Any interest in PicoPSU based Mini-ITX case?

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APR 6, 2015: L3 shipping.

JUN 8, 2014: New L2 cases sold out.

MAR 3, 2014: New L1 cases are in stock.

FEB 28, 2014: Delayed at powder coater. Hoping to ship new L1 first week of March, 2014.

DEC 2013: Currently out of stock. Expecting to have new revised cases ready by Jan-Feb 2014.

AUG 2013: Finished cases are currently available for order, in limited quantities at loneindustries.com.

Anyone interested in a simple PicoPSU only Mini-ITX tower case? The construction is very simple to keep costs down. The goal is to make something as simple as possible, using local suppliers in Canada and the US.

MY SETUP
Intel Core i3 3225
Gigabyte H77N-WIFI
Corsair SSD
Noctua NH-9Li
Cooler Master 80mm PWM fan (with Noctua low noise adapter, running at about 1000 RPM - down from 1500 RPM)
PicoPSU 80 (60W power brick)

GOALS
Simple as possible, PicoPSU powered, small as possible without being too small, and probably other stuff.

FEATURES
1.6 mm aluminum (powder coat or anodized finish)
2x 2.5 inch HDD/SSD bracket
Low profile expansion slot (single slot width)
Anodized aluminum power switch
Stick-on case feet
Silicone fan mounts
Stainless steel threads (no rivets)
Supports up to two 80x25 mm case fans
Supports both 2.5 mm DC and Mini-DIN power supply inputs
Made in Canada

SPECS
Dimensions: 220 x 94 x 220 mm
Motherboard compatibility: Mini-ITX
PSU compatibility: PicoPSU
CPU clearance: 60 mm recommended (71 mm to side panel)

Estimated price: $95 CAD
Availability: July 2013

loneindustries.com

Current L1 model as of March 2014:



 
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wahaha360

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Get a design / utility patent if you can.

I'm curious and don't mind helping with the design when it's closer to production.
 
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Get a design / utility patent if you can.

I'm curious and don't mind helping with the design when it's closer to production.
Thanks, I really appreciate your offer to help. The design / utility patent sounds like a good idea. I wouldn't have thought of that.
 

Machupo

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Not to be a dick, but what does this bring to the table that other cases of similar sizes don't? With pico-only sizing you're pretty limited on what you can accomplish in the GPU or CPU/oc arena.

I'm really not trying to be Debbie downer, I just don't want you to get halfway into the process and realize that it's not worth it / there is already something out there that does it cheaper/ etc.

Can't wait to see more!
 

ellroy80

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Yep, interested here! For some reason, can't see the pic in your original post.
 
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Not to be a dick, but what does this bring to the table that other cases of similar sizes don't? With pico-only sizing you're pretty limited on what you can accomplish in the GPU or CPU/oc arena.

I'm really not trying to be Debbie downer, I just don't want you to get halfway into the process and realize that it's not worth it / there is already something out there that does it cheaper/ etc.

Can't wait to see more!
Ageeed. Not sure what the point is, when you can get something like this or this for about 1/3 to 1/2 the proposed price. For about the same price, you can get a fanless case like this one.

Not meaning to kill your enthusiasm, but if you're going to get a batch of custom-designed cases made there has to be something about them that makes them worth the cost premium.
 

ellroy80

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The problem with current cases that support only PicoPSU's is that:

1) They don't allow tall CPU coolers
2) They don't support 80 mm fans

Trust me, I looked for ages. There is a market for something like this. Really interested in seeing your design.
 

XcPNehVYlE4A3C

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I'd have to agree as well. No shortage of these types of cases. If you need to fit a larger cooler and 80mm fans why not just ditch the PicoPSU and get a seasonic TFX gold for the same price. Better reliability, no power brick to worry about, silent, and plenty of extra power available if needed.

Just some honest feedback and thoughts, as someone who builds kiosk/photobooth pc's
 
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The problem with current cases that support only PicoPSU's is that:

1) They don't allow tall CPU coolers
2) They don't support 80 mm fans

Trust me, I looked for ages. There is a market for something like this. Really interested in seeing your design.
Anything small/efficient enough to run off of a PicoPSU generally will not generate enough heat to require a large hear sink, and one or two low-speed 40-60mm fans move enough air.

Most any system that does generate enough heat to require the listed components will typically draw more power than a PicoPSU can supply. A more capable SFX, TFX, or FlexATX/MiniITX PSU would be needed. Also, per watt, such units are cheaper than a PicoPSU/transformer combo.

Any case with enough room for larger heat sinks and fans should also have enough room for any of the SFF PSUs.
 

WiSK

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Not to be a dick, but what does this bring to the table that other cases of similar sizes don't?
It's 4.2 liters with a low-profile expansion slot and 2x80mm fan mounts. Which other uSFF cases you know with these attributes?

Anything small/efficient enough to run off of a PicoPSU generally will not generate enough heat to require a large hear sink, and one or two low-speed 40-60mm fans move enough air.
You can get picoPSUs which deliver up to 192W. A loaded i7-3770K draws only 63W at stock and undervolted can be much less. So you can run a single slot 7750 on that as well. This combination needs better cooling strategy than offered by any of the three "minibox" style cases you linked. Only the Streacom even has the low profile expansion slot.

Low speed 40mm fans aren't the solution either. A good 3500rpm 40mm fan only moves just over 4 CFM. A good 80mm fan will move 8 times that at half the revs.

Most any system that does generate enough heat to require the listed components will typically draw more power than a PicoPSU can supply. A more capable SFX, TFX, or FlexATX/MiniITX PSU would be needed. Also, per watt, such units are cheaper than a PicoPSU/transformer combo.
"Price per watt" is not a strong argument for forcing an increase in the size of the case.

The advantage of the transformer being separate is that it can be far away, and not contribute to the heat inside the case.

And even if an i7 system with discreet 7750 card was too much for a picoPSU, it's still plenty enough power for an overclocked AMD APU chip.

Any case with enough room for larger heat sinks and fans should also have enough room for any of the SFF PSUs.
Show me any case with space for a decent heatsink that can cool a loaded i7 and low profile 7750 and can also fit something larger than picoPSU. Find the smallest one you can.
 

Ulti

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I'd agree with WiSK's comments, they're pretty much spot on.

I have the Streacom F7C and although it's a nice case, the fact that it only has a 80mm exhaust is rather terrible, especially as it's almost 6L in size. Personally I don't need or like the ODD slot too.

Personally, 150W was plenty for my i3 2100 and 7750 - I doubt I'd ever need the power of an i7-3770K but I guess that point is moot as most people here have overpowered computers haha.
 
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I wouldn't be doing this if I could just buy the exact same thing. I think more choice is a good thing, unless you have a hard time making decisions! This is just a simple, non-mass produced, specialty item, made locally (for those in Canada and the US). My goal is not to compete with any other manufacturers, or make money.

While I personally love my SSD and don't need soft mounting, is it safe to assume that some people will want to soft mount their slow, noisy, mechanical 2.5" hard drives with grommets? ;)
 
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ellroy80

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WiSK, well said. You get it.

For everyone else, problem with the current "PicoPSU" cases on the market is that you can't fit a decent CPU heatsink, can't fit any decent sized fans, and the cooling for an additional GPU (even if it is only low profile) is crap.
 
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@ellroy80, How big do you want to go with a CPU heatsink? I've been basing my design around something like a Big Shuriken, and possibly a Big Shuriken with a replacement 25 mm fan. A Big Shuriken w/ 25 mm thick fan, I'd have to have a vent directly above the CPU, which may detract from the appearance. I'm still trying to decide whether to remove the vent above the CPU, and pull cool air from bottom to top.

A vent right above the CPU is part of Intel's recommendation, and it seems like a great idea for optimal CPU cooling.
 
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CMadki4

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@ellroy80, How big do you want to go with a CPU heatsink? I've been basing my design around something like a Big Shuriken, and possibly a Big Shuriken with a replacement 25 mm fan. A Big Shuriken w/ 25 mm thick fan, I'd have to have a vent directly above the CPU, which may detract from the appearance. I'm still trying to decide whether to remove the vent above the CPU, and pull cool air from bottom to top.

A vent right above the CPU is part of Intel's recommendation, and it seems like a great idea for optimal CPU cooling.
Basing your design around a discontinued cooler may not be such a good idea. But of course there are other low profile coolers out there. Just no Scythe products. http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1731085
 
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Basing your design around a discontinued cooler may not be such a good idea. But of course there are other low profile coolers out there. Just no Scythe products. http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1731085
From what I read, just their US operations have closed. Scythe is still in business (?). But you're right it will be harder to get their products in North America until someone else starts importing them. I did look at other CPU coolers similar to the Big Shuriken 2 (e.g. NH-L12, Samuel 17, etc.). That's just what I had in my hands.

I'm trying to make it as thin/narrow as possible. The limiting factor is the low profile expansion slot. The Big Shuriken 2, and others just happen to fit within this window :)
 
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ellroy80

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My thought on a case like this - I'd build it like the Antec ISK100/110 or mini-box M350 in that they have a solid front but mesh sides. If you don't want to do that, I'd definitely have vented areas over the CPU and GPU areas, so that their HSF's can pull air in. HSF's to support: something like the NH-L12, AXP-100, or Xigmatek Praeton. I'd have 2 2.5" drive bays, one for an SSD and the other for a HDD, but don't put the bays over the mobo (maybe they could mount to the side of the case??). Yes to rubber grommets for the HDD.

The best case I can think of in comparison to this is the Streacom F7C Evo. Take that, remove the ODD slot and mounting tray, increase the ventilated area on the LHS to give more air to the GPU (gotta let the 7750 breathe!), add a mesh top (or at least ventilated area on the top) to allow the CPU HSF to pull cool air in, and add ventilated area to the RHS for 1-2 80 mm fans, pulling the hot air out. The holes on all vents needs to be bigger than on the FC7 to allow better airflow. Maybe the drives could be mounted to the front, laying on their sides? Add a couple of USB 3 ports and power switch to the front, and voila, case is done!!

What do you think?
 
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ellroy80 - exactly, there definitely will not be anything over the motherboard. The HDD(s) will go on the bottom (PCI-E side) and/or the front.

The cooling concept has sort of evolved over time.

I was originally trying to design the case without any case fans, hence the side panel CPU vent. I figured with a large CPU HSF, cool air would be pulled directly into the CPU HSF and then rise out the top of the case. I think a lot of people probably wouldn't go for that, so I added height to the top to allow for the 80 mm fans. That way you have the choice to use them or not.

Looking at other cases, it would seem that with case fans, that a CPU vent isn't necessary, or rarely used. The cool air inlet could be placed on the bottom, allowing air to travel across the whole motherboard, like you mention (including graphics card). Deciding whether to have a CPU vent is definitely holding me back. Might have to do some testing.

I have been wondering about only allowing the use of 80x15 mm fans. There's not that many out there right now, but who knows, maybe they'll become more popular! 80x25 mm however, offer more choice, more CFM and thus quieter. Any thoughts? Here's an example:

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/1...an_-_2500_RPM.html?tl=g36c365s984&id=Gh7Yjesc

Anyone have a 7750 GPU, or other low profile graphics card? I'm curious how heigh the HSF is off the PCB? The low-profile expansion slot specification allows for 14 mm.

Btw... the AXP 100 looks really nice, thanks! I was not familiar with it.
 

WiSK

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I have been wondering about only allowing the use of 80x15 mm fans.
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/1...an_-_2500_RPM.html?tl=g36c365s984&id=Gh7Yjesc
I recently bought that fan Noiseblocker PC-P 80x15 in order to try replacing the standard fan in the ST45SF-G power supply. I must say I'm very pleased with it. I'm not the most sensitive about fan noise, but even I can appreciate that this fan is really very very quiet. Works as PWM and also with variable DC 5V-12V.
 

ellroy80

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I'm a little confused as to your description of the case, in regard to what is the bottom, top, etc.
 
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@Wisk, Thanks for the info!

@ellroy80, It's a tower design, so the motherboard is upright. GPU is at bottom. The photo shows the case fan vents at the top.
 

ellroy80

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Ah, ok. I thought it was more a desktop style case. If you want it to be upright, I'd make sure your screws/rivets are at the back of the case, not on the side like you currently have it. Interested to see a component layout.

FWIW I'd prefer a desktop style case, only because I currently have my monitor sitting on my Streacom case. It is your case and your design though!
 
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ellroy80

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The cooling concept has sort of evolved over time.

I was originally trying to design the case without any case fans, hence the side panel CPU vent. I figured with a large CPU HSF, cool air would be pulled directly into the CPU HSF and then rise out the top of the case. I think a lot of people probably wouldn't go for that, so I added height to the top to allow for the 80 mm fans. That way you have the choice to use them or not.
I think you need the top fans. You want positive pressure to get the hot air out of the case. I'd like to see a more "aesthetically pleasing" grill at the top though (maybe centralize it, and have it look like one big grill, as opposed to two smaller ones.)

Looking at other cases, it would seem that with case fans, that a CPU vent isn't necessary, or rarely used. The cool air inlet could be placed on the bottom, allowing air to travel across the whole motherboard, like you mention (including graphics card). Deciding whether to have a CPU vent is definitely holding me back. Might have to do some testing.
I think you could get away without having a CPU vent if you had the fans at the top. Like you said, draw cool air in from the bottom and have it travel across all components.

Anyone have a 7750 GPU, or other low profile graphics card? I'm curious how heigh the HSF is off the PCB? The low-profile expansion slot specification allows for 14 mm.
Take a look at pics online (newegg, amazon, reviews etc). I've looked, and it appears that the HSF does not extend past the PCI bracket.
 
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I think you need the top fans. You want positive pressure to get the hot air out of the case. I'd like to see a more "aesthetically pleasing" grill at the top though (maybe centralize it, and have it look like one big grill, as opposed to two smaller ones.)
I wonder how well it'd work if I created an exhaust fan chamber which vents out the rear, and keeps the top vent free. Not sure I'd actually do it... but just a thought.

Take a look at pics online (newegg, amazon, reviews etc). I've looked, and it appears that the HSF does not extend past the PCI bracket.
Right. I don't think they follow the low profile spec, instead just keep the HSF <= the width of the bracket, which is fine.
 
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This case supports a picoPSU (up to 120W with the barrel jack) and will fit a Scythe Big Shuriken when the optical bay is removed.





Not that you need a picoPSU since it comes with a 180W DC powerboard and several different choices of AC adapter from 60W - 150W depending on what you're putting in it. I put an i3 and low profile HD6670 in it with the 150W AC adapter it it maxed out around 110W. It has mounts for 4 x 80/15mm fans (though reasonably you can fit 2 80/25s).

And with a mounting plate like these you can put a picoPSU in any case that takes a ATX or SFX PSU.
 
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Thanks for the link! I was looking at those just the other day after someone mentioned ecosmartpc.com in another thread. Quite a nice selection of desktop/HTPC cases. Interesting they have such powerful power supplies. Wonder what they are?
 

Doctor Feelgood

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I'd be interested... I have a pair of media center systems installed in Mini-Box M350 cases... Works great for my needs overall... I have a G620 in one and an I3225 in the other, both on H61 boards using the onboard HDMI, 8GB DDR3, 120W PicoPSUs, and 120GB SSDs. Shown here in an old configuration with some Intel Mount Olive boards inside...



What I would be interested in is having something slightly taller for one low profile expansion slot, and maybe stacking two 2.5" drives where I have the one. You can put two drives in there now side-by-side, but then you are down to passively cooled CPUs really. I have these super low profile Titan brand coolers from Newegg, that work just fine.. No gaming, but Media Center never gets them over 50 something Celsius. No fan in the system except for the 92mm fan on the CPU. Noctua does have some new coolers that would fit too, and would probably perform way better.

Room for two drives would be nice since I use the internal drive for the OS etc - and a USB 3.0 drive for the live TV buffer and local DVR storage... would like to move that inside. I'd like the low profile expansion slot for the slim chance a video card would work... Something basic with no extra power like a Geforce 620 might beat HD2000/4000 and maybe I could power it with the biggest PicoPSU.
 
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@Doctor Feelgood - My plan is to make this a Mini-ITX tower, but I guess theres nothing saying you couldn't lay it on its side though.
 

Doctor Feelgood

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Orientation isn't a concern to me... Just that when running off a PicoPSU you can't install too many components, and some of the current Mini-ITX towers are just way too big for what you can expect to use.
 
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Just a quick update. Haven't made a lot of progress as I wasted a lot of time finding some software that would work for me.

I've mainly been messing around with top vent styles, and power switch location. Here's a screenshot which expands on the rear vent idea, with the addition of top-side slots. I haven't tested this design, or decided on anything yet unfortunately. I'm open to comments. As for the power switch, I'm either thinking the lower portion of the front, or on the rear of the case. I tried on the top, but didn't really like the look. Side panel is another option, but haven't tried it yet.

Note: I'd like to have screwless side panels, but that's also unresolved as of yet, though I am looking into different options. One option is the classic pin and slot as commonly found on devices that allow wall mounting.
 
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Not sure if the rear and top-side slots will provide good enough ventilation. I'm not a cooling expert, or math wizard though.

With the rear slot (84 x 8 mm) and top-side slots ((160 x 3 (maybe a bit too thin)) x 2), I have a surface area of 1632 mm. However, the vent chamber itself has a volume of 142 ml.

In contrast, if I had 4 mm circle cutouts right on the top for two 80 mm fans I get an area of 5428 mm.
 
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CMadki4

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The thin strip above your side panel slot will be prone to bending/warping. That's a long stretch of thin aluminum to be unsupported/unfastened. You might want to move it down 4-5mm to give a little more 'meat' around the slot and maybe be able to have a fastening screw fit.
 
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Good suggestion, I've moved it down a little. I've also thought about maybe breaking it up into 3 slots to add support.

Can you clarify what you mean about have a fastening screw fit? Do you mean have screws to fasten the side panels?
 

CMadki4

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Good suggestion, I've moved it down a little. I've also thought about maybe breaking it up into 3 slots to add support.

Can you clarify what you mean about have a fastening screw fit? Do you mean have screws to fasten the side panels?
Splitting it up in to 2 or 3 sections is a good idea.

Ignore the fastening screw thing, I forget you're wanting to do screwless panels. You got a place you're sourcing those from?
 
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Ignore the fastening screw thing, I forget you're wanting to do screwless panels. You got a place you're sourcing those from?
I have a request into a local manufacturer to see if they can do screwless panels somehow, or not. They're pretty slow to reply, so I may not hear anything for a week or so. I'd be happy with even partial screwless panels (i.e. with screws/thumbscrews just the back).
 
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Really like the look. How are you planning to get air into the case?
Glad you like it! I'm planning on pulling air in from the bottom of the case, and possibly the side (over the CPU). I'm going to try to get a rough prototype to test various ventilation setups before deciding on anything.
 

geostation

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Looks great...
What is the width like.? Personally prefer to keep the case horizontal tucked away below the monitor... Can post some pics with the case horizontal.

Also, to differentiate from other cases, you could have the motherboard vertical with cables coming out from the top like the fto3 mini
 
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I like the idea and have to agree that current pico psu cases don't provide for the hardware that is now possible to cram in. Be it an AMD A10 setup or intel & low profile graphics, there is scope for some nice yet tiny builds. My personal favourite is the Streacom F1C, although it does not provide adequate cooling for anything remotely powerful.

The way I see it, a great case would be the F1C minus the ODD slot (check out the discontinued wesena itx1) with enough height for a decent cooler and an expansion slot. Maybe almost a G4 cube look, or to put it another way a smaller version of the silverstone ft03.
 
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