It is not uncommon for big startups to start out small. Sometimes people have a big investment and can open up offices at a grand location. But if you are a few friends starting off, maybe a small studio apartment and a small server setup would be best. That is why we are here to help you by reviewing the best NAS cases so you can build a portable server at home.
NAS or network-attached storage builds are used to huge amounts of data and access them from multiple computers. Ever worked in a workplace where you are accessing your server via an IP?
Basically, a switch routes you to a server where you can access it like it is your own hard drive. But in reality, the physical drive is somewhere else.
NAS is also a server that can be used to access data from multiple computers using an Ethernet switch. So if you are starting a small business and need storage, then this is the option for you.
A typical NAS box is made of several components. But the two main components for a NAS box are the NAS drives and a NAS case that can store a large amount of NAS drives in it.
Other than that you just need what a normal computer needs. So if you have the option of choosing from the best NAS cases you will be able to run a small NAS box easily.
First, let us go through a little buyer’s guide:
What to consider when buying a NAS Case?
NAS cases are very simple, they do not have a huge clearance, or even require any. What they need is space, for one thing, storage.
The basic components required for a NAS box are the same as required for any computer. We do not need high-spec components for a NAS box. Here is a small guide on how to build a NAS box.
You will need a CPU first and foremost, but you do not need a high-performance CPU. A mid-tier CPU will do that is required to run software that helps other CPUs access data on its drives. But what you do with the data will determine what CPU you need.
For a file transfer, you will need something like a mediocre core count CPU. Something like an Intel Atom CPU with a lower power draw will work. Typically NAS boxes are used just for storage, but if you want something like video encoding, maybe go for something better but with a lower power draw?
You need memory, two sticks of DDR4 memory will suffice, you do not need high-speed and high-performance RAM. Because RAM is used to feed data to the CPU, but in a NAS box the CPU does not work very hard. It will not need so much memory that you buy a high capacity and high-speed RAM.
Power Supply Unit
You need a PSU, now this should be important because you are powering up several NAS drives. Your NAS box will live and die with the power supply so calculate the wattage you will require to run the number of drives you will need to run. Do not forget to calculate the total power consumption of your other components as well.
If you are running a 10-drive NAS box, a safe bet would be to go for an 850-1000W PSU. This is to stay on the safe side so you can also install a few fans in case as well if you need more cooling.
You will need a motherboard as well, but you will need a motherboard with a minimum of 6 SATA ports. If you plan on storing more drives than that, you might want to consider something built for NAS systems.
But most NAS systems use an M-ATX or ITX motherboards that do not have a lot of expansion slots. Maybe just one M.2 slot for an NVMe drive to install the OS in for faster booting times. Otherwise, try to find a board with a lot of SATA ports.
The main component other than the NAS case has to be NAS drives. These are specialized drives made to last since these are constantly under usage. NAS drives also have a high capacity, one of the most famous NAS drives is none other than the Seagate IronWolf.
One thing we will discover throughout our reviews will be how small and portable NAS cases are. Since they are low profile and SFF with a lot of drive bays, you do not need a big case to support something like liquid cooling.
Most cases on our list are SFF and you will just need to put them in a corner of a room with enough ventilation to breathe.
You might require a case with enough clearance for fans so you can cool the drives. This will be important if you live in a warm region specifically.
Because when constantly under load these drives can get as warm as 50-degrees Centigrade. So maybe good cable management, fans, and breathing space in the case will get the job done.
Best NAS Cases Reviewed to Expand Your Storage
This is something we would expect of a company which pioneers in the SFF builds. The SilverStone DS380B is a plain and sturdy NAS case that is also pretty affordable.
SilverStone mini-ITX cases are something that anyone who likes SFF builds would fall in love with. If anyone wants to build a PC that is as portable and small as a console, SilverStone cases are the best for it.
Though, here they are showing their SFF build prowess in something a bit different. But even in the NAS case category, they seem to be pioneering it.
Proper NAS cases are already hard to come by in the first place. You can find pre-built NAS systems, but you will come across very few NAS cases.
And SilverStone has the best one in the market, although we do feel Fractal Node 804 is also great for what it is priced. But SilverStone’s DS380B has a better config and is a bit more portable.
So let us talk about the number of drive bays this elegant beauty has. We have 8×3.5″ drive bays in the case, that is a good amount in itself. But that is not all, you also get 2×2.5″ drive bays as well.
But the number of drive bays has nothing to with what makes this case so great. The 8×3.5″ drive bays are hot-swappable, so you can actually access the drives without having to open the case itself.
These drive bays can be accessed through a swinging door right in front of the case. We also have 2x120mm fans right beside the drive bays to cool the drives fast.
There is also a 120mm vent on the back of the case, this creates a perfect airflow to keep all your components, including the drives cool. Just keep this case in a place with air and it should do fine.
Finally, the price for this case is pretty affordable, you can find this case for under $200. That is almost $150 less than the premium case. Spoiler alert, that one is also a SilverStone case as well.
Fractal Design Node 804 is the second most popular casing when it comes to making a NAS box. This Cube case is specifically designed to house a large number of drives.
So Fractal Design cases have come out as a favorite for some tech enthusiasts for two reasons. One, they are very airy, second, they do not require a lot of fans to cool the components down.
The Fractal Design Node series is focused on SFF builds. Node 202 landed on our list of the best mini-ITX cases for that reason. The 804 is a cube case, which is not exactly SFF but is small enough to be portable.
The Node 804 can also be built into a beast of a gaming rig because it is so spacious. It has a dual-chamber layout to keep components isolated and give them a lot of breathing space for maximum cooling.
The Fractal Design Node 804 has a pretty spacious interior and can house a combination of either 8x 3.5″ and 4x 2.5″ drives or up to 10x 3.5″ and 2x 2.5″ drives. The makers have pretty much left it up to you to decide which combination you want to go for.
People have even modded this case to house a whopping 12×3.5″ NAS drives. This case also has 5 expansion slots if you want to throw in some other components in this case.
You can install up to 10x120mm fans for excessive cooling in this case. So you can get plenty of cooling just from fans alone. Keeping in mind that a NAS box does not require excessive cooling in the first place, air cooling will do more than fine for a NAS build.
But you can also mount 4x240mm radiators in the case, 2 in front and 2 on top. The back exhausts have a fan controller as well, so you are pretty much covered when it comes to cooling in this case.
Lastly, you can get this case for just $110 on Amazon, which makes it pretty much a bargain.
This case specifically designed for NAS applications, the case is very small and a true mini-ITX one at that. You can make a perfect NAS box from this case though it will cost you around $360.
So first off, earlier we discussed how SilverStone is pretty famous for their SFF cases. This NAS case is super small, small enough to be a true SFF case.
Let us get through the important stuff first, it has 8×3.5″ and 2×2.5″ drive bays. The 3.5″ bays are hot-swappable from the front after you take out the mesh panel to reveal the front IO and drive bays.
In the front IO, you can find 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports along with headphones and microphone jacks. You can also find an indication LED that shows that the HDD is currently in use.
The mesh is directly over the drive bay to provide cooling to the drives. There are 2x120mm fans preinstalled by SilverStone to vent out air. You also have the option to install 2x120mm fans on the side panel for extra cooling.
You can find two LEDs to provide a status for the drives on each bay. This helps when you are trying to diagnose a problem with your NAS system.
So the case is pretty small, as it can only fit a micro-ATX or mini-ITX board in it. But the smaller size actually helps in the portability factor of this NAS case.
The case is built pretty sturdily, just put it in a corner with enough air to cool it and let it do the work. Of course, all these amazing features come at a hefty price of $360 on Amazon.
But there have been a few issues which if you are a tech enthusiast you can fix. For instance, the front IO cables are kind of short, they might need an extender.
You might need to install the 2x120mm fans on the side to get enough cooling otherwise this will run warm. Also, you need a pretty low-profile air cooler because this case is based on SFF builds.
Otherwise, this is a pretty decent case and might be a bit overpriced, but elegance doesn’t come cheap ever. Or at least most of the time it doesn’t.
Here we have another case from SilverStone, but this case is priced somewhere in between the best overall and best premium category. It is another SFF case with a NAS build, by that we mean it has tons of drive bays for storage.
So the SilverStone GD08B is designed for a home theater or NAS solution. It looks pretty darn slick and elegant also has a sturdy build quality.
First, let us talk about the storage options in this case. You get 2×5.25″, 8×3.2″ and 2×2.5″ drive bays in this compact case, talk about overkill. For a NAS, your storage is going to become super bulky if you fill these drives with some heavy-duty IronWolf drives.
The look is pretty neat, the brushed aluminum front panel gives off elegance. The design is mostly aimed towards airflow for this case because there are 3 intakes in it.
One of the intakes is for the PSU that you will install, so your PSU can breathe decently without trouble. There are two intakes on the other side of the case as well. You can install two fans in this side by side to pull in plenty of air in the case of cooling the drives.
All of the intakes have dust filters that are easy to access for quick clean-up. This way you can prevent a dust build-up and keep the NAS box clean at all times.
There are also two small outtakes on the back of the case right above what looks like the rear IO. So basically you have pretty good airflow in the case.
This case is pretty easy to work with, so far there have been no complaints about the case from people. With the amount of airflow in the case, you could make a small server with this case at home.
Now, the important part, the price of the case. As we said before, this case costs somewhere between the best overall and the best premium. Both of which are also from SilverStone technologies.
The price of this case is around $270 on Amazon, which is pretty reasonable for the configuration. We feel that the airflow, huge amount of drive bays, and elegant look of the case make it worth the price.
We feel that any case can become a NAS if it has enough bays in it to house a large number of drives. Practically though, since NAS is usually not used for any other purpose other than storage, SFF form factor suits it better.
Because then it will not consume a lot of space, and you can put it in the corner of a room and it will not bother anyone that way. But otherwise, you can make a NAS box with pretty much any case that offers around 6-12 drive bays.
But in our opinion, it is best to choose a NAS case instead of a normal case. So a NAS case with low-profile SFF build will go a long way for your storage needs over a typical computer case.
This allows you to expand your storage in the future as well because typically not a lot of normal offer 12 drive bays. That too with hot-swappable drives that you can switch out at any time in case of a problem.
So take advantage of the design of these NAS cases and build yourself one in the configuration you want it.