Good case for "Pedestal Server" style testbench machine

Zarathustra[H]

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Hey everyone,

So, for the longest time I have moved my old hardware to a secondary testbench machine in my office, which I use for things like long badblocks tests of harddrives, flashing firmware to things, and other tests I don't want to mess with on my desktop.

Right now, my old x79 board with my 6C/12T i7-3930k is humming along in that box in my old Asus p9x79 WS board in my old, cheap $29.99 workhorse case the NZXT Source 210. (Seriously this thing has gone beyond every expectation I had for it when I bought it for close to nothing 13 years ago.

1664917074684.png


1664917225759.png


(Apologies for the dust, it's amazing how that shit is completely invisible until the flash goes off)

I recently installed these ICY dock things, to allow me to do my drive stuff without continuously opening the case and leaning it on its side, with shit hanging out of the case. In the process I stuffed it with lots of SAS cables. Two from the controller to the Intel SAS expander and then several SAS to sata breakout cables from the expander to the Icy Docks.

I didn't spend much time on cable management (thus the mess) but it was immediately apparent that I'm probably going to want more space.

1664917373750.png


Also. while the SSI-CEB form factor motherboard fits just fine in this case, In the future when I upgrade my server, I anticipate moving the dual socket server board over to my testbench, and the SuperMicro X9DRI-F is even bigger (SSI-EEB) and won't fit in this case, so I am going to need something that can fit a 13" long motherboard.

That, and my clumsy ass stepped on the case lid when I was installing the Icy Docks, and it is now bent and doesn't close properly (I barely got it open to takje this pick, it was stuck closed so hard)


Anyway, enough back story.

I'm looking for a case that would be good for my spare parts testbench build.

Requirements:
- Must fit large motherboards (up to the largest E-ATX boards and SSI-EEB)
- Must have plenty of drive bays (external and internal)
- Must have decent airflow without getting too loud (those server LSI SAS cards, expanders and 10gig network cards get HOT)
- Prefer subtle business-like design (no LED's, no windows, no racy color schemes, etc)
- Prefer good durable quality. My cheap-ass NZXT case lasted me almost 15 years. I'm looking for a step up from that.


I've been googling for good "Pedestal Server" type cases I can use for this upgrade. Seemingly whenever you use the term "pedestal" or "server" - however - much like whenever you mention the word "wedding" to a venue or caterer, prices go up for no reason.

This Chenbro case seemed a prime contender, but it may be on th eload side when you get good airflow going, and $340 for this really seems like a needless case of "enterprise tax".

1664918310777.png
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Further searching consumer parts in an attempt to avoid the "enterprise tax" I came across this Phanteks Enthoo Pro case which seems a pretty good fit for what I want.

1664918974287.png
1664918991727.png


Lots of drive bays, fits huge motherboards, 200mm fan for airflow should keep things nice and cool while also being quiet, and as luck would have it it is a nice basic black and a version without a case window is available.

The specs say it has 3 external 5.25" bays which is sufficient for my docks, but I am a little confused as from the pictures it looks like there are 4...

From the reviews I've read, people seem to say it is pretty sturdy too, which is a huge plus.

Before I go ahead and make this my new testbench case, I wanted to check and see if there are any other good options I should be considering.

I appreciate any recommendations!
 

Zarathustra[H]

Extremely [H]
Joined
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Messages
35,451
Well, I ahvent bought anything from Newegg for a while, but they are both undercutting Amazon in price on this Phanteks Ethoo Pro case, AND promise delivery sooner with free shipping (despite my prime membership) AND have a Newegg only mail in rebate form, so I think I am going to bite on this Phanteks case.

At $124.99 shipped, it's quite the deal.
 

Nobu

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
8,846
Hey everyone,

So, for the longest time I have moved my old hardware to a secondary testbench machine in my office, which I use for things like long badblocks tests of harddrives, flashing firmware to things, and other tests I don't want to mess with on my desktop.

Right now, my old x79 board with my 6C/12T i7-3930k is humming along in that box in my old Asus p9x79 WS board in my old, cheap $29.99 workhorse case the NZXT Source 210. (Seriously this thing has gone beyond every expectation I had for it when I bought it for close to nothing 13 years ago.

View attachment 516136

View attachment 516142

(Apologies for the dust, it's amazing how that shit is completely invisible until the flash goes off)

I recently installed these ICY dock things, to allow me to do my drive stuff without continuously opening the case and leaning it on its side, with shit hanging out of the case. In the process I stuffed it with lots of SAS cables. Two from the controller to the Intel SAS expander and then several SAS to sata breakout cables from the expander to the Icy Docks.

I didn't spend much time on cable management (thus the mess) but it was immediately apparent that I'm probably going to want more space.

View attachment 516143

Also. while the SSI-CEB form factor motherboard fits just fine in this case, In the future when I upgrade my server, I anticipate moving the dual socket server board over to my testbench, and the SuperMicro X9DRI-F is even bigger (SSI-EEB) and won't fit in this case, so I am going to need something that can fit a 13" long motherboard.

That, and my clumsy ass stepped on the case lid when I was installing the Icy Docks, and it is now bent and doesn't close properly (I barely got it open to takje this pick, it was stuck closed so hard)


Anyway, enough back story.

I'm looking for a case that would be good for my spare parts testbench build.

Requirements:
- Must fit large motherboards (up to the largest E-ATX boards and SSI-EEB)
- Must have plenty of drive bays (external and internal)
- Must have decent airflow without getting too loud (those server LSI SAS cards, expanders and 10gig network cards get HOT)
- Prefer subtle business-like design (no LED's, no windows, no racy color schemes, etc)
- Prefer good durable quality. My cheap-ass NZXT case lasted me almost 15 years. I'm looking for a step up from that.


I've been googling for good "Pedestal Server" type cases I can use for this upgrade. Seemingly whenever you use the term "pedestal" or "server" - however - much like whenever you mention the word "wedding" to a venue or caterer, prices go up for no reason.

This Chenbro case seemed a prime contender, but it may be on th eload side when you get good airflow going, and $340 for this really seems like a needless case of "enterprise tax".

View attachment 516152 View attachment 516156



Further searching consumer parts in an attempt to avoid the "enterprise tax" I came across this Phanteks Enthoo Pro case which seems a pretty good fit for what I want.

View attachment 516159 View attachment 516160

The specs say it has 3 external 5.25" bays which is sufficient for my docks, but I am a little confused as from the pictures it looks like there are 4...
Top "bay" looks shorter. Probably the front usb, etc, behind a flip up door.
 

Zarathustra[H]

Extremely [H]
Joined
Oct 29, 2000
Messages
35,451
So, this took forever, because "real life" type things got in the way, but I finally finisehd the transplant into the Phanteks Enthoo Pro today, and if I may say so myself, it is quite an improvement:

1666230593259.png
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Much better cable management may be a not insignificant part of it. The old build was just kind of haphazardly thrown together over time. This one got some more care and consideration. That said, having more space to work with also makes that easier.

My only complaint would be the big 200mm fan in the front.

Conventional wisdom is that bigger fans mean slower rotational speeds for the same airflow, so they are quieter. This 200mm fan has a hum at any speed. That, and it is a 3pin fan, so no PWM control.

Does anyone know a good quiet 200mm pwm fan that might be a decent replacement?

Appreciate nay recommendations.
 

Zarathustra[H]

Extremely [H]
Joined
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Messages
35,451
$37 is a little bit much for a fan, but I may have to go with the Noctua NF-A20 PWM.

Appreciate alternate suggestions.
 

Nobu

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
8,846
I have a coolermaster led 180mm that isn't terrible. Unfortunately, haven't owned any others so I don't know how it compares. You'd probably be good with most any other, as included case fans are frequently quite terrible even compared to the "same" fans sold separately.
 

Zarathustra[H]

Extremely [H]
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Messages
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I have a coolermaster led 180mm that isn't terrible. Unfortunately, haven't owned any others so I don't know how it compares. You'd probably be good with most any other, as included case fans are frequently quite terrible even compared to the "same" fans sold separately.

Well then.

Turns out the stock 200mm fan is one of those "we removed all extraneous plastic and gave it a smaller set of holes (180mm?) 200mm fans.

Luckily the fancy $37 Noctua fan comes with the matching smaller spaced holes in addition to the standard 200mm ones.

Unluckily you need all of that extraneous plastic removed to fit the fan in between the various metal walls in tbe front of the case.

PXL_20221028_013403718.jpg


PXL_20221028_013410514.jpg


PXL_20221028_013459207.jpg


PXL_20221028_013504486.jpg


I can totally MAKE the Noctua fan fit with a healthy dose of dremeling. The question is, do I really want to?

I guess I will. At this point I already threw out the box for the Noctua so there is no returning it, and I am unhappy with the stock fan, so I might as well make it work.

I have about a bajillion things ahead of this on the to-do list though...
 
Last edited:

Nobu

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
8,846
Well then.

Turns out the stock 200mm fan is one of those "we removed all extraneous plastic and gave it a smaller set of holes (180mm?) 200mm fans.

Luckily the fancy $37 Noctua fan comes with the matching smaller spaced holes in addition to the standard 200mm ones.

Unluckily you need all of that extraneous plastic removed to fit the fan in between the various metal walls in tbe front of the case.

View attachment 522061

View attachment 522062

View attachment 522063

View attachment 522064

I can totally MAKE the Noctua fan fit with a healthy dose of dremeling. The question is, do I really want to?

I guess I will. At this point I already threw out the box for the Noctua so there is no returning it, and I am unhappy with the stock fan, so I might as well make it work.

I have about a bajillipn things ahead of this on the to-do list though...
...I guess it won't fit if you rotate the noctua 30 or 90 degrees? Ugh, I hate that.
 

Zarathustra[H]

Extremely [H]
Joined
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Messages
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...I guess it won't fit if you rotate the noctua 30 or 90 degrees? Ugh, I hate that.
Yeah, no dice.

I can Dremel it out though.

I'm not going to complain. Everything else about this case has been outstanding.
 

Zarathustra[H]

Extremely [H]
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Messages
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Yeah, no dice.

I can Dremel it out though.

I'm not going to complain. Everything else about this case has been outstanding.

So, I bolted the two fans together, and used a white paint pen to draw the outline of the Phanteks fan ontop of the Noctua fan. One side after the other.

Then I threw it on my 1950's vintage craftsman scroll saw I have on my workbench, and sawed the Phanteks profile into the Noctua fan, and cleaned up any sharp edges with the dremel.

The fan now fits, but unfortunately the Noctua anti-vibration pads no longer do, but I found four rubber spacers in my old hardware parts bin and stuck those between the case and the fan to make up for it.

Everything fits, but there is still a hum. I suspect it was not the fan itself that was causing the hum, but rather the modular drive bays right behind the fan vibrating.

While that was a bit of a bummer, on the plus side, the Noctua fan is a 4-pin PWM model, whereas the Phanteks fan that came with the case was just a 3-pin. This allows me finer speed control, and at most speeds, it is dead silent, so it is still a huge improvement.

Having to hack up the fan was a pain in th ebutt, but it now works.

Calling this project "done".
 
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