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John Weland | May 4, 2022

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The Jonsbo N1: The start of a new home lab

I have been looking for a case that will fit in my network enclosure and hold a handful of drives for a while. The idea: to build a home server that was a bit more powerful than a handful of Raspberry Pi. So I began the hunt. I saw Linus Tech Tips‘ build review of the Jonsbo N1 and was immediately sold on the idea. It was small, held a handful of drives, and looked reasonably well-built.

Let’s Unbox and take a look

The Jonsbo N1, as far as I can tell, is only available on AliExpress. For the price of $120 USD, I was jazzed to put in my order. Shipping the Jonsbo N1, however, was another ~$140 or there-about. Honestly, the shipping is brutal. If they could find a US supplier I could see this case being a ‘go-to’ for many.

The Jonsbo N1 comes really well packed with nice firm and forgiving packaging foam. It is exceptionally well-secured and exceptionally well built. Again, though – shipping is a bear and took nearly a month to arrive.

The Jonsbo N1 is rugged!

The shell is built out of 3mm thick aluminum with a 1mm steel frame, making for superb quality. You could probably stand on it (but please don’t). The brushed-aluminum outer shell comes in what was supposed to be grey, but looks more of a frost blue. Color expectations aside, it looks really good. It uses a ‘slide’ style build, much like the the Louqe Raw S1, which if stood upright has an obelisk aesthetic.

Jonsbo N1: A Server Build

The calling for this case is a home NAS; it supports an ITX motherboard and five 3.5″ drives as well as one 2.5″ ssd.

MotherboardMSI B550i Gaming Edge
CPURyzen 5 5600g
Ram32GB Team Group (2666Mhz)
HDD5x 4TB Ironwolf (5900rpm)
SSD120GB Random Kingston Cheapo
SSD16GB Intel Optane Memory Accelerator
PSU Corsair 450w SFX
GPUTBD

Building in the Jonsbo N1 was a breeze. The biggest callout is cable management. With this many drives, there are a lot of cables to keep track of, and you will want right-angle SATA cables. The warranty doesn’t cover the backplate, so take extra care when wiring up the hard drives. It’s also worth noting that the hard drives don’t use a typical drive caddy, but rather a rubber grommet and rubber handle mechanism to mount them into the case. The 140mm fan is girthy, and built for static pressure, so it can force plenty of air past the drives to cool all the internal components.

This is an incredibly tight build area and, as mentioned, cable management is key. For example – I did not secure my CPU 8-pin power connector well enough. It shifted after I got the case all together, so I couldn’t open the case back up. The cable would bind as soon as the case was pulled even slightly open. I was able to get a small set of tweezers in to push the cable down, but I was moments from cutting the cable and ordering a new one. I 3-D printed a clip to hold my M.2 to SATA board in place, but that isn’t a fault of the Jonsbo N1.

Final Thoughts

If you REALLY want this case, then it is well worth the ~$260 you pay between the case and shipping. If they had a US supplier, and we could buy it domestically for around the $120 price it’s listed for on AliExpress, I would tell you to buy it immediately. It has a very small build area and cable management is paramount. If you can handle that, then this is a breeze and has put me on my path for my dream home server. I am currently running TrueNas Scale, so keep an eye out for more on that.

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