WHS System Build: The Case

The Cooler Master HAF932 CaseAfter starting my evaluation of Windows Home Server Vail on my test server I became more eager to get going on my next system build, a new home server that will run Vail (Windows Home Server v2) once it’s released. I’ve been researching the parts I think I’ll want for the server and decided it was time to start buying them. I made a decision on the case and placed the order this past weekend.

My choice was the COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP which is a nice big ATX Full Tower. This will be my first full tower build and I’m looking forward to having the space inside. The case is made of steel which makes it heavy, the specs say it’s a tad over 29 pounds. Just because it’s steel doesn’t guarantee quality, but the Cooler Master rep and the reviews I’ve read does lead me to believe it’s a quality case which will last many years and several builds.

I had been looking to set up all the drives to be hot swappable and I’ve been hoping to have a rig with at least 12 drives in the case. The Cooler Master doesn’t meet that requirement but the cases that did had other issues I was concerned with. With so many drives with external from openings there wouldn’t be a fan blowing outside air over the drive. For example, the Antec 1200 could handle the drives but I’d lose two fans.

Then another big concern was expense, the LIAN LI PC-P80 case has 12 external 5.25” bays with good airflow over them. This was a serious contender as my case but at over double the price of the Cooler Master I was turned off. Lian Li is a quality case maker so I doubt I would have been disappointed. If the Cooler Master ends up being a bad choice for my Home Server it will certainly be suitable for my Windows PC upgrade and I can get the Lian Li for the home server.

As for the disk arrangement, the Cooler Master HAF 932 has:

  • 5 external 5.25” bays. There’s a sixth that’s convertible between 5.25” and 3.5”.
  • 1 external 3.5” bay. This is convertible to a 5.25” bay
  • 5 internal 3.5” bays. I like the arrangement of these bays as they face sideways. While I do have to open the case to access the drives I won’t need to slide the drives into or across any other parts to add or remove them. This was the clincher to get me to ease off the externally accessible drive requirement.
  • There’s also a bracket for attaching a 2.5″ SSD drive internally, although I don’t be using it.

To handle the 12 drives I’ll be adding the following to the case:

  • The iStarUSA BPU-2535V2 1 x 3.5″ to 2 x 2.5″ SATA I/II Hot-Swap Drive Cage takes one external 3.5” slot and can hold two 2.5” hard drives. My plan is to put two hard drives in this puppy and then set then mirror them to handle the Windows Home Server operating system. So this will go into the 3.5”/5.25” convertible bay.
  • My plan is to put a Antec EasySATA dock in each of the external 5.25” bays. These take a 3.5” drive and allow it to be hot swapped. There’s also a eSata port but I won’t be using that. If you do want to use the eSata port you’ll need an additional SATA connection for it. The two drives in here is what gives me the 12 drives in 11 bays.

So the case parts are on order and should arrive later this week. Everything except the EasySATA docks came from Newegg. The EasySATA docks were ordered from Amazon because they had them in stock for the exact same price but with free shipping due to Amazon Prime. Amazon also has a better return policy (and no restocking fee) so if I open the first one and it doesn’t meet my needs I should be able to return them without a problem.

The tab for this part of the build was $281.66 – $139.98 for the case (from Newegg), $36.68 for the iStarUSA drive cage and the EasySata’s were $21 each (I need 5).

Once the case arrives I’ll be hard-pressed to resist ordering the remaining components, so I may have more updates this week if I order more parts for the Windows Home Server build.

Feel free to comment about my selection (good or bad) or offer alternatives. Once I get the case and start using it I’ll update this article to reflect anything new that I learned.

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