A picture is worth a thousand words. Why don't you show us where the computer will be going instead of telling us it's complicated?
That's exactly what I'm working on. A picture actually doesn't help as much as you'd think, as there are a number of scenarios. I'm working up some hard measurements --partially for myself-- so I can work out just will and won't fit.
The brief overview is as thus:
[ ][ ================= Desk ================= ] [ printer ][ ]
[ Stairs ][ ] [ ] [ ][ ][ Cabinet ] [ Wall ]
[ ][ Leg ] [ chair ] [ PC-9F ][ Leg ][ P182 ][ Cabinet ] [ ]
[ ][ ] [ ] [ ][ ][ ][ Cabinet ] [ ]
The P182 is leaving. The new system either needs to fit into the space of the P182 (205mm... no clearance or airflow on right side), or it needs to fit in the space behind a desk leg. Alternatively, I can shift the desk right into the space of the P182, and get a little more space by putting the new case between the stairs and the desk. However, in that configuration, the depth cannot be more than about 430mm.
If I cannot find a case I like that fits the space, I'll move the case to a completely different location. However, that is a last resort, not a clever solution.
The handles stick up. Just secure a platform to the top. Since your requirements are a massive GPU, and a full sized power supply, it's going to have some weight to it. Unless it's going on plush shag carpeting, the cat gets what it wants, and the computer is fine.
Except... it looks kind of crappy next to my furniture. Also, you picked the one case where the shelf isn't needed. The cats wouldn't lay on the top with the handles there. No need for a shelf. With other cases, there would be less structure to bolt the shelf onto, and the various rigs that could be used might not be all that attractive. I've done those sorts of mods... in my college dorm room. I want something more attractive now. It sounds a bit pretentious, perhaps, but computer cases are often about superficial appearances and I'm no different. I just want something that looks clean and understated, rather than fluorescent tubes shining through a side window.
What did the P180 have to do with it?
Nothing. It's being replaced. There are no issues with it. The cats like to lay on top, and I find it cute because it only raises the case temperature by a couple degrees and I frankly don't care that my Linux server's temp goes up from 37C to 41C.
As I said, the limiting factor is what you're willing to modify.
I don't really have any issues with modifications. However, the case is sitting in the middle of my living room, with a collection of modern-ish furniture. The mods have to look good, or its not worth it to me.
The one thing I don't really see you touching on is why positive pressure is such a requirement.
It's not. Not at all. I enjoy positive pressure because its more convenient in a house with two cats. But its not a requirement. Negative pressure would be a detriment, but if its the only detriment, then I could deal with it.
A few cases have been mentioned already, like the PS07, TJ08, Rosewill W1. The Silverstone TJ08 and PS07 have top van vents, but come with magnetic filters. I've built a number of computers in these cases, and have never had a problem. They work incredibly well. You can always flip the PSU over so the fan faces down (heat rises anyway still, right?) and you don't have to worry about the cat causing problems. With the Rosewill W1, you can block off the top vents, and the side vents, and let air pressure work it's magic. It does have a gap between the front panel and the frame of the case, meaning that it will have plenty of airflow. Since it comes with a front fan, the air has to come from somewhere anyway. The W1 also gives you the most room for a larger cooler on the CPU, and slower CPU fan. It gives you a pretty unrestricted rear grill, which means less turbulence noise. With positive pressure (unless you're flipping this all around for BTX), your noise sources are right up front.
So, my next question for you is why not just block off the top and side vents?
What is the purpose of putting a noise source (fan) directly in the front of the case for positive pressure, when you can put the noise source as far away as possible for negative pressure? What makes positive pressure easier to clean? What's difficult about the 5 minutes unplugging wires, going outside with an air compressor and getting all of the dust out properly?
What cases are you interested in, and what are your reserves about modifying them to fully suit your needs?
Let's go through some options:
- Corsair 250D: Standard mATX width, but lower height. Flat front. Easy maintenance. Troublesome CPU cooling. Troublesome PSU configuration.
- Rosewill/Jonesbo W1: Good styling, support tower CPU coolers. Good PSU support. Fairly easy to control air flow. Large(ish)
- Node 304: Rather small, but with good CPU cooler support. PSU placement is an issue. Pretty densely packed case.
- BitFenix Prodigy: Good ventilation, but large and some work needed to reduce noise. Good CPU cooler support, but some PSU restrictions.
- TJ08: Good airflow. Good cooling options. Proven design. Large, but no larger than the W1.
- PS07: Similar to the TJ08... but looks worse.
I've been on the earth for a couple dozen years, but why be so reserved about someone else's experience?
I'm here to get other people's input. The reason I come here first rather than Anandtech or a couple other places, because I trust the people here more. I don't always agree with everyone here. I don't always have the same priorities as everyone here. But in between those times when I disagreed or had other ideas, I've learned quite a bit. I know it can be frustrating trying to give advice to someone who already has a decent amount of their own ideas and information. Rest assured, some of it does get through.