Here’s where I was wrong. First, just about everything that’ll read a SAS drive will read as SATA drive thanks to SAS’s SATA-compatible cables (just don’t try going in reverse). Second, it’s likely that most 6Gb/s drives would just run at 3Gb/s. Both of these combined mean my cost-per-GB would go way down with not having to buy “vintage” drives that were in short supply, though I would be stuck at 2Tb drives at most. Finally, and this is the most important part, I could slap in a newer, relatively cheap RAID controller in one of the PCIE slots and use whatever drives I wanted to, making my cost-per-GB go down even further as I squeezed even more density into the chassis (there’s not much price difference between 2TB HDDs and 3TB+ HDDs). According to a page on Dell’s website, an H200 RAID controller would provide me exactly what I needed.
With these revelations out of the way, I was ready to say goodbye to a nearly $1,o00 build on PCPartPicker and start scouring eBay for some parts. But first, I had to decide what I was buying.
What’s 1U between friends?
The R710 has a counterpart, the R610. Since I knew I was looking for something along the lines of the R710, I had an early decision to make – should I stick with the R710, or should I look for its slimmer sibling, the R610? The R710 is what’s called a 2U server, and the R610 is a 1U server. While most rack-mount hardware has about the same width and mostly the same length, the “U” part refers to the cases’ height, with 1U being about 1.75″, and 2U therefore being 3.5″ tall. Something as thin as a 1U server would be loud, and even though noise isn’t a big concern for me, it’d be nice to have something a little quieter (and marginally more efficient).
The other major factor in deciding between the R610 and R710 was the number and size of drive bays. The R610 offers space for up to eight 2.5″ drive bays, and the R710 offers space for up to six 3.5″ drive bays. As great as having up to 40TB (8x5TB drives) sounds, 2.5″ drives are more expensive and, from what I’ve seen available, come in fewer reliable makes/models than their 3.5″, used-by-enterprise-buyer counterparts. Plus, if I ever get to the point of needing more than 18 to 30 TB, I’ll more than likely be in the position to move on to a dedicated NAS to use in conjunction with whatever else I’ve got going at the time. Finally, I won’t come close to needing that level of storage density in any home set up, so it’s the R710 for me.