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Cheap RAID SAS/SATA/eSATA Storage Option

December 6, 2012 5:57:59 PM

I'm looking for a way to hook up 4 large capacity (3TB) hard drives to a HP P212 RAID controller in a HP N40L homeserver. I already have an array of 4 3TB SATA drives connected to the internal port of the P212 card, and I'm looking to expand externally.

The external connector on the P212 is SFF-8088 Mini-SAS. It looks like I can get a ~$20 cable on eBay that would give me 4 eSATA or SATA connectors. It would be great to have individual control of the drives, rather than using eSATA/port multiplier. I'm not even sure if the controller supports port multiplier, or if that could create problems down the road if I decide to create an external RAID array.

A simple 4 or 5 bay SATA backplane module like the AMS DS-3151SSBK ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) would be perfect, but it looks like it's intended for mounting inside a case. Maybe a simple 3 bay duplicator case could work? http://www.duplicatorcenter.com/720-Series-3-Bay-SATA-D...

All of a sudden we're talking about $20 (cable) + $100 (backplane module) + 65 (case + power) = ~$200.

A pre-built option is the Sans Digital TR4X+B, which goes for less than $200 if you get a refurbished model from their website.

I'd like a small footprint and I'd consider mounting the drives in a PC case with eSATA brackets (Mini-SAS to Mini-SAS - 4 eSATA connector to 4 eSATA female ports on the brackets to SATA cable to HDDs), but I'd need a small form factor case and I couldn't find a nice one that would hold 4 3.5" HDDs without excessive space.

Any ideas for how to cheaply get 4 drives attached to the Mini-SAS port would be greatly appreciated!
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