwatts power supply has a vent right where the fans for the 5in3 are.

The antec earthwatts has a fan at the back of it.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371033

 

 

I just got my rosewill case today.

So I'll try a asus P5BVM-D0 Micro atx in it and see how it all sits.

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If you post a pic of the back, I might have a backplate that will fit.. (I have a whole bunch of various ones lying around..)

 

Thanks Msan!  Newegg probably has better pictures than I could muster, so here they are:

 

The back of the mobo:

 

zsX3x.png

 

The panel itself:

 

7fccc.png

 

All I really need for unRAID are for the video ports, some of the USB ports, and the network ports to be exposed.  It wouldn't bother me if the audio, PS2 mouse/keyboard ports, and some of the USB ports are blocked.

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I believe the antec earthwatts power supply has a vent right where the fans for the 5in3 are.

The antec earthwatts has a fan at the back of it.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371033

 

Good catch, Weebo!  I was hoping that may be the case, but I couldn't quite remember.  I have an older model Earthwatts PSU (standard grey metal instead of the pretty green), so I don't remember if the design is the same.  I'll have to check when I get home.  Perhaps that's enough of a reason to sub out the Earthwatts over the Corsair for this miniBox recommended build!

 

Thanks again, Msan!

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