Chassis / motherboard compatibility

FlorentR

New Member
Jul 26, 2018
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Hi everyone,

I have a Supermicro X11SSM-F that is currently housed in a tower enclosure. In order to provider neater organization and to allow for drive expansion (even with my 4-in-3 Icy Docks, I'm limited to ~ 12 drives in my tower chassis), I'd like to move this into a proper chassis.

After reading up quite a bit on Supermicro chassis vs cheaper options such as Norco, I've been convinced to go with proper server-grade chassis, and so I'm now looking at SC836 and SC846 enclosures.

A few questions:

1) Will my X11SSM-F motherboard fit into any of the SC836* and SC846* enclosures? I'd have assumed so, but the Supermicro lists officially-approved chassis for each motherboard, and SC836* and SC846* appear nowhere on that list: X11SSM-F | Motherboards | Products - Super Micro Computer, Inc.. Then again, these are supposed to be "opmitized" chassis, so I'm assuming the rest should still work?

2) I have a Corsair RM550X power supply that I've been using so far (it's fairly efficient and very quiet, although limited in power connectors). It seems that it would potentially only fit a 4U chassis, so the SC846* enclosures. Is it a fool's errand to try to fit that power supply in these chassis? Should I just pick up a Supermicro -SQ power supply and be done with it?

3) How easy is it to swap backplanes? I have for now a single HBA card (LSI 9211-8i), and between a TV tuner and a 10GB ethernet card, I won't have much room for more HBA cards with the motherboard I have, so the -A and -TQ backplanes seem out of the equation if I want to be able to potentially use all the drive bays. That leaves me with the BPN-SAS2-846EL* as possible backplanes (and SAS3, obviously, but these are too pricy for me). I have >2 TB drives, so the older SAS1 backplanes won't work for me.
However, it seems hard to find reasonably priced chassis with the SAS2 backplanes where I live (Europe). Can I just pick up a cheaper chassis with the SAS1 / -A / -TQ backplanes, and switch it for a SAS2 EL?

4) I'm assuming it's trivial to remove the air shroud? I wanted to fit a Noctua NH-D9L in there instead of the active or passive heatsinks that Supermicro sells for this motherboard. Again, is that a mistake?

5) Any other gotchas I should be aware of? This is my first rack build, and I'm discovering a lot of things as I go...


Oh, and I've read this thread already, it was super useful to get started thinking about my own build: https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/supermicro-4u-24-bay-chassis-gotchas.11625

Thanks!
 
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AJXCR

Active Member
Jan 20, 2017
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Hi everyone,

I have a Supermicro X11SSM-F that is currently housed in a tower enclosure. In order to provider neater organization and to allow for drive expansion (even with my 4-in-3 Icy Docks, I'm limited to ~ 12 drives in my tower chassis), I'd like to move this into a proper chassis.

After reading up quite a bit on Supermicro chassis vs cheaper options such as Norco, I've been convinced to go with proper server-grade chassis, and so I'm now looking at SC836 and SC846 enclosures.

A few questions:

1) Will my X11SSM-F motherboard fit into any of the SC836* and SC846* enclosures? I'd have assumed so, but the Supermicro lists officially-approved chassis for each motherboard, and SC836* and SC846* appear nowhere on that list: X11SSM-F | Motherboards | Products - Super Micro Computer, Inc.. Then again, these are supposed to be "opmitized" chassis, so I'm assuming the rest should still work?
Yes- Shouldn't be any issues fitting standard atx variants.. I can confirm that a SM DAC fits without issue. See post here (CSE 847):

https://forums.servethehome.com/ind...ci-e-hba-controllers.15466/page-2#post-179522

Which 836/846 variant are you looking at specifically?

2) I have a Corsair RM550X power supply that I've been using so far (it's fairly efficient and very quiet, although limited in power connectors). It seems that it would potentially only fit a 4U chassis, so the SC846* enclosures. Is it a fool's errand to try to fit that power supply in these chassis? Should I just pick up a Supermicro -SQ power supply and be done with it?
Doable, but with a little patience a chassis can usually be had with PSU(s) and associated power board/hotswap hardware for little to no premium.. Are you trying to convert a chassis you already own or is this a planned purchase?

3) How easy is it to swap backplanes? I have for now a single HBA card (LSI 9211-8i), and between a TV tuner and a 10GB ethernet card, I won't have much room for more HBA cards with the motherboard I have, so the -A and -TQ backplanes seem out of the equation if I want to be able to potentially use all the drive bays. That leaves me with the BPN-SAS2-846EL* as possible backplanes (and SAS3, obviously, but these are too pricy for me). I have >2 TB drives, so the older SAS1 backplanes won't work for me.
However, it seems hard to find reasonably priced chassis with the SAS2 backplanes where I live (Europe). Can I just pick up a cheaper chassis with the SAS1 / -A / -TQ backplanes, and switch it for a SAS2 EL?
Yes- the backplanes are a direct physical swap. If willing to use the onboard chipset, an a/tq backplanes seems doable..? Alternatively, you could run a different HBA (again- available very cheap with a little patience on eBay/the STH marketplace). are your drives SAS or SATA?

With a lot of patience you might even be able to find an SAS3 backplane on the cheap.. I picked up a BPN-SAS3-846EL1 for $150..

4) I'm assuming it's trivial to remove the air shroud? I wanted to fit a Noctua NH-D9L in there instead of the active or passive heatsinks that Supermicro sells for this motherboard. Again, is that a mistake?
I've run it both ways and both work great.. Be sure that the case has the proper airflow to cool dimms, any NIC/HBA/AOC's, or any other non-CPU heat generating hardware, however. If looking for a quiet but robust solution, you might look at the industrial Noctua line for case fans. Pick the right variants- I find it's more efficient to pull rather than push air through the case in the absence of a shroud (and assuming that chassis venting is reasonably well balanced/channeled.

5) Any other gotchas I should be aware of? This is my first rack build, and I'm discovering a lot of things as I go...
Nothing in particular comes to mind.. There are aftermarket fan walls that basically drop into the 4U case and can be purchased directly online (see above link). These will let you run the large industrial Noctura fans and provide exceptional cooling. On some SM boards the FanA connector specifies a higher RPM set point when choosing a default cooling setting in the motherboard bios.. Running a splitter off this connection can provide added cooling.
 
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FlorentR

New Member
Jul 26, 2018
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1
Yes- Shouldn't be any issues fitting standard atx variants.. I can confirm that a SM DAC fits without issue. See post here (CSE 847):

https://forums.servethehome.com/ind...ci-e-hba-controllers.15466/page-2#post-179522

Which 836/846 variant are you looking at specifically?
Awesome! I'm looking at SC836E16-*/E26-*/E1C-*/E2C-* and SC846E16-*/E26-*/E1C-*/E2C-* (but not the JBOD versions in either case).

As an aside, I added a Noctua 40mm fan to the HBA (LSI 9211-8i) in the hope of improving cooling. After a first botch attempt at replacing the cooler mount on the card (which would have allowed for easy mounting of the fan, but which unfortunately resulted in damage to the card - eek!), I just taped (on another card of the same type) the fan to the cooler on the sides.


Doable, but with a little patience a chassis can usually be had with PSU(s) and associated power board/hotswap hardware for little to no premium.. Are you trying to convert a chassis you already own or is this a planned purchase?
This is a planned purchase, so I guess I can play the waiting game. I have a disadvantage though - I live in Europe, and used Supermicro chassis at a reasonable price on Ebay seem to be much less common than in the US.

I already have the motherboard, the CPU, the RAM, the HBA, and most of the disks, but they are housed in a consumer-grade tower chassis with a very quiet PSU. So I was wondering if I could reuse it, especially since I've heard that the standard Supermicro PSUs are screamers. But I might be better off hunting down an -SQ Supermicro PSU and call it a day.


Yes- the backplanes are a direct physical swap. If willing to use the onboard chipset, an a/tq backplanes seems doable..? Alternatively, you could run a different HBA (again- available very cheap with a little patience on eBay/the STH marketplace). are your drives SAS or SATA?

With a lot of patience you might even be able to find an SAS3 backplane on the cheap.. I picked up a BPN-SAS3-846EL1 for $150..
My drives are all SATA (WD Reds and a couple of Seagate IronWolf).

That being said, I don't think -A or -TQ backplanes are really an option for me. If I count right, I'd need 2x (SC836*) or 3x (SC846*) LSI9211-8i cards in order to connect all the disks, a PCIe x1 slot for the TV tuner, and a PCIe x4 slot for the 10Gb ethernet card.

It would just about fit on the X11SSM-F for the SC836 (I'd presumably have to remove the cooler I added to the LSI HBA though, because I think that impedes on the next PCIe slot), and it might fit on the SC846 by using reverse breakout cables to use the 8 SATA connectors on the motherboard. I'd have nowhere to plug my boot SSD though.

I could also go with the LSI 9211-16i card, but IIRC these are significantly more expensive, and I already have the -8i.

Also, I've heard people saying that cable management with the -TQ is a nightmare. Given how cramped my case already is with just 8 SATA cables, I don't want to imagine 36 of them.

It just seems that the expander route -EL1/-EL2 is sooo much easier...


I've run it both ways and both work great.. Be sure that the case has the proper airflow to cool dimms, any NIC/HBA/AOC's, or any other non-CPU heat generating hardware, however. If looking for a quiet but robust solution, you might look at the industrial Noctua line for case fans. Pick the right variants- I find it's more efficient to pull rather than push air through the case in the absence of a shroud (and assuming that chassis venting is reasonably well balanced/channeled.
Yep - big Noctua fan here (pun intended). Thanks for the tip re: pull vs push!


Nothing in particular comes to mind.. Running the there are aftermarket fan walls that basically drop into the 4U case and can be purchased directly online (see above link). These will let you run the large industrial Noctua fans and provide exceptional cooling. You on some SM boards the FANA connector specifies a higher RPM setpoint when choosing a default cooling setting in the motherboard bios.. Running a splitter off this connection can provide added cooling.
Cool, noted!

And thanks for all the advice!
 
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AJXCR

Active Member
Jan 20, 2017
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Awesome! I'm looking at SC836E16-*/E26-*/E1C-*/E2C-* and SC846E16-*/E26-*/E1C-*/E2C-* (but not the JBOD versions in either case).

As an aside, I added a Noctua 40mm fan to the HBA (LSI 9211-8i) in the hope of improving cooling. After a first botch attempt at replacing the cooler mount on the card (which would have allowed for easy mounting of the fan, but which unfortunately resulted in damage to the card - eek!), I just taped (on another card of the same type) the fan to the cooler on the sides.




This is a planned purchase, so I guess I can play the waiting game. I have a disadvantage though - I live in Europe, and used Supermicro chassis at a reasonable price on Ebay seem to be much less common than in the US.

I already have the motherboard, the CPU, the RAM, the HBA, and most of the disks, but they are housed in a consumer-grade tower chassis with a very quiet PSU. So I was wondering if I could reuse it, especially since I've heard that the standard Supermicro PSUs are screamers. But I might be better off hunting down an -SQ Supermicro PSU and call it a day.




My drives are all SATA (WD Reds and a couple of Seagate IronWolf).

That being said, I don't think -A or -TQ backplanes are really an option for me. If I count right, I'd need 2x (SC836*) or 3x (SC846*) LSI9211-8i cards in order to connect all the disks, a PCIe x1 slot for the TV tuner, and a PCIe x4 slot for the 10Gb ethernet card.

It would just about fit on the X11SSM-F for the SC836 (I'd presumably have to remove the cooler I added to the LSI HBA though, because I think that impedes on the next PCIe slot), and it might fit on the SC846 by using reverse breakout cables to use the 8 SATA connectors on the motherboard. I'd have nowhere to plug my boot SSD though.

I could also go with the LSI 9211-16i card, but IIRC these are significantly more expensive, and I already have the -8i.

Also, I've heard people saying that cable management with the -TQ is a nightmare. Given how cramped my case already is with just 8 SATA cables, I don't want to imagine 36 of them.

It just seems that the expander route -EL1/-EL2 is sooo much easier...




Yep - big Noctua fan here (pun intended). Thanks for the tip re: pull vs push!




Cool, noted!

And thanks for all the advice!
If the drives are capable, you'll get more throughput through the A/TQ backplanes. I'm not sure about the 9200 series cards, but I've purchased several new LSI 9305-16e cards off ebay for <$250 in the past 6 months. I would expect the 9200's to be an order of magnitude cheaper.

Again, I'm not familiar with the details of the various 9200 series models (I'm sure someone else on here can chime in with the details), but do some research, select the right model, find a few high volume sellers like this with multiple items listed, and offer them 60% of the asking price.. Someone will bite.

LSI 3ware SAS 9750-24i4e 6Gb/s 24 port SATA/SAS RAID Controller | eBay

Cable routing is cleaner with the expander backplane, but unless you're trying to run 24x cables point to point, not that big of a deal. Use 1x SAS:4x SATA fan out cables.. six bundled cables which can be sheathed and routed rather nicely.. Particularly if you take the time to plan/measure/order cable lengths which vary based on hardware placement.

You could also trade the micro-ATX FF board for a standard ATX or EATX server board.. This seems like the most reasonable solution and will provide a lot more flexibility going forward. If you go that route, it might be worth looking for something that has onboard 10G and an LSI HBA already built in to the board..
 

FlorentR

New Member
Jul 26, 2018
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If the drives are capable, you'll get more throughput through the A/TQ backplanes.
The way I understand it, the 8 SAS channels at 6 Gb/s give me 48 Gb/s = 6 GB/s of theoretical bandwidth. Given that a PCIe 2.0 8x interface maxes out at 4 GB/s, this will actually put a cap on how much data the card can write.

But, with 4 GB/s:
  1. At 200 MB/s per disk (and that's extremely generous - that's peak speed on the fastest hard drives, on the outermost portion of the drive, for sequential data), it'd take 20 disks to saturate the bandwidth. And at 150 MS/s, which is more realistic but still fairly generous, it'd take more disks (27) than the biggest chassis I'm considering to saturate the bandwidth
  2. I'd need quadruple 10 Gbit/s network interfaces in order to provide that much inbound data
And even if using only one of the two ports on the card, we're still talking about 3 GB/s - it could be a limiting factor compared to how much 24 drives can write simultaneously, but again, the network interface is way more of a bottleneck - I'd need 3x 10 Gbits/s network interfaces to provide enough inbound data.

So, given that all the inbound and outbound data will be coming from the network, and that at best I'll have 1-2x 10Gbit/s network interfaces, does it really matter whether I spread the disks over 1 or more HBAs? Or did I mix up something somewhere?


I'm not sure about the 9200 series cards, but I've purchased several new LSI 9305-16e cards off ebay for <$250 in the past 6 months. I would expect the 9200's to be an order of magnitude cheaper.

Again, I'm not familiar with the details of the various 9200 series models (I'm sure someone else on here can chime in with the details), but do some research, select the right model, find a few high volume sellers like this with multiple items listed, and offer them 60% of the asking price.. Someone will bite.

LSI 3ware SAS 9750-24i4e 6Gb/s 24 port SATA/SAS RAID Controller | eBay

Cable routing is cleaner with the expander backplane, but unless you're trying to run 24x cables point to point, not that big of a deal. Use 1x SAS:4x SATA fan out cables.. six bundled cables which can be sheathed and routed rather nicely.. Particularly if you take the time to plan/measure/order cable lengths which vary based on hardware placement.

You could also trade the micro-ATX FF board for a standard ATX or EATX server board.. This seems like the most reasonable solution and will provide a lot more flexibility going forward. If you go that route, it might be worth looking for something that has onboard 10G and an LSI HBA already built in to the board..
All noted, thanks! It's kind of tempting to go for a bigger motherboard with 10G and an LSI HBA, but that means dumping my current motherb0ard, and likely my processor as well. Not sure I want to do this at that point :)
 

AJXCR

Active Member
Jan 20, 2017
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All excellent points. If sticking with HDD’s/PCIe 2.0/10G long term, you’re unlikely to realize any increased performance from a pass through backplane.

A couple of 40G NIC’s/Cache drives following the onset of full on addict phase though... :)
 

i386

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Mar 18, 2016
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Germany
4) I'm assuming it's trivial to remove the air shroud?
It's simeple, remove the two fans in the rear and remove the air shroud.
4)I wanted to fit a Noctua NH-D9L in there instead of the active or passive heatsinks that Supermicro sells for this motherboard. Again, is that a mistake?
"It depends" :D
I tried different combinations with an 836 chassis and a x10srl board and found the combination of active 2u heatsink + airshroud to be the most effective and quietest.