^The only fully metal drive bays I'm familiar with are all for the notebook form factor. Most of them use trays too.
FWIW I wouldn't want to put more than 10 fullsize SATA drives in a single tower enclosure, no matter who makes it. 10 drives cranks out about as much heat as I think standard air cooling (and a fan array that won't blast your ears out) could handle.
OK, if we take that into consideration, that might actually make the decision easier. So most of these big towers have 9 bays, so let's say 9 drives per tower max. that also reduces the cramming of drives into those cages, which should be better for air flow. For more drives, I'll just duplicate towers...18 drives --> 2 towers, 24 drives--> 3 towers.
and I'll just buy single drive bays from the same manufacturer...here's a good video review:
this is a good option because it maximizes modularity too. if i want even numbers for whatever reason, i do 8 drives per tower. and the spare bay i can use for a lcd display for temp or something. I'm liking this option.
Yes, I'd like it to be as quiet as possible for normal house conditions. I was wondering if this is a situation where'd i'd have to leave the ac running 24/7 (i don't necessarily like that). Or can i have a fan on 24/7 and the ac on only when i'm home? Worst case scenario, i was thinking of modifying the ac system so that one room gets 24/7 ac. i have my license for that, so i should be able to figure that out!
So now, it's looking like...8-9 drives per tower. No fancy cooling necessary other than fitting the tower with it's default fans. perhaps a room fan also. the storage tower(s) can be connected to my current desktop, or i can build a new desktop. I kind of have this current one doing everything just the way i like, i don't want to install a server OS on it now and go through all that, so maybe i'll make a new one.