Installing Storage: Hard Drives And SSDs
There are plenty of options for installing 2.5" and 3.5” drives. There are two hard drive cages. The top one houses up to five disks, while the lower cage holds as many as three. They're attached via rails with a white finish that can be screwed on from the bottom. Larger 3.5” storage devices benefit from grommets that isolate vibration, while 2.5" drives sit directly on the rails. Fractal Design correctly assumes that most 3.5" devices are mechanical, while 2.5" drives are typically SSDs.
Both hard drive cages can be removed. There's a good chance that you don't need more than three bays, so you'd typically want to take the top cage out for improved airflow or more space to install graphics cards (you get 430 mm instead of 300 mm). If you're planning to drop in a radiator behind the case's front panel, you'll want to move the bottom cage next to the power supply and use the bottom fan's cut-out.
The top hard drive cage is held in place by two thumb screws, so that's easy enough. Removing the bottom one will probably prove more challenging for you. First, four small screws on the bottom of the case need to be dealt with. Then, the chassis' front cover has to be taken off, exposing two more screws attaching a bracket to the front of the case, which is also attached to the hard drive cage’s frame.
This bracket needs to be detached from the hard drive cage before moving the cage to the middle of the case. Unfasten the four screws holding the plastic rails to the hard drive cage. Then you're able to get at the two screws keeping the bracket in place. The process is a bit more complicated than it probably should be, but at least the cages are held into place securely.
There’s another option if you're willing to use a couple of SSDs and really want to maximize airflow. Simply remove both hard drive cages and attach a pair of 2.5" drives to the back of the motherboard tray, out of sight. It can get pretty hot back there, so you'll want to stick with solid-state storage, rather than notebook drives.
The screw holes for the lower drive are only accessible before the power supply is installed, and the ones for the upper drive sit below the motherboard. Consequently, install your SSDs first. If you're only dropping one drive back there, the lower position is better thermally, since it's farther away from the back of the CPU interface. We used the top one for our temperature benchmarks as a worst-case scenario, though.
It's very nice to have the option to hide storage behind the motherboard tray, simultaneously freeing up the hard drive trays for removal. So long as you remember not to use angled SATA cables, this is a really clean look.