Before asking NCASE about Micro-ATX...

Vittra

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That Evolv case is absolutely atrocious for mounting a radiator at the top. It doesn't matter if it's intake or exhaust, you can't get enough air in or out using that design. Most people find this out the hard way, after wondering why their temps seem anywhere from 5 - 8 degrees warmer than they should typically be.
 

Sverebom

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The only thing is, if we end up going with a narrower or shallower design, there wouldn't be much to it because of the holes to pass through cables, and/or not leaving enough room for front rads
Not sure if I follow you here. Let's assume a width of 170mm. Even with a 280mm radiator you would still have ~25mm for the "double wall". As for the holes and grommets: You could do what NZXT did with the S440 and just have a side access to the "double wall" where you could put the cables through. That would make holes and grommets obsolete and probably help to reduce costs.


And really, so do I. But I want to make sure we sort of work through the other options so people can see that we considered them, and at the end of the day they don't necessarily make much sense.
Glad to hear that. I was really happy with the options we have developed a few pages ago, and I actually was a bit disappointed that we apparently moved away from these options.


You might think so, but not necessarily. I'm pretty particular about edge management (i.e., where bends should be seen or not), and that can increase complexity and cost.
I was more thinking about additional and removable components (e.g. to mount HDDs). Depending on your design decisions the HDD-cage might be the only removable component in the 1c layout. Compare that with the M1 that has a plethora of optional components for all kinds of builds.


Not likely 360 rads, since that would push the height well over 400mm (360 rads are 395-405mm usually).
Understood. The Corsair H110i GT (or comparable AiO-coolers) should be more than enough for CPU-cooling anyway.


I think 5 slots with ATX motherboard support is still a very compelling option, but it does require the case to be wider. I don't have a problem with that, personally, since it means supporting full-size coolers/rear 120mm fan, and therefore enables quieter or higher performing builds, but it does mean more volume.
I'm not convinced. You would have to make many compromises and the final design would be close to the typical "Jack of all trades" cases. I don't think that ATX-compatibility is enough to justify these compromises. And to be frank, I'm not sure if I would buy a case that is over 200mm wide and that to me would feel like an ATX-case with mATX-features and not like a case that was consequently designed around the mATX form-factor.

Another possible advantage of the 1c layout is that it might be easy to scale the layout for different form-factors. The width and the depth are determined by the target-size of the graphics card (150x305mm for DirectCU3 coolers) and the need for a front radiator. These variables (the footprint) don't change between the form factors (or rather shouldn't change), so you only adjust the height of the layout.

Maybe that is something something you should explore: A simple, elegant, puristic and therefore hopefully cheap layout that is easy to scale for different form-factors (mITX with 240mm radiator, mATX with a 280 radiator, ATX with a 360mm radiator). Your "Mac Pro redux" design would be my favorite for that layout because it doesn't have a separate front-panel or other elements that would increase the costs and because it looks amazing.
 

Sverebom

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1c could support ATX just fine if the PSU covers the bottom slots?

Yeah, but the case would have to be very wide for that, which would push the design deep into the "Why not just get a Enthoo Evolve for half the price?"-area again. And three-way SLI would be no option anyway (unless you build a massive water-cooling loop maybe), so what would you actually gain that you couldn't have with an mATX-board?
 

3leven

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I don't want to like the 1.c design, but through all of this, it unfortunately makes sense as the best design choice given the criteria.

I really do think you could design a bitching case out of the 1.c that feels different.
The width and the depth are determined by the target-size of the graphics card (150x305mm for DirectCU3 coolers) and the need for a front radiator.
I agree with this. Going with no top vents, the front of the case should be able to support at least a 240 rad (maybe by limiting GPU length? full 12in cards would take up rad space and only get fans as a way to reduce size?)
 

Vittra

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Yeah, but the case would have to be very wide for that, which would push the design deep into the "Why not just get a Enthoo Evolve for half the price?"-area again. And three-way SLI would be no option anyway (unless you build a massive water-cooling loop maybe), so what would you actually gain that you couldn't have with an mATX-board?

See this post.

To re-iterate the above, 8 DIMM slots on X99, and connectivity options on X99 / Z170 - additional slots for M.2/NVMe drives and the like. Like it or not, the Z170 boards that best utilize the new connectivity possibilities are ATX. See the just formally released Asus Z170-WS or the majority of Asus, MSI or Gigabyte's top range.
 

Sverebom

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To re-iterate the above, 8 DIMM slots on X99, and connectivity options on X99 / Z170 - additional slots for M.2/NVMe drives and the like. Like it or not, the Z170 boards that best utilize the new connectivity possibilities are ATX. See the just formally released Asus Z170-WS or the majority of Asus, MSI or Gigabyte's top range.

And for a handful of people who use more than one M.2-drive or who need 8 RAM-slots Necere should design another "mishmash" case, that ATX-user can't even properly utilize to its full potential and that gives mATX-user another mATX-case that comes with many compromises? Since ATX- and mATX-boards already have the the same width and only vary in height, wouldn't it be smarter to design a case that comes in two sizes?
 

andgo

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How tall is a pci slot anyway? I don't see any compromises other than the psu being moved something like 1cm away from the motherboard. On most of these designs here the psu width is not what determines the lower limit for the case width?
 

Vittra

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And for a handful of people who use more than one M.2-drive or who need 8 RAM-slots Necere should design another "mishmash" case, that ATX-user can't even properly utilize to its full potential and that gives mATX-user another mATX-case that comes with many compromises? Since ATX- and mATX-boards already have the the same width and only vary in height, wouldn't it be smarter to design a case that comes in two sizes?

The case is designed primarily as mATX despite being able to accommodate ATX, because it meets the criteria Necere had originally dictated - 120mm fans and larger air cooler compatibility to be specific.
 

Phuncz

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In all fairness, no one uses ATX properly since 3x SLI or CrossFire is very inefficient, buggy and often unsupported. Until 2015 most people didn't have much reason to use other PCIe cards, now we have the Intel SSD 750 and I can guess more will follow.

I don't care for ATX at all, except that most awesome boards are ATX because they couldn't figure out how to do it on mATX. Even though everyone said X99 couldn't be done on mITX, ASRock proved everyone wrong (although with consessions) but we can't wait every year and hope a manufacturer sees the light. Look at the current state of Z170 mITX boards: all are a compromise of good and crappy features.

I can definitely see a use-case for more than one M.2 drive, just like there is need for more than one SSD: redundancy, capacity expansion (without replacing), maxing read/write performance from one drive to another.

While the M1 was focused on balancing volume and flexibility, this point is already moot for this project with the choice for ATX PSUs and mATX boards, along with support for enhanced cooling so people with X99 chipset and dual high-end GPUs can use this case without it melting.

There is still much to be gained in this volume but more so in what is possible to put inside running cool and quiet without resorting to >40L cases.
 

SaperPL

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There's one more thing to keep in mind about full ATX boards: We still don't know how will the AMD ZEN look like in terms of power consumption. If they'll make 16 core, 32 threads processors then it means those will be most likely 125W units at launch and once again only full ATX boards will support those properly like it was with 8 core bulldozers.

No one will care for ZEN APU versions on mATX since if they're going to make igp with HBM's then ITX builds without dedicated gpu's might be next big thing in sff.
 

Necere

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Not sure if I follow you here. Let's assume a width of 170mm. Even with a 280mm radiator you would still have ~25mm for the "double wall". As for the holes and grommets: You could do what NZXT did with the S440 and just have a side access to the "double wall" where you could put the cables through. That would make holes and grommets obsolete and probably help to reduce costs.
Well, a couple things: the clips for the side panels are about 10mm, so the radiator can't be right up against the side, plus things like rigidity and screw and filter access need to be taken into account; and I'd like to support dual AIOs in the front, which means 120mm rads going sideways, which need 155-160mm. It's possible I could make the wall removable, though.

I was more thinking about additional and removable components (e.g. to mount HDDs). Depending on your design decisions the HDD-cage might be the only removable component in the 1c layout. Compare that with the M1 that has a plethora of optional components for all kinds of builds.
That's true. The PSU mounting, at least, will be simpler, and the lack of internal power cable will save a few dollars.

I'm not convinced. You would have to make many compromises and the final design would be close to the typical "Jack of all trades" cases. I don't think that ATX-compatibility is enough to justify these compromises. And to be frank, I'm not sure if I would buy a case that is over 200mm wide and that to me would feel like an ATX-case with mATX-features and not like a case that was consequently designed around the mATX form-factor.

Another possible advantage of the 1c layout is that it might be easy to scale the layout for different form-factors. The width and the depth are determined by the target-size of the graphics card (150x305mm for DirectCU3 coolers) and the need for a front radiator.
The GTX 980 Ti Strix is 153mm tall. The M1 supports exactly 140mm tall cards (ignoring the chassis flange issues with the Strix's tall PCBs) and is 160mm wide. So basically we're looking at 173mm wide, minimum, to support a 153mm tall card. If we want a window on top of that, we're looking at another ~5mm, so 178mm. But even then, though the card technically fits, its PCB comes right up to the side of the case, leaving no room for airflow. So we add another 10mm for a minimal level of airflow around the card. We're at 188mm. 7mm more and we get support for 165mm tall CPU coolers, which covers 90% of the coolers on the market. Plus we get the rear 120mm fan mount for better system exhaust and radiator support.

Yeah, but the case would have to be very wide for that, which would push the design deep into the "Why not just get a Enthoo Evolve for half the price?"-area again.
The Enthoo Evolv is still 230mm though - 35mm wider than the maximum width I'm looking at (195mm).

I agree with this. Going with no top vents, the front of the case should be able to support at least a 240 rad (maybe by limiting GPU length? full 12in cards would take up rad space and only get fans as a way to reduce size?)
I want to touch on this topic. To me, what seems logical is to support reference cards (which may include dual-GPU cards up to 11") and a front radiator (probably only a slim rad with 11" GPU), or longer, non-reference cards up to 12.5" with only the front fans.

How tall is a pci slot anyway? I don't see any compromises other than the psu being moved something like 1cm away from the motherboard. On most of these designs here the psu width is not what determines the lower limit for the case width?
It definitely does if the PSU has to sit beside the motherboard. The maximum component height for the card slot area is 0.6" (15.24mm):




That's a minimum of 177mm before adding in the chassis thickness and clearance for side panel fasteners or a window:



Pretty easy to get to 190mm+ when all is said and done:
 

Sverebom

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The GTX 980 Ti Strix is 153mm tall. The M1 supports exactly 140mm tall cards (ignoring the chassis flange issues with the Strix's tall PCBs) and is 160mm wide. So basically we're looking at 173mm wide, minimum, to support a 153mm tall card. If we want a window on top of that, we're looking at another ~5mm, so 178mm. But even then, though the card technically fits, its PCB comes right up to the side of the case, leaving no room for airflow. So we add another 10mm for a minimal level of airflow around the card. We're at 188mm. 7mm more and we get support for 165mm tall CPU coolers, which covers 90% of the coolers on the market. Plus we get the rear 120mm fan mount for better system exhaust and radiator support.
A very convincing argument. Not to mention that 3.5'' HDDs have to go into the case as well.

Out of curiosity, what is the typical distance between the mainboard and the mainboard tray? And are you considering in your arguments that there might be no room for cable mangagememt behind the mainboard and that the mainboard is sitting as closely as possible to the right side panel? Additional question: What is the usual distance between the mainboard and the PCB of a long expansion card (yes, could measure it myself, but I would prefer to not rip my desk setup with my careful cable management apart for that)?


I want to touch on this topic. To me, what seems logical is to support reference cards (which may include dual-GPU cards up to 11") and a front radiator (probably only a slim rad with 11" GPU), or longer, non-reference cards up to 12.5" with only the front fans.
Please use the metric system! We are not in Myanmar :p



Pretty easy to get to 190mm+ when all is said and done:
Would be nice to not cross that width.
 
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Necere

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A very convincing argument. Not to mention that 3.5'' HDDs have to go into the case as well.
Right. Even with right angle SATA cables, anything under 170mm isn't really wide enough to have 3.5" HDDs across the width of the case.

Out of curiosity, what is the typical distance between the mainboard and the mainboard tray?
Typical? As in, the standoff height most cases use? I think it's between 10 and 15mm, but I'm not 100% sure on that. In the M1 the standoffs are 8.5mm (actually 10mm standoffs that insert through the back of the 1.5mm thick motherboard tray).

And are you considering in your arguments that there might be no room for cable mangagememt behind the mainboard and that the mainboard is sitting as closely as possible to the right side panel?
Yes, I'm basing these dimensions off the M1, which has the motherboard as close to the side panel as possible. The limiting factor is actually the end of the PCI card bracket(s), which are almost touching the right side panel, and would actually stick out the side if the motherboard were any further over. Obviously, that wouldn't be acceptable.

This means that behind-the-motherboard cable space is practically nonexistent, even at 195mm wide.

Additional question: What is the usual distance between the mainboard and the PCB of a long expansion card (yes, could measure it myself, but I would prefer to not rip my desk setup with my careful cable management apart for that)?
Depends where you consider the PCB to start. Card height is usually measured from the bottom of the PCIe connectors on the PCB, up to the PCB or cooler max height (PCI bracket is usually not included). In any case, this should cover it:



Please use the metric system! We are not in Myanmar :p
It would be nice to, but it's the convention to use inches when talking about GPUs, in particular. "266.7mm" isn't quite as concise or easy to type as 10.5". I think of it more in terms of the class of GPU, rather than the literal length (i.e., reference 10.5" class, full-length 12" class, etc).

Would be nice to not cross that width.
Yes, but at the same time, 5-7mm is the difference between covering 90% of 120/140mm-class coolers, and something like 50%.
 

Sverebom

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Typical? As in, the standoff height most cases use? I think it's between 10 and 15mm, but I'm not 100% sure on that. In the M1 the standoffs are 8.5mm (actually 10mm standoffs that insert through the back of the 1.5mm thick motherboard tray).
You can probably guess where I want to go with this: Move the mainboard as closely to the side panel as possible to increase compatibility with tall coolers. I take from your comments though that you have that already covered in your considerations.

Depends where you consider the PCB to start. Card height is usually measured from the bottom of the PCIe connectors on the PCB, up to the PCB or cooler max height (PCI bracket is usually not included). In any case, this should cover it:
I was asking that to get an idea of how much space we could possibly add for cable management in that area around the mainboard.

Yes, but at the same time, 5-7mm is the difference between covering 90% of 120/140mm-class coolers, and something like 50%.
Then draw that line at 200mm.


By the way, with a width of 190 to 200mm we would have "plenty" of space between the PSU and the mainboard(-tray), right? What about using that space for additional (vertical) HDD-mounts, at least for 2.5''-HDDs? That would allow people like me who don't want to use an ATX-board who have converted to 2.5''-HDDs to free up the space between the PSU and the front panel and mount an additional fan (or water-cooling equipment) there.
 

Necere

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I was asking that to get an idea of how much space we could possibly add for cable management in that area around the mainboard.
It'd be about 25m max.

Then draw that line at 200mm.
Yeah, I don't see any reason to go over 200mm except for cable management behind the motherboard.

By the way, with a width of 190 to 200mm we would have "plenty" of space between the PSU and the mainboard(-tray), right? What about using that space for additional (vertical) HDD-mounts, at least for 2.5''-HDDs?
~25mm here as well. it's not enough for 3.5" HDDs, but 2.5" drives are a possibility. I was thinking that space would primarily be useful for stuffing excess cables, but a drive mount could be included as well. It won't be that easy to access, though, and would require removing the PSU to install a drive there. Also, for SLI/CF configurations, that area will probably get a fair bit of heat coming off the bottom GPU, so it's not an ideal location for drives in that situation.
 

Sverebom

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~25mm here as well. it's not enough for 3.5" HDDs, but 2.5" drives are a possibility. I was thinking that space would primarily be useful for stuffing excess cables, but a drive mount could be included as well. It won't be that easy to access, though, and would require removing the PSU to install a drive there. Also, for SLI/CF configurations, that area will probably get a fair bit of heat coming off the bottom GPU, so it's not an ideal location for drives in that situation.
What about a PSU-bracket that allows you to change the position of the PSU? In an mATX-setup I would move the PSU as close as possible to the right panel (while ATX-users would want to do the opposite). That would allow me to mount one, maybe two 2.5''-HDDs between the PSU and the left panel where they are easily accessible. A small but welcomed feature for me.

But we can talk about that again once we get there if follow that design route.
 

iFreilicht

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Out of curiosity, what is the typical distance between the mainboard and the mainboard tray?

Couldn't tell you about the typical distance, but the ATX Standard says minimum clearance is 6.35mm and I know that LianLi is using 6mm metric standoffs on their testbenches.
The M1 has 8.5mm as Necere said.

Potentially, if you were to make the motherboard tray out of a non-conducting material and respect the fact that no mainboard on the market has "Parts for structural reinforcement", at least to my knowledge, you could make the standoffs as short as 4mm, but I'm not sure whether LianLi even has parts like that in available to them, so 6mm is probably the minimum we can go.
 

bhtooefr

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Well, do remember that the CPU backplate counts as "structural supports" or "stiffening ribs", although that's also an area that's typically open for other reasons.

And, rear M.2 also takes up space behind the board.
 

iFreilicht

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I think you could design the CPU cutout on the tray in such a way that both of these things wouldn't pose a problem unless there's rear mounted M.2 in the PCIe area. IIRC, Necere actually did that with the LRPC/S1.
 

Vittra

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Are there mATX boards with rear mounted M.2? I haven't seen any thus far.. I would have found it an acceptable compromise for having 2x M.2 slots on a mATX board.
 

iFreilicht

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I haven't seen any either. I did see double M.2 on ATX, but those were both on the top.
 

Vittra

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Gigabyte has at least one board with 3x M.2, but it's on the front as well. As I was alluding to before, the best connectivity options are present on the ATX boards.. they haven't quite sorted out how to utilize mATX boards and ITX ones. There will likely be some refinement in that regard with Kaby Lake.
 

Urelure

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As I was alluding to before, the best connectivity options are present on the ATX boards.. they haven't quite sorted out how to utilize mATX boards and ITX ones. There will likely be some refinement in that regard with Kaby Lake.

I remember seing JJ from ASUS saying something about them not having any immediate plans to expand on mATX boards for Z170 anytime soon due to little interest in the form factor since the major part of sales are ATX and mITX growing a lot. It seems they are sacrificing R&D resources on mATX for mITX. If this is the case then it is not unlikely that the other manufacturers think along these lines as well, given the fact that they all have roughly the same target audience. It could (very speculative, i know) also be the start of a trend, in which case we might see this in the next generations as well. This is a good incentive for offering limited ATX support imo.
 

Vittra

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Kaby Lake is a new architecture which will most likely bring a new chipset along with it - even if it is incremental. The chances of it being Z170 are rather slim. This affords manufacturers another "go" at changing layouts rather than a refresh of a current chipset which would be largely pointless.

I do agree about mATX being in an odd positioning but that has always been true. It's been discussed in this thread, actually.
 

Urelure

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Kaby Lake is a new architecture which will most likely bring a new chipset along with it - even if it is incremental. The chances of it being Z170 are rather slim. This affords manufacturers another "go" at changing layouts rather than a refresh of a current chipset which would be largely pointless.

I do agree about mATX being in an odd positioning but that has always been true. It's been discussed in this thread, actually.

I am aware that Kabi Lake bringing on a new chipset is very very likely. My point was that mATX seems to be kind of an afterthought these days. And I have followed the discussion. I was just adding to it as a reply to your statement that they would "likely sort out mATX and mITX utilization for Kabi Lake". They might overlook the mATX form factor for enthusiast boards to some extent.
 

Phuncz

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I remember seing JJ from ASUS saying something about them not having any immediate plans to expand on mATX boards for Z170 anytime soon due to little interest in the form factor since the major part of sales are ATX and mITX growing a lot.
This is so frustrating, their current lineup:
12 ATX Z170 boards
3 mATX Z170 boards
2 mITX Z170 boards

To think most people don't even use more than one GPU or have any other PCIe card.
 

Vittra

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I am aware that Kabi Lake bringing on a new chipset is very very likely. My point was that mATX seems to be kind of an afterthought these days. And I have followed the discussion. I was just adding to it as a reply to your statement that they would "likely sort out mATX and mITX utilization for Kabi Lake". They might overlook the mATX form factor for enthusiast boards to some extent.

For a moment, lets ignore the fact that we are in a thread for a mATX case. I'd say that as long as one of the two form factors offers a more complete overall package in the next gen, that is fine with me.

With Z170, neither feel fully realized or utilized.

Currently, mATX provides enough board real estate for additional connectivity options, if they put some thought into it. mITX doesn't, unless they are willing to start using SO-DIMMs and change the power connector standard away from 24 pin to something smaller.
 

Phuncz

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If they could bring the power consumption of the chipset down enough, they could move the chip to the back (no or minimal heatsink) and have some serious extra realestate without requiring other standards specifically for SFF, considering all the extra traces needed for the chip. It might not be feasible though, I'm no board engineer.
 

Urelure

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For a moment, lets ignore the fact that we are in a thread for a mATX case. I'd say that as long as one of the two form factors offers a more complete overall package in the next gen, that is fine with me.

With Z170, neither feel fully realized or utilized.

Currently, mATX provides enough board real estate for additional connectivity options, if they put some thought into it. mITX doesn't, unless they are willing to start using SO-DIMMs and change the power connector standard away from 24 pin to something smaller.

I agree with you. Lets just hope ASUS and Gigabyte does too at some point.

This is so frustrating, their current lineup:
12 ATX Z170 boards
3 mATX Z170 boards
2 mITX Z170 boards

To think most people don't even use more than one GPU or have any other PCIe card.

Well if the overall industry agreed with us, this would be the general hardware subforum, not SFF;)
 

EdZ

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I wouldn't hold my breath for any radical motherboard layout changes. Kaby Lake will be using Sunrise Point (100 series) chipsets. Nobody bothered to do an mATX layout overhaul for Sunrise Point, so a refresh still using Sunrise Point wouldn't prompt a change in layout. It would require a more radical change in connectivity (e.g. PCIe 4.0, on-PCH Thunderbolt, etc) for motherboard manufacturers to actually start changing designs rather than reusing as much of an existing design as possible
 

Phuncz

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It'll depend on Necere and Wahaha360, they are the mastermind overlords and we are lowly peasants.

But I personally hope we're not shifting towards the "mATX M1" mindset, I'd much rather have a case with very good cooling options, hardware flexibility and sheer impressive design than the most efficient mATX case there is. Necere also voiced that he doesn't want to pursue that last part but we got to keep them on-course ! And personally if supporting an ATX board while allowing minimal size increase is possible, I'd say go for it:

I remember seing JJ from ASUS saying something about them not having any immediate plans to expand on mATX boards for Z170 anytime soon due to little interest in the form factor since the major part of sales are ATX and mITX growing a lot.

This is so frustrating, their current lineup:
12 ATX Z170 boards
3 mATX Z170 boards
2 mITX Z170 boards

To think most people don't even use more than one GPU or have any other PCIe card.
 

Siba

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I like 2C the most out of any so far, my only quibble is the front i/o seems a bit out of place. What is the biggest cpu cooler that would fit with this? I've only found the Cryorig H7 at 145mm height so far
 
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Necere

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Just when?

I like 2C the most out of any so far, my only quibble is the front i/o seems a bit out of place.
While it's kind of an interesting and compact design, it seems like most people here are more interested in the larger 1c-based layout with 5-slots/partial ATX support. The 2c design has a lot of limitations in comparison.

What is the biggest cpu cooler that would fit with this? I've only found the Cryorig H7 at 145mm height so far
I actually wasn't aware of the H7. That's kind of a neat option for a low-height 120mm tower cooler. The only other 145mm-tall 120mm-class tower cooler I know of is the Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120M. There may be 120/140mm-class top-down coolers that perform better than these, though.

I didn't opt to make it wider to fit taller heatsinks, because at this height it throws off the proportions in a bad way.
 

3leven

n00b
Joined
Oct 19, 2015
Messages
9
What is the smallest (by volume) tower case that fits ATX boards? I've been struggling to find them smaller than 40L.
 
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