Looking for cheap HBA for 4-8 SAS drives

There are so many to choose from and I have zero experience with other than sata drives so I thought I’d turn here for advice. I’m learning about HBA’s for sas dirves. Right now I’m looking for a HBA for four 15k rpm sas drives but more might be added if I like how they work.

First question: For example if the sas controller is branded Dell, does that mean it only works on their workstations/servers? I know Dell has some proprietary fan headers so I was wondering if the add on cards could be locked somehow. The card I am looking at is a Dell H310 (LSI 9211). I assume it will work in my Dell T5810 but will it work on any normal motherboards?

Second question: What controllers are “best” for 4-8 cards? best as in reliable and easy to set up without big hastle? Don’t need the absolute fastest. My google-fu mostly lands me at LSI 9211, and to avoid cards with megaraid.

Third question: If I want more than 8 drives, say 16, what controller should I be looking on then? I feel like cheapest would be two LSI-9211 i8

The drives will be put in a cage called Icy Dock ToughArmor MB994SK-1B that fits in a 5,25" bay, its basically just a cage with power and sata connectors on the back, that can take both sata and sas 2.5" drives. The case is a Dell Precision T5810 so I suspect I will have to add a fan for the controller to keep it cool. Or if I want more drives I’ll go with bigger case. Now if this works ok I might get more drives and put them in my other case.

I am just brainstorming options using what I already have here so that is why I have so many open questions :slight_smile:

An LSI 9211-8i seems to be a good go to. Just flash it into IT mode and you’re golden. If you want more than 8 drives, you just use a SAS expander or backplane with a built in SAS expander.

The other option would be a card that has more ports on the card. Right now I run a 9201-16i because it was the better option for my use case. It has 4 SFF 8087 ports that allows me to connect breakout cables to 16 drives.


Currently running one in my NAS with an Asrock board. To get it to run in non-Dell machines, you’ll need to flash it to LSI IT mode firmware, and tape off a couple of pins on the PCI-e connector.

I used this guide, but there are probably some better ones out now.

I’ve got a 40mm Noctua zip tied to the heatsink. Keeps it cool even at low RPMs.


Dell h310, IBM 1015M and similar cards will also work in a desktop, but are designed for high airflow servers, hence having just a heat sink without fan.
A small fan like Zavar suggested would work.
(Or a larger fan if that is what you have, but that would be wasteful/no extra benefit, apart from maybe already being available)

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100% this LSI 9211-i8 is a great HBA for a few SAS(SATA) drives. I would avoid the Fujitsu ones as flashing to IT mode is extra challenging with them, but most anything else based on the 9211 chip will be easy.

You can also pay for them to be flashed for a few $$ extra.


Ooh, that is why mine keep dying… I’m going to go zip tie one on.


Good to know, that’s probably why I find so many Fujitsu ones for sale locally.

Thanks for the replies everybody, I just put a bid on a Dell H310 :slight_smile:

My plan to put it in my T5810 seems to be problematic. I got only one Sata power left, and the drive cage would need two molex connectors.Those two molex would power all four sas drives. Now the specs say drives operate at 7W (typical) each so it would be total 28W.

I dislike splitting cables.

I know sata should be rated at 54 watts so technically it sounds ok. But common sense tells me to caution if Dell takes their own route and only rated it to run one single drive then?

Definitely worth keeping in mind that some drives use a lot more power on spinup (20W+), so you could overdo it on the one cable.

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7W seems a bit optimistic… I have six 8TB 10k SAS drives that appear to add approximately 70W to the server’s power consumption measured from the wall.

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Good to know. I’ll have to measure how much one drive draws when I get my HBA and cables. If I cant get minimum two sata cable I’ll have to put it in other case with better PSU I guess.

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My mistake I see you’re working with 2.5” drives so 7 W is likely more accurate.

The PSU and power distribution board in the T5810 is fairly robust. I think the problem lies with the fact that cheap Molex and SATA adapters have been known to have issues…From what I have read, it’s best to stay away from molded SATA connectors.

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