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 Post subject: Custom mATX/ATX case, 22-30L, horizonal/vertical orientation
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:32 am 
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I have been reading SPCR for over 10 years, but I have never posted in the forum. The reason for my post is my disgust in the current state of affairs in therms of innovation in the cooling of PC chases. It seems that after the P180 nothing much has happened. We have a number of newer cases that build upon the idea, including the humongous Fortress FT02, but we all are mostly stuck in the mud by the limitations set by the form factors of the motherboard and PCIe cards. It was delightful to see the new Mac Pro. This of course is a Mac, however, bringing its own problems, such as lack of modularity and openness to hardware vendors.

My goal is simple:
- small size mATX or ATX
- excellent air cooling to both CPU and GPU
- housing for one large GPU up 300mm long
- housing for one SSD drive
- housing for one HDD drive 3.5
- utilizing 120mm or 140mm fans (there is no reason for smaller, and larger fans have limited availability)

Recently I have been searching for cases that satisfy my criteria, but IMHO they all pose too many compromises to make them viable solutions. They are either too large, having 150 HDD bays plus 350 optical drive bays, or small enough but arranging the parts inside as far away from the optimum cooling as possible.

Below is a mockup I did using an image of Fractal Design Define Mini posted by sneaker here, viewtopic.php?f=15&t=61080&start=30.

I have never build a custom case before, but I remember long time ago reading a few posts of people building custom cases made of wood/plywood, so I assume this might be the simplest way using parts from an old Antec Sonata 2. I'm open to any suggestions and opinions.

I calculated the bare minimum internal dimensions set by the size of the components, 244 x 244mm mATX, 86 x 150 x 180mm PSU, and standard 25 x 120/140mm fans. I then added some room between the components, and after a rough calculation it seems reasonable to have about 22L overall volume (30L using 1/2 plywood), plus allowing about 1" of floor clearance for the intake fans.

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22Lcase.jpg


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Last edited by ikonomov on Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Custom simple 22L mATX case, opinions on materials
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:22 pm 
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There's not enough room for a 120mm rear fan in your mockup with the dimensions given. From the bottom of a PCIe card bracket to the top of the motherboard I/O shield is 55mm, so the absolute minimum internal width necessary is 175mm if you want room for a rear 120. What about cable management? That leaves minimal clearance behind the motherboard, so if you want it back there add another 15-25mm.


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 Post subject: Re: Custom simple 22L mATX case, opinions on materials
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:41 pm 
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Location: UK
As your requirements are for a single GPU and few drives, why use MicroATX? miniITX would save a lot of space and is easier to do a custom case due to only 4 mounting holes.

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 Post subject: Re: Custom simple 22L mATX case, opinions on materials
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:04 pm 
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I have considered it, I just chose mATX only because the 244mm is just enough to allow the two 120mm fans at the top of the case for exhaust. ITX is 170mm, which would mean that in order to make the case any smaller those fans at the top would have to be 92mm. This would make the depth about 270mm (92mm+92mm+86mm) This limits the choice for the video card quite a bit, I would like about 300mm, so in that dimension I wouldn't be saving much space anyways. The bottom 140mm might just fit, but probably 120mm will be a better choice to leave a little space at the bottom front for the two drives. I kind of want to stick with ATX PSUs only because the smaller ones are a bit of an oddity and SFX are the only ones I know of powerful enough to support high-end video card. Having ATX PSU makes the case at least 150mm wide. Actually on my drawing I showed 150mm of width, but I think I would need at least about 180mm to allow the 120mm exhaust fan on the back, right next to the backplate. I guess that fan would have to also be 92mm if I want a width of 150mm. I think the mounting holes would not be too hard to install, I'm more concerned about the back side, which has to support the VGA card plus the motherboard's backplate. I'm thinking about cutting that part out from the old Sonata 2 case and modifying it to the smaller case's dimensions. My whole idea seems like more trouble then it is worth. I am kinda hoping that maybe somebody will eventually tune in here, and suggest a case that is build similar to my drawing. I just don't understand why most gaming cases nowadays have unneeded wasted space.


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 Post subject: Re: Custom simple 22L mATX case, opinions on materials
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:17 pm 
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I guess I'm not the only one wishing the same thing, viewtopic.php?f=15&t=62682 . Hopefully somebody from the likes of Antec, Silverstone or Fractal Design is listening.


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 Post subject: Re: Custom simple 22L mATX case, opinions on materials
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:18 pm 
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ikonomov wrote:
somebody from the likes of Antec, Silverstone or Fractal Design is listening.


Well if any of you run that many fans, in that tight of a case, they'll hear it all right.









:wink: sorry couldn't resit a bit 'o SPCR humor.

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 Post subject: Re: Custom mATX/ATX case, 22-30L, horizonal/vertical orienta
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 12:34 pm 
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:lol: Your humor is perfectly in place. I also see too many fans in my proposed case, and as slow as they might run there will be some noise. I am including below another mockup using an image I found of the Fortress ft02 from http://www.overclockers.ru/lab/36380_6/Krepost._Obzor_korpusa_SilverStone_Fortress_FT02.html . It looks to me more practical and I think it has the benefit of using 140mm fans on the bottom, which we have quite a few to choose from. It is a little bigger than the last case, but it also supports full ATX motherboards. I think it would be nicer with a top grill cover, just like the ft02, which would be a little more difficult to make. I think the top part of the case would also be somewhat problematic, since it has to support the PSU plus the expansion cards. I found some angle steel bars "1/2" x 1/2" 1/8" thick) plus some acrylic sheets in Home Depot, so maybe making a steel frame and enclosing it in acrylic would be the way to go. Using these bars would make the case strong enough to use as a chair, so the acrylic doesn't have to be too thick since it will not be used for support. There is no optical drive on the case, but who needs one anyways. A slim USB would serve quite nicely, doubling up for a laptop as well. Maybe it could even look quite good, so for once we can have an elegantly small and quiet case equipped for games/workstation. What do you guys think? If only SilverStone could make this case for us, instead of their failed mini iterations of the ft02....

Attachment:
smallFT02.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: Custom simple 22L mATX case, opinions on materials
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 12:51 pm 
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NCASEdesign wrote:
There's not enough room for a 120mm rear fan in your mockup with the dimensions given. From the bottom of a PCIe card bracket to the top of the motherboard I/O shield is 55mm, so the absolute minimum internal width necessary is 175mm if you want room for a rear 120. What about cable management? That leaves minimal clearance behind the motherboard, so if you want it back there add another 15-25mm.


I totally missed your post, and you are absolutely right, I realized this later and modified my dimensions in my second proposal.


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 Post subject: Re: Custom mATX/ATX case, 22-30L, horizonal/vertical orienta
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 1:07 pm 
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Looking at VGA card dimensions (about 130mm high), I might have to make the internal width of the case larger, just like NCASEdesign suggested, maybe 185mm. I don't really see the need for cable management behind the motherboard, in this scenario there is going to be about 40mm room left behind the bottom fans, leaving plenty of room to run all the cables on the bottom there. This would also allow 120mm top fan as well as a larger CPU cooler with a 120mm fan. This makes the case about 29L internal, 35L external in volume.


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 Post subject: Re: Custom mATX/ATX case, 22-30L, horizonal/vertical orienta
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 3:12 pm 
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ikonomov wrote:
If only SilverStone could make this case for us, instead of their failed mini iterations of the ft02....
They already are - check out the FT05 and RV05. The major difference from your drawing is in the width, where Silverstone kept it more typical for ATX cases to allow for full-size heatsinks and behind-the-motherboard cable management.


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 Post subject: Re: Custom mATX/ATX case, 22-30L, horizonal/vertical orienta
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:01 pm 
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much better! love the idea, its just not for me though cause its not itx.
how much space will you leave for cable management behind the mobo tray?

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 Post subject: Re: Custom mATX/ATX case, 22-30L, horizonal/vertical orienta
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 11:48 am 
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xan_user wrote:
how much space will you leave for cable management behind the mobo tray?


I was thinking to mount the motherboard directly to the back cover, so cables will have to be neatly tied up front, the way we used to do it in the good old days.

NCASEdesign wrote:
They already are - check out the FT05 and RV05. The major difference from your drawing is in the width, where Silverstone kept it more typical for ATX cases to allow for full-size heatsinks and behind-the-motherboard cable management.


Thank you NCASEdesign for the info. I'm looking at an image of the FT05 with a wide smile on my face. That is pretty much exactly what I have been wishing for years, ever since I moved my storage to a NAS. Now if we can only get a few nice FDB/UFB/SSO-B in 180mm versions... But it might just happen, it looks like SilverStone are sticking with 180mm, so hopefully some of our favorite fan manufacturers realize that there is a market for them already.


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