Before asking NCASE about Micro-ATX...

andgo

Weaksauce
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There is already a large amount of mATX cases in the 23-30L range. Might as well try to make the smallest ATX case instead. This is what the market is missing currently, anyway. A 6cm height difference is nothing really.
 

jb1

Limp Gawd
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efa1848f47516a7dbcf47b515aaa708e.jpg


This is what I want as a possibility in such small cramped mATX as I do hav ean mATX mobo - Gigabyte Z97MX, look at the concept!
I don't like the case by the way, does not float my boat, ITS THE CONCEPT!

Is there a build log for that build anywhere? Would be cool to see some more photos.
 
D

Deleted member 222586

Guest
After lurking for many years, I registered just for this post: if you make a mATX case that is as versatile and well designed as the M1 (I just bought my 2nd one recently), I guarantee I'll buy that too :)

Be careful, forums are as addictive as NCASE's can be :) But I'm in the same boat that seeing the level of detail and perfection I'll probably buy anything the NCASE team releases. Not because of blind-brand loyalty... but because it will be another sound success.
 

Necere

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I would prefer to keep the PSU in the horizontal orientation because of the elegant and easier cable routing. Maybe Necere could limit the PSU length to 160mm to keep the case slim.
It wouldn't keep it slim, though. The right angle power cable adds 20mm to one end, while you need a minimum of about 30mm for modular connectors at the other (SFX-L in the M1 has 20mm for the connectors with a long GPU, and look how tight that is). That's 20+160+30 = at least 210mm wide for a 160mm PSU.

This is what I want as a possibility in such small cramped mATX as I do hav ean mATX mobo - Gigabyte Z97MX, look at the concept!
I don't like the case by the way, does not float my boat, ITS THE CONCEPT!
There are a few problems with that as a concept: 1) despite the width (250mm), reference-height GPUs barely fit, and it's limited to low profile CPU coolers; 2) since there's no case cooling, you have to use blowers, which means it's noisy as hell; 3) it only really looks good from that angle; the "rear" ports are exposed on the top, and to cover them properly would increase the volume.

There is already a large amount of mATX cases in the 23-30L range. Might as well try to make the smallest ATX case instead. This is what the market is missing currently, anyway. A 6cm height difference is nothing really.
Layout-wise, increasing the size for ATX doesn't change things much. The added 60mm just increases the volume by 4-5L, so instead of 23-30L, it's 27-35L.
 

Sverebom

Weaksauce
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It wouldn't keep it slim, though. The right angle power cable adds 20mm to one end, while you need a minimum of about 30mm for modular connectors at the other (SFX-L in the M1 has 20mm for the connectors with a long GPU, and look how tight that is). That's 20+160+30 = at least 210mm wide for a 160mm PSU.
Well, I wouldn't take that route anyway. Keep the horizontal oerientation for the PSU and use the extra width for modular mounting options in front of the CPU and GPU.
 

Necere

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Contents

Intro

I. Component space requirements
  1. Motherboard
  2. PSU
  3. GPU
  4. CPU cooler, rear fan
  5. Cable management

II. Priorities and preferences

III. Contender layouts

  1. Traditional - top/bottom PSU, 25-32L
    • 1a.
    • 1b.
    • 1c.
  2. Space saver - front PSU, 23-32L
    • 2a.
    • 2b.
    • 2c.
    • 2d.
  3. Subcompact - PSU over CPU, 17-20L
    • 3a.
  4. MicroATX version of M1 layout, 20-24L


For almost as long as the M1 has existed, we've had people asking for a microATX version of the case. It's easily the most oft-heard request we get. The thing is, modifying the M1 to accept a microATX motherboard isn't just a matter of adding one more slot and increasing the height accordingly, as some have suggested. Indeed, it's much more involved than that.

To begin with, Mini-ITX has (at least up until very recently) been limited to LGA1150/1151-socket CPUs at the high end, which top out at 84-91W TDP (Thermal Dissipation Power). In contrast, mATX supports LGA2011 CPUs with TDPs of up to 150W, which is a substantial increase in power draw, and therefore heat output (because power in = heat out).

Similarly, the additional PCIe slots allow for the possibility of SLI and Crossfire configurations, so where Mini-ITX's lone expansion slot limits it to a single card with a TDP of up to 300W, with mATX we now have an effective doubling of potential GPU heat and power.

What this leads to is the following conclusion: a microATX case needs to provide both high power delivery capability, as well as robust system cooling. For the first requirement, it's my position that SFX power supplies do not, at this point in time, provide sufficient power to drive a very high-end SLI/Crossfire system. The highest wattage SFX currently available is limited to 600W, which, while it can run some less extreme dual-card setups, won't suffice for the highest-end systems. Even the upcoming 700W SFX-L won't cut it when it comes to a system with a 150W CPU and two 300W GPUs. Therefore the only option, in my opinion, is to support ATX power supplies.

What you will quickly discover, as I did, is that when you move to a mATX motherboard and ATX PSU, there is very little room for size reduction beyond what's already available. Cases like the Silverstone SG09 are already as small as the components will allow, and that makes aesthetic compromises to achieve reasonable cooling at that size that I'm personally not willing to make. In other words, don't expect the mATX case I design to be smaller than what already exists.


I. Component space requirements

To start off, this is a rundown of the actual dimensions of the major components. It should be understood that the case will be at least 10 to 20mm larger in any given dimension than the components take up, to account for the chassis and exterior panel thickness, screws/rivets/other fasteners, and to make component installation possible. It's not necessary to read all of this, but it's useful to have as a reference.



1. Motherboard
This is a microATX motherboard with two full-length GPUs (312mm, the maximum called for by the spec):



Note the board itself is 244x244mm, however the rear I/O shield extends a few mm past the edge of the board.


Compared to Mini-ITX, microATX is significantly larger:




The depth of the board is just as relevant as the height, since we're able to use the space formed by the front edge of the board and the end of the GPU for a front-mounted PSU, drives, or fan/rad:



This is put to use in many Mini-ITX cases, including the M1, but due to its increased depth microATX has much less usable space available.

Limiting GPU length wouldn't save much space, since mATX boards often have right angle SATA ports at the front edge, which need a good 30-40mm of clearance:



That brings the total depth up to about 285mm/11.2", which isn't far off the 312mm of a full-length GPU.​



2. PSU
In regards to the power supply, the things to note are the space required by modular connectors, and by a right-angled power cable (if used). The former needs, IMO, a minimum of 30mm for a still-snug fit, though more is better, and 40-50mm is even more ideal. In the M1, SFX-L used in conjuction with a long GPU only has 20mm for the modular connectors, which by all accounts is a rather tight fit.
The right-angle AC cable adds about 20mm to the length, which is something to take into account for those layouts that require it.




3. GPU
The PCIe specification gives a maximum length of 312mm (12.28"), and a (PCB) height of 111mm (4.37"). Note the height doesn't include the PCI bracket, which adds 15mm to the overall height.




It's also important to take into account the PCIe power connectors, which are typically located at the top edge of the PCB. These are the same type of connectors used for modular PSUs, and have a similar space requirement. This means 20 to 30mm should be added to the PCB height to determine the actual space required.

Reference GPU designs (i.e., cards designed by nvidia/AMD and usually manufactured and sold by third parties), almost always conform to the 111mm height restriction, and rarely come close to the maximum length.

On the other hand, third party manufacturer add-in boards (AIB) frequently exceed the specification, especially the maximum height. It's quite common for part of the heatsink to overhang the top edge of the PCB, and occasionally the PCB itself will be taller than average, with heights in excess of 150mm in some cases (e.g., ASUS Strix, EVGA Classified). Note how much further out this places the PCIe power connectors:



Some designs incorporate a recessed cutout for the power connectors to mitigate some of the extra height:



However, some space between the edge of the PCB and side panel is still needed to allow for proper airflow. The vast majority of tall GPUs use axial fan type coolers ("open" coolers), which exhaust laterally in all directions (as opposed to centrifugal/blower-type cards, which exhaust primarily through the rear). Since these cards don't take care of their own hot exhaust, it's especially important with these types of cards to have good system airflow.​



4. CPU cooler, rear fan
I'm including these together because they both affect case width, and designing for one essentially gives you the other:



The basic choice is between designing for 120mm/140mm-class, 160-170mm tall tower CPU coolers, which gets you rear 120mm exhaust fan support; or 92mm-class tower coolers (or top-downs), which only allows for a 92mm rear fan. Naturally, the former allows for better cooling - both for the CPU and for system cooling as whole - as well as much wider cooler choice. This also has an impact on maximum GPU height, with the 92mm-class only allowing for GPUs up to 140mm tall (and PCIe power connectors must be included in that height).

The difference between the two sizes is roughly 30mm of case width. Note that, again, the actual case width would be at least 10mm greater than the space the components take up.



5. Cable management
Cable management behind the motherboard is not free! Basically, however much space you want to have for managing cables will need to be added to the case width. 10mm will get you a minimal amount of room to run smaller cables, but don't expect it to suffice for the 24 pin motherboard power cable. 20-30mm would be adequate-to-roomy, but that's 20-30mm of extra case width.

Also worth mentioning is the additional height required if you want to be able to run cables through the gap between the motherboard and top or bottom of the case. Here again, the height needed depends on whether to allow for only thinner cables, or thicker ones as well. In some layouts, there will be additional height for other components anyway, so no height increase may be required.​


II. Priorities and preferences
This is where I define what I think is important in the design, and where you can offer the most feedback.

I want to get away from the air-vents-on-every-side design that the M1 has. Virtually every small case with good cooling does it using this approach, and for good reason: it saves a lot of space, because you can Tetris fans in to deliver airflow directly to components. However, it doesn't lend itself to pleasing aesthetics or easy dust control.

Also, while it may work well enough for power and heat-limited mini-ITX systems, it doesn't necessarily scale well to SLI/Crossfire mATX systems. Look at the hole-covered exterior of the SG09/SG10 to see what it took for Silverstone to achieve good cooling in a 23L package. That's not the direction I want to take.

Instead, I'm prioritizing good system airflow and dust control, as well as aesthetics, over absolute size. With that in mind, these are my priorities:

  • I'm leaning towards full tower (160-165mm) CPU cooler support, along with rear 120mm fan support. This has significant cooling benefits, both for the CPU as well as overall system cooling, plus allowing extra room for tall GPUs.
  • Front-to-back airflow (preferred), or bottom-to-top airflow.
  • Easily accessible front (or bottom) dust filters.
  • Positive pressure (more fans blowing in than out) for dust control.
  • No top or bottom vents (if front-to-back airflow).
    • Reasoning: top vents allow dust to settle in while system is off; spilled liquids can enter in; increased sound transmission from internal fans. Bottom vents require additional floor clearance (=increased height/volume); bottom dust filter are more difficult to access.
  • No side vents.
    • Reasoning: aesthetic considerations, option for window.
  • PSU support: ATX, 160mm modular at minimum. There are smaller ATX PSUs, but this is the size where the options start to open up.


Addional considerations:

  • 4 vs. 5 slot: it's an additional 20mm height in most layouts, though the space could also be used for drive or fan mounting, as it is in the M1. The 5th slot itself is only really useful in SLI/CF setups with an appropriate motherboard that supports a GPU in the 4th slot, which does limit its usefulness to some extent. But nevertheless, for air cooled SLI/CF, a 5th slot is ideal.
  • Front I/O location: I'm fairly neutral on this, but some people hate having the front I/O on the top or side. This is a more important choice than it seems though, because the way I design is to try to integrate things into a cohesive whole. The front I/O is a key functional and aesthetic element, and has a significant impact on the way the entire case is designed.
  • Drives, what kind and how many:
    • 3.5" drives: I'm aiming for a baseline of two.
    • 2.5" drives: pretty easy to fit in, so support for at least 2-4 is a given.
    • 5.25" bays: not a requirement, and absent from most of my layouts.
    • Slim ODD may or may not be an option, but not a big priority.
  • Window option: I know a lot of people like to show off their guts, so it's something I'd like to support. It doesn't work on the M1 because of the side panel vents, and this is one reason I'm trying to avoid that here. One consideration though: the clean way to mount a window is on the inside of the panel, which will add a few mm to the overall width of the case if CPU cooler height is to remain unaffected.

Feedback is welcome.


III. Contender layouts
I'm grouping the layouts based on the PSU location, which is the single biggest differentiator. Several possibilities are given for each, but these are by no means exhaustive, and dimensions and locations for the smaller components (e.g. drives) are given only as examples. As a reminder, the actual case can be expected to be a minimum of 10 to 20mm larger than the dimensions of the components.


1. Traditional - top/bottom PSU, 25-32L

The standard layout that every case uses, for good reason. Front-to-back airflow courtesy of the two big fans up front ensures positive pressure and easy access to dust filters. 3.5" drives get optimal cooling. However, this layout is also the least compact.


1a.



In many ways my favorite layout, in spite of how conventional it is. A single 5.25" bay, plus plenty of room for drives or a front-mounted 240mm (or conceivably 280mm) radiator. One potential downside is the top-mounted PSU, which draws warm air from inside the case.

+Front-to-back airflow
+Positive pressure
+No top/bottom vents
+Easy access dust filter
+Plenty of 3.5" drives
+Plenty of space for a thick front rad
+5.25" option
+No PSU length limit (if drives are removed)
-No dedicated PSU intake
-Not that small
-Similar to existing cases
-No 5th slot


1b.



A shortened version of 1a, dropping the 5.25" bay and reducing the 3.5" HDD count to two.

+Front-to-back airflow
+Positive pressure
+No top/bottom vents
+Easy access dust filter
+Space for a front rad
+No PSU length limit (if drives are removed)
-No dedicated PSU intake
-No 5th slot


1c.



Essentially the same layout as 1b, but with the PSU and drives moved to the bottom.

+Front-to-back airflow
+Positive pressure
+No top vents
+Easy access dust filter
+Space for a front rad
+No PSU length limit (if drives are removed)
+Dedicated PSU intake
-Taller due to PSU intake clearance
-No 5th slot​



2. Space saver - front PSU, 23-32L

With the PSU moved to the front we can typically shave off a couple of liters. Nevertheless, the volume savings aren't really as great as you might think, and the complications to airflow may not make it worthwhile.
A possible issue with this layout is the power supply's vents being open from above. The PSU is the one place in the PC that carries mains voltage, which makes it a safety concern, and having open top vents may be hazardous in case liquids are spilled on the top.

2a.



This layout is potentially quite good for dual or triple AIOs, since the top radiators are able to exhaust directly out of the case.

+Good for dual 120 AIOs or single 240mm top rad
+/-Airflow not ideal; neutral or slightly positive pressure likely
-Top vents
-Wasted space at the top if not using a radiator
-Limited drive support
-PSU vents open to top
-160mm PSU max
-Limited PSU cable space
-No 5th slot


2b.



A more watercooling-friendly design, expanded for a second radiator at the bottom. This would be the tallest layout, and one of the largest, on account of the bottom rad and extra intake clearance needed.

+Multiple radiator support
+5th slot if no bottom radiator is used
+Good airflow, can be positive pressure
+Longer PSU possible if drives are removed
+/-Top-to-bottom airflow
-Wasted space at the top if not using a radiator
-Limited PSU cable space
-Top vents
-PSU vents open to top
-Large; extra height required for bottom intake


2c.



A more compact, reverse-ATX take on the layout, shown with dual 92mm exhaust to reduce width. PSU exhausts through the bottom to address the open-top hazard.

+Front-to-back airflow
+5th slot
+No top vents
+Easy front dust filter access
+/-Airflow may be neutral or slightly positive
-No or very limited watercooling support
-160mm PSU max
-Limited PSU cable space
-PSU vents open to top
-Extra height required for bottom PSU exhaust


2d.



This is similar to the SG09/SG10, with the PSU rotated to exhaust through the side. This either means side panel vents for the PSU, or a duct to front/side vents. Note that this layout trades height for width; as per the PSU size requirements above, the case would need to be around 210mm wide to support a 160mm long modular PSU.

+Front-to-back airflow
+Space for 5th slot or HDDs
+No top vents
+Easy front dust filter access
+Low height
+/-Neutral or slightly positive pressure
-160mm PSU max
-Limited PSU cable space
-Wide



3. Subcompact - PSU over CPU, 17-20L

The smallest possible layout, and the only one that qualifies as SFF by the stricter definitions of the term, this puts the PSU over the motherboard CPU area. Naturally, this reduces the available CPU cooler space considerably, and is generally more difficult to work in. The lack of any exhaust fan (aside from the PSU) likely make it a less than stellar thermal performer as well.

3a.



A basic take on the layout. The bottom space could either be used for drives, as shown, or a 5th slot for SLI/Crossfire spacing. An alternative is to move the drives to the top to keep them away from the hot GPU exhaust, at the expense of losing the 5th slot option.

+Front-to-back airflow
+Positive pressure
+No top/bottom vents
+Easy front dust filter access
+Space for 5th slot or HDDs
+Compact
+Limited watercooling support
-Restrictive airflow, no exhaust fan
-Poor PSU location
-Limited CPU height
-No window possible​


4. MicroATX version of M1 layout, 20-24L

I'm including this here for completeness, since so many people ask about "extending the M1 layout for microATX."

This is the M1's layout:



That makes for a case that's 240x160x328mm, or 12.8L, excluding the feet (10mm) and PCI retaining tab at the rear (also 10mm).

This is the M1's layout expanded for microATX, keeping everything else basically the same:



Based on the M1's dimensions, we get external measurements of about 300x405x160mm, or 19.4L, excluding feet/rear protrusions. Those dimensions make for a long, low case, with a somewhat large footprint for its volume. In general, I think height is less important than footprint if it's intended for desktop use.

The increased length affords more room for a side radiator, allowing for a 280 rad on the side, the same way the M1 supports a 240. However, since 140mm rads are wider, some additional height would be needed to make room between the GPUs and top of the case for angle fittings. Despite the length, it's not quite enough for a 360 rad due to the interior chassis clearance.

In terms of air cooling, note the bottom fans prevent the GPUs in SLI/CF from being spaced apart, which is the optimal configuration for air cooled dual card setups. A 120mm fan could conceivably be mounted at the front below the SFX PSU, but it could not be used with an ATX PSU.

In regards to overall system cooling, either air or water cooled, this layout doesn't have an ideal clean entry-exit airflow path. Air is drawn in the side and/or bottom, and escapes through the top, rear, and anywhere else it can by positive pressure, just like in the M1. The difference, though, is that we have potentially twice or more the heat to deal with, and this layout forces all that hot air throughout the case, baking the motherboard and drives.

Then we have the rest of the issues with the layout: open top and sides allow sound to escape; PSU is open to the top; dust filtration is difficult; large areas of punched ventilation holes on the panels can cause warping, necessitating extra corrective processing during production.

So given all that, what's really the argument for "an enlarged M1?" I would argue, for the same or smaller footprint, and a moderately larger volume, we can design a better performing case. It may not be as small or unique as the M1, but what value is that if the performance isn't there?


+280mm rad support
+Positive pressure
+Looks like the M1
-Non-optimal airflow
-Poor SLI cooling
-Side vents
-Top vents
-PSU vents open to top
-Panel warping concerns
-No window possible
-Mediocre dust filtration
-Long/large footprint for volume
-Not that much smaller than other options






Naturally, feedback is welcome, pick your favorite, make suggestions, etc.
 
Last edited:

Vittra

Gawd
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
905
Layout-wise, increasing the size for ATX doesn't change things much. The added 60mm just increases the volume by 4-5L, so instead of 23-30L, it's 27-35L.

If that ATX can be kept on the low end of that estimate, it's a far more interesting proposition than mATX at this point. Between the SG09/10, TJ08E, and upcoming Nova, it's going to take some considerable effort to differentiate and improve upon the respective designs or to fill another niche in what is quite honestly a strange form factor.

Regarding the actual builds you've subsequently posted, I'd personally put forth that the 5th slot is a necessity - when considering X99 builds, the possibility exists for dual GPU setups that will also want to utilize a PCI-E SSD. To that end, we are immediately eliminating the initial options provided in section 1). I find myself in full agreement of the priorities and preferences section otherwise.

In terms of layouts, I find myself fond of the 1a and 2c concepts the most since they adhere to the priorities. While 1a may not be particularly innovative, it's a solid design. 2c is a bit radial not having WC support and possibly not feeding enough air to the CPU cooler with 2x GPU present, but otherwise seems excellent.

I think the key here is either going with something that is radical/untried, or really going after either the SG09 or TJ08-E design and refining it.
 

Necere

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If that ATX can be kept on the low end of that estimate, it's a far more interesting proposition than mATX at this point. Between the SG09/10, TJ08E, and upcoming Nova, it's going to take some considerable effort to differentiate and improve upon the respective designs or to fill another niche in what is quite honestly a strange form factor.
It's true. There's not a whole lot of room for innovation with mATX, and what innovation is possible is of questionable value.

2c is a bit radial not having WC support and possibly not feeding enough air to the CPU cooler with 2x GPU present, but otherwise seems excellent.
I have the same concerns with 2c, a single 120mm fan doesn't provide a ton of airflow by itself. I'd consider making the forward 3.5 HDD exchangeable for another 120mm intake fan, which would help, although it would also recycle some of the PSU's exhaust.

2c's layout is actually pretty similar to both the Prodigy M and Raijintek Styx, just with a somewhat different airflow approach.
 

EdZ

Gawd
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Jan 28, 2008
Messages
773
Possibly outside the scope of the design, but a more radical dual-PSU design may provide sufficient power while allowing a volume decrease (slightly easier to distribute volume into 'dead' space) from dropping the ATX brick. Dual-SFX may not gain much unless they can be crammed into interesting spaces, but dual '1U' PSUs with forced-air ducting would be capable of pouring out well north of 1000W and - dependant on whether the fan control is geared off of load or temperature - would only be as loud as the ducted intake rather than the 40mm screamers. A redundant pair operating in parallel would be even more compact, though dramatically more expensive and requiring a custom power backplane for each model.
 

Necere

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dual '1U' PSUs
So a double-wide 1U, 160mm wide by 40mm tall and 200-300mm long? It's an interesting idea, but I strongly prefer to stick to off-the-shelf hardware, and it's really out of scope for us anyway.
 

Necere

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If that ATX can be kept on the low end of that estimate, it's a far more interesting proposition than mATX at this point.
On that train of thought, what's the value of ATX over mATX? Because if it's for tri-SLI/Trifire, that requires a different layout strategy, since you're looking at 1000W+ PSUs at that point, and those are at least 190mm+ long. That eliminates most of the mATX layouts above.

On the other hand, if ATX is still desirable without the requirement for 3+ GPUs, it opens up the interesting possibility of an mATX case that can accept ATX boards. By that I mean limiting the number of expansion slots, and positioning the PSU so it overlaps the bottom slots of an ATX board:

4QCIXJN.png


This would be a five-slot mATX case, that's also ATX-capable (but still limited to five slots). Thoughts?
 

okwchin

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 29, 2013
Messages
357
Apart from having to remove the PSU to plug in most of the connectors to the mobo at the bottom edge, it's an interesting concept that allows atx boards. What's the advantage of this? More choice for motherboards, opening up features not available in the Matx form factor. I don't really see any other advantage, however if it's a no cost option then it's not too bad. The difference is really that the PSU is aligned to the foremost side of the case rather than flush against the mobo side of the case. Not really useable space in most cases.
 

Vittra

Gawd
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On that train of thought, what's the value of ATX over mATX? Because if it's for tri-SLI/Trifire, that requires a different layout strategy, since you're looking at 1000W+ PSUs at that point, and those are at least 190mm+ long. That eliminates most of the mATX layouts above.

On the other hand, if ATX is still desirable without the requirement for 3+ GPUs, it opens up the interesting possibility of an mATX case that can accept ATX boards. By that I mean limiting the number of expansion slots, and positioning the PSU so it overlaps the bottom slots of an ATX board:

4QCIXJN.png

This would be a five-slot mATX case, that's also ATX-capable (but still limited to five slots). Thoughts?

I think we've come across a very intriguing option with this design.

While 3x GPU configurations would be of interest to some, my interest lies in connectivity options. To date, the best Z170 options to leverage the enhanced PCH lane capabilities have in fact been ATX boards - those using x2 M.2 slots (x4 PCI-E 3.0) or 1x U.2 / M.2 (VIII Extreme) and the like. In this regard, the limitation to 5 slots would make no difference.

X99 is a bit more of a tough sale though as the PCI-E 3.0 lanes are coming from the CPU to be translated to PCI-E slots, and so some would want more than 5 slots to mount additional add-in cards. Again, I personally wouldn't be affected by this limitation and could easily work around it but I can see it as a potential concern.

It does however open up the possibility to 8 DIMM slot capability through ATX - something X99 users may very well appreciate.
 

Necere

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So at minimum with that layout we're looking at about 380x380x190mm, or 27.4L. Not bad for a case that takes an ATX board, really, despite the missing expansion slots. Who really does more than two GPUs anyway?
 

jalex3

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Apr 16, 2012
Messages
50
I like 1b the most. I don't mind top mounted power supplies. They get less dusty and help cool the system.
The extra space at the front should allow for water cooling with shorter gpus. Slim drive is good for some people and you could fit the IO under it perhaps.
The 1b layout with a door would be good. It does increase the depth but would hide the IO and optical. I have a define R5 and its really made me appreciate doors for aesthetics and noise reduction.
 

bhtooefr

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48
Apparently I've only actually posted on here once in 9.2 years, and it was to troll a keyboard thread five years ago, so... hi?

In any case, 3A brings to mind a layout that Intel intended with the ATX and SFX standards originally - they used to have the PSU flow reversed. That is, the PSU was intended to blow onto the CPU (I'm not joking here - they reversed this in ATX 2.0, I believe), not be an exhaust fan. So, get a sufficiently powerful fan in the PSU, flip it, and run a top-down CPU cooler. It'll still be a poor layout for cooling, but it'd be better than 3A as-is, I think. And, there's always reversing the front fans, too, although then the layout becomes negative pressure.

Also, run the entire case flipped (GPUs on top), so that the hot air coming out of them is less likely to get sucked into the PSU.

Really, it's probably not going to be enough to make 3A work well thermally, but it's still interesting to consider.

Another thing to consider, although it wastes most of the advantages of Micro-ATX or ATX (other than sheer motherboard availability), is to run the slots parallel to the board. The GT3 GTR did this (pics here) to get a full ATX case into 13.6 l, with three slots. Four could be done and still have space advantages over a conventional perpendicular layout (3.2" thick stack of cards, versus your allowing 7.3" for cards), although there'd be a concern with the back of the inside card against the motherboard, and cooling. And, even six could be done and be thinner than space for a 7.3" card - only 4.8" - but it would likely end up making the case just as thick as a minimum thickness perpendicular layout (ala M1), with little benefit other than supporting taller cards, and adding significant cost (for PCIe riser cables) and thermal complications.

Of course, the GT3 GTR also used a TFX power supply, which isn't an option here. Unfortunately, the server market doesn't seem to have anything good at crazy high power outputs, unless you go proprietary, so ATX really is the only way to go, and packaging an ATX power supply into a thin system would require going extremely tall. And, a thin system also compromises CPU cooling options.

Edit: A third option I thought of, if flipping the PSU fan to use it as an intake is fair game, could be based off of 2A. Flip the PSU fan to be an intake instead of an exhaust, then flip the PSU upside down and around so the AC inlet is on the bottom, the fan is aiming at the motherboard. Effectively, especially with some ducting, this could become an intake. And, it keeps the PSU grille from catching liquids.
 
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craz0

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 1, 2009
Messages
181
3. Subcompact - PSU over CPU, 17-20L

The smallest possible layout, and the only one that qualifies as SFF by the stricter definitions of the term, this puts the PSU over the motherboard CPU area. Naturally, this reduces the available CPU cooler space considerably, and is generally more difficult to work in. The lack of any exhaust fan (aside from the PSU) likely make it a less than stellar thermal performer as well.

3a.

8wCx6hW.png


A basic take on the layout. The bottom space could either be used for drives, as shown, or a 5th slot for SLI/Crossfire spacing. An alternative is to move the drives to the top to keep them away from the hot GPU exhaust, at the expense of losing the 5th slot option.

+Front-to-back airflow
+Positive pressure
+No top/bottom vents
+Easy front dust filter access
+Space for 5th slot or HDDs
+Compact
+Limited watercooling support
-Restrictive airflow, no exhaust fan
-Poor PSU location
-Limited CPU height
-No window possible​
[/INDENT]



Naturally, feedback is welcome, pick your favorite, make suggestions, etc.

My preference goes with this design with maybe a few changes:
# Make it a bit taller and adding a rear/top mounted 12cm exhaust fan
# With the extra height having the option of slim optical drive
# The option to add a 24cm rad in the front with slightly shorter GPU's or two 14cm fans
# Having a 9-10cm CPU cooler height between PSU (greater range to pick from)
# Having the PSU mounts reversible (pulling hot air off the CPU or cool air from the side)
# Making/designing a new SFX power supply bracket for the people that want use the smaller PSU, (as an option or sold separately) that pushes the PSU up against the side wall like a full size PSU would (not centered like the one they give us does) it would also give extra room between the PSU and CPU. In theory it could be used on any of the designs that you have listed.

This I believe gives us the smallest foot print/size but we still have a larger of shelf configuring options
 
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Phuncz

2[H]4U
Joined
Apr 12, 2009
Messages
2,630
Firstly, thanks Necere for taking the time and effort to show us your process of designing these cases. It's very much appreciated and I enjoyed reading it !

Secondly,
I think we've come across a very intriguing option with this design.

While 3x GPU configurations would be of interest to some, my interest lies in connectivity options. To date, the best Z170 options to leverage the enhanced PCH lane capabilities have in fact been ATX boards - those using x2 M.2 slots (x4 PCI-E 3.0) or 1x U.2 / M.2 (VIII Extreme) and the like. In this regard, the limitation to 5 slots would make no difference.

X99 is a bit more of a tough sale though as the PCI-E 3.0 lanes are coming from the CPU to be translated to PCI-E slots, and so some would want more than 5 slots to mount additional add-in cards. Again, I personally wouldn't be affected by this limitation and could easily work around it but I can see it as a potential concern.

It does however open up the possibility to 8 DIMM slot capability through ATX - something X99 users may very well appreciate.
In my opinion, ATX is the most inefficiently used motherboard format, since most default to ATX for some reason but are running a single GPU card in them with a few HDDs and maybe an SSD or two. Basically something even an mITX board could easily handle.
But Vittra does offer very valid points (marked in red) of allowing an ATX where an mATX would fit. I'd like to add that triple SLI/CrossFire is often not a good idea (less support, often inefficient) and would require a much more potent case (for more cooling options and PSU length). So I don't see an immediate issue, especially if it's marketed as an mATX case with limited support for ATX.

Keeping the "usable" (Add-In Board) area to 5-slot mATX does seem appealing to me, as it allows much more board options. Especially when Z170 just launched, there was no mATX in sight. Or if you want to have a novelty board like the Asus Sabertooth or dual-socket boards like the Asus Z10PA-D8.

I'd personally like to see you go with this concept as this does make me warm and fuzzy.
 
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vipz

Gawd
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Apr 11, 2005
Messages
818
A lot of info to digest and mull over. In general I agree with your priorities.

I'm most interested in the ATX-capable designs, but I would much rather the last 2-3 expansion slots share space with drives and/or cooling than with the PSU, as the PSU is not optional in any scenario. Many ATX boards geared towards 2 GPUs have them occupy slots 2/3 and 5/6. Having the PSU at slot 6 and 7 would eliminate all those boards as option.

I guess at that point you'd basically be building a refined version of the S304.

Honestly I wouldn't mind that one bit :D
 

Sverebom

Weaksauce
Joined
May 11, 2014
Messages
88
While I was bragging about the clever and efficient internal design of the Sugo SG10, I agree with your points about a clean, straight forward and easy to manage airflow design, and while thinking about it, I remembered a case that I always loved but couldn't afford and that was discontinued long ago. Maybe you guys know that case, it's the Abee DX4.

Back then that case has inspired me to think about my absolute dream case, and I hope that my ideas will have some value in this discussion. But before I start, please allow me to outline what I think should be the requirement for a beautiful state-of-the-art "put it on your table" PC case:



1 - Small footprint
I think that this is the most crucial factor for a case that is meant to sit on your table. The larger the footprint, the more space you need on your table. Extra height however is no problem in most work environments. An extra depth of 20 centimeters tend to be more problematic than an extra height of 20 centimeters.

Further considerations: Higher cases look much better next to large monitors than the typical shoebox design that have become so common these days. Furthermore there is almost no market for beautiful high-quality mATX towers that try to be as small as possible and can fit easily on a desk. You could claim a niche here lke you did with the M1.

Plus: Given enough height (probably around 400mm) it could still fit either on the table or underneath it (try with a Silverstone shoebox).


2 - No optical drives
If you find space for a slimline ODD (preferably slot-in for a cleaner look) or an optional modular solution, fine, then do it. Otherwise don't waste space (and production resources) that should be better used for space-efficient cooling and airflow. Most people don't need ODDs anymore these days.


3 - Don't design the case fpr 3.5''-HDDs
Why are we still using these? Most people store their applications and games, that could profit from the extra speed of a 7200 RPM HDD, on their SSDs these days. For eveything else a 2.5''-HDD is enough. Be progressive! Take the next step and phase out the old drive technologies!

However, it should be easy to have a modular solution that can accomodate both form-factors without harming the design goals


4 - Don't place the PSU in front the CPU-socket
Use the possible extra height to place the PSU below the mainboard. The would allow the use of all kinds of cooling equipment, including full-size tower coolers, or just the freedom to have to a window. That would greatly increase the possible market for your case.




Now here is what I would do and love to see:


lRCe1r7.png


Dimensions: 330mm(D) - 350mm(H)


1 - I have to admit that while playing around with the components I became less "aggressive" than I initially thought, realizing that this case is not just for me and my needs. Therefore the layout is quite traditional while keeping the footprint as small as possible.

2 - Personally I would add the extra height for at least two top fans or maybe even a radiator in the top. Without a 240mm radiator, there might be enough space for a 5.25''-ODD (preferably opening to the back to not destroy an otherwise clean front panel for a device that less and less people use today) or additional HDD-mounts.

3 - The idea with the HDD cage is that it can hold two 3.5''-HDDs or one 3.5''-HDD and two 2.5''-HDDs in horizontal orientation or four 2.5''-HDDs in vertical orientiation (five with a mount outside the cage).

4 - I wouldn't mind having a frontpanel like the one you have designed for your redesign of the Sugo SG9.

5 - Hopefully enough room for 180mm PSUs.

6 - You could make the case even shorter (300mm) by limiting the case to 160mm PSUs, moving the HDD-cage to the back and offering a fan mount closer to the bottom of the case.
 
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Sverebom

Weaksauce
Joined
May 11, 2014
Messages
88
A second variant:

w4qbMCk.png


Dimensions: 305mm(D) - 370mm(H)



1 - Loooooots of fresh air

2 - I envision the front to be modular with mounts for different fan configurations.

3 - GPU length up to 300mm (to fit the current R9 Fury models) if you change the fan configuration to two 140mm fans without a fan in front of the GPU.

4 - Obviously not perfect for SLI with very long GPUs.
 

EdZ

Gawd
Joined
Jan 28, 2008
Messages
773
So a double-wide 1U, 160mm wide by 40mm tall and 200-300mm long? It's an interesting idea, but I strongly prefer to stick to off-the-shelf hardware, and it's really out of scope for us anyway.
I was thinking more like a double-stack. Allows the stack the be placed 'below' (or above) the motherboard with a similar height to a reference GPU.

Wait, that's just a 2U PSU. Not sure if there are existing mounts to allow placing two 1U PSUs into a 2U mount, but that could be an interesting route for choice flexibility.
 

Phuncz

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Joined
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Messages
2,630
Do those PSUs even exist ? Most 1U and 2U PSUs I've seen use a proprietary hot-swap system, only output one voltage and have loud 40mm or 80mm fans.

There would also be the desire to have this available almost everywhere in the world for a decent price and it shouldn't require modding or other components to work. If so, this would make the case very limited in PSU flexibility which, even now with plenty of SFX and ATX options, is still a limiting factor with the Ncase M1 sometimes.

For example, even if the 700W SFX PSU from Silverstone is released somewhere in 2016, I'd personally be hesitant for a hypothetical case that has that PSU as its only option, since you're dependent on one product of one manufacturer.
So the design goal to allow 160mm modular ATX PSUs opens up that avenue quite a bit with dozens of alternatives that start at 700W.
 

EdZ

Gawd
Joined
Jan 28, 2008
Messages
773
1U and 2U Server PSUs are widely available. from a large number of manufacturers in a plethora of power ratings (and 80+ rated at the least), and most of the high power ones I've found have standard ATX12V outputs (and most even having PCIe power as standard). Fan noise would be mitigated by providing a dedicated ducted 120mm/140mm intake to allow the 40mm/80mm PSU fan to spin down (assuming it's temperature-governed, not power-govered).

Using dedicated redundant PSUs as twinned PSUs would indeed require a custom backplane solution from the PSU manufacturer though (as the sub-PSU form-factors and connectors are proprietary), but using separate 1U PSUs manually twinned would not have that issue.
 

Necere

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 3, 2003
Messages
2,755
I like 1b the most. I don't mind top mounted power supplies. They get less dusty and help cool the system.
The extra space at the front should allow for water cooling with shorter gpus. Slim drive is good for some people and you could fit the IO under it perhaps.
The 1b layout with a door would be good. It does increase the depth but would hide the IO and optical. I have a define R5 and its really made me appreciate doors for aesthetics and noise reduction.
1a and 1b are probably my favorites, but I go back and forth. They're pretty straightforward, but there's nothing really wrong with that. I'd definitely consider a door/panel with side intakes, but you're right that it does increase the depth (+20-30mm).

In any case, 3A brings to mind a layout that Intel intended with the ATX and SFX standards originally - they used to have the PSU flow reversed. That is, the PSU was intended to blow onto the CPU (I'm not joking here - they reversed this in ATX 2.0, I believe), not be an exhaust fan. So, get a sufficiently powerful fan in the PSU, flip it, and run a top-down CPU cooler. It'll still be a poor layout for cooling, but it'd be better than 3A as-is, I think. And, there's always reversing the front fans, too, although then the layout becomes negative pressure.
That would require the user to open up the PSU to flip the fan, exposing them to significant danger and voiding the warranty. So that's definitely not an option.

Another thing to consider, although it wastes most of the advantages of Micro-ATX or ATX (other than sheer motherboard availability), is to run the slots parallel to the board. The GT3 GTR did this (pics here) to get a full ATX case into 13.6 l, with three slots. Four could be done and still have space advantages over a conventional perpendicular layout (3.2" thick stack of cards, versus your allowing 7.3" for cards), although there'd be a concern with the back of the inside card against the motherboard, and cooling. And, even six could be done and be thinner than space for a 7.3" card - only 4.8" - but it would likely end up making the case just as thick as a minimum thickness perpendicular layout (ala M1), with little benefit other than supporting taller cards, and adding significant cost (for PCIe riser cables) and thermal complications.

Of course, the GT3 GTR also used a TFX power supply, which isn't an option here. Unfortunately, the server market doesn't seem to have anything good at crazy high power outputs, unless you go proprietary, so ATX really is the only way to go, and packaging an ATX power supply into a thin system would require going extremely tall. And, a thin system also compromises CPU cooling options.
I think you may have made the case against that layout :p It probably worked well enough for the time it was designed, but these days with 300W GPUs it just wouldn't have the cooling capability to perform well.

My preference goes with this design with maybe a few changes:
# Make it a bit taller and adding a rear/top mounted 12cm exhaust fan
# With the extra height having the option of slim optical drive
# The option to add a 24cm rad in the front with slightly shorter GPU's or two 14cm fans
# Having a 9-10cm CPU cooler height between PSU (greater range to pick from)
That would make it pretty wide though: 90-100mm + 86mm + 30mm = 206-216mm. Basically the same size as the 2d/SG09 layout. The PSU-over-motherboard design is not something I think most people will favor anyway. It makes a bunch of sacrifices to shave a few liters that most people will probably not find worthwhile.

1 - Small footprint
I think that this is the most crucial factor for a case that is meant to sit on your table.
That's not a specific goal of mine. I think it's probably a bit too optimistic to expect for an mATX case to be small enough to fit comfortably on a table/desktop. But if you *did* want to have it on a desk, I agree with you that depth is a bigger concern than height. The thing is, we have certain hard limits. Like, the ASUS Strix cards are quite popular (based on how often people ask if they'll fit in the M1), so I'd like to ensure support for them. The GTX 980 ti Strix is 305mm long, though, and there still needs to be room for a front fan (and potentially a door/front panel). I've thought a bit about what you suggest in regards to removing one of the fans for longer GPUs, so that's a possibility. The other consideration though is that reducing the depth takes away radiator space. Room for a top-mounted radiator is just wasted space if its not used.

I was thinking more like a double-stack. Allows the stack the be placed 'below' (or above) the motherboard with a similar height to a reference GPU.

Wait, that's just a 2U PSU. Not sure if there are existing mounts to allow placing two 1U PSUs into a 2U mount, but that could be an interesting route for choice flexibility.
Yeah, a 2U sized-PSU wouldn't really save any space. It's almost as tall as an ATX PSU (86mm), so the most it would do is give you some extra space for drives or something.

I agree with vipz, many ATX boards are designed for dual-GPUs using slots 2/3 and 5/6 so having the 6th slot available would be useful. Jonsbo did that with their RM1: http://www.jonsbo.com/en/products_29_2.html
It'd be more of a six-slot ATX case than a five-slot mATX case at that point, so may as well just go for all seven slots. The extra installation hassle and unusable slot (even if most people never use it) hardly seem worth it for a 20mm reduction in height.
 

Vittra

Gawd
Joined
Jul 9, 2005
Messages
905
I agree. The idea with that design is that it is primarily still an mATX case, that happens to have some limited ATX functionality for those who need extra connectivity or DIMM slots.

It also doesn't prohibit the use of an SFX (atx bracket) to reclaim use of the 6th slot, but you'd most likely be creating custom cable lengths to reach everything with one.

I think of it much like I do ATX PSUs in the M1 - not ideal, but in some niche circumstances, they can be utilized to great effect.
 
D

Deleted member 222586

Guest
I can't say I really like what I'm seeing here. I'll be very honest: I bought an M1 because:

a) The aesthetics of the case were (and are) fantastic
b) The case was very usable
c) Other things.

For reference, other things include: fabbed by Lian Li, super small size, no competition in that segment, community-funded, etc.

For me, size was never #1 factor. Its not even #4, actually.

Where am I going with all of this?

IMO, you need to focus a bit, and see where is the market today, and where it is leading. How many designs do we have in mATX, or ATX? A heck of a lot... and many of them are space efficient and/or have a very nice design and/or are very usable. How do you plan to compete there? Not by looking at the inside of anything, I'm telling you.

So, since you aren't looking for something as small as possible (meaning, you will have a ton of competing products from all manufacturers and price ranges)... you should start with the outside of the case, as I believe that this is the #1 buying factor for most of the users at this price segment (note: high budgets). THAT is what will define the success of your product, at least in the first place.

Regarding the design choices, I also have an opinion of my own:

a) You should disregard the as_long_as_it_gets_vga approach. Simply put: why would you put the base of your design by going above standard? You just threw out the window every single compromise you made with the M1. And those compromises gave the case its character. Doing Jack of all trades doesn't... and its not even efficient, nor makes any sense. Or are there vga's in the market so good that you would design your case around them? No you wouldn't, nor is the need out there to adapt your future product to cards that represent less than 1% of the market, and have similar options at more common size.

b) Also, I see you simply disregarded the SFX format for mATX because it doesn't cut it for uber high-end setups. You are right, but how many uber high-end setups do use mATX form factors, instead of ATX? How many of those mATX users would be interested in a case like the one you might design? Heck, you can run a GTX970 SLI with a midly powerful PSU, and that system will be very very powerful.

IMO, you shouldn't disregard SFX simply for the heck of it, as you are assuming several things that might not be right, lets see:
-Everybody uses multi-gpu configurations. (This implies that nobody will decide to run mATX simply because they have another pci/pci-e card that can't be used in most mITX cases. This also implies that nobody buys a case simply because it looks right).
-Everybody has few HDD's. (This implies that nobody will choose mATX instead of mITX because they might have half a dozen HDD that require a lot more case space and sata connectors).

c) You also assumed that people will run uber tower cpu coolers that require a lot of space, but barely assumed that people might use WC. Again, no compromise?

I don't know. Personally, the top of the line efficiency regarding mATX is, for me, in the form of the TJ08-E. That is where I would start, if you were to keep looking at mATX.

---

All in all, I don't think I recognise anything I see here when I try to compare it with the NCASE M1 that I have. Your present designs are all jack-of-all-trades, and we have several hundred products out there that do all of that. There is no innovation, no goal, not really nothing.

Just ask yourself, why would anybody venture into crowd-funding when you could buy a case right now that will do what you propose by a fraction of the price?

Then, ask yourself the same question regarding the M1. You should see the reasons straight away, because they are out there, for anyone to take.



Huge IMO here: try to finish your LRPC. That design is a market leader, and what you are proposing here is a market follower... and I'm pretty sure that NCASE will fail as a market follower... let alone the fact that the LRPC looks astonishing, has a superb balance of features and compromises, and only has a little problem that I'm sure you can fix with a bit more time. You can't simply give up on that design, now that most of the work is over. A huge bump in the road? That is it. But heck, compare this two:

(pictures by spencers: http://hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1041895637&postcount=81 )

2zzrz2b.jpg


ycape.jpg


(pictures by... :D:D:D)

Rhpoa7Sh.jpg


cCPhsoPh.jpg


I'll be damned if anything like the Silverstone gets anywhere near my computer. :rolleyes: The other, on the other hand... just needs a little more love, then you will have your heat problem solved and we should be able to get it.
 

Necere

2[H]4U
Joined
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Messages
2,755
IMO, you need to focus a bit, and see where is the market today, and where it is leading. How many designs do we have in mATX, or ATX? A heck of a lot... and many of them are space efficient and/or have a very nice design and/or are very usable. How do you plan to compete there? Not by looking at the inside of anything, I'm telling you.

So, since you aren't looking for something as small as possible (meaning, you will have a ton of competing products from all manufacturers and price ranges)... you should start with the outside of the case, as I believe that this is the #1 buying factor for most of the users at this price segment (note: high budgets). THAT is what will define the success of your product, at least in the first place.
I agree that a lot of the draw of the M1 (and any case) is the exterior design. And I will show some exterior design concepts as things progress. But I want to narrow down the layouts first, and I want to show people why certain decisions are made.

Look, people are initially attracted to a case based on the way it looks. So that's important. But where the rubber meets the road, it still needs to be functional and perform well. The user experience has to be there. So I have to look at the inside.

a) You should disregard the as_long_as_it_gets_vga approach. Simply put: why would you put the base of your design by going above standard? You just threw out the window every single compromise you made with the M1.
The M1 supports long GPUs up to the specification max, though, which is 312mm. That's what I'm targeting for this case as well.

As far as height, tall GPUs are where the market is moving. There's nothing I can do about that. Besides which, tall GPU support is "free" with tall CPU cooler and rear 120mm fan support. So height isn't really an issue.

b) Also, I see you simply disregarded the SFX format for mATX because it doesn't cut it for uber high-end setups.
That's not the only reason. I'm certainly not discounting SFX "for the heck of it." Other reasons:
  • With SFX you are limited to just a handful of manufacturers, and availability can be an issue.
  • Many of the current SFX power supplies are known to have various issues with noise. ATX is simply a better choice in this regard, with passive options available.
  • I'm operating on the assumption that if people were interested in the smallest form-factor, they'd opt for mini-ITX, and there it makes sense to also reduce the other components as much as possible.
  • Going SFX-only limits you in a way that ATX would not.

-Everybody has few HDD's. (This implies that nobody will choose mATX instead of mITX because they might have half a dozen HDD that require a lot more case space and sata connectors).
Layout 1a has room for plenty of hard drives.

c) You also assumed that people will run uber tower cpu coolers that require a lot of space, but barely assumed that people might use WC. Again, no compromise?
There are several layouts that allow for watercooling. Layouts 1a-1c have room for a 240/280 in front and a 120 rear rad. 2b has room for dual 240mm rads.

I don't know. Personally, the top of the line efficiency regarding mATX is, for me, in the form of the TJ08-E. That is where I would start, if you were to keep looking at mATX.
Layouts 1a-1c are all basically similar to the TJ08-E.

All in all, I don't think I recognise anything I see here when I try to compare it with the NCASE M1 that I have. Your present designs are all jack-of-all-trades, and we have several hundred products out there that do all of that. There is no innovation, no goal, not really nothing.
You've contradicted yourself here by your claim I'm assuming people have few hard drives. Clearly, most of the layouts aren't designed for massive storage, so the "jack-of-all-trades" accusation doesn't hold water. If you don't see innovation, it's because there's little to be had with this form factor. All the innovating has been done. The doesn't mean there isn't room to strike a good balance of form and function within the existing paradigm. That's my goal.

But look, part of what made the M1 innovative was the development process; quite a few of its features were suggested by users on this forum. If you have suggestions on how to innovate with the mATX form factor, I'm all ears.

Huge IMO here: try to finish your LRPC. That design is a market leader, and what you are proposing here is a market follower... and I'm pretty sure that NCASE will fail as a market follower... let alone the fact that the LRPC looks astonishing, has a superb balance of features and compromises, and only has a little problem that I'm sure you can fix with a bit more time.
The LRPC is a separate discussion. But your argument about lack of innovation applies just as well there. From the inside, it's barely distinguishable from the RVZ02. Why would people choose it? You gave your answer (it looks better), which could equally apply to an mATX or ATX case.
 

vipz

Gawd
Joined
Apr 11, 2005
Messages
818
Do you have any exterior designs that you can show off? Assuming front intake only, how would you keep the design "in the family" so to say? I imagine the beveled front of the M1 wouldn't mix well with intakes - I remember Lian-Li has tried something similar in the past with a mid tower and it just didn't look right.
 

Necere

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 3, 2003
Messages
2,755
Do you have any exterior designs that you can show off? Assuming front intake only, how would you keep the design "in the family" so to say? I imagine the beveled front of the M1 wouldn't mix well with intakes - I remember Lian-Li has tried something similar in the past with a mid tower and it just didn't look right.
I've experimented a bit with the M1-style angled front panel on mATX layouts, but generally it doesn't look good with the proportions. Part of the problem also is the front I/O, which doesn't look right if it's not incorporated in a similar way as the M1, or if it's off-center. I think trying to keep the looks "in the family" is a bit of an artificial limitation that doesn't lend itself to good designs. Really, you want the design to work with the functional elements - the front I/O, air intakes, etc., as well as the size and proportions. For these reasons, I try to make each design the best it can be for each case's unique aspects, rather than trying to shoehorn in some "family resemblance." It ends up being awkward more often than not to do that.

Here are a random selection of exterior design exercises based on various mATX layouts that I've done over the past few months:




This is based on the 2b layout.




1c layout.




Also 1c.




A reverse 3a layout. Basically the Raijintek Styx.
 
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Sverebom

Weaksauce
Joined
May 11, 2014
Messages
88
From "most appealing" to "naaah" (personal opinion of course):

1 > 3 > 2 > .................. > 4


#1 is pure perfection. The proportions. The colors and the contrast. The front panel. The positioning of the front panel elements. The internal layout. The feet. The window. It's perfect. Only downside for me is the limited space for oversize graphics card, but I accept that trade off for a the better look. I would pay 300 Euros for that case.

#2 and #3 need the feet/stand of #1 or something similar. Apart from that they both might have an even better internal layout, but I'm not sure about the front panels. The solution you have found for #2 looks interesting, but the result is a front that is just a barren desert of brushed aluminium. Your front panel solution for looks nice too. Utilitarian in a good way. Could still need some work though; it looks very busy up there. That area probably should be higher with more room between the ports and buttons.

#4 is everything I don't like. Which is a matter of taste of course. The proportions are strange due to the reduced height and the mirrored internal layout doesn't look sexy, especially not with the PSU in front of the CPU socket. Not to mention the bad cooling option. The I/O panel on the top of the case does the rest.


Make #1 or I will become a console gamer!
Can we have the dimensions for the cases please?

Edit: I would love to see a mix of #1 and #2!
 
Last edited:

Phuncz

2[H]4U
Joined
Apr 12, 2009
Messages
2,630

This is based on the 2b layout.
I like the PowerMac G5 / Mac Pro design queues, wonderful design. The other ones are very nicely done too, but this one stood out the most for me. I'm very confident your next case (whichever design) will again make me childishly impatient waiting for it to arrive at my doorstep.
 

Necere

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 3, 2003
Messages
2,755
#1 is pure perfection. The proportions. The colors and the contrast. The front panel. The positioning of the front panel elements. The internal layout. The feet. The window. It's perfect. Only downside for me is the limited space for oversize graphics card
Do you mean tall cards? I rendered all of these a while ago, and they're all actually the narrower wide, limited to 92mm rear fan/cooler. As I said in my big post though, I'm leaning more towards supporting full tower coolers/120mm rear fan, and therefore tall GPUs.

The solution you have found for #2 looks interesting, but the result is a front that is just a barren desert of brushed aluminium.
The minimalism is kind of why I like it, and I think different colored exteriors could work well with the design:




Your front panel solution for looks nice too. Utilitarian in a good way. Could still need some work though; it looks very busy up there. That area probably should be higher with more room between the ports and buttons.
The front I/O and slim ODD are pushed up to the top to allow for enough room for the front fans. This design was my attempt to try to do as many things "right," i.e., not upset people by having the interface stuff on the top or side. Here's another set of renders of that design:



Again, this is designed for 92mm-class coolers/rear fan, and a full tower version would be wider.

Make #1 or I will become a console gamer!
Can we have the dimensions for the cases please?
They'd just be an estimate, as these aren't mechanically complete designs, but you can get an idea from the dimensions of the layout each is based on.

Edit: I would love to see a mix of #1 and #2!
So the Mac Pro-ish exterior with a traditional internal layout (1a-1c)? The vents would need to be moved from the top to the front panel in that case, and the floor clearance provided by the feet would be largely unnecessary, since the airflow would be completely different. Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure that design is even realistic; 2mm aluminum may not be sufficiently strong for the foot design, and 4mm would likely be prohibitively expensive.
 
D

Deleted member 222586

Guest
I agree that a lot of the draw of the M1 (and any case) is the exterior design. And I will show some exterior design concepts as things progress. But I want to narrow down the layouts first, and I want to show people why certain decisions are made.

Look, people are initially attracted to a case based on the way it looks. So that's important. But where the rubber meets the road, it still needs to be functional and perform well. The user experience has to be there. So I have to look at the inside.

What I trying to say is that we are attracted visually. IE I will never ever buy a case that has an appearance that I do not like, no matter how useful it is. On the other hand, I might buy a case that looks astonishing to me irregardless of how useful it is. Which is why I mention that you should start showing exterior designs ;)

The M1 supports long GPUs up to the specification max, though, which is 312mm. That's what I'm targeting for this case as well.

True, but it does so without compromising the design. Unless I'm missing something the way the psu sits by the motherboard, there is no way you can't mount such a long vga there... but I don't think it was because you wanted to have such compatibility... but it simply happened because of how the psu and the motherboard are located.

Or did you have other things to put where the end of the vga lies?

As far as height, tall GPUs are where the market is moving. There's nothing I can do about that. Besides which, tall GPU support is "free" with tall CPU cooler and rear 120mm fan support. So height isn't really an issue.

I didn't mention anything about height because yes, taller than normal gpu's seem to be the norm, and I doubt they will go away.

That's not the only reason. I'm certainly not discounting SFX "for the heck of it." Other reasons:
  • With SFX you are limited to just a handful of manufacturers, and availability can be an issue.
  • Many of the current SFX power supplies are known to have various issues with noise. ATX is simply a better choice in this regard, with passive options available.
  • I'm operating on the assumption that if people were interested in the smallest form-factor, they'd opt for mini-ITX, and there it makes sense to also reduce the other components as much as possible.
  • Going SFX-only limits you in a way that ATX would not.

Yes, but you have erased SFX of your designs, which kinda proves my point as you have your choice set already (I know you have your reasons, I'm not stating otherwise).

There are several layouts that allow for watercooling. Layouts 1a-1c have room for a 240/280 in front and a 120 rear rad. 2b has room for dual 240mm rads.

I wasn't referring to the designs not allowing watercooling... I was referring to the fact that, again, there is no compromise. They allow anything, which means that they are flexible... and, because of that, the dimensions of the case will be pretty much the same as any other case.

The LRPC is a separate discussion. But your argument about lack of innovation applies just as well there. From the inside, it's barely distinguishable from the RVZ02. Why would people choose it? You gave your answer (it looks better), which could equally apply to an mATX or ATX case.

I know it is a separate discussion, but since we are all here...

The difference between LRPC and mATX/ATX is that there are probably thousands of iterations of cases in the "big" market... whereas there are barely a handful of designs in the mITX market. Even more so, as of today there isn't a case in the market that competes with the NCASE M1 regarding build quality and usability (to me Lian Li is #1 in build quality, but they are terrible at making their precious cases any good at being usable), regardless of the price range. Which is why your design is still selling, as there is nothing that looks half as good, at any price.

Yes, Silverstone has a ton of mATX and mITX models but... they don't have a build quality that looks 1/4 as good as Lian Li. On the other hand, the mATX and ATX market is full of iterations that have outstanding build quality. Most of what could be done is done already, by several dozen brands, with several different design qualities.

Can you compete against those? I honestly doubt it. I wish you could, but I don't think that is the direction a "boutique" brand like yours should be headed. Unless, of course, you find a design that is so damn good that people will accept to pay x2 or x3 of what they would pay for a similar functionality.

Which is why I mention that you should start with the looks, as the mATX / ATX formula is so used, and there are so many fantastic functional inner designs that you don't need to sweat there.

---

Suggestions: I like the LRPC looks... meaning: try to escape the traditional case formatting. AKA, make the case slimmer than standard. This implies using 92mm fan for the rear... but, imo, the case looks much much better, and different from where the rest of the market is going. At the same time you should have enough space for taller gpu's, and big enough heatsinks or AIO.

Also, ditch 5.25 (they ruin the looks no matter how you hide them), but keep the insert for slim optical drives, if you are to have a drive on your design.

Ditch the side-vents, as you use them on renders 2, 3 and 4. Also, those designs look to be variations of the uber mashed Lian Li A05.

Why?

dsc0070ndz.jpg


Design 1 looks different than the market. It also helps that it uses a combination of colors.

Btw, you should also try to play with inverted-atx, as nobody seems to be using it anymore.
 

Mackan

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jun 8, 2014
Messages
379
They are very nice looking. I particularly like the ones with side vented front, because it indicates possibility for a silent case, yet with good airflow. Compare to Fractal Design Define S, that many wants a smaller version of. Maybe could be something?

Have you ever experimented more with the A4 style with risers? Given an SFX, or ATX, PSU on the bottom under mobo, one could have the mobo on one side, and mount risers "on the other side". Only one would fit in the mITX case, but for mATX, I believe 2 would fit. Don't know the practicality of this, but it would certainly show up your hardware nicely. Would be nice to see a good render of it.
 

jaboki

Gawd
Joined
Jan 2, 2007
Messages
763
What caught my attention to the NCASE M1 was the following:
1. The front of the case color contrast vs IO panel (silver vs black). This looks simply sexy:
M1-v2-03-1500x750.jpg


2. The small form factor without any wasted space. VERY very well thought out, and EVERYTHING made sense.

I hope the NCASE MATX gives the same 2 things that caught my attention to the M1. :)
 
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