Good high-end NAS cases don't exist, Should the community make one?

I’m in the market for a bigger data storage computer and I’ve been looking for parts and cannot for the life of me find a case that will house enough disks.

Off the bat I’ve already ruled out disk shelves because they are loud, power hungry and don’t filter air.
I’ve also looked at rack mounted “nas” cases like the Supermicro 846/847 and they don’t filter air, are overly large and kind of ugly.
The closest reasonable case I’ve found is the fractal define 7 xl but it isn’t enough.

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I know “good” is subjective but my criteria is:

  • Must have an intake air filter
  • Must securely hold hdds (the more damping the case can provide the better i.e. no 45 drives anything)
  • Must hold a moderate amount of hdds, >24
  • Must promote quiet operation (mounting for larger sized fans, i.e. no 80mm and 92mm only fan mounts)
  • Must have full height pcie slots
  • Must have provisions to easily pickup

Nice to haves:

  • 5.25" drive bays
  • looks nice
  • external 3.5/2.5 dock interface for loose hdds

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I’m considering creating a case from scratch to fulfill these needs and wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts/ideas/advice they’d want to share.

Picture of the nas raid card to garner interest:


Commenting as I’m intrigued

So basically, you want more then 24x 3.5" HDD’s in a SFF or mid-tower case, right? You can’t. 24x 3.5" HDD’s is not actually “moderate”, it’s huge. Especially with 20TB drives getting affordable. (depends on your definition of affordable I guess :stuck_out_tongue: )

Anyway, consider a Storinator: ample space for hardware, fully customisable front design, filter, etc.


I could be wrong, but a disk shelf, practically just has disks, fans and a pass through/controller card?

The reason they are loud and use power, is because a bunch of HDD’s get hot, and use power…

Obviously SAS drives spinning faster than SATA are hotter, but if you don’t have good cooling, you will just starve the drives, and reduce their lifespan.

A disk shelf is like, the refined storage part, and there is a reason it’s set up like that?

I personally use a 24bay rack mount for my daily rig, and am damaging the drives a little by not running the 14cm fans 100%.
24 3.5 inch drives still takes power tho.
I tried placing a filter over the front, but needed a bank of additional fans for the extra pressure needed, so removed it.

I guess one could run a large case, fitted out with 200mm fans, but airflow is less good with them, so would need a bunch, directed, or just under up with rising internal temps?


Maybe you can start with BackBlaze storage pod and modify it to your needs, it’s what 45 drives does. Those people have lots of experience building high density storage and their designs are open source so maybe you can take 60 drive chassis down to 40 drive chassis that fits your use case better.


I’d be happy with something around a define 7 XL’s size, perhaps alittle bit less width; something I can put next to a desk.
hahaha I didn’t want to make it sound like I was some kind of storage addict.

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My assertion about the disk shelfs came from me researching a Dell MD1200, they were pulling ~70w idle with no drives in them and the power supplies weren’t very efficient so when the drives were inserted the power consumption went up more than expected.

A modern 3.5" SAS drive is like 8 watts full power and ~4 watts active-idle so it shouldn’t be too bad to cool assuming I don’t line them up in long rows that the fan will have to push air through.
I know older drives that were more prevalent when most disk shelfs were made used more power which is perhaps why power efficiency wasn’t high up on the design criteria for the shelves.

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That’s not a bad idea… its just they are so ugly.
All the videos I’ve seen of people handling them made them look flimsy to me, did anyone else get that impression?

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I’ve got a rough idea in my head what a high end nas case would look like, I’ll CAD it up and post it here later in the week.
side note: I haven’t done a 3d render in ~15 years and am sad to see maxwell studio no longer has a solidworks plugin.

It doesn’t look like much yet but I thought I’d show where I’m at incase I get any good ideas to incorporate early on.

I’ve been subliminally messaged enough by sendcutsend advertisements I’m going to design the whole thing to be laser cut and bent out of 3/16" 5052. The different bent pieces will fit together with tabs and slots which’ll then be welded.

There’ll be a piece of mesh metal covering all the fan holes that’ll match the angle on the bottom of the case for aesthetic/EMI purposes (so many cases do not have proper EMI shielding). All those little fan holes are 80mm fans for the hdd compartment and the 4 bigger holes are 120mm fans for the main compartment.

So far the case is 22" tall, 23.5" deep and between 7"-10.7" thick depending on where you look. smaller than the define 7 xl while having 30 dedicated 3.5 slots in the bottom area.

I get the distinct impression you are not using your noggin’ enough.

I’m thinking 3x2 stack of these babies on the front:

That would be a footprint of roughly 292mm x 378mm on the front, add ~65mm on top for motherboard and PSU. Or you could do double sided, 3 front 3 back and motherboard + psu on the side for a total footprint of roughly 378 x 250 mm.

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Understand storage is typically seen when there are issues. It’s not designed for looks, it’s designed for optimum cooling, ease of maintenance and (rarely) noise reduction.

If you want to put it on display then go all SSD or even NVMe. A lot less noise / power consumption and you could get it down to 1U. It won’t deafen anyone seeing it.


…orrr maybe I’m using my noggin too much and am sending myself down a rabbit hole.
If I could stack 5.25" enclosures that would make things so much easier. I just can’t find any with sff-8643 or sff-8087 connectors. I don’t want to loose the dual port capability by using sata connectors.

I think SSDs would consume significantly more power than the hdds unless maybe I went with 30.72TB drives… but even those are typically >20 watts.

And I take it adapter cables are not an option?

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This is going to sound convoluted:
Apparently I made an assumption I shouldn’t have, I assumed any cables with a SFF-8639 connector (provided they are not U.2 variants) on the end of them had both sas/ sata data ports a and b active; but but after looking into it further that doesn’t seem to be the case unless you have a SFF-8680 cable end to the hdd. So apparently the broadcom 05-60006-00 cables I’ll be using aren’t dual port; or maybe they are because they are U.3?.. I need to look into this because I thought I was getting a failover data path to the hdds with the cable.

I had assumed that sff-8643 or sff-8087 connectors automatically entailed dual port aswell which is why I thought an enclosure that used them would be superior.

Yes, that is also a distinct possibility :grin:

I know how deep those holes can go, for sure… BTW, trying to act as a rubber duck here, asking a few critical questions. In general I think you are on the right track, but healthy discussion and questions are always good - otherwise you tend to miss things like “I need a red pole, and I have a lot of red lego bricks… Hmmmm…” “OOOOOOOrrr I could just buy a broom shaft for $5 at the local walmart and paint it red.”

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Quote from Tom’s Hardware, there are many more just like it, plus my personal experience of paying electrical bills.

SSDs consume significantly less power than HDDs, which can point to longer battery life in laptops.

SATA SSDs (larger ones that have a similar shape to HDDs) usually draw under 5W at most, and M.2 SSDs (smaller, shaped like a stick of gum) can hit upwards of 7-8W under load. At idle they can get as low as just 10mW, and in their lower power states under 3mW.

So, if you plan on using your drive in a mobile device, such as a laptop, swapping from an HDD to an SSD can extend battery life by 30-45 minutes on average.


HDD vs SSD, both datacenter centric, both SATA.

Obviously, if you need high performance, there is a power cost associated with that:


No the cable isn’t dual port. I have a sas drive connected via this cable and it shows only 1 port.

Device #5
         Device is a Hard drive
         State                                : Raw (Pass Through)
         Unsupported Reason(s)                : Drive format is not supported
         Drive has stale RIS data             : False
         Disk Name                            : /dev/sdh
         Block Size                           : 4K Bytes
         Physical Block Size                  : 4K Bytes
         Transfer Speed                       : SAS 12.0 Gb/s
         Reported Channel,Device(T:L)         : 0,5(5:0)
         Reported Location                    : Direct Attached, Slot 5(Connector 0:CN0)
         Vendor                               : SEAGATE
         Model                                : ST18000NM004J
         Firmware                             : E004
         Reserved Size                        : 32768 KB
         Used Size                            : 0 MB
         Unused Size                          : 17166304 MB
         Total Size                           : 17166336 MB
         Write Cache                          : Disabled (write-through)
         S.M.A.R.T.                           : No
         S.M.A.R.T. warnings                  : 0
         SSD                                  : No
         Boot Type                            : None
         Rotational Speed                     : 7200 RPM
         Current Temperature                  : 32 deg C
         Maximum Temperature                  : 35 deg C
         Threshold Temperature                : 60 deg C
         PHY Count                            : 2
         Drive Configuration Type             : HBA
         Mount Point(s)                       : Not Mounted
         Drive Exposed to OS                  : True
         Sanitize Erase Support               : True
         Sanitize Lock Freeze Support         : False
         Sanitize Lock Anti-Freeze Support    : False
         Sanitize Lock Setting                : None
         Drive SKU Number                     : Not Applicable
         Drive Part Number                    : Not Applicable
         Last Failure Reason                  : No Failure
      Device Phy Information                  
         Phy #0
            Negotiated Physical Link Rate     : 12 Gbps 
            Negotiated Logical Link Rate      : 12 Gbps 
            Maximum Link Rate                 : 12 Gbps 
         Phy #1
            Negotiated Physical Link Rate     : unknown 
            Negotiated Logical Link Rate      : unknown 
            Maximum Link Rate                 : 12 Gbps
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dang, I suppose we’d need something like this for dual port:

I’m use to using expanders/backplanes, still learning about direct attached.
I have the sister adaptec card to yours.

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Much appreciated. I’m currently really looking into vibration damping because of all the articles I’m reading about how modern/future hdds are so sensitive to vibration that current chassis design degrade their performance:

Maybe the hdd cage needs to be made of magnesium.

It may not be the cable. Does your system recognize 4K drives? I just went through this on a RAID Card that did not support 4K drives. Once I swapped to a 512e drive, my issues vanished.

Geez, those WD 8TBs don’t idle well; looking at that datasheet there is a sizable drop off in power usage after going to a 12TB drive or above, I bet that is when they start helium filing the drives.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately depending on how you look at it, I’ve already bought into toshiba mg08’s, 34 of them.

A comparable (if you can call it that) sas ssd would be something like:

4x r/w speed is pushing “comparable” :wink:

Then again, price between the mentions I made is also iffy (230€ for the WD 8TB, 700€ for the PM893)