Howdy. I'm looking to replace both my PSU and my case. I've decided smaller is better, both for space and aesthetic reasons. My ideal case is something cute and cube-like, or at least nice and slim.
Since I plan to do away with ATX-size PSUs if possible, I figure that should slim down the case nicely. With a nice, slim case, a PicoPSU or similar is just perfect. And it'll mean one less fan: my modular Seasonic 430W is a bit overpowering, as even at idle it's the single biggest noise source. The fan controller on the older 380W was much better. On to the case . . .
My Antec Solo is just too big. I have a microATX motherboard now, so the extra size of the Solo is wasted. Plus I keep stubbing toes on the Solo; it sticks out past my desk.
If I have to, I can
find a smaller CPU cooler. However, I do not
want to downgrade the cooling ability of my HSF. Any replacement heatsink must be as effective as my full-tower Ninja. I'd prefer to just replace the case and PSU for simplicity's sake. However, I'm willing to consider replacing all three, if there's a more effective combination out there.
The Problem: case size, cooling, and power
All decent smaller microATX cases I've found make life hard on my existing heatsink, a Scythe Ninja + 120mm Nexus fan. All the cases want to stick a regular ATX PSU right over the CPU, which means I'd have to downgrade my cooling.
Take the Antec NSK1300/1380/Aria: very attractive design, but there's a big ol' PSU right over the CPU. All similar cube cases from Silverstone et al. do the same. Any non-cube
cases (i.e. mini-tower, HTPC, or low-profile) either don't have room for full-size PCI cards, or take SFX/ATX PSUs, which means there's no real size savings over my Solo. The Antec NSK-2480 is one such case (though very attractive with possibly good airflow). Or they don't have enough room for all my drives, to say nothing of a spare 3.5" bay for a fan controller.
And rather than downgrade my all-important CPU cooling, I figured I'd see if I could replace my overpowered PSU with something smaller, like a PicoPSU. This way I have more flexibility in case choices. My problem is that I'm not sure that there's a mini PSU out there that can deliver enough power.
I'll give you some quick'n'dirty power estimates in a minute. Here's what's in my Solo:
* Athlon64 X2 4600+, 65W version. Cooled with Ninja Rev. B, the first model for socket AM2.
* nVidia 7600GT, passive Gigabyte dual-slot version. Draws 36W max
. Not low-profile. Occasionally switched for an ATI X1950 Pro. With the Accelero S1 on there
, that's the single largest component. Draws 66W max
. Also not low-profile.
* Chaintech AV-710 soundcard. Full height, not low-profile.
* ASUS M3N78-VM motherboard. MicroATX. IGP is useless in Linux, hence must use discrete card which adds more heat and watts.
* 2x Samsung HD160JJ SATA HDDs
* 1x Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 SATA HDD. This is the "thin version" that's more like a 2.5" drive than 3.5".
* 1x ASUS DRW-2014L1T SATA DVD/CD
* 1x Nexus 120mm fan, 1 spare available
* 1x Nexus 92mm fan, 1 spare available
* 1x Silverstone FP33B fan controller. Currently in the 3.5" bay, but can also be used with PCI backplate controller.
Assuming 65W for the CPU, 36W for the nVidia card, 10W for the motherboard and sound card (I really have no idea how much they consume; 10W seems conservative), perhaps 10W for the HDDs and optical drive (how much do those eat, anyway?), and a handful of watts for the fans, that adds up to . . . call it 125W
. With the ATI card, that number goes up to 155W
So, I need at least a 160W
power supply. I've managed to find a 200W PicoPSU-like supply
and a 150W PicoPSU
, but only the former really has enough juice for the highest-power rig. And I can't find power bricks that can provide that kind of wattage; most I've found is 120W.
Next problem is finding the right power adapters and whatnot that will let me hook up 4 SATA drives, a single PCIe 6-pin connector (for the ATI card), and the fan controller. The fans all hook up to the controller, so it only needs a single Molex.
The Voice in the wilderness
Help me, SPCR readers. I need suggestions, things I haven't thought of, smarter numbers than my estimates, better ideas from wiser heads than mine. I've found a thread by AuraAllen
and s'more helpful tips
, but I especially need solutions that don't involve soldering.