An awful lot of feedback from our Winter 2019 Server Build Guide wanted to see a Hot Rod version updated with aRyzen, AMD’s big comeback CPU line. Since then, ASRock has released a Ryzen motherboard that explicitly and officially supports ECC (Error-code correcting) RAM—the X470D4U . And on top of that, Ars readerdermottsuggested I take a look at a Rosewill RSV-L4412 4u rackmount chassis.
At worst, that combination seemed tempting enough to convince me to finally update my own crusty old Pentium G-based disaster recovery server. But it turns out the results are good enough to share.
The Rosewill RSV-L4412 looked great on paper. It’s a big, sturdy 4u rackmount chassis—solid without being heavy enough to require "team lift" stickers on its shipping box. It has 12 built-in hot-swap bays for SATA or SAS drives, five pre-installed system fans (three 120mm intakes immediately behind the drive bays, and two 80mm exhausts by the power supply), and a locking cage door on the front. Unfortunately, the only way to truly know if a case is any good is to buy one and use it. So, that’s what I did.
I expected I’d need to replace the pre-installed fans, since this thing shares office space with me. I ended up not bothering—the fans could maybe be a little quieter, but the ambient noise is a very livable quiet whoosh. There is no vibration or bearing howl to be found. I’ve since recorded several podcasts in the same room only a few feet away with no complaints from either my co-host or our audio engineer.
I also like the construction of the 12 hot-swap drive bays themselves. In sharp contrast to the pricier, heavier Supermicro chassis, there’s no unified backplane for the bays. Instead, three four-bay modules are socketed into the base-model chassis’ nine 5.25-inch open bays. If you end up with a bad port on a chassis with a unified backplane, you typically end up having to RMA the entire chassis. (It’s a nightmare.)
With the RSV-L4412, you have the option, instead, of simply removing and replacing one four-bay module. Depending on how heavily populated you’ve got the system, you might even be able to do that while the server’s live in a pinch. The drive trays were another nice surprise—although they’re ABS plastic (not metal like the Supermicro trays), they seem pretty sturdy. And the real killer feature here is that the same tray natively mounts either 3.5-inch drives or 2.5-inch SSDs; no adapters or dongles necessary.
The RSV-L4412 is a full-sized 4u case, so it has plenty of room for whatever full-height PCIe cards you might want to cram in, up to and including enormous full-length graphics cards. My little micro-ATX AsRock motherboard looks a little lost in there, frankly. But for anybody who isn’t trying to maximally populate a datacenter, that’s a feature, not a bug—more space means less cursing and fumbling when you’re working on it and more predictable and even airflow patterns while it runs. This is a very forgiving case to work inside, and the structural support bar in the center also makes a great place to tie off cables.
The one slightly weird thing about this chassis involves the screws for the top panel. The RSV-L4412 uses two tiny little flush-fit screws on each side of the top panel and none at all on the back. If you’re obsessive about making sure All The Screws go in All The Places, this may drive you nuts. On the other hand, this design allows for a very forgiving removal and replacement of the top panel itself, which can either be slid on and off the back or simply lifted off directly after only half an inch slide to the rear in order to clear the front lip. Even with no screws in, it feels quite secure. There’s no tendency to rattle or slip, so eventually I just decided the heck with the screws.