The Plink IPC-3035S is the perfect budget, short in depth (15″) 3U case for a FreeNAS server. My criteria
The online description at 3U (3 x 5.25″ + 5 x 3.5″ HDD Bay) Rackmount Chassis (14.96″ Deep) (ATX / Micro-ATX / Mini ITX) Server Case was not as accurate as I thought it would be. The case turned out to have more slots than advertised. It turns out that the case out of the gate has 6x 3.5″ slots that are available for mounting in the front and 2x 2.5″ under the power supply area. Instead of the 2x 2.5″ under the power supply it can old 1x 3.5″ instead as an alternate configuration option. The tower that holds the front hard drives are capable of hold 8x 3.5″ slots but the pegs for the ATX and MicroATX would need to be removed and you would be forced to use a Mini-ITX motherboard with minimal clearance from the hard drive SATA/SAS/Power connector and the Mini-ITX motherboard but I believe it is doable.
Fruthermore to expand how many drives the 3U could hold I also purchased an enclosure that fits into 3x 5.25″ bay slots to provide 5x 3.5″ drives. This allows for 11x 3.5″ drives with the potential of 13x 3.5″ if the motherboard pegs were removed and a Mini-ITX motherboard was used. In addition to 2x 2.5″ drives. This is becoming the perfect little FreeNAS server case. The cage was found on eBay. Here is a link that should find you what you’re looking for, Cage Tray Caddy Rack For 5.25” to 5x 3.5” SATA SAS HDD Hard Drive.
Lastly, since I was using a Mini-ITX motherboard it would be fitting to use the un-used PCI slots for additional 2.5″ drives for ZIL or L2ARC (caching).
This bracket was another eBay find here, Evercool HDD/SSD 2.5inch Mount Bracket for PCI Slot HDB-100. We could add 3 of these with a Mini-ITX motherboard for a total of 5x 2.5″ slots and 11x 3.5″ slots with a potential of 13x 3.5″ slots.
After populating the case with the drives that I discovered a few clearance items about the placement of everything:
- The 4th (bottom) hard drive location could not be used, the connector would be under the motherboard
- The LSI 9201-16i controller has little clearance between the slot and the hard drives. I looked for right angle SFF-8087 connectors but did not exist. I opted to move the controller with a flexible PCIe re-locator. Yet another eBay find, Athena Power 150mm/5.91″ CABLE-PCIE16A1-L15V2 90-Degree Left Angle Flexible GPU with that I was able to use my SAS cables and wrap them around the case.
- The power supply would be nice if it wasn’t as deep as it was. There is very low clearance. If you’re purchasing a new power supply try to find one that is a little bit shorter than the standard ATX size.
Due to the number of outputs the power supply had, I was required to use a 3-4 Y Molex connectors to get power to all the hard drives. In total, there are 12 Molex connectors for the 10x 3TB SAS drives and the 2x 120GB SSD SATA drives. There are some inline Molex connectors for the powering of fans. It’s important to note that you do not want to run the front expansion cage or the server for that matter without fans.
I accidentally did not power the front 120MM fan and the hard drives I could not touch without burning my self. Ensure all the fans for airflow are connected!
Overall, this met my criteria and fit nicely into my 6U teleco rack with a short depth. It’s worth noting that the back of the teleco rack is open and not closed. If the back was closed, I doubt there would be enough room to hook up the power cable or ethernet cables. It’s also worth noting, the door can close on the Tripp Lite 6U rack.
Check out the gallery below! Leave your comments and questions.