First build - Looking for case


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Hi there! I'm completely new here and stumbled upon this place while researching RAID in preparation for a project I have planned. This unraid thing seems like it'll be just what I'll need.

 

My intention is to build a media PC to hookup to our TV in the living room, which should also serve as a media server throughout the house. The secondary purpose of this rig will be for light gaming, meaning not maxed out for playing AAA titles at maximum settings but far more modest. I have built a desktop from parts before, but have not built a NAS before, so I'll probably be checking in here with plenty of questions by the time I get around to building and configuring the system. That is however still far away, probably at least 3 months, as I'll have to save up the money for all the parts. Because of this, the idea is to start with a simple setup, taking into account room for future expansion.

 

The base setup will likely only include 3 hard drives, as I believe that would be the minimum amount which makes sense for an unraid setup. I would like to be able to expand the amount of drives later on (adding a new drive once the initial ones reach capacity) and am considering a minimum availability of 8 drive bays. That will more than do me for the foreseeable future, and I can always install larger capacity drives if the need for further expansion arises. I will not be including a graphics card at the start, but will very likely add one at a later stage.

 

Since I won't be able to purchase all the parts in one go, I have decided to start looking for just a case. The reason for this is that it's likely that by the time I get around to buying parts such as the motherboard and processor, there will be newer models available, like the Ryzen 4000 series for example. Right now, there's a really good deal on a Ryzen 7 2700X (so second gen Ryzen) for only about 150 pounds, but I suspect that when the new processor range hits the market, the price for the third gen may drop, possibly as far as the second gen has dropped now. Because the motherboard and other parts will partially depend on the processor I end up going with, it would be pointless to purchase such parts now. The way I see it, the only part which is not subject to changes, is the case, which is why I feel that's the best place to start for me.

 

I've been looking at a lot of cases by many different manufacturers over the past few days. I managed to find a few which I find appealing. I'm not entirely convinced however that I've found the optimal solution. This is way I'm reaching out here, to ask for tips and advice from people with experience. Sorry for the long introduction.

 

What I'm NOT looking for, is a tower case. This means that about 90% (from what I've seen) of cases are already not an option. I just don't want to have a big tower chassis sitting underneath my TV. Slim-line cases and mini cases are also not an option, due to the need for being able to fit plenty of hard drives and a graphics card. This seems to leave me with very little options. What I'm looking for is something more in the shape of an AV receiver, or a cube system. So far I'm charmed mostly by various cases from SilverStone. I did also find a case by Fractal Design and a case by Corsair. In total, I've found 8 cases which might be suitable, but some of them still seem less interesting to me. The ones I like best so far, are the following two.

 

SilverStone GD08 (SST-GD08B)

https://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=331&area=en

GD08.jpg.b4153e9b7bcd4e3415a97069119aa120.jpg

 

SilverStone GD07 (SST-GD07B)

https://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=330&area=en

GD07.jpg.ec96f1f5e4401cccdb06bc79f9a0e847.jpg

 

 

The reason I lean towards these are the capacity for hard drives and graphics cards, plus I like the look of them. Another case I was charmed by, was the CS280, because of the front loading hot swappable drives, but this one only takes 2.5 inch drives and also doesn't provide sufficient space for a graphics card.

 

The other cases I have on my list so far are these.

 

SilverStone GD06 (SST-GD06B)

SilverStone CS350 (SST-CS350)

SilverStone CS381 (SST-CS381B)

SilverStone CW03 (SST-CW03B-MT)

Fractal Design Node 804

Corsair Carbide Air 540

 

I would appreciate any tips or suggestions anyone might be able to offer in regard to cases I could look at. Thanks in advance for any replies.

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I have the gd07 and it's a brilliant case. The removable drive cage is a great feature. 

There are a few downsides. It can be tight to work in, and doing any after-build changes usually requires removal of all the drives and a good deal of pfaffing about. 

Also, you can't really access or use any front USB ports because of the front flap. Not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of. 

Apart from that though, I like it a lot. Great flexibility, decent cooling and reasonably well built. 

 

Edited by meep
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Thanks for your reply @meep . The availability of easily accessible USB ports at the front is actually one thing I forgot to mention in my post. That is something I also take into consideration. I might actually want more than the two ports which are generally available, so I'm also looking at the case having a 5.25 inch bay, so I could build in an extra USB hub.

 

I realize that with the GD07 and GD08 the drives have to be accessed from the inside, which is more work, but still doable. What would be preferable is to have hot swap bays right at the front. For tower cases, there are plenty of options in that regard, but I'm struggling to find this functionality in cases of the shape I'm looking for.

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1 hour ago, Stonelesscutter said:

The reason I lean towards these are the capacity for hard drives and graphics cards, plus I like the look of them. Another case I was charmed by, was the CS280, because of the front loading hot swappable drives, but this one only takes 2.5 inch drives and also doesn't provide sufficient space for a graphics card.

 

I know you said no towers, but, I have the Silverstone CS380 and it has 8 front-accessible hot-swap bays + 2 5.25" slots.  It can accommodate a graphics card up to 9.5" in length (don't know if that meets your needs).  I currently have five of the eight drive slots in use.

 

It's short for a tower at less than 17" (426mm).

 

You could lay it on the side that has no air vents and the front door would then open down.  It has 2 USB 3 front ports and you could use the 5.25" bays how you wish. 

 

I have a 4 x 2.5" SSD hot-swap caddy in one of the 5.25" slots and an optical drive for MakeMKV rips in the other.  Two of the four slots are occupied as seen by the bright blue lights.  Fortunately, with the door closed, you don't see the blue lights.

 

Here's a picture (I had to put a piece of ugly tape over the power button light because it was so bright and was affecting the picture- still is):

 

 

 

IMG_2167[1].JPG

Edited by Hoopster
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Thanks @Hoopster. This 8 bay front-accessible hot-swappable 3.5 inch bays thing is precisely what I'm looking for. I just wish it was designed to be a horizontal case rather than a vertical one. In order to access the USB-ports, or the 5.25 inch bays, the case door would have to be open, which for me is an inconvenience. I see that you have the case stored in a cabinet. Here it would be out in the open. It's a good case, but as with most of the SilverStone cases, there is at least one thing which doesn't really fit my wishes. If only they would make a case that combines the functionality of this one with the design of say the GD08 and doesn't lock everything (aside from drives) behind a door.

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2 minutes ago, Stonelesscutter said:

I just wish it was designed to be a horizontal case rather than a vertical one. In order to access the USB-ports, or the 5.25 inch bays, the case door would have to be open, which for me is an inconvenience

I saw a picture once of this case on its side with the front door removed.  Looked pretty good the way he had it setup. 

 

I am not trying to convince you to do anything in particular; just trying to give you some options.  The brightness of the blue power button light could be mitigated by various methods or even disabled.  They really are not as bright as the picture makes them look.

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4 minutes ago, Hoopster said:

I saw a picture once of this case on its side with the front door removed.  Looked pretty good the way he had it setup. 

 

I am not trying to convince you to do anything in particular; just trying to give you some options.  The brightness of the blue power button light could be mitigated by various methods or even disabled.  They really are not as bright as the picture makes them look.

I'm gonna try and look for pictures like that, to get a better idea. I did lookup some graphics cards and the current line of Nvidia cards are apparently 10 inches long. That's not to say I'll definitely go for one of those cards, but it is sort of the minimum card space I have been looking for. That would make this case about half an inch to narrow. I'd rather have an inch extra room. Some AMD cards are apparently more than 11 inch even. The GD07 and GD08 offer space for about 13.5 inch for graphics cards, so that would be preferable. Even if I end up going for a smaller card, it would leave more room for airflow.

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2 minutes ago, Stonelesscutter said:

I did lookup some graphics cards and the current line of Nvidia cards are apparently 10 inches long.

Yep, that's the biggest negative of this case, but, since I have an Intel CPU with integrated GPU which I use for Plex, Handbrake, etc. hardware transcoding, it has never been an issue.  Even if I decided to go with a dedicated GPU for transcoding; an Nvidia Quadro P2000 (the preferred choice) is only 7.9 inches long.

 

I don't have VMs to which I pass through a graphics card, but, if I did I would not need anything high-end as I am not a gamer and there are plenty of good cards under 9"

 

Obviously, I am talking about my needs, not yours.

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It's a bit peculiar, but Youtube seems to have only one video about the CS380 and that only mentioned having to replace the stock fans due to "overheating" hard drives. :) Couldn't find any pictures of the case on its side either unfortunately.

 

I've already done a fair amount of research for the SilverStone cases. What I'm having difficulty with, is finding similarly styled cases from other manufacturers. It seems to be towers all the way down the track, and even cube cases look more like smaller towers. At the moment, I might actually be leaning towards the Fractal Design Node 804 because it costs a lot less (only 61 pounds on Amazon) and it seems to offer plenty of space for components. I also like the square look of it. Mounting hard drives in this case however seems to be a major chore compared to other cases, if I can believe Linus' review. There has to be a better option.

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28 minutes ago, klipp01 said:

Just curious but any reason it needs to be near the TV? For gaming VM or media streaming purposes?

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
 

It's main purpose is as a media center for the living room, so that's why it's going near the TV. The secondary purpose is as a media server for other playback devices, so for that it wouldn't matter where it would be placed. But the tertiary purpose is as a gaming PC for the TV, so it makes most sense to put it right there. Aside from that, the spot where the TV is, is also where the fibre enters the house and the router is installed, so it's best to keep it all together like that.

 

Like your choice of phone by the way. Have a Pixel 2 myself.

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7 hours ago, Stonelesscutter said:

At the moment, I might actually be leaning towards the Fractal Design Node 804

My backup server is in a Fractal Node 304 (the smaller sibling of the Node 804).  Yes, mounting the drives and accessing the internals once everything is installed is a bit of a pain.  Fortunately, I have it tucked away in a corner of the basement running completely headless.  Out of sight, out of mind as it were.

 

This forum thread details what dmacias did (and I followed his suggestions) to improve airflow/cooling in the CS380.  It really has no issues with that now.  Again, this is all for informational purposes so you can get a clear picture of the options and their limitations with potential solutions to those limitations.

Edited by Hoopster
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A while ago, I watched this video, which is what planted the idea of hot swappable drives in my head in the first place. Since then, when I started looking at cases myself, I went to the Rosewill site to see if I could find the case. I couldn't however find one that suited my tastes. Now I just watched the video again, I realized that this is not exactly a standard case but a server rack! 🤦‍♂️ That might be a bit too much for me, but it illustrates well what I've been looking for. This doesn't have the option (at the front) to add any additional USB-ports however.

 

Rosewill RSV-L4412 – 4U

https://www.rosewill.com/product/rosewill-rsv-l4412-4u-rackmount-server-case-or-chassis-12-sata-sas-hot-swap-drives-5-cooling-fans-included/

Rosewill.jpg.73ab3afd2b09aac8f83e060a415a4f71.jpg

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29 minutes ago, Stonelesscutter said:

Anybody know of a case which has twelve 5.25 inch bays in a 2 by 6 configuration, like so?

 

2x6.jpg.8b7efaf33f36dd79b1621eec6d9fc6b4.jpg

I have never heard of such case exists. It would be double the width of a normal case full of 5.25" bays which are on their way out.

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Worth taking a look at the drop in drive cases too fit more and with unraid you'll likely be turning off the system to replace drives rather then 'hotswapping'.

I agree with this.  Even though I have a case with hotswap capability, I have never actually hotswapped a drive. 

 

I always shut down the server when installing, replacing or reordering drives.  However, I got the case because it makes access to the drives extremely easy as I do not have to open up the case and they are right there in the front.

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5 hours ago, Strega said:

The only ones that I know of that are close are the Mountain Mod cube cases. They do make a 5x2 configuration but are rather large and a bit pricey.

Thanks! I think I'm in love... (with the cases that is) The U2-UFO OPTI range indeed comes quite close to what I pictured, and the Ascension range (although slightly more towery) offers similar options. You weren't kidding about the pricyness. But I'm not surprised due to them being so special, and quite frankly these cases are works of art! I never planned my build to be a flashy eye-catching one, but I will definitely be looking into this more closely.

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5 hours ago, Hoopster said:

I agree with this.  Even though I have a case with hotswap capability, I have never actually hotswapped a drive. 

 

I always shut down the server when installing, replacing or reordering drives.  However, I got the case because it makes access to the drives extremely easy as I do not have to open up the case and they are right there in the front.

Ah yes. It's all about the easy access for me too. I don't really care if the system is turned off while I'm placing extra drives. I would just prefer to be able to handle them without taking apart the case and without using a screwdriver.

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Using the Mountain Mods customization tool, I came up with this. (I don't know how to find this link on their website, I found it on some forum somewhere.)

 

1775634071_customcube.thumb.png.fd9700bcff2e89bcae3b7ed6824b93c1.png

 

It's rather more pricey than I had intended, but then it's also quite special. Funnily enough, it comes in at a lower price than the standard models. This is a customization of the U2-UFO Horizon model. It has six 5.25 inch bays at the bottom in 2 by 3 formation, which could be converted in two bays holding either 4 or 5 drives (3.5 inch) each.

 

This is the same case but with the front, left and top panels made invisible.

 

1036855835_customcube2.thumb.png.35b1d73f2ec40ab537636c63ac3294e1.png.

 

The shelf in the middle is to place the motherboard on top of horizontally. (the standard case mounts it vertically) This costs 25 dollars extra, but it gives the benefit of having the 5.25 inch bays fall below, and it also offers the option to place the PSU below the motherboard. This leaves the entire top half of the case for the motherboard and any additional equipment. There's plenty of fan space at the front and back. If you'd want to, you could have additional fan space (and windows) in the side panels. Or you could make the side panels completely see through, which is actually the cheaper option, but my choice was to keep those closed and to only include a window at the top, since that's where all the nice looking parts would be anyway. The only thing I'm not fond of is the gaping hole in the back where the PSU would be (in the top half of the case) since I would mount a PSU at the bottom, but I suppose that could be covered up with some efforts, or they might be able to leave that out if I were to ask them.

 

I find myself salivating, but still, it really is a LOT of money for a case...

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If you do decide to spring for the case, I don't think you'll be disappointed with the quality. I built a watercooled system in one years ago and was very pleased with the case.

 

Ouch is right, that shipping quote is a bit much. It is a beautiful case though......😁

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