Compact mATX Build - Jonsbo/Rosewill/Cooltek U3

Discussion in 'PC Build Logs' started by sammy_b0i, Jun 10, 2015.

  1. sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    There aren't a tonne of builds done using this case, and I'm slowly putting one together and thought I'd put a small log up in case anyone out there is looking for a very compact mATX case, or is interested in this case and wants to know what it's like to build in.

    [​IMG]

    So I'm currently using an Antec P180 Mini, which I'm very happy with, but I've also been wanting to go to a more compact case. I've had mITX set ups before, things like a Sugo05 back in the 775 days and a Bitfenix Prodigy when they first came out, but they didn't last long for me, as I found the mITX form factor too restrictive in terms of expandability. I couldn't add extra ram sticks, nor could I add a sound card, back when on-board audio was just terrible.

    So then I saw some pictures online of cases by a Chinese group called Jonsbo. They've got a big range of these ultra-premium looking aluminium cases, that sort of looks like a cross being a Lian-Li design and the Apple Powermac G5 case.

    So I ended up with the U3 in silver, with the windowed side panel. You can't easily get them from Jonsbo directly, but they do have resellers on both the USA (licensed as Rosewill Legacy U3) and in Europe (licensed as Cooltek U3). So after some searching around, I ended up getting the Rosewill version through Amazon in the US for around $160 posted. A bit up there in price, but cheapest I could find it at the time for the one I wanted. It was new, and probably wouldn't have cost that much less, being full 2.0/1.5mm aluminium, niche design, plus Australia tax and local shipping, so I was still happy.

    [​IMG]

    So it's pretty compact. Specs put it as

    So 21cm x 36cm x 27cm, which is quite a nice size, considering that a mATX board is 24.4cm (H) x 24.4cm (D) and a standard psu in height is all that you'll squeeze in there. The above picture showing the 3.5" HDD in there gives some good perspective as well.

    So I'll give a list of what is going to be going in there, most of my current build is shifting over with a few changes.

    Asus ROG Maximus VII Gene mATX
    Intel i5-4690k
    Thermalright VenomousX
    Kingston HyperX 2x4GB Blue
    GTX970 Nvidia Reference Cooler Edition
    Silverstone SX500-LG 500W 80+ Gold Fully Modular SFX-L PSU
    Samsung XP941 256GB w/ Lycom M.2 to PCIe 3.0 x4 Adapter Card
    Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 256GB SSD
    Samsung 500GB 2.5" Scratch Drive

    So I'll be making some posts about what I've done to the case so far, and what was involved in that, and where things are going. It's not a crazy mod build, nor is it top-level specs. But it's going to be an interesting build nonetheless.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  2. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    So one concern of this case is airflow.

    It uses, I guess, a natural convection style of flow, where the case only supports a single 120mm exhaust fan, and the components draw all their air in from the slotted vents on both side panels, at the front end of the case, as seen below.

    [​IMG]

    Not a bad idea in theory, but I'd prefer to give a bit of assistance. So I'm going to be mounting a fan on some rudimentary stand-offs to the inner front of the case, to provide a bit more pull from those side vents, to make sure the CPU is getting enough air.

    The standoffs are made from stacked squares of thin foam (think mousepad material) topped with a silicon fan mounting peg. I had some issues attaching them together, as the silicon of the surrounds I used to hold the peg doesn't respond well to good quality mounting tape, so I ended up going for your standard hot glue which worked for the pegs, and not the surrounds. So they're still a work in progress, but you get the basic idea that I was going for, as I couldn't find anything that I could modify to work and I don't have access to any kind of fabrication gear to make something that looks a bit more professional. The other idea was going to be straight dowel, but again, we'll see where the theory goes.

    [​IMG]

    Something like this will let me silently mount a slim fan to the inner front of the case, using anti-vibration mounting gear :thumbup:

    I'll also be mounting a slim fan into the case-floor to assist in pulling in fresh air for the video card to keep cool. More on that later.
     
  3. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    The next issue I have with this case is the fact that there are no dust filters anywhere. Not on either side panel, nor on the vastly slotted base:

    [​IMG]

    So for me, that's a nightmare. I live in a dusty house with two cats that just love to shed. So as much as we clean, cat hair and dust ends up everywhere.

    To counter this issue, I scoured everywhere to find an existing dust filter that would cover the base with a little modification, but everything was just too small, or far too large. The feet and the overlap after them doesn't make it any easier too.

    The only thing I could come up with was to DIY up some filters. This began with some brainstorming, finally settling on a magnetic set up so that they would be easy to remove and clean. Unfortunately, the aluminium case is not magnetic, which was also a pain.

    In the end I got a few rolls of magnetic tape and a 1/2 meter of aluminium insect screening mesh and went to work. I started with the base outline, and stuck the magnetic tape down in small lengths.

    [​IMG]

    Then I matched these by cutting the same length and flipping them around to make sure that the magnetic poles were the right way and not pushing away from each other.

    With that done, I stuck on some of the aluminium insect mesh and trimmed to size. I then had to use some epoxy to fuse the two together as there wasn't enough surface area of the mesh to adhere well to the magnetic strips. Could have possibly used hot glue, but as I didn't want it to be coming apart any time soon, I opted against it. The final result is a removable aluminium dust filter that fits the area well enough.

    [​IMG]

    Combines to:

    [​IMG]

    Doesn't look professional, but you wouldn't even know it's there from looking at it, and it should get rid of any big dusties.

    I had the same ideas for the side panels, but didn't want an internal gap between the vents and the mesh due to two layers of magnetic tape, so I opted for small dots of hot glue to hold the mesh in place as it will peel off if I can't get dust out with a simple brush or vacuum.

    [​IMG]

    And

    [​IMG]

    So I'll leave it there for a while. I do have the PSU in there and will talk about the graphics card and fitting order of components some time soon.

    But if anything interests you, let me know. Always good to know at least someone has had a look. I definitely don't claim to be a "modder" as I don't have the drive. I've just got a case that interests me and I'm playing around with it until I've got something I like. :thumbup:
     
  4. mathiex

    mathiex Member

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    Nice looking Case and good write up so far. Looking at the dust situation, you could also use fly screen repair roll. It's pretty much adhesive fly screen and maybe later it to make it finer. Easy to cut and stick.
     
  5. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    Cheers for the reply, I have used that stuff before to actually repair fly screens but I did not use it this time for two reasons. Firstly due to the one adhesive side, dusty would stick to it and not be easily removable and the second is that because it's fabric, it isn't rigid and would sag and touch the base of the case and cause dead spots for air flow. That's why I chose a rigid aluminium piece so that it won't sag or tear at the dust removal or wash.

    Again, I appreciate the comments all the same :)
     
  6. Ratzz

    Ratzz Member

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    Re the fan mounts... have you considered something like wall plugs?

    I've used them as mobo standoffs before, they work really well if you want to use screws. Just cut some to size, or buy some whatever length you need them to be.. maybe put some sleeve on them to make them look pretty.. screw them to the fan to make sure they are located properly then attach to the case with epoxy or silicon.

    I never bothered prettying these up but you can see what I mean HERE ( check pix in post #14 )... mine were screwed on from both ends but I'd imagine some epoxy or silicon would work well too on the case wall.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2015
  7. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    Oh yeah, I see what you mean. I need something with a big surface area though for the mounting tape I'm hoping to use. Wasn't planning on aralditing to the inner front in case I want to change things up. Are they good to screw into without the screw coming loose? :thumbup:
     
  8. paulbaird87

    paulbaird87 Member

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    Cool case!
    I ran fly screen on my last build as dust filters and found that adding a layer of fibre glass fly screen with the aluminium stops a lot more dust. Does restrict the airflow a little but I only noticed about 3-5 rpm drop in fan speeds.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  9. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    [​IMG]

    Sweet. Merciful. Jesus.

    Received my long awaited and sought after Nvidia Reference GTX970 from the USA this week. Just got around to uninstalling my 290 and giving it a go. I'm actually blown away.

    I haven't had a reference card since the GTX680 and this is so night and day, it's not even funny.

    Currently idling in Chrome while I type this, at 25 degrees, fan silently exhausting air at 1100RPM (26%). Running GTA V for half an hour at 1440p nets a max temp of 80 degrees but even then, then fan is still silently whirring at ~47% while exhausting all heat out of the case. Incredible just how this cooler works compared to the plastic "reference" 970 coolers floating around. :thumbup:

    Going to be a great companion to this build.

    I also ended up getting my hands on a reasonably priced XP941.

    [​IMG]

    I was going to put it in the M.2 slot, even though it's only PCIe x2 in design, which would limit it to about half its speed.. but then I figured I could use a cheap M.2 PCIe x4 adapter card and get the full speed. So one is on the way, which will end up looking like this:

    [​IMG]

    A little SSD stack bracket arrived as well, which was the original plan, but seeing as I'll be using the bottom x4 slot on the board, the adapter would be preventing that height from being used. Will have to see when it all gets together.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2015
  10. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    Oh boy, oh boy. Lots of stuff done in the last 48hrs. I can safely say it's up and running, but I won't be changing any hardware components any time soon. I dread having to remove the video card, would require removing almost everything from the case to get it out.

    Will post some updates in a few minutes.
     
  11. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    Okay, so with everything out of the case and the new PSU installed, this is what we started with.

    [​IMG]

    An important thing to note is that the case is that little bit deeper than usual, which is actually a great inclusion, because they use motherboard standoffs that are approximately double the length, enabling cables to be run behind the motherboard from the top to the bottom. I only ended up using this for SATA power, and had to tape a connector down, so it didn't scratch anything behind there.

    [​IMG]

    In choosing the SFX-L PSU instead of a standard, although they are supported, the smaller unit have me a stack of room above and behind the PSU to stow any excess cables that I ended up with, and I'd also be able to (with some difficulty) remove the PSU from the ATX backplate, remove the backplate, and slide the PSU out if I wanted to upgrade it to the soon to be released 700W Platinum Silverstone unit that uses that same form factor and same cables. Although this wouldn't be needed at all, due to the frugality of the components used in this build.
     
  12. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    So the original plan was to use the 2.5" sled to mount my two drives at the bottom, but then I ended up with an XP941 and a PCIe x4 adapter (hopefully arriving today or tomorrow) and I was all but ready to ditch the sled due to a lack of room or need, but seeing as I already purchased it.. why not?

    So the mounting points on the bottom for grommets suit the Phanteks case it was designed for, but nothing a bit of foam and double sided tape won't fix :)

    [​IMG]

    The best resource I had for this build was a mousepad that had been stripped of the cloth top later. Cut to size, that stuff can do anything :p

    [​IMG]

    Ready for a few spots of double sided tape to mount in when I've got the M.2 drive in behind it. :thumbup:
     
  13. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    At this stage, the motherboard is ready to go in onto the longer standoffs, and it looks nice. I didn't realise how wide it would be in there, but luckily it's designed so the rear vent isn't stuck behind the motherboard, and there's a little room to route cables under the corners.

    [​IMG]

    Looking good.

    Next came the part that I was just dreading. Getting the 970 in there. Just to give you an idea, the card and the case are the same length. There isn't even a millimeter in it for wiggle room. I actually had to angle it in there while flexing the PCIe slots outwards and literally sliding the end of the card down the inner front of the case, leaving a few marks.

    [​IMG]

    And just in case you don't believe me when I say close. Check this out :sick:

    [​IMG]

    No gap. None. Hard up against the front. :Paranoid:

    Getting the card in there took over half an hour of wiggles, retries, cutting hands on edges, worrying that I was going to break a PCIe slot or the card itself.
     
  14. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    So once I had the card in there, I started to run a few more cables from the PSU to see what kind of management I could make happen and it isn't great due to the shorter Silverstone flat cables. Don't get me wrong, they're great for increasing airflow, but much harder to bend the double layer 24-pin to get it out of the way.

    I also put in a the first two fans. I should also say, that this is my first experience in running fans off the motherboard for control. I much prefer having a dedicated rheobus to manually set fans based on noise level and usage. So it's strange to not have something to dial up and down on a tactile level.

    [​IMG]

    You can also see the sled down the bottom left in a temporary place. That's where it will be, but it's not mounted firmly due to needing to put in the PCIe x4 M.2 card.

    I ended up using those little fan stand-offs I made in the first post or so, though I cut them down another level and they've gone in nicely, can't be easily seen and are the same height as the fan vents either side, so the fan can easily pull in from there.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    It was at this time I mounted the Thermalright VenomousX to the board, replacing a TRUE120 that was tarnishing and showing its age (though it performed amazingly).

    [​IMG]

    Once mounted I turned it on to make sure that everything was firing up properly, set the fans in the BIOS to PWM and Qfan monitoring/control, made sure the sata ports were all good still, booted to windows and shut back down.

    [​IMG]

    Running in passive mode it was getting a bit warm (~30-35) but likely due to the column heater I had blaring in the corner. So, on go the fans :) :thumbup:

    [​IMG]

    I know it looks like the fans are askew on one side, but it's just the flash. See:

    [​IMG]
     
  16. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    So that's pretty much it. Build is 99% complete.

    Side panel back on:

    [​IMG]

    And a nice front angle shot:

    [​IMG]

    The last thing to do is find another 2 x 4GB kit of matching ram so the slots are full, and blue, to match the fans and put the M.2 card in the x4 slot, clone the SSD across and make it bootable, leaving me with a very fast boot drive, a 256GB SSD for games installs and a 500GB 7200RPM HDD for a scratch drive.

    One benefit will be that it stops me constantly upgrading and changing components for the sake of it. As I mentioned a few posts back, I dread having to change motherboard, video card, power supply, etc... big effort!

    Much more compact case with much less wasted space. Same power as the other case I had and hopefully same cooling capacity, with the extra fans, filters and low power, externally exhausting GPU. :thumbup:
     
  17. Azzan

    Azzan Member

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    heh looks like you need Asus GTX970 Mini instead.

    nice PSU and SSD tho, they'll be great for ITX too.
     
  18. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    Card was specifically chosen, and a premium price paid ($450 shipped from the USA, right before second hand 980s started selling for $550(!)) due to the fact that it is an externally exhausting card. So in a case that small when thermals are a consideration, I needed a card that would push all heat generated out of the case, and the Asus DirectCU Mini and the GB Windforce Mini are all heat recirculating, which would be a no go for this build :thumbup:

    There are/were only two or three places you can get GTX970s with the reference nVidia cooler. Either from BestBuy in the USA, Overclockers.uk, or direct from Nvidia themselves. Definitely not available in Australia.
     
  19. Azzan

    Azzan Member

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  20. OP
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    sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    Will give that a watch :)

    The other option was the new GTX970 Turbo by Asus.. pretty white/red and its an exhausting card.. but no reviews, no temp details, no noise details... wasn't going to risk it for the same price.

    Would have been easier to find in the first place, but a bit of a gamble on suitability.
     

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