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Case Recommendation: Front-Loading Hot-Swapable SATA3 Drives

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March 27, 2012 5:25:03 PM

Hi All,

I'm looking for a new computer case. The "must have" list is:

1. Front-loading hot-swapable SATA 3.0 bays. I don't want to open up the case every time I want to load/remove a hard drive. The more front-loading bays, the better, but I want a minimum of 3.

2. Front (or side but close to the front) USB 3.0 ports.

3. Roomy enough so that modern day big honkin' video cards don't bump into the drives that stick out of the drive bay.


The "nice to have" list is:

4. Pretty much what we're all looking for (good air flow, mesh to reduce internal dust bunnies, etc).

Any recommendations?
March 27, 2012 6:15:25 PM

That looks like a *really* sweet case, but it seems like there's only one hot-swapable drive bay?

I'm at work so I can't watch the video, but I did see it said installation / removal of HDD/SDD was "child's play". But still, are there cases with more than one hot-swapable SATA3 bay?

Also, on a semi-related note, I have some case screws with a "big head" that you turn with your fingers instead of a screwdriver. I'd like to get more of them, but I'm not sure what's they're called. What can I Google to buy more of those things? They're really convenient!

Thanks!
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a b ) Power supply
March 27, 2012 6:31:56 PM

coffeeAchiever said:
Hi All,

I'm looking for a new computer case. The "must have" list is:

1. Front-loading hot-swapable SATA 3.0 bays. I don't want to open up the case every time I want to load/remove a hard drive. The more front-loading bays, the better, but I want a minimum of 3.

2. Front (or side but close to the front) USB 3.0 ports.

3. Roomy enough so that modern day big honkin' video cards don't bump into the drives that stick out of the drive bay.


The "nice to have" list is:

4. Pretty much what we're all looking for (good air flow, mesh to reduce internal dust bunnies, etc).

Any recommendations?


This case has everything you want except front loading HDD bays: http://www.ncix.ca/products/?sku=57910&vpn=Z9%20Plus&ma... Awesome case for the money. LOTS of features, nice looking, excellent cooling options, internal temperature sensor, comes with 4 120mm fans, loads of room inside for large video cards, extra room for cable management, huge hole on motherboard tray so you don't have to remove the mobo to install an aftermarket cooler, pre-drilled holes for water cooling and has room for 7 120mm fans alltogether. Oh and did I mention an overall awesome price for what you get! :D 

EDIT: Sorry I didn't notice you said USB 3.0. This case only has 2.0 USB ports(4 of them), but for the price you could probally just buy an add in card for USB 3.0 ports, or use the ones on your motherboard if you have them I guess.
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a c 87 ) Power supply
March 27, 2012 10:28:56 PM

There is a Zalman Z11 Plus which has USB3.

However if you want multiple front hotswap HDD bays then you'd be better looking at the Zalman GS1200 and Zalman MS1000-HS2 (doesn't officially have USB3).

Azza Fusion 3000, 4000, Hurricane 2000 and Thermaltake Level 10 GT are other cases that I know of which have multiple front hotswap HDD bays.
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March 28, 2012 3:27:13 AM

The Thermaltake Level 10 and Hurricane 2000 both look really sweet (but the Hurricane looks *really* big!)

I'll be installing a few SSD drives which saturate SATA 3 Gb/s. Do you know if the Thermaltake Level 10 supports SATA 6 Gb/s? I've been Googling and I can't find anything that describes which SATA the drive bays support. It's weird. I would've thought NewEgg would've had this kind of info. Is there a reason why this info isn't given? Is it just assumed everything is SATA 6 Gb/s these days?
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a c 137 ) Power supply
March 28, 2012 4:33:20 AM

If you look for a mobile rack, you can expand your case options.
Several devices such as this will let you pick any case that has sufficient 5 1/2" external bays:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you need front usb3.0 ports, and your favored case does not have them, there are inexpensive 3 1/2 or 5 1/2 front paned parts too.

No hard drive will saturate 3gb sata ports, so do not worry there.

Only SSD's can really take advantage of 6gb sata. Most current motherboards will have 2 6gb sata ports, but some higher end motherboards will have more.
And, if needed, you could install a pcie sata controller card.

A case like this lian li will have 5 such 5 1/2" bays:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a c 137 ) Power supply
March 28, 2012 4:35:59 AM

coffeeAchiever said:
The Thermaltake Level 10 and Hurricane 2000 both look really sweet (but the Hurricane looks *really* big!)

I'll be installing a few SSD drives which saturate SATA 3 Gb/s. Do you know if the Thermaltake Level 10 supports SATA 6 Gb/s? I've been Googling and I can't find anything that describes which SATA the drive bays support. It's weird. I would've thought NewEgg would've had this kind of info. Is there a reason why this info isn't given? Is it just assumed everything is SATA 6 Gb/s these days?


The reason is that 3/6gb sata is a function of the motherboard, and not the case.
Even if a case supports hot swap, the back plate of the hot swap unit will have a sata connector, The sata cable connects that to the motherboard where the 3/6gb capability is determined.
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March 28, 2012 4:21:06 PM

geofelt said:
The reason is that 3/6gb sata is a function of the motherboard, and not the case.
Even if a case supports hot swap, the back plate of the hot swap unit will have a sata connector, The sata cable connects that to the motherboard where the 3/6gb capability is determined.



Hi Geofelt,

Of course you need support from the mobo, but I also thought you need support from the case as well. Take a look at this thread:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...


The Corsair Obsidian Series 800D originally came with a SATA 2, but there's an upgrade kit for SATA 3. Check this out:

http://www.corsair.com/obsidian-series-800d-sata-6gbps-...


What do you think?
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a c 137 ) Power supply
March 28, 2012 4:46:05 PM

coffeeAchiever said:
Hi Geofelt,

Of course you need support from the mobo, but I also thought you need support from the case as well. Take a look at this thread:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...


The Corsair Obsidian Series 800D originally came with a SATA 2, but there's an upgrade kit for SATA 3. Check this out:

http://www.corsair.com/obsidian-series-800d-sata-6gbps-...


What do you think?


Interesting.

USB 3.0 front panel support needs both a usb3.0 front slot plus a usb3.0 internal slot on the motherboard. Some older motherboards do not have usb3.0 internal ports.
Some cases deliver usb3.0 by providing a long cable that passes out the back and plugs into the rear i/o panel.

I don't know exactly why Corsair felt the need for a part to allow sata 3 on the hot swap devices.
sata2 and sata 3 cables are identical. Some motherboards supply a couple of sata cables intended for sata 3 devices. I think the issue may just be tighter adherence to the sata specs. At 6gb, there is less tolerance for marginal cables. In this case, there might have been insufficient quality in the Corsair sata 2 part.

Otherwise, using high quality sata cables directly into a drive, or a sata 3 enabled mobile dock should do it.
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