The Chenbro ES34069 Case Review, Part 2: The Perfect Mainboard?

Update 9/2/2011: Unfortunately, despite its continuing popularity, the Chenbro ES34069 has been discontinued by the manufacturer. We are currently in the process of bringing in a replacement product, and expect to see it next month.

Update 5/27/2011:  It’s been quite a while since this article was originally posted, but it’s still one of our most popular.  Because of the ongoing interest, we’ve decided to bring the ES34069 back in stock, with the 180W power option as standard.

Additionally, we’ll be adding several updated systems based on this case over the next few weeks.  We should have an Atom D525/ICH9R system up next week, with a Core i5/i7/P4500 and AMD Fusion options to follow soon.  All will have 5-6 SATA (and mSATA PCIe Mini Card SSD support on the Fusion board) ports with onboard RAID to take full advantage of this case’s storage options.

When we first brought in the Chenbro ES34069 NAS case, we were a little unsure as to how popular it would be with our customers. After all, it is extremely large for a Mini-ITX chassis, and rather power hungry (for a small form factor platform) and is a little more highly priced than some of our core cases.  However, we were pleasantly surprised.  The Chenbro ES34069 has been selling regularly and steadily for several months due to its unique feature set and excellent design.

The Case

ES34069 Case

Kristina initially reviewed the Chenbro ES34069 back in March of this year, outlining its (considerable) feature set and impressive build quality.  She also designed a basic NAS system using the IEI KINO-690S1 mainboard.  However, since the KINO-690S1 was our only AMD board with a socketed processor, and because demand for it was unfortunately rather low, we no longer carry the board or the processor. Thus, it became necessary to find an alternative mainboard, and hopefully one that could truly take advantage of the massive storage capabilities and extended functionality of the Chenbro chassis.

Unfortunately, with the KINO-690S1 gone, our board choices were limited. The VIA EPIA SN series had the requisite 4 SATA ports; but its USB headers were in an awkward location, preventing use of the Chenbro’s 4-in-1 Card Reader.  Also, the SN has a PCI-express x16 slot instead of the standard PCI, thus preventing the use of the Chenbro PCI riser card.

And, while the SN18000 is VIA’s fastest mainboard in terms of processing power, many customers have preferred the horsepower provided by an Intel dual-core solution for intensive applications like HD playback and content streaming. Overall, the SN is a fine low-power solution for this application, but it simply cannot take advantage of the full list of features this chassis has to offer. None of our other currently available boards have the requisite 4 SATA ports needed to really take advantage of the four hot-swappable SATA drive bays.

The Board

GA-6KIEH

Enter the Gigabyte GA-6KIEH-RH. I had seen pictures of a prototype of this board at Computex earlier this year, and was intrigued by the board’s wide range of connectivity, its quality components, and Gigabyte’s solid brand name. Now that the 6KIEH has entered full production, we are working with Gigabyte’s embedded division to carry them on our Web site.  It is based on the Intel GME965 chipset, which supports Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile Socket P processors from the Santa Rosa refresh and uses the Intel GMA X3100 integrated graphics solution. Thus, it should have plenty of horsepower for HD video playback and content streaming/backup.

The GA-6KIEH-RH mainboard is one of the most full-featured Mini-ITX mainboards I have ever seen. It has a heretofore unheard of five SATA ports, four of which can be linked in a variety of RAID configurations, including RAID 0,1,5, and 10 with the onboard Silicon Image 3114 RAID controller.  This RAID controller, typically included in outboard hardware RAID card solutions, is an excellent feature for an NAS system.

The board also has the requisite PCI slot, in addition to a Mini PCI and a PCIe Mini card slot with a unique tool-less locking bracket. Both USB headers are well within reach of the short card reader cable, and there is an IDE channel available for a slimline optical drive as well as any additional storage you might need. On the bottom edge of the board below the IDE port lies an extremely low-profile CF card slot, thoughtfully designed so that the card is accessible even after the board is installed.  Thankfully, this bottom-mounted component is quite slim and does not seem to cause as many compatibility headaches as most bottom-mounted CF and Mini PCI slots typically cause with our cases.

Backpanel I/O

On the back panel, we have a full suite of video connections: VGA, DVI-D, YPbPr (up to 1080i), and HDMI (up to 1080p) as well as an S/PDIF coaxial audio connector. This means that a Chenbro solution using this board could make an excellent HTPC or multimedia server.  The dual Gigabit LAN ports support this, allowing high-definition media streaming, and the four USB ports (plus four more through headers) provide plenty of peripheral connectivity. Gigabyte even thoughtfully provides a punch-out hole on the backplate for a wireless antenna or a TV Tuner card.

The Build

Armed with this strong base, in an effort to build a full-featured NAS/media server system I gathered the following components:

Case: Chenbro ES34069
Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-6KIEH-RH
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 2.4 GHz processor
Memory: 2x 2 GB Emphase Industrial DDR2 667 DIMMs for a total of 4 GB (3.25 GB recognizable)
CPU Cooler: Coolermaster EPN-41CSS-01 Core 2 Duo Mobile CPU Cooler
Optical Disc Drive: Panasonic CW-8124-B Slot-Load Slimline CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive
System Drive: Seagate 80GB 2.5” SATA HDD (7200 RPM)
Storage Drives: 4x Seagate 3.5” 80GB SATA HDD (feel free to invest in larger sizes as needed)
Accessories: Chenbro 4-in-1 Card Reader; Qcom 802.11g Mini PCIe Wireless Card, Antenna + Pigtail Cable

Building a system in the ES34069 is a complex task. The case has been described by some of our build team as “over-engineered” for a reason. Certainly, it is durable and well-constructed, and every component is secured to the case by a plethora of screws, clips, and connectors. Components are often locked into place behind other components, and connectors can be hidden underneath or behind brackets.  This means that any components installed out of order will result in you assembling and disassembling parts of the case multiple times during the system build… as I discovered during my initial compatibility test!

Thus, planning and thinking everything through is even more important with a Chenbro build than with many of the other systems we sell here at Logic Supply. If you really want to spare yourself the trouble (and it can be a lot of trouble) we do offer a “Build and Test” service where we will assemble your system ourselves, as well as run a full CPU burn and memory test.  Check our FAQ for more information about the “Build and Test.”

Front Panel

After removing the case side panel and sliding the motherboard tray out a few inches, the most important and delicate step is removing the front panel. After removing the four hot-swap hard drive trays, it is necessary to pop loose the five plastic clips that hold the front panel in place. With some units of this case, this is relatively simple; with others, I have found that it can be necessary to loosen the clips from the back.

Unfortunately, loosening them from the back requires a lot of work; you have to remove the mainboard tray entirely (which includes threading all of the cables through the cable management holes,) remove the DC board, then pop out the lower pair of SATA backplane boards in order to reach the clips from behind.  If you are not careful when removing the front panel, you will break the clips that attach it to the case, preventing it from locking in place properly ever again.

Fully Assembled ES34069

Regardless, once the front panel is off, installing the 4-in-1 card reader requires removing both brackets that hold the optical drive in place.  Once that is completed, it is a simple matter to attach the card reader to the appropriate slot with a pair of screws, then plug in the data cable that connects it to a USB port on the mainboard.

Next, I recommend installing the 2.5” system drive while the optical drive brackets are still detached and out of the way. It mounts by popping it into place so that the screw holes on the drive line up with a pair of extrusions on the inside of the front panel.  The drive is then secured with a pair of small screws.
Once this system drive is in place, the optical drive bracket can then be screwed back into place. Then, the optical drive itself can be snapped into place in its removable tray (it locks in with no screws!) and slid into position. The IDE adapter board screws to the back of the drive with a pair of included screws, and then it’s a simple matter to run an IDE cable from the adapter board to the mainboard. I used a round cable to ease cable management woes.

Mounting the mainboard to the mainboard tray is thankfully quite simple, and connecting all of the various cables to the onboard headers is made easy thanks to Gigabyte’s thoughtful labeling and color scheme.  Unfortunately, the ES34069 has a lot of extra LEDs to monitor LAN activity and HDD usage for each individual drive, but there are no headers for most of these LEDs so I just connected the primary HDD and Power LED connectors to the appropriately labeled pin headers on the board and routed the other connectors out of the way.

With the system drive, mainboard, and 4-in-1 card reader in place, I could re-attach the mainboard tray. (Don’t forget to replace any brackets or SATA backplane boards you removed in order to get to the faceplate clips!)  From there, it’s a simple matter of connecting the various onboard cables to the board connectors.  Make sure that the case’s four red SATA cables (labeled 1 through 4) are plugged into the four purple SATA connectors on the mainboard, as those are the four ports connected to the Gigabyte board’s internal RAID controller. The SATA 2.5” system drive connects to the yellow SATA port on the board, and the included SATA power to Molex plug provides power to the system drive.  The 4-in-1 card reader cable plugs into one of the yellow USB pin headers, and the front panel USB cable attaches to the other.

Top View of ES34069

I installed a Qcom Wireless LAN 802.11b/g PCIe Mini network card and wireless antenna and pigtail at this point.  Conveniently, Gigabyte has included an appropriately-sized antenna punch-out on the backplate for a standard SMA antenna connector… this will support everything from TV tuner inputs to wireless LAN.  After all the onboard cabling is connected, it’s merely a matter of routing cables around the sides of the board and out of the way of the CPU cooling fans and venting holes, then snapping the front and side panels back into place.

The System

Chenbro 34069 Chassis

Voila! We now have an NAS (Network Attached Storage) or media server built. The HDMI and YPbPr outputs enable the system to interface with nearly any HDTV at up to 1080p resolution. The coaxial S/PDIF will send 6-channel audio to many home theater receivers. And, with 4 3.5” drives, you will have plenty of storage for media files… you can even use the optical drive to digitize your audio and video media collection so you don’t have to change DVDs or CDs.

If you are more interested in the business applications of a small NAS like this Chenbro/Gigabyte system, its small size, relatively low power use, and configurable RAID controller create a secure, power-efficient data server that can be placed in a corner and forgotten. You can even install a light OS such as Windows XP Embedded or Ubuntu Linux on a CompactFlash card, install it in the slot on the bottom of the mainboard, and leave the system to run as a backup appliance.

System Testing

Unfortunately, there is no current driver support for Windows Vista for the onboard Silicon Image 3114 RAID controller, so if you’re hoping to get a Vista Home Premium HTPC (Home Theater PC) set up, you’re out of luck till December, which is when Gigabyte has told me that they hope to have the appropriate drivers ready.  This means that installing the RAID drivers can be bit of a headache if you don’t have a floppy drive handy as Windows XP requires that any third party RAID controllers be installed via a floppy drive prior to installing the operating system.

Since the ES34069 has no connector (or place) for a floppy drive and I have no USB floppy drive on my test bench, I was unable to get a RAID array running in time for this post. Thus, I have not been able to measure the real hard disk performance that such a setup can offer. However, I could test the basic functionality of the system, as well as it’s performance using JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) instead of RAID.

I am not a big fan of system benchmarking, as it is a drawn-out and slightly bothersome process that can often offer inconclusive (or biased) results that just aren’t useful when evaluating a system for a specific purpose.  So, I have put together a small set of more “real-world” tests to get a basic idea of how well this system might perform in the sort of situations and conditions it might be subjected to.

Finally, I was not really able to effectively put together a networking test for the system, as evaluating such a setup would depend on a myriad number of factors not necessarily based on the capabilities of this specific unit. The dual Gigabit LAN connectors featored on this mainboard should offer plenty of network capacity; indeed, it is extremely likely that other components of the system would cause a performance bottleneck before the LAN when faced with taxing file transfers.

Test 1: CPU Burn in a Sealed Box

Because storage or media systems such as this one are usually tossed into a corner, a cabinet, a closet, or a sealed entertainment center, it is worth determining whether or not the system can handle heavy-duty operations for an extended period of time in a small, closed environment with little airflow.

For this test, I used our own in-house testing software, which has a CPU burn functionality that stresses a CPU far beyond what is considered a normal operating load.  This software is normally used to test all of our outgoing completed systems, and is designed to catch systems that could have thermal problems.

To simulate the sealed environment of a cabinet, I placed the system in a small, sealed enclosure, and left it overnight in a standard CPU burn. When I came back this morning to check on it, the onboard temperature reporting software reported an operating temperature of 62 degrees C on the CPU and a system temperature of 45 degrees C, which is within our operating temperature requirements for the system components.  Since the CPU burn stresses the heat-producing parts of the system far more than almost any real-world application would, I would certainly say that the system has passed.

Test 2: Video Playback (HD and DVD)

Since one conceivable home use for this system is as a media server/HTPC, it is worth determining how strong video playback performance can be overall. During full-screen playback of a 720p .wmv video file, CPU usage maxed out at around 12% overall, and showed less than 50 MB of system memory in use throughout the file’s playback. Thus, although I wouldn’t use the onboard Intel GMA X3100 graphics to play high-end games, it appears to be more than sufficient for video playback.

Playing a standard DVD on the system was a similar story. Using VideoLan’s open source VLC player, CPU usage peaked at 15% and memory usage peaked at 60MB briefly. There were no skips or stutters. Unfortunately, I do not have a Blu-Ray drive handy to test true hi-definition streaming media; however, something tells me that this configuration should be able to handle even that taxing load.

Conclusions

After my (admittedly small) battery of real-world tests, I can conclude that this system really can make an excellent small form factor NAS, HTPC, or media server. The GME965 platform on the Gigabyte 6KIEH mainboard is more than capable of handling HD video and DVD playback, and the system kept within a reasonable operating temperature during its overnight CPU burn in an enclosed box.

Unfortunately, due to space constraints (this post is getting quite long already!), I was unable to detail the procedure for installing RAID on the system by “slipstreaming” the necessary drivers onto a Windows installation CD. This allows the installation of RAID drivers without using a floppy drive. I will cover this operation in a later post, when I can get into more of the details of setting up a RAID array in this system.

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131 Responses to The Chenbro ES34069 Case Review, Part 2: The Perfect Mainboard?

  1. Scott Johnson says:

    Chenbro now has on their website the ES34169, which moves the AC power supply into the case and gets rid of the soap-on-a-rope brick. Limited to the 120W model.

  2. BigRob says:

    I bought the ES34169 and it is a nice case overall. It is true the front hinges are slightly under built. My box did not come with slimline optical mounting brackets and I do not see them in the Chenbro accessories list. The drives run pretty cool with all the slits and fans. Nice little case if you don’t want a rack mount.

  3. MarcusXP says:

    How about the Zotac mini-DTX motherboard with Intel Atom D510 onboard?
    It has 6 SATA connectors as well and lots of features:

    http://pden.zotac.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage_images.tpl&product_id=209&category_id=7&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

    Anyone tested this motherboard on this case?
    The specs are not really clear if the case does support mini-DTX boards or not.
    I’ve found in one place mentioned only mini-ITX and in another place, mentioned both, mini-ITX and mini-DTX too..
    http://usa.chenbro.com/corporatesite/products_detail.php?sku=79

  4. MarcusXP says:

    BTW, the only place where I found that board, is on Amazon.com.
    Seems that newegg.com doesn’t have it yet..

    http://www.amazon.com/ZOTAC-WiFi-Intel-Motherboard-NM10-B-E/dp/B0033Q4NIS

  5. MarcusXP says:

    The difference between mini-ITX and mini-DTX is about 33mm. So the mini-ITX is a bit wider.
    I checked the case and it seem to have a bit more room for the extra 33mm, even though it may be a bit tight.. there are the cables on the right side, so I may need to do a bit of cable management.
    Anyone had the chance to try it, or am I gonna be the 1st one? :)

  6. MarcusXP says:

    The more I look at this motherboard, the more I like it. The SATA connectors are placed conveniently on the right side, and the ATX 20pin connector is placed pretty good, too.
    It has eSATA, HDMI and 6x USB ports on the back, Wifi and even a PCI-E x16 slot – but this one cannot be used in this case, so not useful at this time.
    This makes it useful for any application – NAS server or media center.
    It looks like the PERFECT motherboard for this case!

  7. Andrey says:

    I also bought the ES34169 and like it. Read previous comment that it doesn’t come with slimline optical mounting brackets and can confirm this. I called Chenbro and explain to the gay that information on the website is misleading. Couple of hours later found that he actually changed the information and it’s now has correct pictures and states that ODD kit is optional, part #83H804534-004 – “Adapter, Slim ODD SATA Adapter w/ cable and bracket”.

  8. Scott Johnson says:

    Does anybody have a suggestion for how to mount a second 2.5″ HDD in this case? I’m not using the memory card reader or optical drive bay, so there’s plenty of room in the upper compartment. Right now I’ve just got it resting on top of the first 2.5″ drive, not screwed in at all.

    I found the Chenbro SK51102 that can convert the slim optical bay into a hot-swap 2.5″ bay, but I don’t think I have room to use the optical bay due to space conflicts with the motherboard SATA ports. (Supermicro X7SPA-H mobo)

  9. Garfield Graham says:

    @Scott
    What did you decide to do? I have the Supermicro X7SPA-H mobo & the ES34069 on order. I’m thinking of going with an external slim usb burner so I can swap between my note book or http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6573631&CatId=1624 , but I guess I have tho get brackets for it. I’m not sure what type of brackets I would need.

  10. Scott Johnson says:

    My second 2.5″ HDD is just flopping around in there.

    I wish I had got the X7SPA-HF for its remote management functionality (IPMI).

    My ES34068 came with the slim ODD bracket but I think the ES34069 does not. Chenbro makes the bracket you will need.

  11. Scott Johnson says:

    Correction to my Dec 9 post: I have an ES34069, not ES34068. It came with the ODD bracket. I believe the newer ES34169 does not.

  12. Satvinder says:

    Will the Jetway NC96FL-525 motherboard fit in this case. I am looking at putting in 4x3TB HDs (WD 3TB Caviar Green 3.5″ SATA-II Hard Drive 64MB Cache) and running a linux based Nas. Any issues I should be aware of regarding power consumption and heat?

  13. JP Ishaq JP says:
    Logic Supply

    Hi Satvinder,

    Thank you for your interest. We would suggest using the NF99FL-525 as an alternative, in order to interface properly with the case’s ATX power supply. Because the NC96 has onboard power, there isn’t an easy way to power the drives through the board, or send a power signal from the board to the case PSU. The NF99 also offers an additional 2 SATA ports for use as an OS drive, so you don’t have to use one of the hot-swap bays to house your OS.

    As far as heat management goes, we would suggest installing an 60 mm front fan in either the front or top slot to supplement the case’s built-in cooling.

  14. Scott Johnson says:

    With green drives you should have no problem with HDD heat. I rewired the two case fans to run at 7V (quieter) and I run 4x Hitachi 7200rpm drives, which are by no means cool or low-power. I forget the drive temps now but I monitored them closely when I first built this box (~1 year ago) and I didn’t think it was ever excessive.

    You will want a 60mm fan for the mobo compartment. The case was designed expecting the mobo to have a CPU fan. I run a fanless Atom D510 board and I use the slowest, quietest 60mm SilenX fan (8 dB).

  15. mike says:

    I ordered this case earlier this week, knowing full well that Chenbro did not make a PCIe riser for it. I figured I could rig something up with the multitude of cabled risers out there. Low and behold, I look today and there’s a PCIe x16 riser for this case (80H09453403A0)! Either I am blind, or this development has been within the past three days.

    Any chance that logicsupply will get this part in stock soon?

  16. mike says:

    Oddly enough, the pictures that I can find of that PCIe riser (80H09453403A0) look almost identical to a PCIe riser that logicsupply already sells (http://www.logicsupply.com/products/pcie_101l_16), with very minor differences (socket has locking mechanism, chenbro branding).

  17. Scott Johnson says:

    I used a PCIe riser from Orbit Micro (http://www.orbitmicro.com/global/riser-cards-c-33_898.html?items=100&sort=pA&p1144=823&p1143=824&p1142=825&p1141=826&p1140=830&kw=).

    I only needed x1 so I got the PEXP1-RX1 which worked in my ES34069. (B-side, height of 1.05″.) Note the ES34169 has a hole cut in the back for a card, which my case does not have. I’m not certain if this riser would fit in that application, but it sure looks to me like it would.

  18. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Mike,
    We didn’t realize there was a PCIe riser option out there either! We just brought this case back in-house a few weeks ago and haven’t considered new accessories for it. We’ll look into it and see what availability is, but not sure if and when we’ll be carrying it. Scott has a lot of experience with this case and building a system around it; if he recommends a specific riser for it, I would trust his advice.

    If we do carry the riser, we’ll definitely post an update here to let everyone know.
    Thanks!
    Kristina

  19. mike says:

    Hi Scott, Kristina -

    I have the ES34069. A few additional things to note:

    First of all, the case comes with some sort of mounting bracket that is to be used for immobilizing a PCI card. The holes on it line up perfectly with the holes on a tiny low profile PCI card I have laying around, but they’re about 1cm off on the holes on this larger low profile PCIe card I have. I’ve looked at an old (2000, PCI 2.2) PCI low profile specification (http://www.pcisig.com/specifications/conventional/conventional_pci/lowp_ecn.pdf) and the difference is that my PCI card is the shortest allowed by the spec (51mm; 42.47mm hole spacing) while my PCIe card is the tallest allowed by the spec (64mm; 53.9mm hole spacing). If the Chenbro PCIe riser does not come with an alternate mounting bracket, a suboptimal solution will be required to immobilize a larger low profile card.

    Secondly, I require at least an x8 riser. x16 would be ideal, but certainly not required. The height you mention of 1.05″ helps me quite a bit. Looking at the board in the mounting tray, an inch looks about right. Does that height include the height of the contact pins? Looking back at the PCIX-1A I linked to earlier, it has a listed height of 27.3mm. 1.05″ is ~26.7mm. That’s a difference of 0.6mm — close enough for me! I’ll still have to rig something up to immobilize the card, though. Unless you can get the Chenbro version in within the next week or two, I’m going to go ahead and order the PCIX-1A from you and I’ll let you know how it works out.

    Lastly, thank you for this excellent article! There’s a wealth of information to be found here.

  20. mike says:

    I’m impatient, so I went ahead and ordered the PCIX-1A from you. You’re welcome to ship it faster. Really, I won’t mind!

    I’ll follow up after I’ve had a chance to try it out.

  21. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    Hi Mike,
    Well, it looks like you’re going to have a weekend project on your hands ;) Check your order status/tracking and let us know how it works out.

    I’ll have to get back to you on the rest of your questions a little later.

    And I’m thrilled you found our article helpful!
    -Kristina

  22. mike says:

    Thanks! That PCIe riser works like a charm! Correct height and the card functions just fine so far. I’m having to RMA three of the four drives I purchased, so I haven’t been able to create my RAID array yet. I haven’t tried fashioning anything to immobilize the card – it’s supported fairly well by the multilane SATA cable I have snaking underneath the card and through the rubber grommet. Unless I’m *really* bored or I have problems with the card becoming unseated, I’m not likely to spend any further time or effort on trying to immobilize it.

    Thanks Kristina!

  23. James Szivos says:

    I have two of these Chenbro cases, both 120W. The one I purchased on Newegg came with the slim cd drive caddy. Both builds are mini file servers with RAID 5 (4.1TB and 8.2TB) for usage – IIS, FTP, SMB, torrents, etc. I have the PCI (classic) riser installed on my 4.1TB server with a PCI SATA RAID controller.

    Original Mini Server
    Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-D510UD
    CPU: Integrated ATOM D510
    RAM: 2 x 2GB DDR2 800
    RAID5: Rosewill RC-209-EX PCI 2.3 – Hardware – 4 x Seagate Barracuda ST315005N4A1AS-RK 1.5TB 5900 RPM 32MB Cache SATA
    Boot: Some POS 80GB SATA2 2.5″ hard drive

    New Mini Server
    Mobo: JetWay JNF81-T56N-LF
    CPU: Integrated AMD Hudson
    RAM: 2 x 4GB DDR3 1066 SO-DIMM
    RAID5: Integrated – Software – 4 x HITACHI Deskstar 0S03230 3TB 5400 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s
    Boot: Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G1 2.5″ 80GB SATA II

    Overall I am thoroughly impressed by the Chenbro case and my servers. I highly recommend using Chenbro. Despite the small workspace, the case is very easy to assemble. It has all the features you could want – hot swap, hard drive status, raid status, network status, flipping display cover, easy access to mobo.

  24. g3 says:

    Does anyone know where I can get the Y cable 26h114340 005?

  25. VJ says:

    I am trying to build a NAS plus HTPC in one box.
    Has anyone tested Chenbro ES34069 with
    Z68ITX-B-E motherboard with 4 Western Digital’s WD30EZRX(3.5 SATA 6 Gb/s,64 MB cache,3 TB).
    They are supposed to be green drives, but I cannot find definite power specs on the drives.

    I am mainly worried about how does the 120 W power supply will hold up with this power hungry config.

    If anyone knows, please let me know.

    Thanks

  26. Kristina Bond Kristina says:

    @g3
    Unfortunately, the ES34069 is EOL along with all the components and accessories. You might be able to find this cable on eBay? I wish we had a spare hanging around here! We haven’t had that product in-house for awhile. Good luck on your search!

    -Kristina

  27. VJ says:

    Is ES34169 still in production? Do I get option of 180 W or more?

    Is there any option to go higher with ES34169? I will using probably one or two USB 3 or eSATA drives attached to this NAS drive which will drive power also.

    Alternatively is ES34169 available without powersupply? I can perhaps build my own externa, power supply upto 300 W.

    Appreciate if you’d let me know.

    Thanks

  28. Kristina Bond Kristina Bond says:

    Hi VJ,
    To the best of our knowledge, the ES34169 is still in production. We decided not to carry this because it is a different case and only comes with the 120 W power supply; there is no option to upgrade.

    I haven’t see other suppliers offer this case without a power supply, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t remove it and swap it out for something different.

    We are going to be carrying a case from Chyangfun, which is a nice alternative to the ES34069. We’ll keep you posted on the case here. It has a 200 W Flex ATX power supply and 4 hot-swappable HDD bays (including an internal 2.5″ bay). It’s smaller too. It might be what you’re looking for.
    - Kristina

  29. VJ says:

    Kristina:

    I certainly appreciate you taking time to respond. Main reason I got into this whole thing is to build my custom expandable NAS (plus possibly HTPC). I got tired of and running out of off-shelf NASes or they are really pricy (like from DROBO).

    Did you mean to suggest CFI-A7879 from Chyangfun? I see 2 issues with it:
    1) It does not have a 5.25″ drive (slim or regular) external bay too allow local movement of content off DVDs (BluRay or regular)

    2) CFI-A7879 (8″x10″x12.12″=969.9 cu.inch) bigger in size than ChenBro ES34169 (10.24″x5.51″x 10.24″=577.765 cu.inch)

    Please let me know which model would you carry, when and appx price range.

    I also considered a Lien Li PC-Q08 case as an alternative (if I have to give up tidy size of ChenBro ES34169). But also it too big (9.08″x10.88″x13.9″=1363.31 cu.inch) and it’s not bare bones. It comes with some type of NAS backbone loaded with it, hence making it too pricy. One plus thing is that it does offer grand 6×3.5 bays with 5.25″ ext drive.

    Silverstone SST-TJ08 and few from Sugo series offers few options, but none of them are as slim as ChenBro ES34169.

    I am not sure if you would like to answer if end up buying ChenBro ES34169 (guess from somewhere else, since you don’t carry it) , then how easy it is to change the built in 120 W power supply?

    I plan to use a board like Z68ITX-A-E (socket 1155) board with Western Digital 3 TB/6 gb GREEN drives.
    I expect one or two devices connected on USB 3 ports on the motherboard at times.

    As always, appreciate your response.

    Thanks

  30. Kristina Bond Kristina Bond says:

    Hi VJ,
    Yeah, the case I was mentioning is the CFI-A7879. And you’re right, it doesn’t have an optical drive bay (could you get by with an external one?). We should be getting it up on the site pretty soon and we have them in stock, so if you check back later today, you can see the sell price.

    I don’t know how easy it would be to swap out the PSU on the ES31469. I assume that if the PSU does get swapped, it might remove any warranty the case comes with. So, just keep that in mind.

    I wish I could offer my input on your configuration, but my knowledge of mainboards using desktop CPUs and the power requirements that come with them is somewhat limited. Depending on the processor and its TDP along with the power consumption of the components you plan on using, I would start by simply adding up the watts (I think you’re likely looking at a desktop CPU maximum TDP of 65 W?). Yes, this seems overly simplistic and obvious, but it’s a good starting point to decide whether or not you’ll need a heftier PSU. If you can’t find the information on the Western Digital’s, try finding a comparable product, like a Seagate drive and use that number as a ballpark. Seagate is excellent at providing detailed specs on their drives.

    I hope this helps!
    Kristina

  31. Mark Gulbrandsen says:

    I’ve had one of these cases for a few years now set up as a micro server running the OS in RAID 1 on a pair od SSD’s and storage on a pair of 500gb SATA drives. The board I;m using is the Intel DQ45EK. All was fine until I noticed one day that basically all had stopped functioning. After a quick check it appears the power regulator or the power supply itself may have died. The CPU and Chipset gets very hot really fast when running off it’s own supply. When I run the MB off an external ATX supply all seems fine. I guess my beef here is that the 160 watt power supply is woefully inadaquate. If you bring this case back it has to have a 250 watt supply at least. I wonder how many other people have had failures with their factory power supply. Now that Chenbro has discontinued this case what do I do for parts… sort of strapping an outboard supply or tossing the thing in the garbage there aren’t a lot of choices to repair it.

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