HL15 High Resolution Images - My First Impression

Hey all! I got my HL15 today! I bought the case only with some rails. I took some images of it to share with everyone. Also, I’ll include some of my first impressions.

First off - What a good looking chassis! From the front, this is going to look amazing once I get it racked up. I chose the white because I wanted it to stand out among the other hardware that lives in my rack. The white-on-blue graphics look really cool!

This is an inside shot of exactly how everything on the inside looked - as I had gotten it. There are a few things that I noticed that I’ll talk about in some of the other pictures, but overall it came to me with no chassis damage and everything looks great!

The first thing I noticed was a slightly bent drive divider. It’s not the end of the world. I’ll try to slot a drive in before I attempt to bend it back as I don’t want to make it worse or break it. Somewhat minor issue but I feel it’s worth pointing out.

I also had one screw on the side of the case almost fully walked out on the rear corner. I think a small dab of Loctite would prevent this. You don’t see this on cheap chassis as they are all normally riveted together. I’ll probably take all the screws out and Loctite them myself so fan and drive vibrations don’t walk these out in the future. This is a super minor issue. I would rather have screws over rivets any day.

It would not be a bad idea to send these out in the future with the cables zip-tied together to prevent them from slapping around inside the chassis during shipping. 2 out of the 4 of my cables had the caps fall off during shipping. Most people who ordered this aa a pre-built system will not have this issue.

A view of the “rear” fans on the case. I am unsure why only the left side of both the front a rear sets of fans have this 3D printed shroud. It looks like there could be a set on both sides but there is only the one here. Maybe someone at 45Drives can point out the design behind this?

Pictured here we can see the ends of my SFP cables that I had ordered. You can see that 2 of the caps had fallen off during shipping. The cables appear to be fine but I am confident that a zip tie to bundle all of these cables together could have prevent this. Also you can see the hand labeled A-D SFP cables. I am assuming this is for validation on pre-built servers.

Another 3D printed part pre-screwed to the side of the case. I am actually unsure what this is for since I have the chassis only. Pictured next it is the PCB breakout for what appears to be both the fans and the HDD backplane

Another example of the single 3D printed shroud between only 2 of the fans. You can also see the 3D printed HDD guide inside of the drive cage.

The entire drive cage and drive backplane.

Ahh, there is one of the missing caps. I’ll have to get my “extendo” pliers out to get that guy out of there, haha!

The rear of the chassis. It’s funny, from this angle you can hardly tell it’s even a server. It looks like a mid tower case. Also the rear is where the power button is located.

Super solid PCI bracket cutouts. Think twice before you pop one of these out, as you will not be putting them back in. You will either need to buy blanks to slot in yourself OR just leave them open. I normally see this PCI “punch-out” method on cheap cases. I have owned PC cases that are in the $175-$200 range that offer SOLID aluminum inserts. We are home labbers. We are going to slot things in here and change out hardware all the time.

A full shot of the inside of the chassis.

Screen printed “45” logo is cool.

Another shot of the power breakout board. I am not a huge fan of the proprietary cable that is used to split out the power to the fans. If you want to use a stand-alone fan controller you’ll be leaving all the fan cables in the case or doing some serious modification to remove them as they appear to be attached to the 20-pin connector.

Another shot of the 3D printed bracket that i will not use in my chassis only config. Anyone want to take some pics of what this guy does and post them?

The rear fan bay.

First impression conclusion:

  • The HL15 is built to last. It’s made from super thick metal and is incredibly rigid. This will be a chassis that will be in your home-lab environment for a LONG time!
  • The rear PCI punch outs should be inserts and should be able to be re-used. This is something that I normally only see in cheap PC chassis. As we move hardware around in our home labs we will be left with empty slots. This might come from the mentality of making servers that get deployed in a “set it and forget it” type of way and 45Drives may have over looked how often some home labers might be swapping hardware.
  • The power PCB would be cooler if it used more off-the-self parts vs the 2-pin 100% power custom cables. If you want to use a 3rd party fan controller, you’ll have some fun with modding this guy OR maybe you’ll just leave all the cables in place.
  • The single sided fan shroud appears to be used to hide the fan cables. If you are going to go through the effort and time to print a custom part, why not just include the 2 extra ones to make it look nice.
  • 3D printing is cool but I am not sure if it belongs in an $800USD server chassis. I feel for the price, there could have been more machined parts and less 3D printed parts. In the spirit of the “Home Lab” having that stuff is cool but I feel for the price there could have been less. I get a “prototype” feel from this rather than a chassis from a company producing the servers for companies like Backblaze.
  • At least the exterior pre-installed chassis screws should get a Loctite treatment before it’s shipped.

Overall, I am very excited about this case and words cannot describe how excited I am to start slapping my hardware in here and get my new NAS up and running. This has become the new centerpiece of my home lab and will be amazing. There are just some quality concerns that I have for the price and that is my only negative remark. Anyone still waiting to get their server is going to love it!


That shroud thing on the fans you pointed out is for cable management. Was wondering the same thing when I saw them.


Judging from the CAD drawing, the 3D printed part by the power breakout is to hold up the end of a PSU when it’s in Desktop orientation. That way the power supply has something to rest on and not hang there by the 4 screws only.


I still think adding 2 more to complete the look would have been a nice touch.

Ahhhh, good idea. Is there another part that is attached to the PSU to hold it up?

Wonder if the STLs for this are on Printables or if not, whether @Hutch-45Drives would consider a request to upload them for this part?

I agree it would be nice to add extras for a more consistent look and if the STL is available running them off the printer is easy enough.

Plus, imagine if some of the 3D printed case accessories weren’t black?! If you had a white case you could color coordinate, or they could be purple!


Well the entire model is uploaded and available for download here. It seems like you can select the file and export it as an STL if you wanted. :eyes:

Now I can get my neon green parts!

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I spoke too soon!

Couldn’t agree more! Great shots!


I 100% think that this may have just been an oversight from the 45Drives team. Most of the time they are building servers that are going to get one or two of these punched out for the production servers they are building and they will never get touched again.

For a deployment in a HL, we should get inserts that can be re-used.

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Since that’s not the design today, I think I’m going to be ordering some of these from Amazon —

Black: Amazon.com

White: Amazon.com

Edit after some more thinking —

To be fair to the 45HomeLab team and as I think about this a bit more, I’m populating something like 6/7 of these slots and in three of my HL15 once they’re built they likely won’t be altered particularly regularly (and even less likely to increase or decrease the # of cards populated). I’m shooting for a “Hyperconverged” setup with enough CPU, RAM and 1PiB of storage to last the next 2-3 years. I’m hoping it’ll be pretty stable and I don’t need fillers for these.

In one or two chassis that I still need to order, it’s far more likely to see regular changes to the hardware — so it may well be reasonable to just leave this aspect to third parties like the above links?

Perhaps the meet in the middle point, could we get something like the parts above in the Accessory Store in exactly the same colors as the cases?


I mean, yeah. I am aware that I can run out to ANY online store and buy as many of these as I need. My point is that for an $800 chassis, should I really need to spend an additional ~$10 to get inserts?

I will also be doing the same. Maybe a Rev.2 we might get to see that change!

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lol, only 2-3 years—ok!


I don’t think so, their tower orientation is with PSU on the bottom. From the renderings it just kinda sits there. My full build is hopefully shipping on the 20th so I may have it next week or early the following week and I’ll snap some pics too.

After looking at the CAD file closer, It appears that it is simply just an extended spacer for the PSU. I am just wondering what the cutouts on the top of the spacer is for them?

Maybe someone from 45Drives can shed some light onto this topic soon!

They are cable tie slots for cable management. Here is cross section through one of them.


Well damn, that’s pretty cool. Now I’ll be sure to shove a few zip ties down there when I start my build next week!

I can confirm that this does work with the included zip ties, lol. Pretty good idea!


Just chiming in to say, strong +1 from me here - this is one of those small quality of life things that actually ends up making a pretty significant difference to someone, not just functionally, but on the overall look of the chassis. With hoow stout the chassis is, and with the idea being that this will outlive several MB generations, replaceable slot covers are absolutely needed.

HL15 doesn’t support the E-ATX boards which often have all 7 slots available, and with ATX boards, you basically never know ‘where’ they’re going to end up putting whatever slots they give you, it’s almost a certainty that someone’s eventually going to end up with numerous unused ‘holes’ in the back of their chassis imo.

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The design of the PCI slots are really the only issue I have with the case. Otherwise, this will be the longest lasting equipment in my home-lab.

Fortunately, 45Drives is listening to their community and they do seem to be working on this issue. Keep your eyes peeled in the unknown future for a Rev. 2 according to them.

For $800, the current PCI design is objectively outdated and under delivers. I hope they give some sort of timeline soon. I cannot stress enough, there are $200 consumer level cases that exist that are blowing the 45Drives design out of the water.

I always want to stress, the rest of the case for the most part is pretty good.