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This review is from: iStarUSA E-306L Black Aluminum / Steel 3U Rackmount Server Chassis 6 External 5.25" Drive Bays
Pros: Spacious interior, fan barrier front-to-back cooling, maximum front drive bays (6 5.25" & 2 3.5").
Cons: Flimsy and poorly engineered rack mounting details, noisy fans all wired for Molex 4-pin power supply connections.
Other Thoughts: For a 3U rack mount chassis you couldn't get more interior space than this one. And the front is almost completely dedicated to drive bays, so you couldn't get any more front drive bays either. Unfortunately these pluses must be weighed against the rack mounting details, which are barely more than flimsy imitations of real rack mount equipment.
When you look at the chassis you are immediately confronted by the very peculiar looking rack ears. Later you find out that they not only look peculiar, but they are virtually useless as well. I will come back to that.
Looking at the sides of the case, there are tapped mounting holes for standard rack slides. For a chassis of this size, use of rack slides is just about mandatory, so the mounting holes are good news. Until you look more closely and try to use them. They are tapped for relatively tiny 6-32 screws, whereas serious rack cases of this size and weight would be expected to have 10-32 mountings, as do the rack slides themselves. And when you look even more closely at the tapped holes you discover that they are only tapped into the sheet metal of the case sides -- there are no bushings backing them up. This is a recipe for stripped threads (already one of my mounting holes is stripped) and for weak, easily broken attachment of slides to the case.
Later, when you try to install the chassis, with slides, into a rack you discover that those peculiar rack ears are mounted to the case sides by tiny screws even smaller than 6-32, which means that they are mostly for show -- they couldn't possibly support the weight of the case by front mounting, leaving slides (or shelf) as the only options. But wait, there is more. Because the front space of the case is totally dedicated to drive bays, there is no place for the rack ears to be attached. So they are attached to the sides of the case, as I said before. But when you install the case with slides and push the case into the rack you find out that the mountings collide with the rack slides, leaving the front of the case sticking out by about an inch. Solution: remove the rack ears. This allows the case to become nearly flush in the front, but it looks kind of stupid. Conclusion: the iStar engineers designed more of a looks-like-a-rack-server case than a serious one.
The interior barrier with 4 80mm fans is great for cooling, but the fans themselves are very noisy and probably cheap in construction. They are wired for 4-pin Molex powering from the PSU; there is no way to attach them to speed-controlled motherboard fan connectors either. I replaced them with 4 Thermaltake fans with 3-pin MB connectors. By making a custom cable I also powered the 2 60mm fans at the back the same way. Together, these changes cut noise at the front by 5.5 dB, which is more than it sounds like.
In conclusion, the case is installed and doing OK, but it is a seriously compromised bit of engineering. Buy it only if you can tolerate the issues.
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