I would like to see someone make one of these cases out of copper instead of Al. I assume it would add somewhat to the costs but it would like very cool and should have better thermal properties.
Copper eavestroughs are popular on some high end homes in Toronto so if people are willing to use copper for this purpose then why not for a very small PC case?
There is a gain in thermal conductivity with copper, but aluminum would work fine, I don't think the raw material is a critical bottleneck with these heatsink cases. Maybe the clamp portions could be copper, but the fins really don;t need to be. It's in the precision of the joins (or breaks) in the thermal path, the quality of the heatpipes, and overall execution. Simply put, there are too many losses in the heat path, and if these losses were minimized, we'd see better thermal performance. Achieving this would require higher precision in design & manufacture, probably larger, heavier parts. Check out the cooling parts used in the Zalman TNN cases (check through our old case reviews); those were very serious, and they cost a bundle. Ditto A-Tech Fabrication's products -- very heavy duty, much more precise, and many times more expensive.
1) The clamps that secure the heatpipe ends to the heatsink and to the CPU both have to have some degree of loose play. This is unavoidable in a system designed for use with various different types of components, and unlike in a conventional heatsink, the pipes cannot be soldered. But there's no question it could be better than in the Streacom.
2) The amount of pressure brought to bear on these critical joins could definitely be higher. This would take better machining, heftier parts.
3) The heatpipes are too tightly bent. Engineering specs detail things like the minimum radius of any bends in a heatpipes to keep thermal loss to a minimum, and also correct machine bending to ensure that the pipe retains its shape through the bend. I don't have full details on these particular heatpipes, but they definitely look too tightly bent, and they are probably bent by hand, with some deformation of the pipes.
Add those things up and you might see 5 deg C or more losses altogether. The Streacom is built to a price, and it shows. But it's good enough for the vast majority of systems for the way they will be used. No one will put a 95W CPU in there and run Prime95 in it. Or run P95 in any system except geeks who just have to know and reviewers. For real world use, it's good enough... and that is the point of these cases.
Have a look at the details of the atech fabrication 2800HP case
and then look at the pricing
. You'll see that the heatsink has lots of copper, and is obvious high precision, beautifully machined with hefty parts capable of high tension -- but it alone (without case or anything else) is priced as much as the entire Streacom. In fact go through the exercise of ordering a case. With minimal options (2 HDDs, CPU heatsinks, no chipset heatsink), my order got up to $859.
HeatSync 2800HP Mini-Client Case
Faceplate Style: Slim-line Slot-load
Color: Silver faceplate
Logo: No Logo Graphics
Rack Mount: No rack mounting
IR Mounting: No IR receiver mounting
USB Port: With dual USB 3.0 Ports ($45.00)
Case Feet: With Rubber Feet
IR Remote Control: No IR Remote Control
HeatSync CPU: With HeatSync Cooling System for Intel DH77DF ($150.00)
Chipset HeatSync: No Chipset HeatSync
HDD mounting: Mounting for (2) 2.5" HDD ($15.00)