Worklog: Laser Cut Acrylic - Smallest Possible mATX Case (while still using a "standard" layout)

Discussion in 'Modding' started by sonicthemouse, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. sonicthemouse

    sonicthemouse Member

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    It's happening :D

    Finally got a mate on board to keep me motivated and not.get.sidetracked.

    Here's what it's about in a nutshell, more detail in posts below.

    - must fit a reference GPU - don't want to be restricted to mini/short cards
    - must fit an SFX/SFX-L PSU, in a "standard" spot - I hate those case that have a socket at the back then relocate the PSU to the front or the bottom or some other weird spot
    - must fit the GPU in the motherboard slot - not on a riser cable
    - must use mainly 120mm fans - it's too hard to get nice looking 92mm fans
    - must be the smallest it can be while meeting all the above requirements

    Sitting flat/desktop (as pictured), the current design is 270mm wide, 280mm deep and 180mm high, so 13.6 L, pretty damn small for an mATX case that uses all "standard" components in standard places.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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    sonicthemouse

    sonicthemouse Member

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    Details / FAQ

    Q: Why?
    A:
    I have long believed cases these days are too big. Most mATX cases with a standard layout, bottom mount PSU etc are bigger than my ATX Super Lanboy, and many ITX cases are bigger than my Antec mATX case... can't remember the model.

    Q: Why not ITX then?
    A:
    I've tried a few very small ITX cases with ITX GPUs and SFX PSUs. They are pointless in some ways. Decent ITX GPUs run too hot for my liking, and there is simply not enough volume of air in such a small case to keep everything cool, unless you use really high CFM fans, thus LOUD. I like quiet/silence.

    Also, ITX these days is now ITX + a bit, because the GPU takes up 2 slots anyway, so ITX board + 2-slot GPU + some clearance is nearly as wide as an mATX board anyway, and if you want to fit a standard GPU then that's much closer to an mATX footprint.

    Furthermore, most decent ITX boards are almost too cramped. For a basic browsing rig, fine. But as soon as you try to fit a GPU with a backplate, some decent RAM and a decent air cooler, I've had coolers hitting RAM, coolers hitting GPU backplate, coolers hitting case, etc. I've had the narrow ILM cooler from the X99E-ITX which no joke uses an 8000RPM 6cm fan and sounds like a bloody jet engine, and everything else hit my RAM or my GPU.

    I've had ITX boards where the NVMe throttled cos it got too hot under the GPU or on the underside of the board, etc etc. I'm done with ITX for "proper" rigs. I think mATX is a good compromise between having all the features you need in a single GPU rig, while not being too small to keep cool and quiet and fit standard parts in.

    Q: How are you making it?
    A:
    3mm acrylic sheet, laser cut, with everything else 3D printed, then bolted together.

    Q: What's with the 4 fans?
    A:
    They're not actually all going to be there, they're just provisioned in the CAD so they can be there if we want.

    They are arranged as such:
    - If using a short GPU <200mm, it can fit 2 standard 120mm fans in the front, or a 240mm rad / AIO
    - If using a reference nVidia GPU, it can fit 1 standard 120mm fan / rad / AIO
    - it can fit 2 standard 120mm case fans in the side near the GPU but they will block the use of the 4th expansion slot, or limit you to a single dual/2.5 slot GPU

    Q: So how about SLI?
    A:
    Would be tricky, not impossible but tricky. It could potentially fit 2 reference cards with a hole cut out in the side where the blower sucks in for the 2nd card, and a hole above the first card with a 3D-printed bevel to direct air down in between the two cards

    Q: Where do the mechanical HDDs go?
    A:
    http://staticice.com.au/cgi-bin/search.cgi?q=Samsung evo 970 1tb&spos=5
    And if you need more than 1tb, your storage should be on a NAS/server.

    Q: How do you shut up and take my money?
    A:
    :lol: lol - no, this is not a commercial project, I doubt there is a market for this case. But if you happen to want exactly what I want in a case, I guess we can always get one or two more made up.

    Q: What hardware are you actually going to run in it?
    A:
    At this stage it's looking like:
    Intel i7-5930K w/ Asetek 120mm AIO
    Asrock X99M Extreme4
    4x4gb Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 2800
    MSI GTX1080 8gb Founders Edition
    SilverStone SST-SX500-LG
    Samsung 960 Evo 500gb NVMe
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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    sonicthemouse

    sonicthemouse Member

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    Reserved #2
     
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    sonicthemouse

    sonicthemouse Member

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    sonicthemouse

    sonicthemouse Member

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    Kelvin, if you're interested in one, there is one being put aside for you, least I can do.

    sammy_b0i, I'm gonna finish this one, you might be interested to see it progress, and you always add helpful suggestions :thumbup:

    Zetrox2k, this is what I'm working on :D

    headin2001, this is what I'm hoping to put your AIO in at some point

    Hope you guys don't mind the tags, we never used to have stuff tags on OCAU "back in my day" so I hope I'm not abusing it, please PM me and ask not to be tagged in my posts in future and I'll of course oblige.
     
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    sonicthemouse

    sonicthemouse Member

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    Yeah I think a standard ATX PSU and AIO will fit, although there is not a lot of clearance above the pump / below the PSU fan, and the ATX PSU looked very bulky and kind of ruined the look of it when we did the mock-up. Also I didn't want to be forced to use an AIO, my mate who is also getting one (or two) for himself is going with an 1151 9-series chip so uses like 50 W TDP I'm sure :lol: - he can probably use a stock Intel cooler without the copper core and he'd still be fine, compared to my old clunker 5930k which would literally catch fire under a stock cooler.

    But for most people who use 115X and not HEDT platforms, they can fit a reasonable air cooler (L9x65 etc) under an SFX PSU, but not under ATX.

    It would also weigh quite a bit more, so it would need a bracket on the side panel to hold up the PSU, otherwise the acrylic sheet has to take the weight of the whole PSU hanging off it. Even with the SFX PSU I'm tempted to add in a bracket...

    But I'll double-check the dimensions and see if we can make it work with an ATX PSU / AIO also.

    In terms of cost, we've been quoted about $90 per case for the acrylic sheets and the laser cutting, add a bit for the 3D printed parts, and a bit for stand-offs/fixings etc but it should still come in ~$100. (Yours of course is no charge)
     
  7. akromatic

    akromatic Member

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    this case kinda reminds me of the silverstone SG03.

    as a matx case goes, its really compact yet full featured. i had some crazy stuff jammed in mine and with the release of the corsair H50 really opened up some cooling options.
     
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    sonicthemouse

    sonicthemouse Member

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    Yeah this has the same basic layout but just "trims the fat" - no 5.25" ODD, no internal mechanical HDD bays etc.
    SG03 comes in at 22.5 L, and this design is a few cm smaller in every dimension, around 9 L smaller overall :D
     
  9. SomeBoredGuy

    SomeBoredGuy Member

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    Following cool concept :thumbup:
     
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  10. Zetrox2k

    Zetrox2k Member

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    nice work sonic! I made something similar out of mdf years ago actually pretty similar to your design for the exact same reason. all commercial cases are way too big . it lived in that case for a couple of years but then got migrated to a reasonably ok sized Silverstone case.

    might be interested in one depending on price!
     
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  11. MoMaN69

    MoMaN69 Member

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    very interested to see how this turns out and price
     
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  12. sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    Dust filtering options? Any chance the area between the IO shield and the bottom of the PSU, that's got the vents, could be the correct size/mounting holes for the closest fans? Be it 60mm, or 40mm, or whatever? Just in case some more extraction is needed? Could have three or four next to each other just on 5v for some quiet help for top-down air coolers to get their hot air out.

    Edit: Maybe some similar venting in the top panel to get the hot air that's risen, out?
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
  13. sanjay

    sanjay Member

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    looks like the GPU is going through the second 120mm fan there...otherwise i quite like this concept. ive always thought that most ITX and mATX cases are too damn big. I don't understand why we can't easily get mATX cases like the sugo SG03 anymore. That case was bloody fantastic. would love to find another one.
     
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    sonicthemouse

    sonicthemouse Member

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    Yeah the 120mm fans will have standard-issue eBay dust filters on them. We considered 3D-printing a dust filter "tray" that we could easily slot a dust filter into/out of, but it added too much extra cutting and fixing and messing about. Trying to keep it somewhat simple, especially for the prototype.

    Agree re: small rear fans for venting, especially if we mount the PSU fan-side out. I'll measure up and add the holes spaced for 40mm or 60mm fans, whatever fits.

    The drawings show it sitting as if it were flat on a desk, in real life it'll be upright like a small tower, i.e. the panel with the GPU intake fan/s will also have the feet on it and will be the bottom of the case when it is sitting on a desk.

    So the top panel may need some ventilation, but I have always preferred a solid top panel as I often put random stuff on top of my case (and I'm slightly paranoid that someone will spill a drink on it at LAN). Right now I'm just keen to get a first revision sent to the laser cutter people and see how it performs for temperature.

    You're correct, if you check the OP, if a short/ITX GPU is used, 2x 120mm fans will fit in the front, if a reference length GPU is used, only 1x120mm will fit in the front.

    Yeah I can understand big cases for insane watercooling/multiple GPUs and for big storage, but these days with storage capacity being quite large for single 3.5" drives, most people can get away with a small-ish NAS or 24/7 box with 3-4 3.5" drives, then a small box with a couple of NVMe drives for gaming/daily use. And most of the time, SLI/CF is not worth it, and buying a single, more powerful card is money better spent than buying 2 or 3 lower spec cards.

    I'm glad to see there are some fans of the SG03 here, since this case will be pretty similar to that, with the omission of the lower 3.5" bays and upper 5.25" bay, so obviously there is still some interest for only fitting the bare minimum components and keeping cases compact :D
     
  15. vladtepes

    vladtepes Member

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    I'm also interested. Would make a perfect 'Linux' box for me.

    The 'biggest' issue (see what I did there :) ) is the cost of the SFX PSU they are a bit crazy.

    Oh and you can still get a sugo case from ebay for the bargain basement price (landed in Australia) of just $431.60 ! :shock:
     
  16. Ratzz

    Ratzz Member

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    I'd be interested in seeing a version sans PSU. A G-Unique PSU+brick would be cool. Perhaps the PSU could be substituted for a rad or something, or just the case reduced in size.
     
  17. vladtepes

    vladtepes Member

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    I hate powerbricks. Hate them.
     
  18. Ratzz

    Ratzz Member

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    I like them. You can hide a power brick under a desk, and reduce the size of the visible case by a large amount. Great things when you are aiming for a very small case. And they are totally silent.

    I recently sold a 500W G-Unique setup. It handled a heavily overclocked 7700K and Poseidon 1080Ti, + mobo and peripherals of course, with ease.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
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  19. CMH

    CMH Member

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    Is there a need for m/b risers if you're making the case out of a non-conductive material?

    ie: 3mm acrylic sheets: just screw it straight on!
     
  20. vladtepes

    vladtepes Member

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    I have trouble hiding things under desks - less cable management the better, but I can see your point.

    Stand offs because it doesn't look ghetto that way.
     
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