NAS Cases Compared - Fractal ARRAY R2 Mini ITX NAS Case Review

Cases & PSU/Cases by piotke @ 2010-08-22

Now that we have affordable unlimited internet in Belgium, the need for storage has grown. Of course you can fill your computer with hard disks, or to make it easier to share you can buy a bunch of external disks. But in my opinion a dedicated solution for storage, such as a NAS would be more practical. In this review we´ll be taking a look at some solutions.

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What / Why ...

A NAS is a device that has a certain storage capacity, and is connected to your network. The acronym stands for network attached storage. Technically you can use any medium for it, but in home and small office solutions we are talking about hard disk drives in small case. Usually with a build in RAID controller.

A few years ago such storage solutions where expensive, and thus not really for the regular Joe. These last years hard disks are dropping drastically in price, and NAS casings are following this trend.

Wanting a central place for my storage at home as well, I started to look for one. Some friends bought themselves a 2 disk NAS for about 200 euro (excluding the disks), but they weren't very pleased with the performance. Writing speeds of barely a few megabytes per second, only 2 disks, and limited configuration options. And when considering a setup with more than 2 disks the price rises exponentially.

Somewhere last year I found an Intel SS4000-E for a sharp price. This four disk NAS features 2 gigabit network ports and is expandable through 2 USB ports. Downsides on the other hand are similar as other home and SME solutions, slow (about 7 to 8 megabyte writing speeds) and limited in options.

Also last year I bought a Shuttle K45. A small case I slightly modified to fit three hard disks. Very fast data throughput, topping speeds of 60 megabyte a second. "Unlimited" options and features. As you can install any OS you like on this regular but smaller computer.

Some time ago Bjarne from offered us a FRACTAL ARRAY R2 MINI ITX NAS CASE for a review. This case offers space for six 3.5 inch hard disks, and an ITX motherboard. Beside the software you can now also choose the hardware.

Madshrimps (c)
This review made possible by Space Promotion

Size does matter ?

In portable solutions size of course matters. But if you want something small, and cheap, you should go for a portable hard disk. A tad bigger than a regular harddisk. NAS casings in my opinion shouldn't waste space either. Let’s take a look at the dimensions.

  • Intel SS4000-E: 214x160x243mm = 8320 cm3; that's 2080 cm3 per disk

  • Shuttle K45: 280x190x170 = 9044 cm3; that's 3015 cm3 per disk (Without modding 4522 cm3 per disk)

  • Fractal ARRAY R2: 250x200x350mm = 17500 cm3; that's 2917 cm3 per disk

    This brings the Fractal case on a nice second position. Keeping in mind that this will be a home build solutions that's not that bad. The case is the bigger one, compared to the two others, but still portable enough for an occasional LAN party.

    Madshrimps (c)
    From left to right: Intel SS400-E; Shuttle K45; Fractal Array 2

    Madshrimps (c) From left to right: Intel SS400-E; Shuttle K45; Fractal Array 2

    Let's move on to the installation.
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