Norcro 4220 replacement - Supermicro 936A-R900B anyone?

matt_garman

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Feb 7, 2011
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Does anyone have any experience with the Supermicro SC936A-R900 chassis? I emphasized the A in the model number since Supermicro's "A" chassis seem to be the closest match to the Norco servers, with a "breakout" backplane. That is, the backplane is not an expander (E1/E2 models) nor does it have a bunch of SATA connections (TQ models).

The 936A has four fewer bays than the 4220, but that is fine for my needs for this particular server. I can't see anything about it that looks problematic. My only complaint is that comes with a power supply; I'd like to reuse my Corsair AX750, but I'm pretty sure the PSU mount on the SM chassis is proprietary (or at least not ATX).

Anyway, if anyone has any experience with this chassis, I'd be interested to hear it. Note that the 836A-R1200B looks almost the same, except the hard drives are oriented horizontally instead of vertically, and the PSU is more powerful. Prices for the 936 look cheaper, so that's where I'm leaning.

What follows is a rant about my Norco 4220...

This weekend was the last straw for me with Norco. I posted about my frustration racking these cases. I thought I might just go to the source, so I bought a set of RL-26 rails from IPCDirect. Looking at the picture on Norco website, I realized that the RL-26 rails are different from the rails I have. In all fairness, these rails did fit. However, they are not ball-bearing rails, and they don't have a second "arm". So the case only slides out about 2/3 of the way. I'd have to take it out of the rails completely to do any real work.

I thought maybe I could live with that, since I really don't work on the server that much, and at least now it's not sticking out of the rack. But the power button on my 4220 has been flaky for a while now. It's one of those buttons that randomly works, after dozens of pushes. Today one of those dozens of pushes resulted in the button actually breaking. I had to short the solder leads on the circuit board to start the server.

So I decided I'm tired of messing with it. I appreciate what Norco is doing, and if they were just slightly more refined and higher quality, I think they'd have a fantastic product. I realize the Supermicro is going to cost me at least 2x as much, but my time is more valuable to me at the moment. I'm willing to spend the money if it means things will "just work" and not give me grief every step of the way.

Thanks!
Matt
 

PigLover

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Jan 26, 2011
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SM chassis are very good - much better quality than Norco. You'll notice the difference the first time you slide in a drive tray and it travels smooth and fits without having to "work" it into place.

The redundant PSUs are standard 1U server PSU form factor. They are not supermicro proprietary. They are also really loud.

If you can get over the noise from the PSU you will really like this case.
 

matt_garman

Active Member
Feb 7, 2011
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SM chassis are very good - much better quality than Norco. You'll notice the difference the first time you slide in a drive tray and it travels smooth and fits without having to "work" it into place.

The redundant PSUs are standard 1U server PSU form factor. They are not supermicro proprietary. They are also really loud.

If you can get over the noise from the PSU you will really like this case.
Indeed, I built a backup server at work with an 846E1. Everything "just works". Never had any flaky components or had to go out of my way to get something to work.

My personal rack is in the basement, where a dehumidifier runs all the time anyway. The noise shouldn't be a problem. But it would be nice if I could get some kind of an adapter bracket that allows me to use an ATX power supply. (But that goes in the "nice to have" category, not the "must have".)
 

Patrick

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Dec 21, 2010
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Ever look at the 933? They are a bit older but less expensive (also minus one drive.) The poor unit I bought to review (and was hoping to co-lo) has just been sitting around for a long time idle but is a great chassis. :-/
 

matt_garman

Active Member
Feb 7, 2011
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Ever look at the 933? They are a bit older but less expensive (also minus one drive.) The poor unit I bought to review (and was hoping to co-lo) has just been sitting around for a long time idle but is a great chassis. :-/
Are you suggesting that you're wanting to sell yours? If it's black, and the backplane supports 3 TB drives, I might be interested. :)
 

matt_garman

Active Member
Feb 7, 2011
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One thing I like about Supermicro chassis is that they come with VERY nice rails.
Indeed. I have a SC836A-R1200 on order. It was expensive, but I got to thinking, it's not terribly more expensive than the Norco. The Norco doesn't come with rails or a power supply. Of course the beauty of that is you can get cheap rails and a cheap power supply (and keep total costs down). But I think to get rails and a PSU equivalent to the SM, you'd probably spend at least $150, possibly closer to $200 on top of the chassis cost. So that lowers the price delta between the two companies. Not to mention, you're getting a higher quality case, that's certainly worth something (whether or not it's needed in a home environment is certainly debatable).

Anyway, these are the things I have to tell myself to rationalize this purchase. :)

Time permitting, I'll try to post some pics of the build.
 
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