I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

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Listener
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I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by Listener » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:25 pm

I'm thinking about my next personal PC and I have not found case case that looks just right.

Tower rather than desktop or HTPC form factor.
uATX or mini-ITX motherboard
emphasis on quiet rather than cooling
I'll use a Sandy Bridge i3 2100 or i5 2400 CPU and integrated graphics
I'll start with
room for 1 DVD full height (drawer) DVD drive
room for a 2.5" SSD
room for 2 3.5" hard drives (5400 Western Digital green drives. 3 TB to start.)
bottom mount for an ATX power supply with intake from outside and exhaust to the outside.
I'll probably use a Seasonic SS-560KM for the modular cables, low ripple and fanless operation at low power. Way more power and weight than I need but I'm not aware of any first rate low power power supplies.
One well placed large diameter case fan should be adequate.

I'd like to keep the case light (and small.)
I use an Antex Solo case on a dedicated MusicPC and find it heavy to lift.
I use a Seasonic S380 power supply in that PC. It is quiet but not quite silent in my application.

The LIAN LI PC-A04B and LIAN LI PC-A05NB cases look possible but the thin aluminum panels might be a problem.
The Fractal Design Mini looks like a well thought out case but it is bigger than I need and heavier.

I took an image of the Fractal design Mini and modified it to reflect one way to get what I want.

Image

I'd appreciate any leads for a small uATX tower case that would fit my needs. Thanks.

ntavlas
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by ntavlas » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:43 am

The PC-A04B (better than the PC-A5 imo) and the define mini are rather similar in design. The Lian Li is probably a little lighter but once you add in the weight of the psu and disk drives you`re not looking for a particularly light system no matter which of the two you choose.

If you`re willing to use a mini itx board the smaller PC-Q8 and PC-Q11 become viable options (I prefer the layout of the Q8 though the Q11 is smaller and more elegant). Now, neither of the Lian Lis is very good at dealing with disk drive vibrations (the Fractal isn`t perfect either but it`s probably better than the Lian Lis) so I would try to mount the drives on a layer of foam and rid me of vibrational noise once and for all. There seems to be enough space at the bottom of the cases mentioned to do this so this would be my recommendation.

I also think it`s worth looking into the pico psu. The trick is to couple it with a high quality power adapter so you can keep noise and ripple in check. Fsp apparently makes some good 12v power bricks, you might want to look at the pico psu roundup at johnguru.com for more details. Anyway, with this option you do have some significant advantages: a lot less weight and superior power efficiency at low loads. The small size will also improve air circulation in small mini itx cases.

As for mounting the ssd, even if there`s no provision for it, you could mount it pretty much everywhere using sticky tape, if it comes to that.

TLDR: If I were to build such a system, I`d use the Lian Li PC-Q11 along with a pico psu and if vibrational noise became an issue, I would place the two drives on a layer of foam at the bottom of the case.

ces
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by ces » Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:08 am

ntavlas wrote:TLDR: If I were to build such a system, I`d use the Lian Li PC-Q11 along with a pico psu and if vibrational noise became an issue, I would place the two drives on a layer of foam at the bottom of the case.
Very good.

I would do one more thing. I would cut out a 140mm hole in the front and cover it with a Modright Filterright fan filter.

There is room to place a 2.5" SSD over the Optical disk bay.

If you want to go for a quad Sandy Bridge, consider using the FSP Group FSP300-60GHS-R 300W Micro ATX12V / SFX12V 80 PLUS Certified Power Supply.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817104075

It is a small PSU that comes with a plate that allows it to mount as an ATX PSU. It will leave some extra room for a CPU heatsink. And it will give you an extra margin of PSU power if you ever push the CPU with benchmarks or other high CPU utilization tasks.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
"Aristotle calls man the rational animal. All my life I have been seeking evidence to confirm this" Bertrand Russell
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Listener
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by Listener » Sun Jul 10, 2011 11:11 am

ntavlas wrote: I also think it`s worth looking into the pico psu. ...
Fsp apparently makes some good 12v power bricks, you might want to look at the pico psu roundup at johnguru.com for more details. Anyway, with this option you do have some significant advantages: a lot less weight and superior power efficiency at low loads. The small size will also improve air circulation in small mini itx cases.

TLDR: If I were to build such a system, I`d use the Lian Li PC-Q11 along with a pico psu and if vibrational noise became an issue, I would place the two drives on a layer of foam at the bottom of the case.
Thanks, ntavlas for the good suggestions. I was aware of the johyguru.com review. I have been exploring in two directions:

- A minimal configuration with room for 1 SSD, 1 3.5" HD and no DVD drive. The HDFLEX heat sink cases look interesting. I don't really want a horizontal desktop case but 13" by 13" might be acceptable. However, I need to leave the door open for a PCIe or preferably a PCI card for audio. Most sandy Bridge mini-ITX boards have only a 16X PCIe slot. I might be able to use motherboard audio but I might not. I'd have to drag out an old USB DVD drive when I needed to read or write an optical drive. There would be some inconvenience but a very quiet, very low power PC is an attraction.

- A utility configuration adaptable for anything I might want to put in it. A uATX board with at least one PCI slot and at least one PCIe slot would be a prudent choice. A power supply with enough (modular) cables would be a safe choice.

The PC-Q11case looks interesting but I would not want to put an ATX power supply in it. Too cramped for my taste. An adapter and a PicoPS would alleviate the problems but I'd prefer to put the adapter inside the case. Putting it where the ATX supply would have been gets me back to a cramped layout. This case looks like a middle ground between the two possibilities I listed.
ces wrote: If you want to go for a quad Sandy Bridge, consider using the FSP Group FSP300-60GHS-R 300W Micro ATX12V / SFX12V 80 PLUS Certified Power Supply.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817104075
I looked at the specs for that power supply and read the reviews on newegg.com. There are some things that seem wrong for my use: only 2 SATA connections, no P4 connector, and an 80 mm fan.

Thanks to both of you for adding to my knowledge and moving my thinking along.

Bill

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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by fwki » Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:46 pm

There are some things that seem wrong for my use: only 2 SATA connections, no P4 connector, and an 80 mm fan
The molex peripheral connectors can be converted to SATA with a short cable converter that seems to be included with eveything I buy, the EPS 12V is the P4 connector and the 80mm fan is...well, an 80MM fan....but for $40 and 80plus certified, not too bad.

ces
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by ces » Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:59 pm

Listener wrote:There are some things that seem wrong for my use: only 2 SATA connections, no P4 connector, and an 80 mm fan.
You can do anything you want with addon cables from PerformancePCs.com

FSP has a good reputation for power supplies. The fan adjusts it speed according to the load. The PSU is of sufficiently low cost it is worth experimenting with before spending money on a PicoPSU.

There is not a lot of room for a cpu heatsink in those small Lian Li cases if you use a standard ATX PSU.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
"Aristotle calls man the rational animal. All my life I have been seeking evidence to confirm this" Bertrand Russell
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former" Albert Einstein

Listener
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by Listener » Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:55 pm

ces wrote:You can do anything you want with addon cables from PerformancePCs.com

FSP has a good reputation for power supplies. The fan adjusts it speed according to the load. The PSU is of sufficiently low cost it is worth experimenting with before spending money on a PicoPSU.

There is not a lot of room for a cpu heatsink in those small Lian Li cases if you use a standard ATX PSU.
PerformancePCs.com seems to be gone.
ces wrote: FSP has a good reputation for power supplies. The fan adjusts it speed according to the load. The PSU is of sufficiently low cost it is worth experimenting with before spending money on a PicoPSU.
Thanks for the details on the FSP power supply. I'm using an Antec EarthWatts 380 watt power supply in my current personal PC. I intended to spend a bit more to get closer to silence. I'm really tired of dealing with bundles of cables too. I'd consider that case with PicoPS and an external power adapter but not with an ATX or slightly smaller power supply.

By thew way, a 250 watt power supply that had the virtues of the Seasonic SS-560KM AND higher efficiency (85-90+ percent) at 15-30 watts demand would be very attractive even at the same price ($ 130). If it was smaller and lighter, so much the better.
ces wrote:There is not a lot of room for a cpu heatsink in those small Lian Li cases if you use a standard ATX PSU.
If I couldn't use a larger than stock heatsink, that would be a sufficient reason for avoiding that case. In addition, I'm tired of working in cramped spaces.

Bill

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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by Abula » Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:06 pm

Listener wrote:PerformancePCs.com seems to be gone.
Wrong typing, http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php
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Listener
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by Listener » Mon Jul 11, 2011 5:02 pm

Abula wrote:
Listener wrote:PerformancePCs.com seems to be gone.
Wrong typing, http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php
A useful site. Thanks.

Bill

boost
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by boost » Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:13 am

Are you game for a little modding?
I prefer to have the PSU inside the case, too. So I modded a Q11 with a small 1U PSU (not quite done yet).
The FSP 150-50TNF is quite small.
I would put the PSU in place of one of the hard drives and either cut a hole in the back for a power connector (and cable) or use the back of and old PSU and put it where the PSU would normally go.
This should leave room for all the components you need, while not adding any noise.
Lian Li V600, Asus P77Z-M Pro, i5-3570K 4.4GHz with Scythe Orochi, 140mm Slipstream 500RPM and Mugen2 115X Bolt through kit, Evga GTX 970 Superclocked, BeQuiet E9 580W CM

ntavlas
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by ntavlas » Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:16 am

Talking about 1u power supplies, I would also recommend the seasonic ss-250su, in case you need more than 150 watts. It is suprisingly quiet and stays so even at load (in my case load equals around 150 watts). There is some typical ball bearing fan buzzing noise audible at low load though, which could be a problem if you are a perfectionist since it will be hard to find an appropriate 4cm fan replacement.

The fsp uatx psu mentioned before is also a solid psu. It was tested along with the silverstone sg05 case @spcr: http://www.silentpcreview.com/article968-page5.html.
There`s also a dedicated review here: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/757
It could be quieter, at least it`s 8cm fan is more easily replacable, if you`re willing to do this sort of thing.

By the way, the same basic design is used in the bequiet 350 watt uatx power supplies which hints at fsp being the oem.
The PC-Q11case looks interesting but I would not want to put an ATX power supply in it.
Neither would I. I think that you do need a pico psu or at least a 1u psu to really make the most of such diminuative cases. If I were to use a uatx psu or larger I would move up one size. The silverstone gd05 and lian li pc q8 are good starting points. Yes, the psu is still above the cpu cooler but there is more room now (in the lian li the psu intake also has access to fresh air). Cases like these could satisfy your needs without needing you to invest in "exotic" power supplies. The downside is the larger total size and weight, even after we consider the external power adapter, and slightly higher power use at low loads.

ist.martin
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by ist.martin » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:05 pm

boost wrote:Are you game for a little modding?
I prefer to have the PSU inside the case, too. So I modded a Q11 with a small 1U PSU (not quite done yet).
The FSP 150-50TNF is quite small.
I would put the PSU in place of one of the hard drives and either cut a hole in the back for a power connector (and cable) or use the back of and old PSU and put it where the PSU would normally go.
This should leave room for all the components you need, while not adding any noise.
Hi boost:

Any pics yet? Where did you get the FSP 150-50TNF? I cannot seem to find it listed anywhere.

Is it silent? Any coil whine? What's your overall impression of it in a Q11?

Thanks a lot,

Ian

boost
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Re: I want a small tower case for a uATC board

Post by boost » Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:36 am

I can post pics over the weekend.
I put the PSU in the back above the mainboard and removed the optical drive cage. It's a replacement for my dead and badly modded home server. If you need an optical drive you'd have to place it on top of the hard drive assembly on the bottom of the case.
I cut a hole in the back of the case for the power cord and screws that hold the PSU in place.
I used the PSU from my old Intel SS4200 server which is the same size as the FSP, it's a unit from Delta with a 40mm fan.
If I need a new one or need to reduce noise further I will switch to the FSP. I did not have time to test it.
I'm located in the EU, so I would buy the FSP PSU from a dealer in the EU.
I sent an Email from the fspgroupusa site to inquire for dealers in north America.
Lian Li V600, Asus P77Z-M Pro, i5-3570K 4.4GHz with Scythe Orochi, 140mm Slipstream 500RPM and Mugen2 115X Bolt through kit, Evga GTX 970 Superclocked, BeQuiet E9 580W CM

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