Refurb tower with space for a 4-bay drive cage?

TheWaterbug

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I'm finally considering building myself a dedicated BI machine. I hate hate hate opening up PCs and messing with internal cabling, so I would love love love to buy a tower with enough room in the front for a 4-drive cage similar to this $65 gizmo:

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This occupies three full-sized (5.25") bays, vertically. I would put a small SSD elsewhere in the case for the boot drive (Win 10 Pro preferred), and then populate this cage with 3-4 drives in a non-redundant Storage Space so I can grow the space as needed. I'm the amateur IT guy at work, so we're constantly rotating out smaller drives from our servers as we grow our space there. For example I will have a handful of 2 TB drives available to me, for free, right now, and then a year from now I'll have a bunch of 4 TB drives available.

At present I have 12 cameras, but they're all running 4MP or less. Is a Core i7-4770 going to cut it?

Can this class of machine be had for ~$300 refurbed, excluding the drive cage?

What models should I be looking for? I'm seeing lots of mini-towers, but no full-sized towers.

Or something like an HP Microserver cube:
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but with an Intel CPU, and for a lot less money. I bought a quad-core model for work for $322 last year, but they've doubled in price because they're scarce, because HP hasn't updated them.

Thanks!
 
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Look in the Wiki, in the blue bar at the top of the page. Lots of good information in there besides choosing hardware.
 
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I know this is not precisely what you asked for, but I build computer towers on a regular basis, and recently built one using: Thermaltake Core V21 SPCC Micro ATX case, and I was SHOCKED how wide-open that case is and it has room for 3 HDD and at least 2 more SSD drives.

I know you probably don't want to build, but any older style case (think Craigslist) that was from the era where CDROM was more common frequently had 3-6 front knockouts that could hold something similar to what you linked in the first post. I have an Apevia case sitting here (empty) that is 10 years old that would be a typical example, but might not fit the bill if you aren't into building computers.
 

TVille

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Following the hardware wiki @sebastiantombs linked, I found an I7-6700 on EBay for $330 or so a couple of weeks ago. Only 8 GB ram and a 1 TB hard drive with Windows 10 Pro. It is a Dell tower with space inside for five hard drives. But, you couldn't really put a front mounted cage in it. On Ebay it is kind of luck of the draw, depending on what is there, but wander around and see what you can find. My i7-6700 is running about 10% CPU only (no GPU) on 11 cameras with Deep Stack and OpenALPRD on one camera.
 

TheWaterbug

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Look in the Wiki, in the blue bar at the top of the page. Lots of good information in there besides choosing hardware.
Thank you. I've read through the Wiki several times, and it makes lots of recommendations on chips, but not so much on cases and form factors. The two models they link for refurbs are typically SFF desktops and minitowers, neither of which can take a lot of drives, and all of which require opening the case to access the drives.

I suppose shucking one of those SFF computers and putting the motherboard in a case like the one crw030su suggested might be an option; one of the major advantages (to me) of the "renewed" systems on amazon, et al., is that they typically come with a Win 10 Pro license, and that's worth about $100 all by itself. Do branded SFF computers like Dell and HP follow the normal OEM form factors for motherboards? Are there any issues with transplanting them into another case?

Or do most of y'all use an external storage box? I'm likely to use a gaggle of drives in a JBOD Storage Space, so I don't need a NAS box or hardware RAID features; a simple cage with USB/SATA bridge(s) would be just fine, if such a thing is available.
 

TheWaterbug

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Yeah, I think I may be unnecessarily complicating things. I can get a 4-bay USB/SATA cage for $99:



And then I can buy a much less expensive refurbed PC and not worry about its form factor.

I've never heard of this brand, but how difficult can it be to make a SATA dock?
 
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Shucking the mobo won't work. They are normally designed to fit a specific case and won't fit into "stock" cases.

I use the Corsair Obsidian case. It holds eight 3-1/2", four 2-1/2" and my mobo supports an NVME drive for boot purposes. It also has four 5-1/4" bays on the front. Yes, you have to take the side panels off to install and plug in a drive, but the 3-1/2" drives mount to a screwless tray that slide into the bays. The same is true for the 2-1/2" drives. I guess you could install one of those four bay caddies in the front, too. I'm not a big fan of hot swap unless everything, mobo, power supply and drive bays, are hot swap capable. Much safer to power down to install/remove a drive. For BI use a commercial refurb is cheaper and easier in the long run.

If that last external bay connects using USB, 3.0 not withstanding, it won't work due to the high, constant, write rates of 24/7 video recording. You can transfer to it successfully by moving entire files, but the constant stream will get bottle necked. That adds more CPU utilization, too, although not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Just something else to consider.
 
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TheWaterbug

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Following the hardware wiki @sebastiantombs linked, I found an I7-6700 on EBay for $330 or so a couple of weeks ago. Only 8 GB ram and a 1 TB hard drive with Windows 10 Pro. It is a Dell tower with space inside for five hard drives. But, you couldn't really put a front mounted cage in it. On Ebay it is kind of luck of the draw, depending on what is there, but wander around and see what you can find. My i7-6700 is running about 10% CPU only (no GPU) on 11 cameras with Deep Stack and OpenALPRD on one camera.
This is good data. I found this i7-6700-based Dell SFF for $425, shipped. That's more than you paid, but it's got 16 GB and 512 GB SSD already, so that's about $100 worth of upgrades that I don't have to do, so I think it's a fair trade-up. I'm going to try that $99 drive cage for storage, too. All ordered, and should be here in a week, and then I can fire it all up and see if I've made a mistake ;-)

Thanks, all, for the recommendations! The children thank you ,too.
 

ingeborgdot

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So, for the cage, this will be an external drive cage? Someone has mentioned that usb 3 would not be fast enough???
 
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TheWaterbug

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USB-anything should be plenty fast enough. Typical bit rate on my cameras is 6 Mbps or less, so even with 16 cameras I'm only at 96 Mbps, and USB 2.0 is 480 Mbps. Even accounting for framing and overhead it's many times my maximum required bit rate.
 
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Keep in mind that video is constant data, it never stops. Many here have tried USB dives and have had nothing but problems. As a dodge, and still being able to use a USB drive, files can be moved when they're complete to the USB drive with active files being written on a platter drive. That can work well.
 
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