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Getting inside the DS380 requires the removal of the right side panel, which is secured with a pair of screws. The panel itself is reasonably heavy as it has been constructed from 0.8mm thick steel. It's also very durable taking quite a lot of pressure to bend.
Removing the right side panel is the first step in gaining full access to the internal workings of the DS380. To advance you have to remove another four screws – the ones holding the huge hot-swappable drive cage into place.
With the drive cage out of the way, the DS380 becomes a largely empty box that is ready for a motherboard and other components. The DS380 supports DTX and Mini-ITX boards, which was to be expected in such a small enclosure.
You might have noticed that there is a small 2.5" drive cage inside the DS380 that can be used to install SSDs presumably. If you have a Gigabit network, SSD technology is overkill, even when employing Link Aggregation. Unless 10GbE is being used, we don't see a real need for SSDs to be employed. That said, one SSD could be useful for installing the operating system, though software such as FreeNAS generally runs from a USB thumb drive anyway.
The DS380's eight-bay hot-swappable drive cage is what really makes it a NAS case. The drive cage is complete with PCB housing a pair of fan headers, eight SATA ports for standard SATA drives along with single-channel SAS drives. Silverstone has also included a second series of SATA ports for dual-channel SAS drives, an impressive addition indeed. The best part is that all of this is powered via two 4-pin Molex connectors.
Part of the drive cage is joined together using a removable black plastic bridge. Removing this bridge allows for the installation of full size dual-slot graphics cards or large SAS expansion cards. Doing so, however, will eliminate one of the drive bays. The particularly annoying part is that with the plastic bridge installed, we couldn't fit half-height SAS cards or PCIe SSDs like the Plextor M6e.
With the bridge off, we were able to fit both a half-height PCIe card and a hard drive in the bay, though it didn't really slide into place correctly. Users have solved this issue by cutting out a small section of the plastic to allow the PCIe card to fit, while also providing a rail for the hard drive to slot into. Seems like a major oversight on Silverstone's behalf and unfortunately it wasn't the only one.
When we tried to remove the front I/O audio cable, we found that it had been glued on. The wire is big and it didn't have anywhere to connect on our motherboard of choice (we wouldn't have used it anyway), so we picked the glue off.
Between that and the poor planning behind the plastic bridge, Silverstone clearly has room to improve. Still, the DS380 is a unique case that has many impressive design elements despite a few shortcomings.