12 bay homelab NAS – JMCD 12S4 from TaoBao. Upgrading my Truenas Scale server. Optionally rack mountable

High density compact 12 bay nas server for homelab, (optionally rackmountable, but probably best for no-rack setups) – JMCD 12S4 from taobao seems to be a great case for those looking to expand their existing homelab NAS server capacity or setup a new high-capacity NAS server/ disk array for either standalone or rackmountable situations.

Hello there my homelabber friends!

I had somewhat of a hard time finding this case and ordering through Taobao – I decided to write this post with many many images.

I have been on a quest recently to find a replacement to my trusty Lian Li PC-Q25 nas case that I was using for my Truenas Scale server. It worked fine, but I needed to add at least 6 more drives and existing case just won’t support that many with it’s mini-itx form-factor, so I had to go and look for a new one.

My requirenments list was:

  • easily hot-swappable drives with nice caddies
  • more than 10 x 3.5 drives (for typical spinning rust pools – for backups and “other”)
  • support for additional 2.5 drives (for faster ssd pool(s) – postgres, redis, various other databases and nextcloud)
  • support for full height PCI express cards, -for nvme pools, HBA card, and whatever else
  • horizontal drive positioning (maybe it is an urban legend – but allegedly it’s a bad idea to change the drive orientation if they were running in one orientation for some time. Since my old nas was horizontal – I wanted my new nas to be horizontal as well)
  • atx, matx and mini-itx support (as I wasn’t looking to upgrade my mini-itx mobo at this time)
  • relative inexpensive
  • relatively compact (there are many tall and bulky ATX cases with mostly empty space inside – I didnt want those)

I’ve looked around on amazon, walmart, ebay but didn’t find anything I liked that would have more than 10 drives and would also support more 2.5 ssd drives without using up the hot swap bays.

After many days filled with cathartic rants I decided to try the places less traveled: Aliexpress and Taobao. While Aliexpress is actually quite common these days as it’s often covered on various youtube channels and is specifically targeting international market – that one is easy to peruse.

Taobao is another story – as it’s Chinese only and has no english app or site, but has a lot more products (and it still delivers to US if you manage to place the order (!)).

After some digging accompanied by more cathartic rants – I found exactly the 12-bay compact NAS case I really liked on Taobao that was a perfect fit for my homelab, and since I didn’t see any similar Nas cases on North American marketplaces, – I wanted to share this quick post with all of you and tons of suppporting images.

Why and how TaoBao? and when not to

Why Taobao? Probably price is a big factor. This Case with airmail shipping to Connecticut ended up to be $345.30 USD and only took 2 weeks or less to arrive, whereas aliexpress listing for the same product was around 600$+. And I was not able to find similar case on North American marketplaces at all.

It’s just seems to have a better product selection compared to aliexpress or amazon (or other US marketplaces). Also – as it targets primarily China and Asia buyers, as in -> “for internal market” – I believe this leads to overall lower prices. It appears to be – a lot of these merchants are direct from the factory which is kind of cool. This is just my 2 cents purely based on my anecdotal evidence and is not supported by any “serious research”.

How reliable is TaoBao? who knows – I figured I would just do charge-back on my Discover if I don’t receive the package in 1 month (but I got it in just 2 weeks, less actually).

When you shouldn’t order from TaoBao: I would not order from TaoBao if I was afraid to lose the money I spent on the purchase or expected any after purchase support. You likely won’t be able to do the return if any issues with the case happens either (there is just no point shipping back to China, shipping cost is likely going to be more than the item. I’ve tried it once and failed, – but happy to be wrong about that).

How to order on TaoBao? You need to use a translator app to navigate the TaoBao website or app, I was just using automatic google translate in the browser and “screenshot” -> “share with translator app” method on my phone. You need to figure out how to add the shipping address there. It took 200 screenshots but I was able to do it. My US discover card worked just fine.

Better TaoBao translate: I was told that there is a better way of translating the TaoBao on mobile, If you are using Android – “Hi Dictionary” & “Instant Translate” android apps are both free and can translate the whole screen on the spot. This is likely way way faster.

I am unable to offer any support with TaoBao order. The content in this blog post is for general informational purposes only, this is not a professional advice. While it worked out for me – your results may vary. You assume all the associated risks.

Android app I was using (straight from google play store) :

it goes something like this:

1. Packaging, NAS dimensions and view out of the box

Very happy with the packaging – double boxed, heavy duty cardboard with lots of tape. Actual case held by some poly blocks on the inside and wrapped in plastic. No complaints.

NAS Dimensions:

  • width: 432mm (width with siderails = 482mm)
  • depth: 295mm
  • height: 272mm (or 6.11U )
  • package weight: 12kg

^ costco kirkland water bottle for scale

2. JMCD 12S4 12 bay nas – Front view

Added Water bottle for scale. 12 hot swappable bays, two USB 3.0 ports and a power button.

3. JMCD 12S4 12 bay nas – Siderails for the rackmount (siderails are removable)

Siderails to mount in the rack. I’m not gonna use them as I don’t own a rack, so I just took them off, – but it’s good to have this option I guess.

This case is probably best for no-rack setups as it would take 6.11U space in the rack.

4. JMCD 12S4 12 bay nas – Bottom View

Not much going on here. 6 sticky feet come as accessories – you don’t need to attach them if you install in the rack. I put them on as I don’t have a server rack.

5. JMCD 12S4 12 bay nas – Side View

Not much – just the intake holes.

6. JMCD 12S4 12 bay nas – rear view

As you can see – JMCD 12S4 takes ATX power supply and supports 8 full height pci-express cards.

Interestingly – the power supply I used is an SFX -(evga supernova 450GM) – but it fit right in. I’m guessing it just had some ATX adapter preinstalled.

Costco water bottle for scale.

7. Hotswap bays

Drive caddies accept either 3.5 or 2.5 drives. They feel sturdy and airflow seems adequate.

Definitely a nice upgrade from having to take the side of the PC of just to plug in new drives.

Box of kirkland tissues for scale.

8. Backplane for 12 drives

12 drives backplane. Each of the 4 drive backplanes needs SFF-8643 cable to the HBA card. I got the HBA card specifically for this – LSI 9300-8i from ebay – it was less than 20$, but only supports up to 8 drives, so I was only able to connect 2 backplane rows. Which is fine and enough for me for now – I figured I can just upgrade the HBA card when I need more drives. Surely LSI 9500-16i is going be more approachable 3 years down the line.

With storage arrays/ large capacity NAS servers – you don’t use sata cables as that would get super messy, but rather these SAS cables that connect multiple drives at once (4 in my example). In this case – backplane uses SFF-8643 sas connection and my HBA card also uses SFF-8643 sas connection. So I got couple SFF-8643 to SFF-8643 cables. They are like 10$ from ebay, I got 0.8m length and they turned out to be somewhat long, should have just gotten 0.5 meter.

9. Motherboard view

It supports mini-itx, matx and atx. (no EATX afaik).

Yes – it supports mini-itx, I wasn’t sure about that when I was ordering the case, as product listing didn’t mention mini-itx – but it supports it, see the tape measure – case has holes at 6.7 inches and I was able to transfer in my SuperMicro X10SDV-4C-TLN2F mini itx no problems.

Well – one slight problem specific to me – the HBA card is restricting access to the 4 pin fan headers on the motherboard. This is super annoying and I’m still figuring out what I can do – perhaps there is 90 degree adapters? or just get sata to 4 pin adapter, not sure yet. But this mobo is not a huge heat producer so I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Another cool thing about this case- there is a dedicated internal 2.5 drives area. You can of course just put 2.5 drives into hot-swappable bays, but I would rather not waste hot swappable bays for 2.5 drives. Internal mount supports up to 4 x 2.5 inch ssd drives there. You can actually sticky more ssd drives to the sides if you need more.

^ My mini-itx SuperMicro X10SDV-4C-TLN2F leaves tons of space. It’s OK – as long as I can upgrade mobo to atx size later.

10. Accessories.

Box comes with couple bags of screws, sticky feet, zipties, numerical stickies for caddies and white gloves.

Taobao order page had several options:

  • include fans
  • include sas to sata cables

I’ve got both those options (in retrospect I shouldn’t have gotten SAS to sata cables).

I got it with fans included – as I couldn’t be bothered to order 8 fans separately, figure out the airflow direction and put it together. Some say these fans are too noisy, but I don think I care about the noise levels personally, YMMV.

I dont know why the white gloves were included.

11. Fans

You can order this from Taobao with or without fans.

However 8 fans included and assembled from manufacturer were only 20$ extra, so I figured it’s kinda a great deal so I opted in for that.

included fans are JMCD branded and quite generic:

  • JMCD-A12 x 3 fans (120x120x25mm, 4 pin pwm, 1850rpm +-10%, <= 30.56dBa)
  • JMCD-A9 x 5 fans (92x92x25mm, 4 pin pwm, 2500rpm +-10%, <= 30.8dBa)

Airflow: 4 x 92mm fans in the back are exhaust fans. Outside air immediately hits the drives entering via the special holes in the caddies, and then those 4 exhaust fans push it out.

Some people say these fans are too loud, but personally I just don’t care about the noise levels.

You can of course get 8 Noctua fans and assemble yourself, allegedly those have lower noise levels.

12. Finished setup

Raspberry Pi 4 and the tissue box for scale.

I kinda like that drive activity lights are blue, same as the nas secondary colors (blue). it’s good to have consistency.

13. TrueNAS scale upgrade

Realistically there hasn’t been any hardware changes besides me adding the LSI HBA card (and as it turned out PWM fans).

TrueNas detected my pools without issues – I didn’t have to do anything.

One slight issue I encountered was with the fans.

My motherboard ipmi had a warning configured if RPM is below 500. However these fans were running at 400 – so I got these alarms:

Sensor: 'FAN1' had an 'Assertion Event' (Lower Critical - going low ; Sensor Reading = 400.00 RPM ; Threshold = 500.00 RPM)

I just had to adjust the threshold alarms using ipmi tool:

ipmitool sensor thresh "FAN1" lower 200 300 370

Wrapping Thoughts

This is a great inexpensive heavy duty NAS case for homelabbers with 12 hot-swappable 3.5 bays and 4 more internal 2.5 bays (you can probably fit more even 2.5 drives by sticking them to the sides).

JMCD 12S4 Form factor is rather unique, I was not able to find similar cases. Perhaps the most comparable option on the market is the Asustor Lockerstor 10 Pro, but still not exactly. This is likely going to be the largest standalone NAS I will own before moving to the rack servers.

IMO this case is best for those without a rack, that perhaps plan on moving to a rack some time down the line. While JMCD 12S4 is optionally rackmountable, – it will take 6.11U height in the rack which is a tad much. So if you are buying a new NAS case purely for the rack -> there are likely better options available. It’s probably best for those that don’t have the rack, but still want large number of drives. This fits nicely in my little cubbie as pictured above.

I am unable to offer any support with TaoBao order. The content in this blog post is for general informational purposes only, this is not a professional advice. While it worked out for me – your results may vary. You assume all the associated risks.

Great NAS case for the money. Thanks for reading.

10 thoughts on “12 bay homelab NAS – JMCD 12S4 from TaoBao. Upgrading my Truenas Scale server. Optionally rack mountable”

  1. Hello, thank you very much for this review. You said you’ve gotten it from TaoBao, did you get it directly it via an agent (pandabuy or wegobuy)? Also, could you give me the exact dimensions of the packaging you received it in? I’d like to calculate the estimated shipping cost to get it shipped to Slovenia, Europe. Because if it is less than 60x50x40 cm, then it seems promising on first look.

    Thank you very much.

    Reply
  2. I went ahead and ordered one thanks to your review. Total cost was $331.56 to Texas with just the add-on fans. Hopefully my experience is good like yours.

    Reply

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