45Drvies HL15 - My First Impression

45Drvies HL15 - My First Impression

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!