Convert Drive Cage to 2.5" Drives

Has anyone considered converting their drive cage to 2.5" drives? I’ve been tinkering with the idea. The reason I want to do this is because I want to fit a 13" video card into the chassis, which eliminates 3.5" drives, at least in it’s current state.

Here is the challenge:

Here is what I have done so far:

Here’s where I am at:

I am thinking that something that could be adapted to work with 2.5" drives should be easy to print (I say easy but I’ve never printed anything before nor do i have a printer).

I was thinking of going down this route with the existing drive cage for additional SSDs


I am also considering moving the backplane more towards the front (if I can get the 2nd row of fans in) otherwise I will keep it as is.

Linking printable parts for reference:
https://www.printables.com/@45Drives_1257568

Has anyone tried anything like this? I don’t want to reinvent the wheel if so.

Also, not to self promote, but I outline it all here

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I haven’t done the modification you are asking about other than printing a couple of the sleds so I could use a couple of 2.5" drives for logs.

My question though is why do you want to put a 3090 in there? Cooling is going to be horrible and not to mention the size. Mine has an A4000 but even a 4070Ti Super will fit with ease. MSI even makes a blower style 4070Ti Super.

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Watching the video intro and reading your post, are you using the HL15? The pci slots don’t match the HL15 motherboard models --the PCI slots closest to the memory is x16 (not x8) and the three remaining are x8 (slot 2, 3, and 5). I noticed you called the unit a storinator.

To answer your main question, no. I would not consider changing/removing the steel cage that is used for the 3.5 drives. When I decided to purchase the unit, two goals for my HL15 unit is 1) to not do a lot of computation items that would require a video card and 2) to have the unit be a true NAS to store data within my homelab. I found the steel cage a positive part of the case build. If I wanted to use 2.5 only, then I would 3d print the caddies.

Is this issue you are attempting to solve a result of using past parts from past builds/projects? As @nichenson asked why, I question why tear down a case to fit this card vs getting a card that would fit the dimensions within the case (no modifications).

Good luck on your project.

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Based on his other videos it’s an AV15 with an X11SPL mobo gifted to him in Aug-Sep 2022

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Have you spoken with 45Drives about their hybrid backplane options? Over the years I think they’ve had at least two designs, originally with the ability to devote half of a row to SSDs, and/or more recently to place 8 SSDs perpendicular to the way the HDDs mount taking up only 3 bays. See;

Looking at the backplane and the spacing i wonder if you could remove some select screws and using longer ones mount the 3d printed cage to the backplane itself to minimize the space you take up and permanent modifications to the case.

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Seems like a strange way to Frankenstein hardware. And I say this as someone who loves to Frankenstein hardware. The HL15 is already shallow for a server chassis, and a jack of all trades is a master of none. I know you have the space to do it right, so this feels like bikeshedding and scraping the barrel for content.

Want an AI machine? Plan on something like a TinyBox, and throw the large 3090 into a bigger machine until then. Make the HL15 the best storage server you can without going all SSD. Even with a TinyBox, spinning disks will give you plenty of bandwidth and IOPS.

If you are in this for the long haul, it’s better to build machines that do one thing well, rather than one monolith that does everything and makes compromises the whole way.

Sell the 3090 and get a 4070 Ti SUPER 16G VENTUS 2X OC. It will perform better and he won’t have to buy a 3D printer, take a bunch of measurements and learn new software. Although, there does need to be a cheaper solution for SSD caddies. Perhaps binder clips?

  • Appreciate all the feedback. Not going with a different card since I already have a 3090 and it has more RAM than the suggested 4090ti. (24 vs 16)

  • Cooling will be the same if not better than it was in my gaming desktop build.

  • Yes I am using a Storinator but it has the same backplane and steel drive cage as the HL15

  • Not using as NAS as mentioned in the video

  • Can’t use the hybrid cage because again, I am using a 13" card and have the same issue I have now

  • Drive cage is a C so it can’t be modified unless making permanent modifications

  • This is not bike shedding nor scraping the barrel for content, I respectfully deny this and surprised you would say that, sorry you thought of it that way. It’s about using what I have and modifying it before buying something new and I figured asking the community their opinion, as I often do in most of my content, was a good way to get some ideas.

Seems like i am off in the weeds and no one has done this. I will head this up on my own! Thanks for all of the feedback!

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I highly doubt anyone is going to spend $799 for one of these to turn around and hack it up. It’s far cheaper and easier to just use one of those Sliger cases. In fact I have two of them myself in my current rack and two I have used in the past. One is a W680 with dual gpus that I made from spare parts to learn some machine learning. I don’t think anyone would want to shoehorn a huge gpu in one of these things. It’s almost like trying to turn a penny loafer into Air Jordan’s.

With that being said… Since that case is going to require some huge modifications and possibly a new drive cage as that assembly does provide some support, why not contact protocase? They already have the specs and probably for a couple $100 they could make you a new bracket in no time.

If you do want some of those drive sleds that HL15 has the files for, I can print you some in any color PETG. I can get about 10 or so per roll.

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Thank you. I appreciate it.

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Hey Tim,

Contrary to some of the earlier sentiment, there are some of us who are up for the challenge of modifying the case.

I’ve been looking to convert the drive cage into two halves (well, first 8 bays, then next 7), Making the last 7 removable to allow for longer pcie cards with the trade off of reduced storage.

Only just starting to draft this up, so not really much help to you at this stage, but fundamentally just I wanted to say, more people need to think outside the box (so to speak). Look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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I am strongly considering the HL15 for my envrionment, though wanting to have all SSD storage in some of my systems is one of a few reasons I have not made the purchase yet, im excited to see what you come up with Tim. My end goal would be to have 3 HL15s as my core systems for things like my firewall, reverse proxy and email gateway etc with a mix of ssds and hdds. 5 of them setup as virtualization nodes with all ssds and a set of 7 for a storage cluster setup with all hdds.