Supermicro SC933T-R760B 3U 15x 3.5″ SAS/SATA Storage Chassis Review

5
Posted January 20, 2011 by Patrick Kennedy in Servers

After some prodding I am starting to do a few more chassis reviews. To continue on this theme, I recently purchased a Supermicro SC933T-R760B which is a 15 bay 3.5″ SAS/ SATA chassis with a triple redundant power supply. In 2010 low-cost 3U and 4U storage enclosures became popular DIY options. Those low cost enclosures like the Norco RPC-3116 lack power supplies meaning that a user can install a standard ATX power supply and have a working system. What these low-cost alternatives lack are the serviceability features commonly found in Supermicro, Dell, HP, and Chenbro enclosures that are meant to keep the servers online while being able to swap out not just drives, but also fans and power supplies.

Features

The Supermicro SC933T-R760B is clearly a storage chassis and its fifteen hot swap bays are a bit of a trade-off. On one hand, fifteen bays allow for fairly high 3U 3.5” drive density. Normally, sixteen drives is about as dense as a 3U storage chassis will get when using 3.5” drives. By reducing the number of drives from 16 to 15, it seems like the case was able to achieve better airflow. Since, as one can see below, there is relatively quite a bit of space between drives in the chassis.

SC933T-R760B Drive Bays

SC933T-R760B Drive Bays

Connecting the fifteen drives are backplane headers that are familiar to most computer users, the simple SAS/ SATA connector. Some users, especially those of the Areca 12xx series of RAID controllers will be able to directly connect individual SATA cables to be backplane which does save some cost over SFF-8088 and SFF-8087 cables. On the other hand, most users will need SFF-8088 to SFF-8087 connectors to connect the SC933T-R760B’s backplane to their SAS/ SATA controllers. I prefer backplanes with SFF-8088 connectors due to the clean and simple installation, however using SFF-8087 cables is not necessarily a negative.

SC933T-R760B SAS SATA Backplane

SC933T-R760B SAS SATA Backplane

The power supply in the SC933T-R760B is a triple redundant hot-swap Ablecom 760w power supply. What this means is that one has a total of 760w of power output using three 380w power supplies. One reason this is particularly useful is that, in the event of a power supply failure the power is split over two other power sources which reduces the chances of overloading that power feed. In 1+1 configurations, all power shifts to the other feed when a PSU failure occurs.

SC933T-R760B Triple Redundant PSU

SC933T-R760B Triple Redundant PSU

Hot swap fans are another common feature of a Supermicro chassis. The center fan partition contains four hot swap fans and the rear of the chassis features two. Most Dell, HP, and IBM storage server chassis also have hot swap fans.The main reason for this is to enable a high degree of field serviceability. With cases like the Norco RPC-3116, fans must be unscrewed to uninstall, and then the replacement fan screwed in during install. During these procedures, one risks a screw falling onto electrical components during the process or having to shutdown the server to replace the fan. One will note that the chassis fans produce great airflow, but are noisy!

SC933T-R760B Airflow Guide and Fans

SC933T-R760B Airflow Guide and Fans

One other nice feature of the Supermicro SC933T-R760B, like the previously reviewed SC216E1-R900LPB, is the clear airflow channel that directs airflow from the middle partition fans, over the CPUs and memory, and to the rear case fans. This channel does at least two things. Keeping solid airflow over critical components is key to system reliability. This channel also makes it possible, with some CPUs, to utilize passive heatsinks which is a welcome feature for many users.

SC933T-R760B Layout

SC933T-R760B Layout

Finally, one thing worth noting is that the Supermicro SC933T-R760B has only six full-height expansion slots. There are many E-ATX and ATX motherboards with seven expansion card slots, such as the Supermicro X8DAH+-F (which is a very well optioned board) have seven expansion slots meaning that one add-on card will not be able to have a proper rear panel expansion slot.

Conclusion

Overall, the Supermicro SC933T-R760B is a solid 3U storage chassis that comes with a lot of features meant to maintain the up-time of the enclosed system. Street price for the SC933T-R760B is about $850-900 which, though costly, is fairly reasonable if you need the feature set. Be warned though, the chassis is loud and therefore should be located in a dedicated server room or equipment closet, not a living or working space.

Feel free to discuss this article on the ServeTheHome.com forums!


About the Author

Patrick Kennedy

Patrick has been running ServeTheHome since 2009 and covers a wide variety of home and small business IT topics. For his day job, Patrick is a management consultant focused in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about basic server building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

5 Comments


  1.  
    war9200

    Hi,

    You review a lot of server cases, can you post recordings of what they sound like at startup and idle?




  2.  
    Robert Taylor

    Hi,

    I’m interested in setting up a RAID system on a budget price. I currently have an ATTO R380 RAID controller available and am wondering if this RAID controller can drive the Supermicro chasis you have reviewed?

    The RAID card seems to have mini-SAS (SFF 8088) connector on the back, and I’m wondering if I can plug the chasis to this card and have the RAID card run the 15 drives in a RAID 5 or 6 mode?




  3.  
    Name

    Can you tell us something about the backplane? It looks like a SATA/SAS backplane. Does it support dual channel SAS drives? I count only 15 SATA headers, so dual channel drives will probably only work in single channel configs.

    Secondly, does the backplane support enclosure management via sideband/SES-2 or SGPIO? Or do you have to find a solution for connecting the drive activity and fault leds to your sas expander on your own?

    Are the fans connected to the backplane or do you have to use your own fan controller?





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