Silverstone DS380B mod - How To Fit a Normal Size PCI Card into the SilverStone DS380 without losing a HDD slot

How to use all 8 drive bays in the SilverStone DS380B with a full-size HBA card for your SFF DIY NAS.

Silverstone DS380B mod - How To Fit a Normal Size PCI Card into the SilverStone DS380 without losing a HDD slot
SilverStone DS380B looking confused

I wanted to build a SFF (Small Form Factor) Backup Server. I found the Silverstone DS380. It is almost perfect.

It has 8 x 3.5" HDD hot-swap bays and 4 slots for 2.5" drives. But there is one caveat. When you want to use all 8 3.5" bays you have to remove a plastic shroud and lose one 3.5" slot for a normal size PCI card, like an HBA card.

A graphics card in the DS380 drive cage. Losing 1 3.5" bay.

The picture from the manual shows a graphics card in the 3rd 3.5" slot. I did not want to lose one 3.5" slot. Especially since there are not many ITX mainboards that have like 12 SATA ports you are forced to use an HBA.

After some test fitting, I figured: You definitely can fit a full-size PCI card into the case without losing a 3.5" slot!

Take a piece of masking tape and put a straight line on that. Add the tape on your HBA card with the sticky side up and align the straight line with your card profile. Gently put down the drive bay.

The masking tape now will stick to the plastic shroud for the 3rd bay. Get a saw or a Dremel like I did and cut some plastic away. As you can see, the HBA card perfectly fits into the DS380.

I would recommend using a card that has the slot near the PCIe bracket instead of the end of the card.

HBA card (connectors by the red circle might not work)

Here you can see why:

The left side will be completely blocked by the drive cage. You will have a hard time figuring out the wiring if at all possible. Especially when you use a plastic shroud like I did to force the airflow through the drive cage by those side fans. You can read more about the plastic shroud and the airflow Brian Moses blog post "Creating a Cooling Duct for the SilverStone DS380B".

How are thermals you asked?

Well, this is not scientific or anything but here is some context:

I changed the stock fans with Noctua one because I want rather quiet fans and I am a fan of Noctua fans (pun intended). ?

  • 2 x 12 TB drives as BTRFS RAID1 (mirror the disks)
  • 6 x 4 TB drives asZFS RAIDZ2
  • 2 SSDs for the OS

So for a test, I installed TrueNas Scale on that puppy. Created the ZFS pool via the GUI. Used SSH to install btrfs-progs, mount the BTRFS filesystem and copied all data. That was about 6 TB. Not sure how long it went but I looked at the temps in the TrueNas Scale interface and it was something between min 32°C and max 47°C over all disks.

And here some graphs showing the current 6 HDDs. I did take out the 12 TB ones after the copy procedure. But you see the range.

And last but not least we have the SSDs which run way cooler in their drive cage in the back:

SSD temperature

The ambient room temperature is always around 20-22°C.

While writing this and taking the screenshots I noticed a trend in the HDD temperatures. The temperature was constantly rising. Then I remembered! I totally forgot to clean the dust filter since ever! ? Luckily you can just take that filter of without any tools or opening the case. After cleaning there was a drop of 2°C instantly.

The BIOS settings were left untouched and were set to AUTO and NORMAL. That means the fan speed for this setting was around 750 RPM to almost 800 RPM ish.

I was thinking that 47°C might be a bit much and we do not have even summer here. So I adjusted the BIOS settings a little bit:

BIOS Settings revisited

Let's see how much of a difference that will make over time.

Update: After the new settings the HDDs have temps from 34°C to 40°C, depending on the drive. Way better now.

Hope that helps someone out who is looking out for a case that has more than just 4 or 5 drive bays with a relatively low footprint. I think the SilverStone DS380B is worth a shot.

Did you have to hack or modify your case in order to build your NAS or PC? Do you have any questions then leave them in the comments below ?.

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Have a great day!