CCD MI-6: Performance in a 6.7L MIcrotower

Firewolfy

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Well, the poll tells me that about half would need 1 HDD and the other 2 HDDs. No votes for 3 or more, so that will simplify things a bit.
 

Firewolfy

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I have started design on the outer panels. They aren't fully done, but here are some renders---
 

silent-circuit

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Honestly not the biggest fan of the way ports are arranged there. I assume that's 2 USB and 2 audio (input/output) but what's at the top of the stack -- a small power button? Optical audio out? You can probably find a USB header that will give two ports stacked one atop the other (like you see on motherboard back I/O panels) and turn them so they're vertical. That would free up some space in your port stack and clean up the look of it a bit. Just a thought.
 

Firewolfy

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Yes, the top square is for a power button. I'll need to fix that. I'll look at some more USB/audio boards too, thx.

The styling seems a bit bland to me. The front cover is 1/4 thk alum and supposed to look substantial but the design doesn't show it off, does it. Hmmm. I'll post some more ideas.
 

iFreilicht

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Are the panels connected to each other in any way? Or are they all just separate sheets.
 

Firewolfy

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Right now the plan is to have a U-shaped cover for the top and sides. This would usually be a pain to align when installing, but my hope is that since the case is so small, it would be workable. The front would be a separate piece.
 

iFreilicht

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I don't think it necessarily would be problematic. I've worked with a few cases with a U-shaped top and sidepanel and they were quite easy to get on.
The tricky thing might be to get them manufactured correctly, but if you do you can potentially save a few screws here and there.
You also need to make a decision on whether it should be a structural part of the case or whether the insides are supported with strong L-beams anyway.

if you're going for a seperate front piece, maybe extend the U-panel to extend from the front of the inner structure by 1/8" and have a 1/16" gap between that and the 1/4" front so that it offsets nicely.
 

Firewolfy

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Thanks iFreilicht. My first aim is to reduce mfgd cost by reducing part count and complexity. That said, having 3 simple separate panels with 4 screws each is relatively simple and straightforward. I am bouncing that off of the reqt that this case has to be stylish, show attention to detail and look substantial, not flimsy. What have you done on your cases for cover design?
I agree with the L beams or other support when the cover is off. It can't warp and twist when the cover is off.

For the front reveal, that sounds good. Right now.I have a shoulder on the front plate that the cover goes over and then butts against the front plate, so I'll have to think think think...
 

iFreilicht

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Personally, I just made it as simplistic as possible.
With the first drafts of more square case (I think I called it F5), I had an idea to add small cut-ins and make the front panel point-symmetric instead of axisymmetric.

Imagine the front panel on your case being made from oak or cherry wood while the rest of the case keeps the metal appearance. That could look quite awesome.
 

silent-circuit

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The separate panels would be less expensive to have made than the U section, I'd imagine. Maybe do like 4 somewhat chunky black socket-cap style screws, one at each corner of each panel? Might give a little more visual interest, break up the otherwise bland surface, and give a "industrial" sort of aesthetic without looking cheap like standard screws would.

Going off what you said about cherry above, you could then easily have different materials for different panels if you wanted, as well.
 

andgo

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ditch the front vents and connectors and move the power button to the back, imo.
 

Firewolfy

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Well here is the front panel with more-symmetric positioning of the USB/audio/pwr features ,and a bit higher off the bottom.

 

Firewolfy

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I matched the ports to an existing off the shelf combo board. I havent found any with the rotated usb and I dont really like the pwr switch being so close to the audio. The only alternative I have found so far is 2-3 separate jack-cable assemblies (pwr, audio, USB) that will need indiv mounting and alignment and cost more.
The vent on the front is for exhaust if a blower type GPU is installed. The inlets are on the sides and I don't have ideas for filters yet. Do you know of any that would be around the right size? About 6x6.
 

ehqhvm

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I love the ventilation holes in the front panel! Really beautiful case already overall!

As for the front IO, I would personally only include a single USB 3.0 port, like on the A4, perhaps with a headphone jack as well, but that's it.

For a 6l case, reaching out to plug things on the back is really no problem at all imo, and I would much rather prefer a clean, minimalistic look on the front panel :)
 

Firewolfy

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I love the ventilation holes in the front panel! Really beautiful case already overall!

As for the front IO, I would personally only include a single USB 3.0 port, like on the A4, perhaps with a headphone jack as well, but that's it.

For a 6l case, reaching out to plug things on the back is really no problem at all imo, and I would much rather prefer a clean, minimalistic look on the front panel :)

Thx for the feedback and glad you like it!
Man, on the USB/audio port stuff, it's a bit of a dilemma and tradeoff between sleek and max functionality. I do tend to agree that 1 USB should be enough, but there have been cases where I use multiple usbs on the front of my computer. One for a WiFi and/or wireless KB and/or sometimes a separate wireless for the mouse. Plus plugging in a thumb drive or phone cord or camera cord. So there could be a lot of uses. Most should be covered by the back panel USB though, you'd think.

Do we want the convenience to plug in a.USB drive and charge our phone using the front ports?? Big questions, lol
 

niksus

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Do we want the convenience to plug in a.USB drive and charge our phone using the front ports?? Big questions, lol

Yes, we do. Everyone uses usb devices, but few are willing to dig through the cable mess on the back every time.
This discussion exist in every case design thread. Just check the others and spare yourself the trouble of this argument.
 

silent-circuit

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Many monitors have built in 4+port USB 3.0 hubs at this point, and I've seen keyboards with hubs as well, even gaming oriented ones. Personally I haven't used a front USB port on a case in years, but maybe I'm in the minority there.
 

iFreilicht

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Yes, we do. Everyone uses usb devices, but few are willing to dig through the cable mess on the back every time.
This discussion exist in every case design thread. Just check the others and spare yourself the trouble of this argument.

Many monitors have built in 4+port USB 3.0 hubs at this point, and I've seen keyboards with hubs as well, even gaming oriented ones. Personally I haven't used a front USB port on a case in years, but maybe I'm in the minority there.

The problem here is that you are both right. A lot of people use front USB, and a lot of people don't. And a subset of the latter group also likes the idea of a completely clean front with no I/O.

I would say, if you plan on making the front plate exchangeable anyway, allow Front I/O to be mounted to the internal skeleton and sell front plates with and without I/O. That way you'll make close to everyone happy.
 

EdZ

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Even with keyboard/monitor hubs, a front USB port generally is directly connected to the motherboard's root hub. This is important, as many devices can behave unexpectedly (e.g. sudden latency spikes, unexpected time-out disconnects, wildly variable transfer speeds, etc) if they do not have a direct connection. It's also a good idea for OS installs or large file transfers, where a potentially flaky hub could interrupt things in a critical moment and waste a lot of time (or worse, induce a silent failure).
 

Firewolfy

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Good points both of you. I'll have to think about how to have power switch a separate assy from the USB and audio, so that a user could tailor the front. Right now its about $9 for an everything board or about $8 + $5 for separate parts, including additional mounting points.

In other news, I have worked to simplify the chassis, fit 2 drives in with toolless install, and change over to thick alum for the chassis. I should have some renders within the next couple days.

A teaser -- The changes get the mfg complexity down, give more room for working inside, simplify the HDD bracket and add a nice solid feel......

Tease off
 

pixelblue

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Excited to see where this goes!
I agree regardng the inclusion of a front usb port, as I often use them to charge a phone and just find them easier and faster to use, not to mention more reliable especially for power delivery. Most monitor/keyboard hubs can't deliver the full 10w(?) of power. Though I've found hat even front usb ports are finicky, but maybe mine have just collected dust over the years.
 

Firewolfy

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Ok, here are renders of the latest design. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

A few changes I've made:

> I changed to a simpler chassis design with only 2 walls, and modified the divider to act as a stiffener and tie the chassis to the thick front panel. When the cover is removed the top of the case is more open now, so working in the case seems like it will be easier.

> The 2.5" HDDs are tool-less. They are held in by the spring steel brackets that envelope the M3 screws that are pre-installed on the drives. I am waiting for quoting back from a spring mfgr to finalize the design.

The HDDs are pretty close to the MB, so the spring brackets make it easy to get them out of the way when installing cables and such.

It is possible to hold the 3 drives shown, HDD or SSD, but really the idea is to offer enough flexibility to get 2 in there. To fit the bottom HDD, the PSU has to be SFX not SFX-L to get enough room. Depending on the MB connectors, there may not be room for both HDDs on the front wall. There is an alternate set of holes for a HDD bracket, in case the MB conns get in the way of the standard locations.

> The chassis is 2mm alum and the case cover is 1.5mm alum now to give the design some interest, and less of a HVAC look. The price delta isn't as bad as I thought it would be, so this should work.

> I still have to model in the PCIE cable run (it runs behind the GPU), and I'm going to add some bumpers to stabilize the GPU. And I need to design the attachment for the cover.

> Sorry but I haven't done much with making the front panel interchangeable yet (for more or less jacks, different styling, etc).

Thanks











PS -- Hopefully I'll be cutting chips this week on a proof of concept (got a bunch of alum from my wife for bday, woo hoo)
 

SaperPL

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I'm still not sure if making a mini-tower/cube-like case with riser is generally good idea. The only config that really makes sense to me is the one that dondan made with his A4. Regardless of that I can see that there are some positives here like thermal performance.

As for the renders - If you're planning to powder coat this case then you should round the rectangular holes to see the real effect
 

raymondo

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What are the dimensions like right now? I quite like the concept and I actually like it more than dondan's case due to the smaller footprint.
 

Firewolfy

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The dims are as shown here. The vol is a little under 6 1/2 L.




I noticed the renders didn't turn out all that great. Here is a new one that is a little easier on the eyes...

 

iFreilicht

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Ok, here are renders of the latest design. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

A few changes I've made:

> I changed to a simpler chassis design with only 2 walls, and modified the divider to act as a stiffener and tie the chassis to the thick front panel. When the cover is removed the top of the case is more open now, so working in the case seems like it will be easier.

> The 2.5" HDDs are tool-less. They are held in by the spring steel brackets that envelope the M3 screws that are pre-installed on the drives. I am waiting for quoting back from a spring mfgr to finalize the design.

The HDDs are pretty close to the MB, so the spring brackets make it easy to get them out of the way when installing cables and such.

It is possible to hold the 3 drives shown, HDD or SSD, but really the idea is to offer enough flexibility to get 2 in there. To fit the bottom HDD, the PSU has to be SFX not SFX-L to get enough room. Depending on the MB connectors, there may not be room for both HDDs on the front wall. There is an alternate set of holes for a HDD bracket, in case the MB conns get in the way of the standard locations.

> The chassis is 2mm alum and the case cover is 1.5mm alum now to give the design some interest, and less of a HVAC look. The price delta isn't as bad as I thought it would be, so this should work.

> I still have to model in the PCIE cable run (it runs behind the GPU), and I'm going to add some bumpers to stabilize the GPU. And I need to design the attachment for the cover.

> Sorry but I haven't done much with making the front panel interchangeable yet (for more or less jacks, different styling, etc).

Thanks

[pics removed]

PS -- Hopefully I'll be cutting chips this week on a proof of concept (got a bunch of alum from my wife for bday, woo hoo)

Looking good, I like the changes you did to simplify the whole thing! As you said, it should now be much easier to work in.
There are a few things I noticed, though:

1. I like the idea of those tool-less 2.5" brackets, but I've got to wonder whether they will be stiff enough to safely carry drives during transportation, and I'm not quite sure how those would actually work, maybe you could elaborate on that? Once the front panel is made interchangeable, the issue of the drives getting in the way will solve itself anyway as you can just remove the front to install the board easier, no need to remove the drives from it.

2. How much space is there between the top shell and the motherboard mount, where the ribbon cable is supposed to run? It seems to be 1.5mm or so, which might be a bit too little, depending on the cable you're planning to use.

3. The front is 2mm thick, right? As you're screwing the HDD brackets and the mainboard mount into that directly without the screws showing up on the other side, you'll have to use threaded blind holes. Apart from the need for specialised drill and tapping bits, the effective thread length could be a bit too short for your current thread size and you'll risk stripping the thread if you're not careful. Additionally, you'll need extremely short screws, so it might be worthwhile to use smaller screws in those locations, maybe M2 would be a good size. The latter problem magnifies with the countersunk screws you seem to be using on the motherboard mount.

4. The Motherboard I/O aperture has rounded corners. The ATX standard allows for a maximum radius of 0.99mm on those corners, and it seems like yours are a bit larger than that. If that radius is too large, you risk I/O shields not fitting the case correctly.

5. Aesthetically, I'm not really a fan of those square holes, they look extremely cheap like that. I would also strongly suggest you use the same types of holes for the front panel and the side+top shell. Right now the combination of two different hole patterns completely breaks the design, at least in my eyes. I totally get what you were going for, but I don't think it works in this form.
The vent holes are one of the things you can change very easily, though, so just experiment and see what fits, you'll find a perfect match some day.

6. Not sure why you chose round holes in the back? That is the only place where square holes seem sensible to me as they allow for better airflow and aren't seen that often anyway.

Other than that, it seems to be in a good stage to make a prototype if you've got the tools for that.
 

Firewolfy

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Man I appreciate the time you spent reviewing the concept. Great points.

Here are some model pics of how I think the drives can go into the bracket. The low profile 3mm screws go into the HDD, then put 1 side into the bracket holes, then flex open the flanges on the other side (longer flange with 5 deg of angle). The bracket flexes at bit at both flanges, and only has to open about 3-4mm to clear the screws. I'm thinking stainless spring steel, maybe 0.015" thk full hard. You are right, I'll have to try several thicknesses and maybe tempers to get the best spring stiffness.







And maybe have a piece of foam tape somewhere to prevent any looseness.

Yeah, the space for the PCIE cable is 1.5, based on using the 3M, which I think is 1mm. I'd like to use the LiHeat, but don't have one yet, and no detailed specs either.

The front is 1/4" thick, 6.3mm, so that's why I'm trying to do the blind holes and such.

On the MB I/O aperture, good eye bro. I made the corner radii right at the limit of the spec, to see what it would look like. I want a nice big radius to maximize the tool radius and reduce wear rate and cutting time (end mill assumed, or could be water jet or stamping die). I'm going to adjust for tool tolerance and wear in the detail dwgs.

I thought square holes would be different and less plain than round holes, but I don't really have much aesthetic sense, lol. Oh man, and I misadjusted the front panel holes, they were supposed to be the same spacing as the others, just a bit smaller, so you don't see the end of the GPU so much.

Maybe I should just go round holes then, and define the style some other way. I originally made the front nice and thick so I would be able to put some artsy features on there, maybe deep cuts, or 3d type of stuff. I need an art director (hmm, maybe NFC is looking for a no-money, likely-no-profit partnership.......)
 

Aibohphobia

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The radius of the corners will be very dependent on the manufacturing method. If it's cut with lasers then it can be very small.

So I'd leave it at a placeholder value and once you've settled on a manufacturer you can discuss it with their engineers.
 

NFC

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The radius of the corners will be very dependent on the manufacturing method. If it's cut with lasers then it can be very small.

So I'd leave it at a placeholder value and once you've settled on a manufacturer you can discuss it with their engineers.

This.

Don't stress this stuff. It will more than likely change to fit your manufacturers tooling and process. Continue putting your energy into the design elements of your awesome little chassis--there will be a time where you can hash all this out. I was really excited to see your updates! Keep them coming brother. :)
 

Firewolfy

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I aligned the square vent hole pattern on the front to the top and sides.
I also added a polished aluminum bevel to the front plate to set it off from the paint color.

 

DarkStar01

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Forgive me if you've covered this already, but what types of HDDs are you allowing for? I know 2.5" width, but how about thickness?
 

Firewolfy

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I've been designing to fit 7 and 9.5, although 12mm should fit. The HDD will just have to be popped out to give clearance when connecting cables near the edge of the MB.
 
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DarkStar01

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Awesome! That gives me a better idea of what kind of storage could be tucked away in there.
 

iFreilicht

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The new aligned holes on the front look a lot better!

Really like the idea of the HDD spring mounts, seems to be sensible to me. I would argue that this is NOT a tool-less design, though, as you have to screw in screws into the drives before putting them in.
 

Firewolfy

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Thanks.

You are right, they aren't really tool-less, but in the same vein as the slip-in grommeted-screw HDDs like Lian Li uses, or the "tool-less-but-with-rails-you-have-to-attach" so many mainstream mfgrs use.

It's really just tool-less to remove from the case.
 

Firewolfy

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iFreilicht,
I was looking at your case design, and you might be able to put a spring-loaded hdd holder in there too.
 
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