The Chenbro ES34069 Case Review: Part 1

Chenbro Mini-ITX Home Server/NAS ChassisAfter some prompting from a few of our technical sales associates, we decided to offer the Chenbro ES34069 Mini-ITX Home Server/NAS Chassis as an available product for sale on our Web site. We immediately received a slew of interest in this case. We had a lot of questions regarding specific mainboard compatibility (IEI KINO-690S1 & SN18000G in particular) with the case, so we did some extensive testing to see how it shapes up.

The Case

The Chenbro case has the following specifications:

  • Material: Steel
  • Dimensions (w x h x d): 260 mm x 140 mm x 260 mm (10.24″ x 5.51″ x 10.24″)
  • Removable Hard Drive Bay: 4 x 3.5″ SATA HDD
  • Internal Hard Drive Bay: 1 x 2.5″ notebook HDD
  • Optical Drive Bay: Slimline CD/DVD drive
  • Front Access: 2 x USB 2.0, SD/Mini-SD/MMC/MS card reader, power button, reset button
  • Cooling System: 2 x 70 mm fans (rear), 1 x 60 mm fan (front: optional)
  • Power Supply: Built-in 180W DC board & external AC adapter (brick)
  • Input: AC 100 ~ 240V
  • Output: DC 19V @ 9.5A

Chenbro ES34069 AccessoriesThe case comes standard with the following accessories:

  • Slimline CD to IDE adapter
  • AC adapter (brick & cord)
  • Screws
  • Keys for security lock
  • Heat sink, CPU fan, and bracket

The heat sink, CPU fan, and bracket is designed for the Albatron KI690-AM2 mainboard. Because we don’t carry this board, nor do we ever plan to carry this board, the heat sink, CPU fan, and bracket is somewhat meaningless to us in this case.

Forget the Optional Accessories

Now, despite the fact that Chenbro’s Web site lists the front 60 mm fan and SD/Mini-SD/MMS/MS card reader as an optional accessory, do not get your hopes up for seeing it any time soon. We have determined that the optional front fan isn’t necessary anyway, because the heat generated from the mainboards we tested is dissipated quite nicely just by being actively cooled by the mainboard’s fan.

As for the card reader, the slot appears to be an afterthought addition to the case with no real intention of it ever being used. We can’t procure the card reader from any of our manufacturers, and now Chenbro has removed it as an optional accessory from its Web site. But, this isn’t the main feature that customers are interested in, so I won’t spend any more time discussing it.

Update 6/2/2008: The optional card reader is now available.

Features of Note

The entire plastic case front can be removed to make system assembly a little easier. The magnets that secure the front panel to the case aren’t very strong and seem to get displaced rather quickly from where they would serve a purpose. Of course, you could lock the front panel in place with the key, but this seems to be an unnecessary action considering you can just as conveniently snap off the front.

ES34069 Removable Mainboard CarrierThe case has a removable mainboard carrier tray to make installation and cable management a little easier, too. There are a few screws that need to be removed first before the carrier tray can be slid out from the case frame. You will give yourself a headache if this tray doesn’t get removed before you attempt to install the board and the internal 2.5″ HDD.

Use a round IDE cable instead of the flat IDE cable that comes standard with mainboards when connecting the internal HDD, CD/DVD drive, and mainboard. Otherwise, trying to bend, crease, and manipulate a flat IDE cable will also create serious headaches.

Chenbro ES34069 InsideThe optical drive bay has a removable tray/bracket as well. There is a tab that gets pressed down and the bracket slides out the front of the case.

The Case Connectors

The Chenbro case comes complete with just about every cable you could ever possibly want.

It includes a P4 power cable already connected to the ATX power supply for those mainboards out there that have the 4-pin power connector separate from the 20-pin ATX connector (e.g., Little Valley board).

The case also has a slew of LEDs and buttons, that, unless you have a board with corresponding onboard connectors, you won’t be able to use them in any way. For instance, there are LED indicators for LAN 1 & 2 ports, but the KINO-690S1 doesn’t even offer pin headers for the cables to connect to.

And, the one LED connector you would want to use, the power LED, is useless due to a design flaw. The cable has a 2-pin connector, while most of our boards have 3-pin connectors. Unless you do some splitting and reworking, you will not be able to use the power LED indicator light. If your board has a 2-pin connector, than you’re fine.

Installation

We installed the IEI KINO-690S1 Mini-ITX mainboard with the following:

  • 1GB DDR2 667 SO-DIMM memory
  • 2.5″ 80GB IDE HDD (internal)
  • AMD Turion 64×2 Dual-Core Mobile Processor – TL-60 2.0GHz
  • TEAC CD-224E Slimline CD-ROM Drive
  • 4 Seagate 3.5″ SATA HDDs

All the components fit into the case pretty nicely. The only thing to consider is the cable management. Use a round IDE cable and be sure to tie off the extra, unused cables so they don’t get in the way.

End of Part 1.

My next post will cover the performance and mainboard RAID support.

About Kristina Bond
Kristina Bond was the Marketing Director for Logic Supply from 2007 to 2012. She graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia with an M.F.A. in photography and a B.F.A in photography and communication from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. While technology and Logic Supply remain close to her heart, she moved on from the company in June 2012 to do marketing for the restaurant industry. To get in touch with Kristina, please contact kristina@kristinadrobny.com.
This entry was posted in Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to The Chenbro ES34069 Case Review: Part 1

  1. Robert Thille says:

    Is it possible to obtain the PCI Riser card that Chenbro lists as an accessory? Their user manual describes how to install a PCI raid card, but I see the riser is listed on the ‘features & benefits’ tab like this: “Optional remote control & riser card”, but not in the Accessories tab of their website.

    I’ve got a C-146 with an EN-15000G that I’d like to move to this case, but since the EN-15000 only has 2 SATA ports on board, I’d need to fit the SATA card I’ve got in there too.

    Also, how loud is the case? I’ve added the front fans to the C-146 case and my drives still run a little hot and the case is pretty loud even thru the closed closet door…

  2. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Robert,
    As far as I know, the PCI riser card is not available. We can’t locate from our vendors any of the accessories that Chenbro mentions on its Web site.

    As for the fans, I am not sure how loud they are. We are going to be testing this case a little further, and that will be one of the things we’ll look into.

  3. Robert Thille says:

    Hi Kristina,

    Thanks for the fast reply…Maybe I’ll need to upgrade to the SN18000G for the 4 on-board SATA ports then, or just wait and see if Chenbro sorts themselves out. (I read on another site that the card reader now comes stock, but I’m not sure that’s accurate or not…)

  4. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Robert,
    I’ll look into that when we get the next batch of cases in and let you know.

  5. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Robert,
    The Chenbro includes a bracket to hold the PCI card in place, but the cases that we have do not come with a PCI riser card. Nor do we know which RAID controller card the User Manual shows in the installation pictures.

    The bracket appears to be specifically designed for that PCI riser card and PCI card combination.

    If we learn more about the PCI card, I will be sure to let you know.

  6. Orville says:

    Kristina,

    I might be interested in the Chenbro ES34069 to house my home movie database. I’m starting out biased against them, though, because I really, really dislike power blisters – warts. The presence of a power blister just shows that a company is missing certain design and manufacturing capabilities. You know the mini-ITX chassis market grew up with small-time sheet metal bending companies that had minimal or no electrical design capabilities. The market was able to grow by selling low-volume, overpriced, clunky products to industrial customers who were less cost and looks sensitive than typical consumers. Now here is Chenbro pushing a product directly at consumers. Is Chenbro a consumer manufacturing company? One way to judge is to look for hints like power blisters. For Mini-ITX suppliers to attract consumers they have to build and price their products as professionally as micro-ATX manufacturers. Since Intel apparently has decided to push the Mini-ITX form factor at consumers, probably because of AMD’s Mini-DTX initiative, it will behoove companies like Chenbro to get with the program, if they really want to succeed. I personally think the potential market is huge, as Intel apparently perceives it, but only for those companies who get with the program on the leading edge.

    If I were to use the ES34069 chassis it would be to house an Intel DG45FC Fly Creek motherboard, which is about to be released, and four Seagate 7200.11 1TB HDDs. A powerful server like this could hold up to 150 Blu-ray movies for a material cost of about $1500, including everything, except Microsoft. Now $10 per movie is admittedly a high price to pay for the convenience of quick access and getting rid of box storage and DVD player loading and fumbling. And 150 movies is really a small number of Blu-rays to store, but I guess it’s the going rate for 2008. If I just stored regular DVDs, the number for a four drive system would jump to 750 and the hardware cost would drop to $2 per movie. It just points out the true cost of Blu-ray. Anyway, what I like about the Fly Creek motherboard is that a powerful server system can be assembled, having the possibility of a total motherboard power burn under 50 Watts, assuming a CPU like an Intel 45nm, 2.53GHz, E7200 Core 2 Duo. The performance of such a server system would be in a different ball park when compared to current puny Arm CPU based NAS servers out there. For home use, where only one drive would be active at a time, I think the total active server power could be held to 60 Watts. Of course this wouldn’t include the 20 Watts lost in the power blister and the 15 Watts lost in the power interface board in the ES34069. If the power consumption – heat load – can be held this low it may be possible that the Chenbro fan whine could possibly be low enough to allow the server to be placed in my living room.

    So here’s my question. How loud were the ES34069 fans in your testing?

    Thank you,

    Orville

  7. Robert Thille says:

    Hi Kristina,

    It looks like these guys (based in UK) have the PCI riser:
    http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=42

    Any chance you can get it too?

  8. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Orville,
    Thanks for your comments. I looked into the fan on the Chenbro case and I could not find any real specs. The fans are Protechnic MGT7012LB-A20. I read on one Web site that Protechnic is a partner of a Korean company called Sechang Sumicon. Unfortunately, after doing some digging, I could not find any information on this fan. Chenbro’s user manual also lacks significant information.

    I can tell you this much, though, when we turned the system on, it certainly wasn’t the loudest system I have heard. My computer at home sounds much more aggressive than that (I have an IMac G5). And sure, I might be comparing apples to oranges…

    We don’t have any way to measure decibels, so all I can say is that the fan noise was hardly noticeable.

    You fan itself is plugged into the power supply, so you will not be able to control the fan speed from there. We haven’t tried any work-arounds because we haven’t seen a need.

    I apologize if this isn’t the most help…

    Good luck with your project!

  9. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Robert,
    We’re going to look into it.
    It appears one of our suppliers just listed it as a new item, along with the other Chenbro case accessories. I’ll keep you posted…

  10. Adam says:

    Hi,

    Does anyone know if the Chenbro RAID backplane requires a motherboard that supports RAID 5 in order for it to work properly? Or does the Chenbro backplane take care of everything?

    Thanks.

  11. Robert Thille says:

    Adam,
    I’m not ‘in the know’, but I seriously doubt that the backplane does anything more than pass-thru on the SATA signals. That is, if you want RAID5, you need a hardware raid-5 card, or motherboard that does Raid-5, or to do it in software (what I’m doing on my EN-15000g)

  12. Adam says:

    Thanks Robert. I had a feeling that was the case. Do you know if software raid would still allow for hot-plugging?

  13. Ben Ellison says:

    Adam – it depends on your software/OS.
    I’m currently having issues getting opensolaris 2005.08 to see the disks at all, unless I connect them directly to the KINO mobo vs. using the backplane.
    Does anyone know the specifics/details for this backplane? I may just need to remove the backplane & cable the drives direct if I can’t get the SATA pass-through working.

  14. Chris says:

    Robert Thille,

    Are you running the EN-15000G in the Chenbro case?

  15. Robert Thille says:

    Chris, No, I’ve got my EN-15000G with a 4-port SATA card in a Travla C146 case ( http://www.e-itx.com/travla-c146.html ) that I really don’t like… the drives were too hot, so I added fans to the front fan bracket, and now the drives are slightly cooler and it’s way too noisy…so I’m in the market for a new case, but I want to be able to keep my Mainboard which only has 2x SATA ports on board, so I need the Raid Card to work too…

  16. Chris says:

    Thanks Robert! I looked back and it turns out in the first post you answered my question. I’ve read some forums that said the EN-15000G doesn’t like to power up with the power supply in the Chenbro case. I was hoping for some good news from you. Since I don’t currently have any SATA drives to play with my migration to this case is slow so if you eventually do give it a shot if you wouldn’t mind posting your experience I would appreciate it.

  17. Tropi says:

    Kristina
    I have only just found this case and your blog – it’s VERY interesting.

    There are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of users with several smaller, redundant IDE hard drives lying around from previous PC upgrades,wondering what to do with them. This case could provide an ideal re-use solution as a simple file sharing box. Do you think it would be feasible to incorporate Intel’s D201GLY2(A)MoBo and a bunch of IDE/SATA adapters?

  18. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Tropi,
    Thanks for the feedback!

    As for the D201GLY2A in the Chenbro ES340, I believe it should have no issue fitting into the case. It might need the heat sink swapped out for a low-profile one. The only thing I see preventing the D201GLY2A from being a feasible solution is the fact that it has only 2 SATA connectors. Are you thinking that you would like to see some SATA drives swapped out for IDE? It might be more work than what it’s worth. And, it is possible that the set up might not support hot-swapping the IDE drives. The SATA backplane is built into the case and I don’t know how much room is back there for tweaking.

    We are investigating another Chenbro case, the ES300, which is cheaper and has access to two 3.5″ SATA hard drives (cold-swappable) and another internal 2.5″ IDE hard drive. This might work out better, but not if you are relying on the hot-swappable feature of the ES340.

  19. Tropi says:

    Thank you for the swift reply, Kristina!

    Yes, for this purpose, the idea is to forget SATA drives altogether. I don’t think hot swapping is an issue for anyone requiring only to make good use of smaller capacity IDE drives which would otherwise just be dumped. “Don’t recycle, RE-USE!”

    Got to say, I’m puzzled that no manufacturer appears to have yet recognized that there must be MILLIONS of smaller (up to 250GB)IDE drives desperately seeking a useful home and, at present, the likely alternative to trashing them is to shove them into an old, noisy and BULKY PC. At present, that seems the cheapest, easiest way of re-using perfectly good IDE drives. But a purpose designed micro tower with 4-6 IDE bays, one DVD drive and a low power board such as the D201GLY2 could be popular – at the right price.

    I’ll keep a close eye on this blog – it’s really VERY interesting! :-)

  20. Jounghwa Lin says:

    Hi, Kristina:

    This is technical support from Chenbro. It’s so nice to know your review result about ES34069. I’d like to clarify some issues for anyone who are interesting about ES34069.
    1. Basically, our backplane just pass through the SATAsignal to HDD. So, users need to have either softare or hardware RAID by other way.
    2. The venting holes on side cover is designed for Gigabyte MB. With KINO-690S1, the venting hole do not fit well. Therefore, CPU heatsink can’t work in it’s best performance condition. I recommand adding a 60mm cooling fan beside MB. That’s our new modification but I am afraid it’s not available on ytour chassis right now.
    3.Due to the tight space, the PCI card bracket supports HighPoint RockerRAID 2210 only.

    If anyone has any issue about ES34069, please send your mail to support@chenbro.com.tw and we’d like to help you as we can. Thanks!

  21. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Jounghwa,
    Thanks for the information! I am sure that many here will find it quite valuable.

    We haven’t seen any real cooling issues with the KINO-690S1 board in this case. We have been interested in the optional 60mm fan that you mention, but we are obviously having difficulty finding it since it’s not in production, yet. We’ll keep an eye out for it…

  22. Kelly Baker says:

    Can I ask how you were able to add four 3.5″ drives, a 2.5″ drive and slim optical drive to that motherboard? I think I’m missing something. I only see 4 SATA ports on the motherboard you are using.

  23. josh says:

    Kelly, there is an IDE port on that particular mainboard as well. That allowed us to add the optical drive and 2.5″ system drive to the system.

  24. dal says:

    Hi Kristina,

    Its been a while since you posted part one and I see you are still getting comments. From what I can tell the case looks good so for me it is down to which mobo to use. The kino looks very interesting do you have any info you can pass on re RAID support and performance? Over at smallnetbuilder.com they are showing us that home builds are basic kicking the behinds of pre-packaged, but a lot depends on your OS and Mobo combination.

    Thanks!
    Dal

  25. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Dal,
    Yeah, I have been meaning to do another installment, but we have done some minor reworking of our product line and decided (after the first post had been completed) to stop carrying the KINO mainboard. It turned out that this board wasn’t the best for long-term projects. Something that can be difficult to discover until you’ve handled the board for a few months.

    We built a system using the VIA EPIA SN mainboard (one of the few mainboards that has 4 SATA connectors), but the board also has a few caveats. It can’t support the PCI Riser card that the Chenbro case features as an accessory (SN only has PCI Express). And the cable that connects the memory card reader to the mainboard is too short, so that is also less than ideal.

    Our goal with this case (because this case does remain quite popular) is to find a board that can easily support all the features the case boasts without implementing all sorts of hack jobs.

    I think we have a pretty good lead on the perfect mainboard at the moment…

    When what I mentioned above happens, I will have to profusely apologize for the delay, and get a second post up that redeems the failings of this one!
    Thanks,
    Kristina

  26. dal says:

    Wow, instant response! Thanks Kristina, I eagerly await hearing what mobo you land on. I thought the Kino nice because of the pcie nics since smallnetbuilder has proven what we knew in our hearts, that pci is a limiter for NAS, but the Kino is very pricey and hard to get so I’m a little relieved.

    I was looking at the Intel DG45FC LGA 775. One of the reviewers at newegg has it running in this case. But I am worried about how hot, hot, hot the non-CPU chips in the board are reportedly running. I think a lot of home builders may not have much open, super ventilated space to put this in, myself included.

    Thanks for pursuing this.
    Dal

  27. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Dal,
    No problem!
    We also tend to shy away from boards with desktop processors. We even considered getting the Fly Creek board in-house, but then decided against it. Mainly because of the possible cooling issues, but also because most of our cases don’t come with power supplies that will support desktop-processor boards–the Chenbro being an obvious exception.

    I will keep you posted on any advancements.
    Thanks,
    Kristina

  28. Matt says:

    I have ordered this case and a J&W Minix 780G motherboard. I got a 4850E X2 chip, 2 1gb sticks of DDR-667 SODIMM ram, and 2 Western Digital 640GB hard drives to build a low powered HTPC…

    With the case’s IR receiver, I hope that my Harmony will work with it, but I’m also very curious how the CPU will fit in this case….like if the bundled HSF of the case will fit the board of if the bundled HSF of the chip will fit in the case…

    i plan on underclocking and undervolting the cpu (I want the bare minimum to play a blu-ray movie) so we’ll see what happens…the two 640gb drives are going to use a Mirrored RAID array, as the board supports RAID and has 4 SATA ports

    will keep anyone posted who is interested…

  29. dal says:

    I’m still trying to find a good MB for this case. I’d like to run a notebook processor to keep things cool. The Intel DG45FC LGA 775 is interest because it performs well, even though some are using it in this case, all accounts say it is a scorcher and I’d like to run cooler. I’d like to use this as a NAS primarily but also am thinking of running MythTV so I’d like IEEE 1394 so I can control a set top box.

    Am dying with curiosity about Kristina’s “perfect mainboard”.

  30. Faw says:

    Any info on the motherboard for this case? I think this is the perfect case for the NAS/DNLA server I want to make. All I want in a motherboard is cool/4 sata/pci (for a wifi card)

    Will there be a part 2 for the review?

  31. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Faw,
    Yep, we will be posting Part 2 and then Part 3 very shortly.
    The motherboard is the Gigabyte GA-6KIEH-RH. It has 5 SATA connectors; RAID 0, 1, 10, 5; a whole slew of multimedia connectors; etc.
    It has PCI and PCIe Mini Card slots among other features.
    The only issue we seem to be having with this board is the RAID installation. It requires slipstreaming the RAID drivers–pretty straightforward, but too much to include in the next post (Part 2).

  32. Pingback: The Chenbro ES34069 Case Review, Part 2: The Perfect Mainboard? : Logic Supply Blog

  33. josh says:

    Hi Guys,

    Just a heads-up: Part 2 of the Chenbro ES34069 Case Review is live here:

    http://www.logicsupply.com/blog/2008/11/05/the-chenbro-es34069-case-review-part-2-the-perfect-mainboard/

    I look forward to your feedback.

    -Josh

  34. Pingback: Review of Chenbro ES34069 PC Mini-ITX Case With Gigabyte GA-6KIEH-RH Mini-ITX Motherboard | Mini Computer World - Mini motherboard news, reviews and more!

  35. Pingback: Linux Techblog » Homeserver: Planung der Komponenten

  36. Pingback: SteveStreeting.com » Blog Archive » Server hardware scouting

  37. Pingback: Chenbro ES34069 | kevin's Blog

  38. Chris says:

    Found some specs of the Protechnic MGT7012LB-A20 70mm fans:

    http://www.protechnicfan.cn/_d269696700.htm
    21.33CFM / 2500RPM / 27.6dB

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>